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Hollywood Boulevard Travel Guide

Glitz and the Good Book

The Hollywood Boulevard strip runs from the 101 freeway to the edge of West Hollywood at La Brea Avenue, and is the heart of Hollywood. It is a commercialized strip that has all of the famed district’s popular and well-known attractions. Hollywood Boulevard brings tourists back to the nostalgic Golden Age of Hollywood when celebrities used to stroll regularly through this strip, wining, dining, and carousing. At the center of the strip is Highland Avenue, which divides the district into east and west.[1]

West Highland

Hollywood and Highland
Hollywood and Highland is the multimillion dollar complex that features hotels, retail shops, and entertainment joints. It is an attempt to recapture the glitz of old Hollywood. Essentially, though, it is a glorified shopping center of heavy stucco dominated by 33-foot elephants and towering gray arch-set pieces from the 1916 movie, Intolerance. The complex is full of good restaurants, chain retail stores, movie theatres, and a live-broadcast studio. The northeast side also features a 600 plus hotel, the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel. Its Kodak Theatre now hosts the Academy Awards. You can visit it and see where the red-carpet rolls out welcoming all the stars on Oscar day.[2]

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
The Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (or Mann’s Chinese Theatre) at 6925 Hollywood Boulevard is an iconic landmark of Hollywood, commissioned by showman Sid Grauman. It was opened in 1927 with a gala premiere for Cecil B. DeMille’s King of Kings.[3] The theatre has hosted more Hollywood premieres than any other theatre. On the outside, you’ll see the famous cement hand and footprints of movie stars and celebrities, past and present, with which everybody loves to match up their hand and foot. The tradition started when actress Norma Talmadge stepped into the sidewalk accidentally while it was still wet with cement. She left a dainty footprint that is still there today in what is now called “The Forecourt of the Stars”. The area is now surrounded with 200 other hand and footprints from Hollywood stars who have been invited over the years to leave their imprints.[4]

Over three million people visit the court of hand and footprints every year. Particularly on sunny mornings on the weekend, you can hear hundreds of cameras click, drowning the traffic sounds along Hollywood Boulevard.[5]

Yesterday’s stars who have left a piece of themselves behind include Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and Mary Pickford in 1927. More recently, Clint Eastwood did the deed in 1984 and Eddie Murphy in 1987. In 1991, 7 sets of prints and signatures were cast in the cement by the original Star Trek cast members, including those of the Captain (William Shatner) and Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy).[6]

Other notable names who have left their marks include Harrison Ford whose tennis shoe prints have been immortalized, as have “Batman” Michael Keaton’s. Marilyn Monroe and John Wayne’s footprinted squares always draw the most attention. Some stars have imprinted famous trademarks instead of prints; Jimmy Durante’s nose, Charlie McCarthy’s hat and monocle, Betty Grable’s leg, Donald Duck’s webbed feet, Al Jolson’s knee, and John Barrymore’s profile have all been cast.[7]

Celebrity messages have also been left behind. Tyrone Power honored his actor-dad with “Following in my father’s footsteps”. Clint Eastwood paraphrased his famous movie line “You made my day”. [8]

The theatre is itself an extravaganza of movieland, featuring ornate towers, Oriental masks, stylized stone guard dogs, and an Asian Rococo style pagoda roof colored in red and gold.[9]

The interior is more flamboyant than extravagant, however. It sports lavish murals and decorative Oriental vases. To see the inside, you have to buy a movie ticket. The Forecourt, though, is free and always open to the public.[10]

El Capitan Theatre
The El Capitan Theatre at 6834 Hollywood Boulevard is a colorful 1926 movie palace in the Baroque-Moorish style. The interior features sculpted garlands and angels, as well as sculpted grotesque faces and creatures.[11] This is the same movie palace that premiered Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. Today, the theatre offers live stage shows and organ music before movie features.[12]

Hollywood Roosevelt
The Hollywood Roosevelt at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard was the first luxury hotel in Hollywood and was opened the same year as the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. It fast became a popular meeting place of actors and screenwriters. The hotel’s Cinegrill restaurant has hosted the likes of Ernest Hemingway, W.C. Fields, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The first Oscars were actually presented at this hotel. While there are splashing fountains, wrought-iron chandeliers, and marble floors in the lobby, the highlight is the second floor where you’ll find the History of Hollywood – pictures retracing the old days.[13] The hotel is said to be haunted by Marilyn Monroe with claims from people seeing her dance in the hotel’s ballroom; she was a resident of the hotel for two years during the peak of her modeling career.[14]

Hollywood Entertainment Museum
The Hollywood Entertainment Museum at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard is a museum of an amateurish collection of memorabilia from TV programs and movies. The highlight of the museum is the Max Factor Collection, which displays several beautiful artifacts from Hollywood’s golden age including the “kissing machine”, used to test the endurance of Factor’s potions, and the “beauty calibrator” a head cage designed to measure the wearer’s face. The museum also features the full set of the show Cheers and the bridge of Star Trek’s Enterprise.[15]

Motion Picture Production Office
The Motion Picture Production Office at 7038 Hollywood Boulevard issues a “shoot” sheet every weekday that lists which films around town are being shot each day. Not all the sets are closed off to the public.[16]

East of Highland

Hollywood and Vine
Hollywood and Vine is the famous intersection of Hollywood Boulevard that was famous in the 1920s for the many major studios and entertainment-related businesses headquartered there. During those days, rumor spread that budding stars need only parade around this junction to be “spotted” by a big-name film director. The rumor, of course, was a bit of an exaggeration. Today, all that is left at this junction are old buildings and a small plaque on the wall of a restaurant.[17]

Hollywood Walk of Fame
The famous Hollywood Walk of Fame begins at Hollywood and Vine. The sidewalk is lined with brass stars honoring various celebrities and figures in the entertainment industry of the past and present who have contributed to the industry. The first star was laid out in 1960.[18] The categories an individual can receive a star for are television, radio, movies, theatre, and music.[19] Almost every month, there is a ceremony inducting someone into the street.[20]

Hollywood Wax Museum

The Hollywood Wax Museum at 6767 Hollywood Boulevard is the only wax museum in the world dedicated only to movie stars and celebrities. It was opened in 1965 and today displays over 180 wax figures of famous people, along with a Chamber of Horrors that feature movie monsters and scenes of torture.[21] Among the wax figures includes ones of Elvis, Bill Cosby, Marilyn Monroe, Sylvester Stallone, JFK, and Ronald Reagan.[22]

Capitol Records Tower
The Capital Records Tower at 1750 Vine Street is a landmark building that was built by the record company in the 1950s to resemble the shape of a stack of 45s (vinyl records).[23] The idea was suggested by Nat King Cole and song writer Johnny Mercer. It is the world’s first cylindrical office building, and on its south wall there is a mural that immortalizes musical greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, among others. The top of the tower features a blinking light that spells “Hollywood” in morse code.[24]

Pantages Theatre
The Pantages Theatre at 6233 Hollywood Boulevard, built in 1929, has LA’s greatest interiors featuring ornate Art Deco friezes and Baroque decorations. Throughout the 1950s, the Academy Awards were held here, although today it is used only for touring stage productions.[25]

Knickerbocker Hotel
The former 11-story Knickerbocker Hotel at 1714 Ivar Avenue was built in 1923 in the Spanish Colonial style, and used to serve guests back in the early days of Hollywood. It is the site of the 1936 Halloween séance conducted by Harry Houdini’s widow, who tried to contact him.[26] Its peak of glamour was in the 1950s when regulars included Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, and Joe DiMaggio. The hotel deteriorated in the 1960s and 70s and has recently been renovated to house senior citizens.[27]

Celebrity Lingerie Hall of Fame
The Celebrity Lingerie Hall of Fame is part of the lingerie museum in the Frederick’s of Hollywood landmark lingerie shop at 6608 Hollywood Boulevard. The lingerie museum itself showcases undergarments from the 1940s to the present with the highlight being the Celebrity Lingerie Hall of Fame – a line of underclothing donated by celebrities, from Madonna’s bustier, to Zsa Zsa Gabor’s girdle, to Ava Gardner’s skirt.[28]

Egyptian Theatre
The Egyptian Theatre at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard was built in the wake of worldwide excitement over the discovery of King Tut’s tomb. It is a faux-Egyptian movie palace that opened with immense fanfare when Sid Grauman chose it to stage the world’s first Hollywood premiere. It has been restored with Egyptian motifs, period marquee, and palm trees in the portico entrance. It reopened in 1998 and features a one-hour film on the history of Hollywood that is shown several times daily. It also plays a variety of Hollywood classics and foreign films.[29]

Hollywood Heritage Museum
The Hollywood Heritage Museum at 2100 N. Highland Avenue is located in a historic horse barn. The barn used to be a stable but one half of it was rented out in 1913 to Jesse Lasky, Cecil B. DeMille, and Sam Goldfish. From the barn, the three collaborated to produce the Squaw Man, Hollywood’s first true feature film. Its success prompted the three to move their operations to the current Paramount Studios lot.[30]

Hollywood History Museum
The Hollywood History Museum at 1660 Highland Boulevard is located in the old Max Factor Museum. The new museum only recently reopened and has four levels showcasing the fashion, make-up, sets, art designs, and special effects of the Golden Age of movies.[31]

Baker, Christopher, Judy Wade, and Morten Strange. California. New York: Macmillan General Reference, 1994. ISBN: 0671879065.

Dickey, Jeff. Los Angeles, 3rd Edition. Rough Guides, 2003. ISBN: 1843530589.

“Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grauman%27s_Chinese_Theatre>

“Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_Roosevelt_Hotel>

“Hollywood Wax Museum.” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_Wax_Museum>

“Knickerbocker Hotel (Los Angeles).” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knickerbocker_Hotel_(Los_Angeles)>

Michelin Travel Publications. California. Greenville: Michelin Travel Publications, 2001. ISBN: 2060001315.

[1] Dickey, 95
[2] Id. at 99
[3] Grauman’s
[4] Baker, 152
[5] Id.
[6] Id. at 152-53
[7] Id. at 153
[8] Id.
[9] Id.
[10] Id.
[11] Dickey, 100
[12] Michelin, 156
[13] Dickey, 100
[14] Hollywood Roosevelt
[15] Dickey, 100
[16] Id.
[17] Id. at 95
[18] Id. at 97
[19] Michelin, 155
[20] Dickey, 97
[21] Hollywood Wax
[22] Baker, 154
[23] Dickey, 97
[24] Michelin, 157
[25] Dickey, 97
[26] Id.
[27] Knickerbocker
[28] Dickey, 98
[29] Michelin, 157
[30] Dickey, 98
[31] Id. at 98-99

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