Merging Heaven with Hollywood: Billy Graham and Christian films

Hollywood Walk of Fame

In 1989 Billy Graham received his Star of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame for his extensive work producing Christian films. He was the first Clergyman to do so. “I feel somewhat out of place because I’m not sure that a clergyman belongs here. […] Since I’m the only clergyman, I feel a little lonely out there.” As was recorded in the Los Angeles Times.

By then, Billy Graham’s film company World Wide Pictures had been producing Christian films for almost 40 years.

Early fame in Los Angeles

Early in his career, Billy Graham had established a relationship with Hollywood. It was in Los Angeles that he’d received the media attention making him an international household name. In 1950 the first film about Graham was made during his Crusade in Portland, Oregon. Two years later World Wide Pictures was founded. It seemed a natural transition for Graham who had already been using radio and television to spread his gospel.

Early in my ministry, I recognized the fact that not everyone would respond to the Gospel as the result of personal contact,” says Graham. “Therefore, in the early 1950s, World Wide Pictures was formed and has since produced over 130 films. - Billy Graham via

A dazzling success

No one knew whether the films would be a success and if they’d be able to help people receive Christ, they way the Crusades were doing. Soon they would find out the films were a huge hit. The first film Mr. Texas premiered at the Hollywood Bowl, with 25.000 people attending. It was the largest single premiere in history up to that point. 500 people in attendance instantly responded to the invitation to receive Christ, kneeling on the cinema’s floor. Many more would follow after seeing the films released in the next 50 years.
Corrie ten Boom & Billy Graham at premiere of The Hiding Place

The best feature films on New Faith Network

Eight films from World Wide Pictures are now available on New Faith Network. From Two a Penny (1966) starring a young Cliff Richard to Last Flight Out (2004), the last film produced by World Wide Pictures. The films deal with serious issues like disease (A Vow to Cherish), divorce (Cry from the Mountain), homelessness (Come the Morning) and drug abuse (Two a Penny). Other films also touched on lighter points like the comedy The Ride, which follows a once legendary rodeo star, who is now forced to teach kids how to ride a bull. The last two films produced by the legendary company are the suspenseful Last Flight Out and The Climb. Perhaps the most famous films in the company’s extensive work are The Hiding Place (coming to New Faith Network in May) and Joni – an autobiographical work about and starring Joni Eareckson Tada who was paralysed at seventeen.

All glory to God

Over the years World Wide Pictures produced over 130 films, including many (short) documentaries like Heaven, The Message Lives On, Canvas Cathedral and The Cross. For Billy Graham the purpose of the films was alway clear. At the ceremony of his Star of Fame he expressed:

My primary desire today in having my name inscribed upon this Walk of Fame is that God would receive the glory. [...] I hope someday somebody will come and say, ‘Who is Billy Graham? What did he stand for?’ Perhaps a child will ask his parents or grandparents, and they will tell him that he was not a celebrity, not a star, but a simple preacher of the Gospel. And that they might explain the Gospel to him, and that many might find Christ in that. - Billy Graham via


Photo Walk of Fame:
Photo Premiere The Hiding Place:

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