The end of my long week of travel took back to the Los Angeles area. I met up with my friend Adriana and her cousin, Judy, plus Judy’s hubby and her friend, Maribel. We went to Universal City Walk, which is way nicer than the one in Orlando. We ended up at the Saddle Ranch, where everything is ridiculously huge. The dinner plates were overwhelming and they had huge margaritas that I didn’t even attempt to drink. It was such a blast. We laughed our asses off at people riding the mechanical bull. Judy and Maribel ended up going on it, and they did really well!
We stayed there pretty late, and afterward I was looking for a hotel in a semi-safe looking area. There were a lot of people walking around Universal, and I don’t mean just the people who were out partying. I ended up in Burbank because I had a short list of hotels that had some good reviews. One was full and another had pretty much no parking. I finally found a Holiday Inn, which may have been the biggest hotel in Burbank with it’s two towers. I called to see if they had availability, but all they had were suites. Oh joy. I needed a bed for like 6 hours and a hot shower, not a living area, kitchen, and separate bedroom. But it was late and I was tired, so I sucked it up and paid the $200, which actually was not bad considering that the crappy motels in the area charged $150 or more for a regular room. However, I got an eerie feeling about my room and didn’t want to sleep there. I ended up sleeping on the couch with the TV on. It may have been all the old cars that were stored in the parking garage, including hearses like the one below. Anyway, I walked into my room feeling like it was something out of a scary movie or like someone had died there. Freaky!!!
The next day, I headed out for Hollywood, which wasn’t far at all from the hotel. I was in search of Paramount Studios (which I never made it to) and instead stumbled upon Hollywood Blvd. I park near Grauman’s and proceeded to walk around, checking out the Walk of Fame as I walked along.
The historic Roosevelt Hotel hosted the first Academy Awards in 1929. It is alleged to be haunted by Marilyn Monroe, who frequented the hotel. You can requested the Marilyn Suite if you’re feeling brave, but it will set you back a few thousand… per night!
Me in front of the famous Grauman Theatre!
Marilyn’s hand and footprints in front of Grauman.
The Kodak Theatre, permanent home of the Academy Awards. You may also remember the name from the American Idol finales.
After having lunch and shopping a little, I finally agreed to go on a tour. This guy had given me the child’s price when I first arrived, so I made sure to go back to him. The tour took us through Hollywood and Beverly Hills and the driver was pretty knowledgeable. He said he had been doing tours in the area for 17 years.
The famous Hollywood sign, which once spelled out “Hollywoodland” to advertise a development in Hollywood Hills.
View of Griffith Observatory, which you may remember from “Rebel Without A Cause.”
The Las Palmas Hotel, best known for its role in “Pretty Woman.” This is where Julia Roberts supposedly lived and where Richard Gere pulls up in the white limo at the end.
We also went through Rodeo Drive, which was nice but did not live up to the hype I expected. You can find most of these stores in other major cities. But anyway, I did take a few pics. So… I can at least say I’ve been there, done that.
I guess you can say I have a “morbid fascination” with the dearly departed. The most interesting part of the tour was a little bit of history about Hollywood, including places that are allegedly haunted and where people died.
However, I did not expect to pass by Charlton Heston’s Beverly Hills home just hours before he died there. I am not very good luck (was also near the UCLA campus around the time that their NCAA Championship dreams were shattered).
The Highland Gardens Hotel, formerly the Hollywood Landmark Hotel, is where Janis Joplin died of a drug overdose in 1970.
The Chateau Marmont on Sunset Blvd., where John Belushi died of a drug overdose from a speedball, a combination of heroin and cocaine. The year was 1982.
The Viper Room, also on Sunset, is the location where River Phoenix died, also of a drug overdose. He also reportedly died from a speedball overdose, dying on the sidewalk outside of the club on Halloween night, 1993.
This charmingly perfect house was the site of the brutal murder of actress Lana Turner’s boyfriend, Johnny Stompanato. Stompanato was apparently very abusive, and on the evening of April 4, 1958 Turner’s daughter, 14 year old Cheryl Crane, allegedly came to her mother’s defense and stabbed the man to death (I was there one day after the anniversary). Many question whether a young girl could overpower a former Marine and alleged bodyguard to gangster Mickey Cohen. The world may never know what really happened.
My last stop before heading to the airport was the Pierce Brother Memorial Park, which is the final resting place of several celebrities:
The next time I’m in Hollywood, I plan to do the “Dearly Departed Tour” and also visited some of the other area cemetaries. I definitely will also make sure I make it over to the Brentwood home where Marilyn Monroe was found dead from an alleged drug overdose. Such a tragically fascinating place, Hollywood is.