Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Star tour of Beverly Hills

A friend of mine who just moved here's parents came to visit a few weeks ago, and I made up a tour for them of my neighborhood. I figured that this is a tour that they could do in a few hours at most, and still have time to cruise off to the Grove or Robertson. If anyone is interested (or looking), I'm posting it here.

We start at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Palm Drive (you need to be going west on SM blvd or west on Beverly Blvd, there is no turn up Palm from eastbound Santa Monica)

508 N Palm Drive (above Santa Monica): Marilyn Monroe/ Joe DiMaggio honeymoon house

512 N Palm Drive: Last home of 20's superstar Jean Harlow

at the next block, make a left onto Camelita, go two blocks and turn right at Elm Drive, go north

722 N Elm Drive (2 blocks west of Palm, between Elevado & Lomitas): House where Lyle and Eric Menendez killed their parents.

Turn around and make a right on Elevado, go west 7 blocks, take a right on Rodeo, north 1 block to Lomitas

732 N Rodeo (at Lomitas) house where 30's actress Lupe Velez killed herself. She was pregnant and the man who got her that way refused to marry her. She got dolled up in her finest, fixed herself a last meal and downed a handful of seconal. According to some Kenneth Anger's "Hollywood Babylon", she woke violently ill and lurched to the bathroom, slipping on the bathroom rug, she ended up drowning in the bowl of the toilet.

Make the left on Lomitas and go 2 blocks to Bedford Drive

730 N Bedford (at Lomitas, a white house on the SE corner): House where Lana Turner,s mob boyfriend was stabbed to death by her teen daughter. It's still open to question whether the daughter did it (as she wrote in her autobiography) or Lana did it herself

Go south on Bedford to 512: House of 20's sensation Clara Bow

Go right on Santa Monica to right on Walden, to the corner of Walden and Carmelita: The Witches house. Originally a film company office, the house was moved from Culver City to Beverly Hills in the 30's. It's new owner is doing a sensitive re-do of this storybook cottage.

Right on Carmelita, left on Linden to #810: This house, which was leased at the time to Mob moll Virginia Hill is the house where Bugsy Siegel was shot. Siegel built the Flamingo hotel in Las Vegas, basically starting the whole Las Vegas thing. (If you've seen the movie "Bugsy" with Warren Beatty, you get the idea)

Proceed north on Walden, it shortly becomes Whittier Drive. Go past Sunset at the light. You are now in the most expensive part of "the flats" of BH- these houses start at 10 million for a "fixer"

Make a right on Lexington, then a right on Roxbury

905: Oscar Levant

911: Elizabeth Montgomery (Bewitched)

918: Jimmy Stewart (site, house was demolished)

921: Rick Schroeder (Silver Spoons, NYPD Blue)

Turn around and go back north:

1000 Roxbury (at Lexington): Lucille Ball. The present owner remodelled (and ruined) the house and put up a six foot wall to keep tourists away. The city forced him to cut the wall back to 3 feet, per code. He complained that he had no idea who Lucille Ball was when he bought he place....

1002: Jack Benny

1004: Peter Falk

1015: Diane Keaton, who sold it Madonna (who has
since moved)

1019: Ira Gershwin, then Rosemary Clooney

1021: George Gershwin

1023: Agnes Moorehead (Endora from Bewitched)

1025: Polly Bergen

go back down to Lexington, go left through the light at Benedict Canyon along Lexington. At the NE corner of Lexington Rd and Crescent drive is the house once owned by Columbia studio chief Harry Cohn, later owned by Merv Griffin. Continue east on Lex, after Beverly Drive, turn right onto Rexford. At the light make a left onto Sunset Blvd. On the left side of Sunset at Alpine Drive is a huge pile of dirt with a tarp over it. This was the site of one of the most (in)famous mansions is Beverly Hills. The house that stood there was built in 1917 for one of the founder of Beverly Hills; in 1978 was bought by an arab sheik, who proceeded to paint the place puke green, and paint the statues facing Sunset in lifelike flesh tones, including male and female private parts (if you've seen the Steve Martin movie "The Jerk", they used the house as-is as the house Navin gets when he becomes rich). The house was gutted by a suspicious fire in 1982 and razed in 1985. Neighbors toasted it's destruction with champagne. There are two monster Mansions being built on the site as of this writing.

Continue east on Sunset to the light at Hillcrest Rd. Left onto Hillcrest, then left onto Doheny Rd. At Loma Vista drive is perhaps the most famous, and certainly the most filmed house in Beverly Hills. Built in 1928 by oil billionaire E. L. Doheny at the then unheard of cast of 9 million dollars, the house was a present to his son upon his marriage. Young Edward's time in the house was not long however, he was murdered by his private secretary in a fight over a raise, whereupon the secretary shot himself. It's rumored that the shooting may have been for darker reasons; it's rumored that Edward, Jr was having an affair with his (male) secretary, and killed him when the affair was going to be made public. The other rumor is that Dad himself shot the pair. In any case, the magificent house still stands, and is used for many movies and TV shows. You can't tour the house without special permission (and it's really creepy- the room where Doheny's body was still has a ghost of the tape outline in the wood floor), but the grounds are a lovely public park (entrance on Loma Vista drive, up the street). You can also rent "The Loved One", "Dead Ringer" (the one with Bette Davis) or Steve Martin's "All of Me" to get a look inside- all three were filmed inside ond on the grounds

From here you can continue west on Doheny Road to Foothill Rd to Sunset Blvd. Make a right and cintinue west on Sunset to Crescent Drive. On the right there is the Beverly Hills Hotel. The older Mediterranean looking part is one of the oldest buildings in the city, built to lure people west to what was then a very remote are to own a home (at that time, the fashionable areas were just north or west of downtown, and Sunset Blvd was a dirt road west of Fairfax), the newer part facing Sunset (with the hotels name in it's famous script) was added in the 40's by famous LA architect Paul Williams. The hotel was totally redone (and in my opinion, ruined) by the sultan of Brunei in the 90's. I would suggest skipping the Polo Lounge, which looks nothing like it did in it's heyday and heading downstairs to the coffee shop. Cooler heads kept the sultan's designers out, and they merely refurished, rather then redoing. It's a snapshot of 40's Hollywood glam.


colombina said...

Impressed. Star-struck. A little scared. It's like E-Channel's Real Life Stories right there in one single tour. :-)

tmp00 said...

Most of it is part of a morbid tour of the westside I would give friends called the "messy death tour of L.A."

I have odd friends....

elle said...

I have copied this so that when I eventually get my derriere out to LA I can have my friends take me on this tour. I remember that house from The Jerk - I didn't think it was a real house for a second. Are some people just born w/ a defective aesthetics gene? Incredible!

tmp00 said...

Ir was real all right, so much so they didn't even have to dress the interior...

kim23 said...

great tour! The Witch's House is one of the Beverly Hills' unique sights. In my opinion, this house has to be seen to be fully appreciated. Its owner, Michael J. Libow, a real estate agent, plans to preserve this historic house.