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Where is Hollywood? We can help you find it.

Where is Hollywood? We Can help you find it

"Hollywood' is a loaded word. For many, it conjures images of movie stars and flamboyant wealth. For others who've walked Hollywood Boulevard, it may mean souvenir shops amid a seedy street scene. The reality, of course, is that Hollywood is both. It's a place whose urban problems haven't obscured its sparkle.

A century old this year, the town--founded in 1887 by teetotaling Midwesterners --still resides in the restored friezes of art deco buildings, in museum displays of mouse-eared movie cameras, in cozily worn cafe booths. On these pages, we offer some guidance to the glamor that was and the fun that still is Hollywood. On a day's excursion, you might take a bus tour, visit a museum, and lunch at an old restaurant near a studio. Or take an architectural tour of the boulevard, search out the Hollywood sign and Rudolph Valentino's crypt, then catch a film in a resplendent movie house.

Scene 1: Tinsel Town's heyday

Begun as a middle-class subdivision, Hollywood annexed itself to Los Angeles in 1910 to share the city's water.

In full bloom from the '20s to the '50s, the town's main thoroughfare, Hollywood Boulevard, boasted some of Los Angeles' largest movie palaces and exclusive department stores. Studios such as Paramount and Metro Goldwyn Mayer ate up acres of real estate. And uphill, Gloria Swanson and Tyrone Power built hideaways in a tangle of narrow streets.

Beginning in the late '50s, retail business dried up as customers moved to the suburbs and the movie industry expanded to the San Fernando Valley and Culver City.

Scene 2: faded star stages comeback

Helped by an active preservation organization, Hollywood Heritage, and by gentrification of surrounding neighborhoods, much renovation has revived the area's historic architecture. Hollywood Boulevard has been dubbed an art deco museum, its buildings--erected between 1915 and 1935--exuberant with marble, tile friezes, and terra cotta icing. In May 1986, the street was named a national historic district.

Over the years, Hollywood has redeveloped like--well--Hollywood. At the turn of the century, the boulevard (then Prospect Avenue) was lined with staid Victorian homes. The last remaining one, the Janes House (16; 6541 Hollywood Boulevard), stands preserved in a minimall court. Similarly, the Frederick's of Hollywood building (15; 6608 Hollywood), designed in 1935, was carefully stripped of a '50s false front in 1979-- then painted a loud purple. Both examples seem in keeping with Hollywood's character. Even in the 1930s, writer S.J. Perelman sneered that the town was "a hayseed's idea of the Big Apple.'

Though Hollywood may never be upscale, some of the projects are. This year, the 1926 Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel reopened (6; 7000 Hollywood). The first home of the Academy Awards, it includes a jazz bar and a fine restaurant where you can wallow in huge pink chairs; on its mezzanine is a time line of Hollywood history. Across the street, the Screen Actors Guild (3; 7065) moved recently into a renovated Congregationalist church.

Scene 3: tours of the town

An excellent introduction to the boulevard is a walking tour led by actor-members of Hollywood Heritage. The 2-hour Saturday and Sunday morning tours stop in movie palaces and turn down side streets. Cost is $6; to reserve, call (213) 465-5993.

For a wider overview, take a double-decker bus trip with Hollywood Fantasy Tours. The guides' patter includes the omnipresent movie trivia as you drive around in a bus painted like a loaf of Wonder Bread. But there's substantial history, too; you'll look up at the exclusive neighborhood of Whitley Heights, and see such landmarks as Capitol Records (19; 1750 Vine), built in 1954 to resemble a record stack. The 2-hour excursions leave 1744 N. Highland Avenue at 10:30 and 1 daily; cost is $12 adults, $10 children. For reservations, call 469-8184.

For the quickest overview, Hollywood in Miniature (9; 6834 Hollywood) features an intricate model built in the '50s and depicting the area in the '30s; cost is $1.

Scene 4: exploring on your own

If you prefer to choose your own route, here are landmarks to check out. Park in any of the lots or parking structures on or near Hollywood Boulevard.

You can't explore the boulevard without stepping on one of Hollywood's earliest attempts to spruce up, the Walk of Fame, begun in 1958. Today, 2,500 stars set in the sidewalk run 1/2 mile along both sides of the street from Gower Street to Sycamore Avenue, and along Vine Street from Sunset Boulevard to Yucca Street. Start outside the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Every few months, a new star is added; November 5 is Burgess Meredith's turn. For time and place, call the chamber of commerce, 469-8311.

At a first-run film in one of the movie palaces, you'll also see some architectural showmanship. Sid Grauman's 1927 Chinese Theatre (8; 6925 Hollywood; now called Mann's) is the most famous; the stars' cement prints are still a big draw. In 1922, Grauman built the Egyptian Theatre (11; 6712); though stripped of most of its King Tut finery, it retains a magnificent ceiling starburst. The 1927 Spanish Gothic Hollywood Pacific Theatre (17; 6433), with its curved lobby and coffered ceiling, is much better preserved.

Golden age eateries still exist. The most famous is Musso & Frank Grill (13; 6667 Hollywood; lunch and dinner daily except Sundays), known since 1919 for no-nonsense American food. You can eat at the lunch counter or sup in the dark, smoky dining room and imagine Faulkner and Fitzgerald with their screenplays spread across the white tablecloths. Also dating from 1919, C.C. Brown Ice Cream (4; 7007; open daily except Sundays) has old-fashioned booths.

Before today's power lunches, movie mavens ate at the 57-year-old Tick-Tock Restaurant (18; 1716 Cahuenga Boulevard; lunch and dinner daily except Mondays), where cinnamon buns and ticking clocks accompany the meals. Near the famous Paramount Pictures gate (23), Nickodell Melrose Restaurant (21; 5507 Melrose Avenue; lunch and dinner daily) has served steaks for 40 years. The tiny, bright red Formosa Cafe (1; 7156 Santa Monica Boulevard; lunch and dinner daily except Sundays) is crammed with Elvis Presley memorabilia; food is old-fashioned American-Chinese. Regulars come from Warner Hollywood Studios across the street.

Flashback: how movies were made

When Cecil B. DeMille came to Hollywood in 1913, he rented part of a barn to use as a studio; it sat on the Paramount lot for decades, playing bit parts in Bonanza. Now moved, it opened last year as the Hollywood Studio Museum (14; 2100 N. Highland Avenue; open 10 to 4 daily except Mondays). Another picturesque studio --which you can only drive by--was built in 1913 by Charlie Chaplin. The storybook hamlet of tiny buildings now houses offices for A&M Records (2; 1416 N. La Brea Avenue).

The American Society of Cinematographers (7; 1782 N. Orange Drive; open 9:30 to 4:30 weekdays), housed in a turreted 1903 structure, is one of the industry's most exclusive organizations. View its encyclopedic collection of movie cameras; call ahead (876-5080) if you'd like an expert to take you through the display.

Since 1912, designers have come to Western Costume Company (24; 5335 Melrose; open 9 to 5:30 weekdays). Inventory includes more than a million items. To rent a costume ($50 to $100 per week), come with specific ideas, and a staff member will take you into the warehouse.

Max Factor Museum (10; 1666 N. Highland; open 10 to 4 daily except Sundays) is tucked into a black-and-white art deco building. Here, the cosmetics baron designed famous faces for the movies. Rooms painted to suit brunettes, blondes, and redheads display early make-up. If inspired, visit the retail outlet next door.

Outtake: into the hills

Clinging above the commercial area, the hill neighborhoods' twisting streets are overgrown with trees and bougainvillea. Even with a good map, it's easy to get lost among 50-year-old bungalows and Spanish duplexes.

For a brief foray, climb the hill to Yamashiro Restaurant (5; 1999 N. Sycamore Avenue; lunch and dinner daily). Built in 1913 in the style of a 16th-century Japanese palace, the mansion is now a Japanese restaurant. Walk up from the boulevard; the restaurant has valet parking.

To see how close you can come to the Hollywood sign (20), head up Beachwood Drive into Beachwood Canyon. This is Hollywoodland, a 1920s development with more fantasy architecture. The Hollywood sign was erected for this; the "land' disappeared years ago.

Hollywood Heritage occasionally leads walks in various neighborhoods. Call 465-5993 for information.

The end: where stars went out

On the edge of the original Hollywood boundary is quiet, park-like Hollywood Memorial Cemetery (22; 6000 Santa Monica Boulevard; open daily), begun in 1900. You can pick up a free map in the entry office to find monuments to De-Mille, Fairbanks, Marion Davies, Rudolph Valentino, and other legends that created Hollywood's mystique.

Photo: Star-struck cigarette girl? Candy pink prom queen? If you yearn for a more glamorous persona, you can rent the attire at Western Costume (24)

Photo: Omnipresent crowds, seen comfortably from tour bus's top deck, stroll past renowned Chinese Theatre (8 on map)

Photo: A typical day on Hollywood Boulevard: Julio Iglesias Fan Club zealously shines his and nearby stars along street

Photo: Irreverent facade of Frederick's of Hollywood (15 on map) outflashes art deco neighbors with its vibrant purple paint

Photo: Within the boundaries of historic Hollywood, we list 24 places to indulge in nostalgia. Numbers correspond to text listings

Photo: Reflected palms float on shallow pool of Douglas Fairbanks' memorial (22)

Photo: Beneath rafters of Hollywood Studio Museum (14), you'll find Charlie Chaplin's camera, blown-up photos of movie pioneers

Photo: Kitsch posters and celebrity bios draw tourists to Larry Edmunds (12 on map; it's at 6658 Hollywood Boulevard)
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Nov 1, 1987
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