Nothing says summer in Los Angeles like the Hollywood Bowl. As the most recent advertising campaign puts it, it is “where summer plays.” As the summer–and the 2014 Bowl season–draw to a close, I thought it fitting to feature one of the most entertaining finds from the Music Center archives. This photograph shows Hollywood Bowl savior Dorothy Buffum Chandler onstage with Vice-President Richard Nixon. The photo was taken in 1955 at the Festival of the Americas.

Dorothy Chandler and Vice-President Richard Nixon on the Hollywood Bowl stage, opening night of Festival of the Americas, 17 August 1955. Photo courtesy of The Music Center Archives / Otto Rothschild Collection.

The Festival of the Americas was a five-day concert series designed to draw in a diverse audience, add prestige to L.A.’s cultural image, and celebrate music and musicians from the entire western hemisphere. Chandler brought national attention to the Hollywood Bowl by personally convincing Nixon—a staunch Cold Warrior and native Southern Californian—to preside over the Festival opening. Nixon’s participation in the Festival built on his recent goodwill tour of ten Latin American and Caribbean nations.[1] As you can see from the photo, Chandler cultivated an aura of glamour surrounding special events like the Festival by attracting a formally attired, “star-studded audience.”[2] I found this image striking not only because of the formality of their dress, but also because of the expression on Chandler’s face, her stance, and the fact that Nixon is holding her arm. My take is that Chandler did not particularly like Nixon touching her, or perhaps she was skeptical of something he said–but it seems like she is pulling away from him slightly but allowing his touch because they were standing in front of a crowd of thousands. What’s your take on the photo?

[1] In Chandler’s view, the Festival was also an opportunity to connect culture to Cold War tensions in a tangible way, by “paying tribute to our neighbors,” because “we need our neighbors and they need us in these times when we must guard against the inroads of communism.” (Koopal, Grace G., Miracle of Music, 239–241, 243.)

[2] Koopal, Miracle of Music, 242–243.

2 thoughts on “‘Where Summer Plays’…

  1. She totally looks uncomfortable with him grabbing her arm, but she definitely put on a brave face, like a classy lady would do in a crowd of thousands. Perhaps he called her on stage to pay recognition for putting on the festival.

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