History of Ramona
Ramona 1923

Since 1923 "Ramona" has delighted audiences of all ages. Entering the Ramona Bowl Amphitheatre for a performance of "Ramona" is like taking a journey back through time.

The natural landscape of the Ramona Bowl remains almost as it was during that first performance, April 13, 1923. The romance and the tragedy of Ramona & Alessandro transfixes the crowd as they watch it unfold, offering a glimpse, though fictional, of the history of southern California.

In 2005, author Dydia DeLyser concluded in her study of Ramona titled: Ramona Memories:Tourism and the Shaping of Southern California that: "The most important woman in the history of southern California never lived. Nor has she yet died. She is Ramona, the fictional heroine of Helen Hun Jackson's 1884 novel of the same name. " In an interview with the San Diego Union Tribune, June 26, 2005 she was quoted as saying; "Ramona is a typical regional historical novel based on accurate geographic descriptions and inspired in many cases by real people and events."

Helen Hunt Jackson was born Helen Maria Fiske in Amherst, Massachusetts on October 15, 1830. Already a successful travel writer, novelist and poet, a lecture in Boston in 1879 about the plight of the Ponca Indians excited the interest of Mrs. Jackson. Although she continued other writings, the plight of the American Indian became her primary concern. She wrote A Century of Dishonor in 1881 and sent a copy of it to each member of Congress.

Mrs. Jackson and Abbott Kinney were appointed Special Commissioners to investigate the condition of the Mission Indians of California. Their report was published in 1883.When her report failed to ignite the conscience of Congress, the novel Ramona was written in 1884 to try to stimulate greater concern for the Indians in the American public.

According to an article in The Journal of San Diego History - The Killing of Juan Diego, From Murder to Mythology by Phil Brigandi and John W. Robinson Ramona was modeled after the killing of of Juan Diego, presumed to be a Cahuilla Indian by Sam Temple, a San Jacinto teamster.

Helen Hunt Jackson's novel Ramona sold more than 15,000 copies before her death in 1885, ten months after it was published . The influence of the two works (A Century of Dishonor and Ramona) is easily seen today in Riverside and San Diego counties..
Even though Ramona never truly existed beyond the imagination of the author, the novel's popularity has resulted in a permanent influence on the geography of southern California. Inland from San Diego, it is impossible to drive far without encountering the name Ramona or Alessandro on streets and major highways.

Since its publication in 1884, Helen Hunt Jackson's novel, Ramona, has never been out of print. It has inspired popular songs, four motion pictures and the play in Hemet, founded in 1920 by the Hemet-San Jacinto Chamber of Commerce and dramatized by Garnet Holme. The play's final performance of opening season in 1923 drew a crowd of nearly 2,000 and since then Ramona has been performed annually at the Ramona Bowl with only brief interruptions during the Depression (1933) and World War Il (1942). Ramona is the longest running outdoor drama in the United States and named the Official Outdoor Play of the State of California in 1993.

Some notable actresses who have portrayed Ramona are Mary Pickford 1910 (silent movie), Delores Del Rio 1928 (movie), Loretta Young 1936 (movie), Raquel Welch (Raquel Tejada) Ramona Pageant 1959.
Photo taken in front of the Mission Inn, Riverside


Ramona Bowl Amphitheatre
27400 Ramona Bowl Road, Hemet CA. 92544
Toll Free: 1-800-645-4465 / 951-658-3111or email: ramona@ramonabowl.com
The Ramona Bowl Amphitheatre is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable corporation Federal Tax ID #95-1132365
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