Church of The Good Shepherd, Beverly Hills
The Church of The Good Shepherd was established just nine years after the city of Beverly Hills was incorporates and is the oldest church sanctuary in the city. The congregation was founded in 1923 and this Mission Revival Style church was dedicated by John Joseph Cantwell on February 1, 1925. The original stained glass windows that depict numerous saints were shipped to California from France, Germany, the British Islands, and other states. Church of The Good Shepherd has been the venue for numerous Hollywood events. Bing Crosby was a regular worshiper, stars such as Elizabeth Taylor and Mark Wahlberg married here, and the funerals of Rudolph Valentino, Gary Cooper, Alfred Hitchcock, Rita Hayworth, and Frank Sinatra took place at the Church of The Good Shepherd. The Church was also the setting of a scene in Judy Garland's "A Star is Born" (1954). The parish continues to serve the needs of Catholic parishioners in Beverly Hills and welcomes visitors.
Backstory and Context
As the church on North Roxbury was being built, the first Mass was held in the nearby Windemere Apartments before moving to a location on Camden Dr. and finally to the Beverly Hills Hotel. Construction began on the Mission Revival Style church designed by J.J. Donnellan in 1924 and was completed a year later. On February 1, 1925 Bishop Cantwell dedicated the stucco structure parish. The church remained as is until a 1959 renovation overseen by Msgr. Daniel F. Sullivan when a main altar and two side altars made of marble were installed. The altars contained the relics of the two saints, Felicitas and Perpetua, and the patroness of the Los Angeles Diocese, St. Vibiana. In 1930, the Good Shepherd Parish School opened, and as of 2018, the school remains the only Catholic school in Beverly Hills.1
Being located in Beverly Hills, Church of the Good Shepherd has seen its fair share of famous figures enter through the church doors. One notable visit occurred during the tenure of Msgr. Sullivan in 1961 when President John F. Kennedy attended Mass. Msgr. Sullivan recalled that before the president came, the Secret Service surveyed the church, chose the pew the president would sit, and installed a phone in a room off the vestibule that could receive any emergency calls from Washington.1
In 1950, in what would be known as the "Wedding of the Year," Elizabeth Taylor wed her first husband, Conrad Hilton, Jr. at Church of The Good Shepherd. Another famous wedding to take place here was between Rod Stewart and Rachel Hunter. Both marriages were short-lived. Funerals held here for stars included: Rudolph Valentino (1926), Gary Cooper (1961), William Frawley (1965), Alfred Hitchcock (1980), Danny Thomas (1991), Eva Gabor (1995), Frank Sinatra (1998), and Zsa Zsa Gabor (2016). Church of The Good Shepherd is open during the day for visitors to come in, look, pray, or light a candle.2 Since its opening in 1925, Church of The Good Shepherd has maintained its prominent historical stature in Beverly Hills.
2. The Church of The Good Shepherd. Seeing Stars. Accessed July 25, 2018. https://www.seeing-stars.com/Churches/GoodShepherd.shtml.