Before there was Hollywood Performers Academy, there was Hollywood Professional School (HPS), a prep school for performers. With career demands for so many young stars in showbiz, it because almost impossible for them to attend a regular school.
Opened in 1935 by Bertha Mann, at the request of MGM Studios chief Louis Mayer, Hollywood Professional School was located a mile from Paramount Studios and original studio locations for Warner Bros and Columbia. HPS offered classes for grades K-12 with flexible hours so they could work at the studio. Students attending a public school can't just skip classes in order to go to a photo shoot or attend a rehearsal. But at HPS, classes started around 8:45 a.m., and students were finished by about noon. That left the full afternoon for their "jobs." The curriculum concentrated on the academic essentials with small class size. Each student's course of study was planned according to his interests, talents and objectives. An emphasis was also placed on teaching social skills, to enable the student to function socially in a polite, genteel environment.
Over the next half century, HPS would become the alma mater of aspiring actors, producers, dancers, recording artists, musicians, songwriters, models and figure skaters (Olympian Peggy Fleming, for one). In addition to Shirley Temple, Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney and Roddy McDowall, its student body boasted Robert Mitchum, Quincy Jones, Betty Grable, Piper Laurie, Carol O'Connor, Natalie Wood, Ryan O'Neal, Tuesday Weld, Val Kilmer, Melanie Griffith, Tatum O'Neal, Linda Blair, Sue Lyon, Brenda Lee, John Barrymore Jr., Donald O'Connor, Mitzi Gaynor, Peggy Lee and Spike Jones.
Television personalities ranged from Valerie Bertinelli, Mackenzie Phillips, Peggy Lipton, Todd Bridges and Butch Patrick to four of the six Brady Bunch kids and most of the original Mouseketeers, notably Annette Funicello.
Alumni like Rooney, Mitchum, O'Neal, Quincy Jones, Peggy Lee and Spike Jones demonstrated their confidence in the Hollywood Professional School by enrolling their own children.