Old Hollywood Walking Tour
Tour Guide & Actress April Brooks Clemmer
Seeking Fame & Fortune
In the 1910s people flocked to Hollywood, CA to find fame, fortune and success. It was similar to the 1840s Gold Rush when people from all over streamed into San Francisco to get rich panning for gold.
Unfortunately, there were too many people coming into Hollywood and not enough movies being made. Many newcomers couldn't find housing, jobs or respect.
Pointing towards the Hillview Apartments, we discovered that in 1917, movie moguls Jesse L. Lasky, co-founder of Paramount Pictures, and his brother-in-law Samuel Goldwyn, co-founder of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, built their first apartment building for their actors, since housing was scarce. Rudolph Valentino, Stan Laurel, and Clara Bow lived here.
Today the Hillview's neon sign is still on the corner of the beautifully restored building, however it’s now known as The Hudson and is still housing for creative types.
The Hillview is now The Hudson
In 1931 the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce created a notice stating - “Don’t Try To Break Into The Movies in Hollywood…..It May Save Disappointments,” Clemmer told our group during the tour. She carried with her an album filled with historic photos to enhance our tour.
Oldest Remaining Structure
Walking to Janes House, we turned into the courtyard and walked to the back of Jane Square, to see a two-story Queen Anne home built in 1903 with shingled gables and turrets.
Beginning in 1911, Janes House was a family-run school, attracting the children of early Hollywood celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Cecil B. DeMille, and Jesse Lasky. Mary Ruth Janes and her three daughters ran the well-respected school and lived in the home until 1982.
"This is the oldest remaining home on Hollywood Blvd.," said Clemmer. "Now it's a secret nightclub named - No Vacancy."
To see the original perspective of Janes House, visit Albert next door at his Secret Restaurant. This Mediterranean-American tavern & hookah bar offers kebabs & pub fare that includes margarita specials all day long. In the bar is an illustration of Janes House on the wall.
First Theatre Wired For Sound
First Movie Theatres
We walked to several movie theaters that included the first movie theatre, The Fox Theatre built in 1918. Along the way we admired the Walk of Fame stars. Clemmer shared with us that Alfred Hitchcock's star was installed in front of the Fox Theatre in 1960 at the premiere of his movie Psycho.
Carol Burnett's star is in front of the old Warner Bros. Hollywood Theatre, now a closed Hollywood Pacific Theatre. The 2753 seat theatre was the first theatre wired for sound and built in 1926 for the premiere of the first "talkie" Jazz Singer. In the late 40's, Burnett was an usher at this theatre while attending Hollywood High School. "Burnett was fired for miscommunication with a guest," Clemmer said. "When she was honored with a star, and asked where she would like her star to be placed, Burnett wanted it right in front of this theatre for the owners to see daily."
Musso & Frank
Oldest Restaurant on Hollywood Blvd.
The tour ends at one of the most famous restaurant's in Hollywood, Musso and Frank Grill. Built in 1919, it became the go-to dining spot for Mary Pickford, Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, and Charlie Chaplin. Greta Garbo and Gary Cooper dined here, while Humphrey Bogart sipped martinis at the bar with Dashielle Hammett or Lauren Bacall.
In the ‘50s, Hollywood legends like Marilyn Monroe while married to Joe DiMaggio had her own booth, while Elizabeth Taylor and Steve McQueen were in Musso’s famous Back Room. "Ernest Hemingway mixed his own mint julep at Musso and Frank," said Clemmer. "It was a big writers hangout. Fitzgerald proofed his works here."
Clemmer shared that the waiters will only tell stories about actors who have died, but will never talk about those who are alive to protect their privacy.
Tour Group inside Larry Edmunds Bookshop
Oldest Bookstore on Hollywood Blvd.
Larry Edmunds Bookshop, which was founded in 1938 specializes in Hollywood entertainment books, photos and memorabilia. It's stacked high with books and movie posters line the wall. They have 500,000+ movie photographs, 6,000+ original movie posters and 20,000+ motion picture and theater books.
This is the go to spot for celebrities and writers to discuss their books, meet their fans and host book signing events.
How To Take The Hollywood Tour
Come learn how Hollywood is a vibrant walkable community that strives to return to it's glamorous glory days. The two hour detailed tour starts on the last Friday of every month at 10 a.m. There is a special Saturday, June 17 tour at 10 a.m. The tour starts at the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance office 6562 Hollywood Blvd. Hollywood, CA. - http://onlyinhollywood.org/oldhollywoodwalkingtour/