The Hollywood Bowl, home to musicians and passionate kissers, is known for hosting iconic performances over the years.
But the Bowl isn’t just for stars, it’s a star himself. Here are some of the venue’s most memorable film and TV cameos.
A Star is Born (1937)
Director: William A. Wellman
With: Janet Gaynor, Fredric March, Adolphe Menjou, May Robson
This Oscar-winning (and oft-remade) classic follows the story of a young actor named Esther (Gaynor) who travels to Hollywood in search of seeing his name under the lights. She meets older front man Norman Maine (March) who later becomes her husband. While her acting career is on the rise, hers continues to decline.
With a movie centered around life in Hollywood, it’s only fitting to include one of its most iconic locations as a filming location. But it wasn’t featured for just any shot – it was used for the scene where Esther first sees Norman at a concert. Norman arrives drunk and bumps into other guests as he tries to find a seat with the woman he came with.
Shortly after the bandleader takes the stage and starts the show, Norman attracts attention from all angles after getting into a fight with a photographer who took his picture without his consent. Security rushes in to calm the chaos, and a drunk Norman falls back in his seat, then silences Esther for talking behind him during the concert.
The Anchors Weigh (1945)
Director: George Sidney
With: Frank Sinatra, Kathryn Grayson, Gene Kelly
In this Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical, two sailors (Sinatra and Kelly) take their shore leave amid the glitz and glamor of Hollywood. During their visit, they help a young woman to try to realize her dream of becoming a singer.
The two sailors attend a sold-out show at the Bowl by Spanish conductor and pianist José Iturbi. A close-up of Iturbi shows him playing the piano on stage as the camera pans back to reveal 18 grand pianos – an incredible sight with each pianist playing ‘Hungarian Rhapsody No.2’.
MGM’s animated cat-and-mouse duo Tom and Jerry made cameos in the film (including Jerry performing a dance number with Kelly) in sequences directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera.
Looney Tunes: Bugs Bunny Shorts
In each of these Bugs Bunny shorts, the locations are not explicitly identified as the Hollywood Bowl. But the bustling places bear a close resemblance to the Bowl’s natural setting and architecture.
Long-haired hare (1949)
Director: Chuck Jones
With: Mel Blanc, Nicolai Shutorev
Bugs Bunny gets tangled up with a snobbish opera singer who repeatedly harasses him for singing and playing too loudly as the divo tries to rehearse.
On the night of the singer’s performance at the Bowl, Bugs sabotages the singer’s performance through a series of tricks and stunts.
For his final gag, Bugs dresses up as famed Philadelphia Orchestra maestro Leopold Stokowski. The rabbit walks through the orchestra while the musicians mutter “Leopold” with childlike amazement. He assumes the position of conductor and asks the opera singer to strike such a high note that the whole hall crashes into him.
Seville Rabbit (1950)
Starring: Mel Blanc, Arthur Q. Bryan
Bugs is chased into the stage entrance by Elmer Fudd and his shotgun. After Bugs finds his way to the stage, he puts on a show for the audience while tricking Fudd into thinking the wascally wabbit is just another character in the performance.
Stick Rabbit (1959)
Directors: Jones and Abe Levitow
Stars: Mel Blanc
In this short film, the Warner Bros. Symphony Orchestra plays “Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna” by Franz Von Suppé. Like any respectable conductor, Bugs bows to his audience and turns to face the podium, then holds up a sign that reads “THROW THE BUM OUT!” after someone in the audience coughs loudly.
Bugs starts directing but ends up focusing his attention on killing a pesky fly, his every action playing perfectly with the symphony.
Tom and Jerry at the Hollywood Bowl (1950)
Directors: Joseph Barbera, William Hanna
The rivals face off on the Bowl stage as Tom attempts to conduct a symphony. Jerry comes to lend a hand, but not without some tricks and tries to steal the role of conductor for his own.
Just when Tom thinks he’s finally beaten the conniving mouse, Jerry punches holes in the stage floor just below each musician.
Tom rushes to the instruments, leaving an empty podium. Jerry takes his place as conductor and Tom frolics on stage to play all the instruments.
At the end of the short, a jolly Jerry turns to bow to the audience, while a breathless Tom tries his best to sit up straight and bow – until he himself falls through a hole in the scene.
Director: Robert Greenwald
With: Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly, Michael Beck, James Sloyan
Newton-John ditches his goody-two-shoes persona from “Grease” and trades him for the free-spirited, moody (and did I mention, immortal?) Kira in the fantasy musical “Xanadu.” Kira roller skates into struggling painter Sonny (Beck) – setting off a chain of events as Sonny and his new business partner Danny (Kelly) work to bring Pan Pacific Auditorium back to life as a roller disco nightclub called Xanadu .
Celebrating Xanadu’s upcoming opening night, Kira and Sonny pop a bottle of champagne with the Bowl’s distinctive bandshell behind them.
Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
Director: Howard Deutsch
Starring: Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson, Lea Thompson, Craig Sheffer
In this nostalgic romantic drama scripted by John Hughes, Keith (Stoltz) finds himself in a love triangle when he asks Amanda (Thompson), the most popular girl in school, on a date after breaking up with his wealthy boyfriend Hardy (Sheffer). Meanwhile, Keith’s tomboyish best friend, Watts (Stuart Masterson), realizes that her feelings for him are more than platonic.
This 80s romance features a wide shot of the Bowl with Watts atop one of the highest rows of the amphitheater, watching with gleaming eyes as Amanda and Keith sit next to each other on the edge of the stage below.
Keith pulls out a red velvet jewelry box and hands it to Amanda: “In this box is my future, every penny I’ve ever earned. This is for you.” In the box is a pair of diamond earrings.
Reluctant at first, Amanda takes the gift and the two share a passionate first kiss.
Director: Garry Marshall
With: Bette Midler, Barbara Hershey, John Heard, Spalding Gray
“Beaches” tells the story of child artist-turned-famous singer CC Bloom (Midler) and wealthy kid, Hillary Whitney Essex (Hershey), who met in Atlantic City as children and became friends for life, keeping in touch through the letters they write to each other.
The film opens with CC performing The Drifters’ “Under the Boardwalk” on the Hollywood Bowl stage. Accompanied by her band, she rehearses for an upcoming show, singing to the empty seats and strutting back and forth across the stage as the crew settles in around her.
As Midler told The Times in 1989, “I was singing ‘Under the Boardwalk’ during a scene we shot at the Hollywood Bowl and it seemed like everyone on set really liked it.” Her hairdresser, Barbara Lorenz, suggested she release a record. “I didn’t think people dreamed of having a soundtrack,” Midler said. “Even when we released it, I really had no expectations.”
But the soundtrack to “Beaches,” featuring the Grammy-winning song “Wind Beneath My Wings,” proved a surprise hit, the biggest of Midler’s career, and sold more than 3 million copies.
Yes Man (2008)
Director: Peyton Reed
Starring: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper, John Michael Higgins
Carl (played by Carrey), a man with an overwhelmingly negative attitude, attends a life development seminar and is challenged to act positively on every opportunity that comes his way in this giddy romantic comedy. After discovering the power of saying yes, Carl’s friendships, love life, and career seem to improve. But nothing is that simple and his submission ends up turning against him.
The Bowl serves as a key location when Carl and his love interest Allison (played by Deschanel) jump the fence and sneak onto the property late at night. The two walk onto the empty bandshell stage and Carl begins to sing The Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love” while Allison sings backing vocals – a nod to the Fab Four’s iconic 1964 Bowl performance. The two share a passionate kiss and Allison says, “You know, I’ve never let anyone ride my scooter before,” to which Carl replies, “I’ve never let anyone kiss me on the Hollywood Bowl stage. previously. Their romantic interlude ends when they are chased away by security.
CSI: Miami (2010)
“LA” – Season 8, Episode 16
Director: Rob Zombie
Starring: David Caruso, Emily Procter, Adam Rodriguez
In this episode of the long-running police procedural, investigators Horatio Caine (Caruso) and Eric Delko (Rodriguez) travel to California to clear a co-worker. For the climax, Caine meets crooked LAPD Captain Chris Sutter (guest star William Forsythe) at the Hollywood Bowl. Caine’s first words in this scene are “The Beatles played on this stage”.
Sutter responds, “I know that. I was here.”
Still trying to figure out why the two met on stage, the captain asks, “Why here?”
Caine says, “I like my privacy” and pulls out a photo of the Captain tampering with evidence at a crime scene, catching Sutter in his web of lies.
“Let Pinhead Sing!” – Season 3, episode 17
Director: Alrick Riley
With: Tom Ellis, Lauren German, Kevin Alejandro, Tricia Helfer
The Lord of Hell (Ellis) leaves the underworld to own a nightclub in the City of Angels and ends up helping Los Angeles detective Chloe Decker (German) solve crimes in this supernatural drama series.
In the opening scene of “Let Pinhead Sing!”, the Bowl is filled with spectators as superstar Axara (Skye Townsend) walks to the stage. But in the middle of performing her routine, an explosive device thrown into the back of the crowd hits the masked singer, killing her.
Only it wasn’t Axara. The singer decides to switch with one of her backup dancers at the last minute, and the Bowl becomes a crime scene for an evolving mystery.