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Touring Old Hollywood in Style

Are you an old time Hollywood fanatic?  Or maybe you know someone who idealizes the glitz and glamour of an era long gone.  The good news is while this is a city that is continually updating itself, it’s not difficult to locate reminders of what made Hollywood, well Hollywood.

Whether you long for the days of black and white movies, or want to sit in a booth where Frank Sinatra frequented, many Los Angeles landmarks are still around.  A popular day tour for those that like to reminisce about the “good ole days,” would include a personal limousine ride to visit some of the best Hollywood has to offer from those bygone days.  From authentic restaurants, old time theatres and studios, and homes of the rich and famous, there is much to see and visit.

Here are just a few destinations you may want to consider visiting to make your day in Hollywood one to remember for you and your guests.

Famous Restaurants

Formosa was founded in 1925 and at one time sat across from Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Sr., film studio, PickFair (it’s now The Lot).  This restaurant was a favorite of actors, directors and agents from every decade, and was known as “where the stars dine.” Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Elvis Presley and John Wayne ate here. It is also said that Frank Sinatra spent many a night here despondent over his divorce from Ava Gardner.  Trivia alert: The Formosa’s interior and exterior were used in the movie, L.A. Confidential.

Musso and Franks is another landmark restaurant that has been a fixture in Hollywood since 1919.  Walk in, and you would think the clock has been turned back to another era.  Virtually unchanged, it’s worn leather booths and mahogany bar makes you feel a part of Hollywood history.  The 90-year-old menu includes what many feel is the “best martini in the world.”  One interesting note is the first pay phone in Hollywood was installed here.  There is no telling the number of deals that were made or how many scripts were reviewed at their infamous tables.  Famous regulars included F. Scott Fitzgerald, Greta Garbo, Orson Welles, Rudolph Valentino and Charlie Chapin.  A separate back room was created for those stars requesting privacy, such as Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Johnny Depp.

Famous Theatres

Theatres and Hollywood movie premieres go hand in hand.  Perhaps the most famous one isGrauman’s Chinese Theatre, located on Hollywood Blvd.  Their doors opened in 1927 and handprints from the most famous stars to appear on screen are in the courtyard.  The lobby has many interesting artifacts from its history, including a mural, which was done by Xavier Cugat, a big time bandleader in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

Another popular theatre is the Million Dollar Theatre built in 1918.  Also created by Sid Grauman, this is one of the very first movie houses in the United States.  Its architecture is Spanish Colonial and very ornate – certainly unlike theatres we see today.  Walking tours are available on Saturdays however, it is always better to confirm prior to your visit.

If you would like a Hollywood experience like no other, the TCM Classic Film Festival must be on your list.  Often scheduled in April, TCM hosts fans from all over for four days of celebrity speakers and classic films.  Past speakers have included Jane Fonda and the late Mickey Rooney.  Vintage costumes, home movies and talks with movie legends make this an event any devoted film lover will cherish.

Studios

Of course, you can’t tour Hollywood and pass by the old studios that created all of the glamour.  Probably the most popular destination is Warner Brothers Studio tour, located in Burbank.  Here you may recognize sets from such classic movies as Casablanca.  Original props from “Auntie Mame,” “Mildred Pierce,” and “The Maltese Falcon,” are also exhibited.  Finally, an entire floor is dedicated to priceless film costumes and set pieces as well.  This is a must see for any devoted film enthusiast.

The Chaplin Studio, was built by, you guessed it, Charlie Chaplin in 1917 in a distinctive Tudor style that was favored by the actor.  While tours are not available, you can look through the gate and take some excellent photos. Designated as a Historic-Cultural Monument in 1969, today, the studio is named, The Jim Henson Company, creator of the Muppets.

Other Popular Attractions

Ask any old time Hollywood fan who Will Rogers is, and they will immediately say he was the highest paid actor in Hollywood in the early 1930’s.  The Will Rogers State Park is situated in Pacific Palisades and this is where he called home.  Tours of his well maintained residence and stables are available. The Visitor Center shows a brief film on the life of Will Rogers and includes information about the grounds.

It’s not often that a cemetery is something one wants to see while on a tour, however, theWestwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles is the final resting place for many big Hollywood stars.  Here you will find the graves of Dean Martin, Natalie Wood, Jack Lemmon, George C. Scott, Burt Lancaster and perhaps the most famous of all – Marilyn Monroe.  If you only had one Hollywood cemetery to visit, this would be it.  It’s a small area and very easy to wander when searching for a particular name.

Finally, if you want to stretch your legs, a visit to the memorable and historic Griffith Observatory is a must!  You can start your hike here, where Rebel Without A Cause filmed, and walk to the top of Mount Hollywood.  Here you will have some of the best views of the famous Hollywood sign and the entire city of Hollywood.

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