LA Woman Back Home in Hollywood
Home Sweet Home
Remember the scene in Pretty Woman when Richard Gere and Julia Roberts first meet? He’s a handsome professional and she’s a lady of the night, working the gritty streets of Hollywood. In the movie, Vivian and Kit’s turf was right there between the terrazzo and brass stars on Hollywood Boulevard. Logically, Danny and I decided, this is a believable spot to pick up a hooker, ok, let’s make this place home.
We bought our first home together in 2007, which we still own, on one of LA’s most notorious streets. To us, home is where you’ll encounter Spiderman aggressively trying to take a selfie with you in hopes of a tip, The Academy Awards, tattoo shops, individuals who reek of booze at 7am, throwback restaurants from the Golden Age, celebrity home tour buses, a man dressed like Elvis who probably hasn’t showered since the Nixon Administration… Conflicting vibes of hope and despair are present, those who are down on their luck and others living their dream. My husband has been both.
Los Angeles isn’t generally known for historical preservation; A hotbed of history is often masked by strip malls. Like the Brown Derby restaurant, where the Cobb Salad was born, once host to numerous celebrities of a bygone era. Clark Gable proposed to Carole Lombard at the Derby. I remember it from the episode of I Love Lucy where Lucy dumped food on William Holden’s head. These days you can find its famous domed roof on top of an outdoor shopping center on Wilshire in Koreatown. When you live here, it’s easy to forget all of this stuff.
100 Years in Hollywood
Musso & Frank is celebrating their 100 year anniversary, making the restaurant super old by LA standards. The menu is largely unchanged — They serve Mad Men-era fare, like blue cheese stuffed celery sticks, wedge salads, prime rib, and martinis. The grilled lamb kidneys with bacon was Charlie Chaplin’s favorite dish. He and Douglas Fairbanks once raced horses out on Hollywood Boulevard and the loser of the race (Fairbanks) paid for the meal. Other regulars included Rudolph Valentino, Dorothy Parker, Elizabeth Taylor, Groucho Marx, and F. Scott Fitzgerald who was regularly seen proofreading his work in one of the famous booths. William Faulker liked to jump behind the bar and mix his own drinks. By the 1930s, Musso & Frank had firmly established a spot in the lives of glamorous celebrities and the literary scene alike. Just imagine the calls made on the pay phone, which was the first installed in Hollywood. Today, the vibe harkens back to such a time with the servers in their signature red jackets, diners in the plush red leather booths. It’s not difficult to get a table, but a reservation is essential. It makes me happy to see this place packed, to know it isn’t going anywhere.
America’s Oldest Continually Operated Hotel
The Roosevelt Hotel opened in 1927 thanks, in part, to financing by Sid Grauman, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks. It’s since become a Tinseltown staple. The first Academy Awards were held here in 1929 with just over 200 people in attendance. Marilyn Monroe lived at this hotel for two years and posed for her first professional shoot by the pool. There’s now a pricey suite named after her, as well as an enormous Clark Gable-Carole Lombard penthouse as they also frequented the Roosevelt. Shirley Temple hammered out the steps to the famous stair routine here. The hotel and grounds are beautifully maintained. The lobby feels like the inside of a castle, dark, and witness to incredible events. Amongst the exclusive nightlife scene, 25 Degrees is a fun 24-hour burger joint located in the front of the Roosevelt right there on the Walk Of Fame. Can you imagine the cast of characters in there during the ungodly hours of the night? I can, I used to be one of them.
The Hollywood Walk Of Fame is a 1.3 mile stretch on Hollywood Boulevard spanning from La Brea to Vine. Plans for it were laid out in the ‘50s, with the first stars installed in 1960. It’s a brilliant marketing idea and I can’t imagine Hollywood without it. People are often under the false impression that obtaining a star is simply a matter of money (which is $50k), but there’s more to it than that. Lengthy applications must be submitted by or on behalf of qualified candidates in order to be considered by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce committee. Danny hates when fictional characters or animals are given stars, like Snow White and Rin Tin Tin. About two new stars are added per month and currently there are over 2600. Fans can attend the induction ceremonies, like I did in 2007 when The Doors received their star.
Mr. Mojo Risin’
For the Doors’ fan, LA has a lot to offer. Rothdell Trail in Laurel Canyon was immortalized in the song “Love Street” and the “store where the creatures meet” is the untouched-by-time Canyon Country Store. A few years ago, Jim’s former house at 8021 Rothdell Trail was rentable on VRBO, but these days appears to be a private residence. That doesn’t stop pesky people like me stopping to take a pic. A few minutes away is the Alta La Cienega Motel and room 32 was occupied by Morrison from ’68-70. I wouldn’t recommend staying in this dive, but you can pay a few bucks to take a peek in his room. Other musts for the Doors fan include Barney’s Beanery, a regular hangout for Jim (and the last place Janis Joplin drank), and The Whisky A Go Go, where the band had a residency.
In the land of “don’t call us, we’ll call you,” Runyon Canyon is a welcomed escape. Located walking distance from central Hollywood, this patch of nature is perfect for the dog lover or celebrity spotter. The cat’s been long since let out of the bag, but Runyon is a popular hike because it’s incredible. Fact-filled tours are available or you can rent a dog to walk, but I like the space to clear my head. The full hike to the top is difficult, but the pay-off is huge. You’ll be rewarded with panoramic views which include the Hollywood sign and the Pacific Ocean.
Anytime I’m here, I try to view this town through the eyes of a tourist. I constantly google facts and locations, and discover new things, while retaining my childlike appreciation for all things Hollywood.