The “father” and “mother” of Hollywood were Hobart Johnstone Whitley and Daeida Wilcox Beveridge. Whitley bought the 500-acre E.C. Hurd ranch in the 1880s which he called “Hollywood” from a name the Whitleys had discovered on their honeymoon. Before that the area was know to the scattered ranchers and fruit growers here as the Cahuenga Valley, after the pass in the Santa Monica Mountains immediately to the north.
Harvey Henderson Wilcox was born in New York state in 1832 and his family migrated to Michigan when he was a teen. As an adult he kicked around the Midwest cobbling shoes and trading real estate. In his fifties, after his first wife died in Kansas of tuberculosis, Wilcox married Daeida “Ida” Hartell, a girl more than thirty years his junior and relocated his ranch to southern California, purchasing land for $150 an acre. Wilcox tried farming figs like his neighbors but after a few years he decided to subdivide the land and sell lots for $1,000 each. Ida borrowed her neighbor’s name, which she may have first heard from a seatmate on a train ride from Kansas - or not, and on February 1, 1887 Harvey Wilcox filed a plat of the subdivision with the Los Angeles County Recorder’s office, the first time “Hollywood” appeared on a deed.
Wilcox died in 1891 but his wife led development efforts and was instrumental in establishing much of Hollywood’s civic infrastructure, including the city hall, library, police station, primary school, tennis club, post office, city park, and much of the commercial district. She also donated land for three churches and space for Hollywood’s first theatrical productions. She came to be called the “Mother of Hollywood,” and when Daeida died in 1914, the Los Angeles Times reported that it was Daeida’s dream of beauty that gave world fame to Hollywood.
To the world today Hollywood means movies. The early years of the movie industry were centered around New York City but Thomas Edison’s film patent fees helped send the pioneering studios west. Most didn’t stop until they reached the favorable year-round weather of Southern California. Short films were being made here by 1906 and by 1911 Los Angeles was second only to New York in motion picture production and by 1915 most movies were being made here. Four major film companies – Paramount, Warner Bros., RKO and Columbia – had studios clustered in Hollywood as the formerly somnambulant suburb skyrocketed to international stardom.
In 1910, when the development was mostly fields of grain and citrus trees town officials voted for Hollywood to be annexed into the City of Los Angeles to insure a reliable supply of water. In a handful of years that community was unrecognizable. After the movie companies came radio studios then set up shop in Hollywood in the 1930s, television studios in the 1940s and recording studios in the 1950s. Most have since dispersed to neighboring communities, leaving behind more iconic landmarks than any community of similar size and we’ll begin our tour at the most famous intersection in the world...
Hollywood and Vine
Two dirt roads crossed here in the 1880s when the Wilcox ranch was subdivided to be sold in lots. The Wilcox plan called the main artery running east-west Prospect Avenue and the north-south crossroad Weyse Avenue. In 1910 when the town of Hollywood was annexed by the City of Los Angeles, Prospect would become Hollywood Boulevard and Weyse became Vine Street. The area was a lemon grove until 1903 when Daneida Wilcox Beveridge granted permission to the German Methodists to build a church on the southeast corner. In the 1920s movie studio moneymen began to settle here and Hollywood and Vine rapidly became the second busiest intersection in west Los Angeles. Stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood beat a path to their agents’ offices here and in the 1930s radio stations began broadcasting from “live from Hollywood and Vine,” planting the magical place into the imaginations of millions of listeners.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood and Vine
The fabled Walk of Fame started in the 1950s as the brainchild of E.M. Stuart, a volunteer president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. He was seeking a way to reinvigorate the world famous corner that was beginning to lose its luster. The original plan was to create caricatures of the stars in brass but that proved too difficult to execute so after much wrangling the final design of coral stars set inside a charcoal background was chosen. From an initial pool of 1,550 stars eight were chosen at random, including Joanne Woodward and Burt Lancaster, to be the first “display” stars in 1958. Official ground-breaking took place in 1960 and today more than 2,400 stars are implanted down 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street - more than a mile of stars.
Over the years astronauts and athletes have snuck into the walk, qualifying on the basis of their “live performances.” Through the years honorees have included fictional characters (Disney characters and Muppets), dogs (Rin Tin Tin and Lassie), entertainment-industry inventors (Thomas Edison and George Eastman), make-up and special effects contributors, and stars honored in multiple categories (Gene Autrey is the only honoree with stars in all five categories - movies, television, recording, radio and live performance.) Four stars have been stolen through the years and several have been laid with misspellings (Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Dick Van Dyke). Nominating organizations, a studio or record company or even a fan club, must pay a $30,000 installation fee if selected and living stars must attend the unveiling, which is why some 40 big Hollywood names are not represented (Clint Eastwood and Julia Roberts among them).
FACE SOUTH ON VINE STREET (THE DIRECTION WITH A HIGH-RISE ON EACH CORNER. THE BUILDING ON YOUR LEFT IS...
southeast corner of Hollywood and Vine
A.Z. Taft Jr. built the first high-rise in Hollywood here in 1923 and Albert Raymond Walker and Percy Augustus Eisen provided a suitably grand Renaissance Revival design. Chariie Chaplin and Will Rogers were among the first high-wattage stars to move in; Chaplin wrote many of his films here. Shortly all the studios had offices in the Taft Building as did the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Hollywood Reporter, establishing Hollywood and Vine as the entertainment capital of the world.
THE BUILDING ON YOUR RIGHT IS...
B.H. Dyas Building/Broadway-Hollywood Department Store
southwest corner of Hollywood and Vine
The Stern family bought this property and ran cattle here before dividing the land for commercial development. B.H. Dyas built the first major department store on Hollywood Boulevard, with Frederick Rice Dorn designing a Renaissance Revival container. The Los Angeles firm of Postle and Postle, providers of “Secure Harmonious Relationship to Both Interior and Exterior Refinements,” provided the lavish interior appointments. While mothers shopped children could be dropped off in an eighth floor activity room where acting lessons were available. But the B.H. Dyas Specialty Emporium did not survive the Depression and beginning in 1931 the Broadway-Hollywood Department Store began a fifty-year run here. Along the way it picked up an International-style annex by Parkinson and Parkinson in 1938 to the west on Hollywood Boulevard, the two buildings being reluctantly joined by a ground floor passage. The iconic Broadway-Hollywood sign remains on the roof.
THE THIRD, AND LAST, HIGH-RISE AT HOLLYWOOD AND VINEIS...
northeast corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street
This Art Deco commercial tower with Gothic influences was constructed in 1929 on plans drawn by Alexander Edward Curlett. Curlett was the son of an Irish-born architect who enjoyed a long practice in Los Angeles. Curlett’s design allowed for a banking hall on the ground floor and a copper roof on top. Power agent Myron Selznick, the brother of mega-producer David O. Selznick, was an early tenant with his stable of A-list movie star clients. By the late 1930s the building was filled with advertising agencies directing the radio programs their clients were sponsoring on the CBS network operating here.
WALK EAST ON HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD, PAST THE EQUITABLE BUILDING, TO...
6233 Hollywood Boulevard
Born on the Greek island of Andros, Alexander Pantages spent his twenties digging the Panama Canal, boxing in San Francisco and prospecting for gold in the Yukon Territory. He began his career as a show business exhibitor in Dawson City, Yukon as a partner to saloon and brothel-keeper “Klondike Kate” Rockwell, operating a small, but highly successful vaudeville and burlesque theatre, the Orpheum. In 1902, at the age of 27, he was in Seattle opening the Crystal Theater and launching a chain of theaters across the West in Canada and the United States. His go-to architect was B. Marcus Priteca, a Scot, who designed 22 theaters for Pantages and another 128 for other theater owners. This Art Deco palace was planned to be a 12-story high-rise with ten floors of office space but the stock market crash of 1929 whittled away those dreams. It was to be the last theater built by Alexander Pantages, opened on June 4, 1930. In the increasingly dominant age of motion pictures it was still primarily a vaudeville house but after two years Pantages sold his landmark to Fox West Coast Theaters. In 1949 Howard Hughes acquired Pantages for his RKO Theatre Circuit and moved his personal offices to the building’s second floor. From 1949 through 1959, the theater hosted the annual Academy Award Ceremonies. Today the Pantages is one of Los Angeles’ leading venues for live theater.
TURN AROUND AND WALK WEST ON HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD, PAST VINE STREET, TO THE CORNER AT IVAR STREET. ON YOUR RIGHT AS YOU WALK, AT 6313 HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD IS THE ONE-TIME SITE OF THE LEGENDARY SARDI’S WHERE HOLLYWOOD BROKERED DEALS OVER BREAKFAST AND LUNCH. THE RUDOLPH SCHINDLER-DESIGNED INTERNATIONAL STYLE METAL-AND-GLASS BUILDING HAS BEEN COMPLETELY REMODELED. AT IVAR STREET, THE HIGH-RISE ON YOUR RIGHT IS...
6331 Hollywood Boulevard at northeast corner of Ivar Street
John Corneby Wilson Austin was born and trained in England but was working as an architect in Los Angeles by the time he was 25 in 1895. He designed many Southern California landmarks including Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles City Hall and several memorable buildings in Hollywood. This classically inspired, brick-faced high-rise is a 1923 Austin creation for the Guaranty Bank, which used the metal-frame sign at the top to advertise its generous savings rates. Today it is owned by the Church of Scientology. Charlie Chaplin and Cecil B. DeMille invested in the office building and Hedda Hopper once ruled the gossip columns from a seventh floor office.
ACROSS IVAR STREET IS...
Regal Shoes Building
6349 Hollywood Boulevard at northwest corner of Ivar Street
Albert Raymond Walker and Percy Augustus Eisen began a busy architectural partnership in 1919 that lasted over 20 years. This was one of their later projects, completed in 1939 and tapping the Streamline Moderne style that infused Art Deco principles with the clean, curving lines of a beached ocean liner. The most venerable tenant was Regal Shoes.
RETRACE YOUR STEPS TO HOLLYWOOD AND VINE AND TURN RIGHT ON VINE STREET, HEADING SOUTH.
Hollywood Plaza Hotel
1637 North Vine Street
This 1924 high-rise was typical of the apartment-hotels that began to populate Hollywood in its Golden Age of the 1920s and 1930s. The actress that most personified that period was Brooklyn-born Clara Bow, who shot to stardom as a spunky shopgirl in the film It. The “It Girl” was Hollywood’s number one draw in 1928 and 1929, in demand as the surest thing to make a profitable picture. Bow never cared much for “talkies” and was out of show business before she was thirty, departing for a ranching life in Nevada. But in 1937 she returned to Hollywood to open the “It Cafe” here. She promised to be in attendance at the nightclub three times a week but shortly after the birth of her second child Bow lost interest in the club which soon disappeared.
1628 North Vine Street
The Brown Derby was a chain of 1920s restaurants started by Robert H. Cobb (claimed as the impromptu inventor of the Cobb Salad) and Herbert Somborn (a one-time husband of Gloria Swanson). The flagship on Wilshire Boulevard was a Hollywood icon shaped like a man’s hat but the Brown Derby that sprouted the most Hollywood lore was the second, located here in the shadow of most of the movie studio offices. Clark Gable is said to have proposed to Carole Lombard in the Vine Street Brown Derby and countless deals went down while noshing. The building was ravaged by fire in 1987 and only a small fragment of the building’s Spanish Mission-style facade remains.
1615 Vine Street
Myron Hunt, an architect who littered Southern California with landmarks such as the Rose Bowl and the Ambassador Hotel, designed this theater in 1926 for the Wilkes brothers as the first legitimate Broadway-style stage in Hollywood. Howard Hughes acquired the theater in the 1930s and converted it into a movie house known as The Mirror but by 1935 it was in the hands of CBS Radio and hosting its long running “Lux Radio Theatre.” Twenty years later Huntington Hartford, an heir to the A&P grocery store fortune, spent most of a million dollars restoring the building to a top shelf live stage with some of the finest acoustics and sightlines in town. In 1999 an anonymous donation enabled Ricardo Montalban’s foundation to buy the building to champion the work of Latino performers, writers and directors.
Site of First Major Hollywood Studio
1521 Vine Street
In 1913, 32-year old director Cecil B. DeMille rented a horse barn on this location for $250 a month and used it to shoot Hollywood’s first full-length feature film, The Squaw Man. DeMille, who would become famous for his big screen extravaganzas, made the movie for only $15,000; actors used the empty stalls as dressing rooms. The Squaw Man would earn over $200,000 at the box office and set Hollywood on the path to become the movie capital of the world. The barn, which was built in 1896 and resembled a small residence, was hauled to the lot of Paramount Studios where it stayed for 55 years and get its own screen time as part of the set for television’s Bonanza. Dodging the wrecking ball, it was moved to its current location across from the Hollywood Bowl as part of the Hollywood Heritage Museum; a plaque here marks its historic birthplace.
southeast corner of Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street
This 20-story tower was the first skyscraper built in Los Angeles in the 1960s after the town’s 13-story earthquake-driven height restriction was lifted. Douglas Honnold’s building was much admired and the American Institute of Architects deemed it the best structure built in Los Angeles in the previous five years, picking it from among 8,000 eligible projects. Close to the heart of Hollywood, the tower made numerous appearances in the movies and “came down” in 1974’s Earthquake. Star Charlton Heston, who side-stepped some of the tower’s debris in the film, kept an office here. In 2005 a fire rendered the building uninhabitable in real life for a while.
TURN RIGHT ON SUNSET BOULEVARD.
6360 Sunset Boulevard
In 1963 there had not been a new theater built in Hollywood in more than 30 years. The anticipation for this movie house ratcheted up when it was announced that revered Los Angles architect Welton Beckett would design the building based on the principles of Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes. The domed roof would be the prototype for 300 domed Pacific Theatres venues around the world - and it was scheduled to be ready for the world premiere of the first movie filmed in the new 70mm, single strip Cinerama process, Stanley Kramer’s It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World, just 90 days away. Working around the clock, 316 precast concrete panels were installed and the deadline met. World played at Cinerama Dome for a record 66 weeks. With its 86-foot wide and 32-foot high wide screen, the largest contoured screen in the world, the Cinerama Dome became a Hollywoodfavorite for film premieres. It remains the only concrete geodesic dome in the world.
6363 Sunset Boulevard at northeast corner of Ivar Avenue
Home of the Los Angeles Film School since 1999, such legends as Elvis Presley, Henry Mancini and the Rolling Stones recorded here for RCA Records. John Williams laid down the orchestral score to Return of the Jedi in the studios in this building. The Muller family built the high-rise in 1963. Jacob Muller came to Hollywood in 1893 and set up the town’s first meat market next to the house he built on this site. He sold the market in 1907 and then began peddling Hollywood’s first ice. Across the street the Muller boys, Walter and Frank opened what they called the largest service station in the world, employing 120 people by the 1930s to sell gas and fix cars.
6400 Sunset Boulevard at southwest corner of Ivar Avenue
Amoeba Records opened in Berkeley in 1990 and this is their third location, opened in 2001 as the world’s largest independent music store. In addition to a full block of music the store operates as a live venue as well.
TURN LEFT ON IVAR STREET. TURN RIGHT ON DE LONGPRE AVENUE.
Engine Company 27
1353 North Cahuenga Boulevard at southwest corner of De Longpre Boulevard
This was the largest fire station west of the Mississippi River when it opened in July of 1930. And it was high on the list of most beautiful, as well, sporting an Italian Renaissance design by Peter K. Schabarum. Its handsome facade landed the firehouse in several motion pictures including Two Platoons in 1937 when filming was interrupted because the company had to respond to a brush fire in the Hollywood Hills. The building was slated for destruction in a city-wide fire department modernization in the 1980s but No. 27 was spared and the new station built next door. The station was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 and restored as a fire department museum. The collection includes the Los Angeles Fire Department’s first fire engine, an Amoskeag Steamer, ordered in 1886. The Fallen Firefighters Memorial in front of the station consists of a memorial wall listing all of the Los Angeles firefighters who have died in the line of duty since that founding in 1886 and a bronze group of five firefighters.
TURN RIGHT ON COLE PLACE.
6430 Sunset Boulevard at southeast corner of Cole Place
This International Style tower was designed by Marshall Starkman in 1968. CNN only leases about 20% of the space here but it owns naming rights. Larry King broadcast his gabfest here for 25 years and the area around the tower - Sunset Boulevard to De Longpre Avenue and Cahuenga Boulevard to Cole Place - is now named Larry King Square.
TURN LEFT ON SUNSET BOULEVARD. TURN RIGHT ON WILCOX AVENUE AND WALK ONE BLOCK TO THE CORNER OF SELMA AVENUE.
Hollywood Post Office
1615 Wilcox Avenue at northwest corner of Selma Avenue
This building was a Depression-relief project designed by Art Deco architect Claud Beelman in 1937. Beelman built a string of Los Angeles-area structures that, like this one, are on the National Register of Historic Places. It is still an active post office and still boasts a wooden bas-relief, “The Horseman,” carved by artist Gordon Newell inside. Many a love letter to a Hollywood star met a sad end by winding up in the “dead letter” office here.
TURN LEFT ON SELMA AVENUE AND WALK ONE BLOCK TO SCHRADER STREET.
1553 Schrader Boulevard at southwest corner of Selma Avenue
Paul Revere Williams became the first certified African-American architect west of the Mississippi River in 1921 and two years later, at the age of 29, became the pioneering African-American member of the American Institute of Architects. He would carve out a career designing homes for Hollywood celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball, Barbara Stanwyck, Danny Thomas and many others but his earliest success was with the African-American 28th Street YMCA and this building from 1928. Both buildings shared the same Spanish Colonial Revival stylings popular in the 1920s and were executed with ceramic and terra-cotta details.
TURN LEFT ON SCHRADER STREET TO RETURN TO SUNSET BOULEVARD. ON YOUR LEFT WILL BE...
Hollywood Athletic Club
6525 Sunset Boulevard at northeast corner of Schrader Boulevard
When it was constructed in 1924, on plans drawn by Mendel Meyer and Gabriel Holler, the club was the tallest building in Hollywood. Initiation was $150 and monthly dues were $10. Nearly every early celebrity of note used the facilities. Johnny Weissmuller trained in the pool for his Tarzan films and actor Cornel Wilde got his tart from his work as a fencing instructor here. Among the legends that grew from its walls were that John Wayne tossed billiard balls from the roof at passing cars below, Dick Powell reportedly brought the corpse of John Barrymore here for “one last drink” and Jean Harlow walked through the door one night wearing only a fur coat after she was stood up for a date by Errol Flynn. In its various incarnations the club has been a thriving nightclub, “America’s Best Pool Hall” as anointed by Billiards Digest, and a dance club. The first Emmy Awards were handed out here on January 25, 1949.
TURN RIGHT ON SUNSET BOULEVARD.
The Cat and Fiddle
6530 Sunset Boulevard
This 1929 Spanish Colonial Revival building was used by movie studios to store wardrobes and as a commissary. There is a story that parts of Casablanca were filmed here but that movie was famously shot almost entirely on the Warner Brothers’ lot at Burbank using sets borrowed from other projects since Jack Warner did not have much hope for the disheveled production of the classic-in-the-making. The English pub-style eatery was started in 1982 - and later relocated here - by British Invasion bassist Kim Gardner who played on over thirty albums in his career. Gardner became an accomplished painter and displayed much of his work in The Cat and Fiddle. Former bandmate Rod Stewart, Robert Plant and other rockers have frequented the pub, still operated by the Gardner family.
Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church
6657 Sunset Boulevard
Founded in 1904, the parish was the home church for many actors during the classic Hollywood era and its first building was soon inadequate given the town’s explosive growth. Thomas Franklin Power designed the current Italian Renaissance sanctuary that was dedicated in 1928 but not fully complete until 1954. Power had earlier designed the parish school in the same style. With its 223-foot chimes tower, ornate exterior and seating for 1,400 people, Blessed Sacrament quickly became a Hollywood landmark. Bing Crosby was the first of many Catholic stars to be married here, in 1930.
Crossroads of the World
6671 Sunset Boulevard
The Crossroads began life as one of America’s earliest planned outdoor shopping malls, developed by Ella Crawford in the early 1930s. Ella was the widow of Charlie Crawford, one-time boss of the Los Angeles underworld, whose unsolved 1931 murder took place in a building that once stood on this site. She envisioned the Crossroads as “a cultural and business center offering an experience like taking a trip around the world.” As the centerpiece for the complex architect Robert V. Derrah designed a Steamline Moderne ocean liner surrounded by internationally-flavored bungalows. Alfred Hitchcock was an early tenant but by the 1970s the Crossroads was a touchtone for Southern California rock-n-rollers. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young custom built a studio in one of the bungalows and recorded here, many album covers were designed at the Crossroads and the tower appears on America’s Greatest Hits album, and Warren Zevon, among others, kept an office here.
Hollywood High School
1521 Highland Avenue at northwest corner of Sunset Avenue
In September 1903, two months before Hollywood incorporated as a municipality, a two-room school was opened on the second floor of an empty storeroom at the Masonic Temple here. In 1910 the high school opened and the building’s Streamline Moderne look came along a few decades later. Hundreds of names you would recognize went to school here when it was the school of choice for the children of movie stars. The Hollywood High nickname is the Sheiks, remembering silent film star Rudolph Valentino.
TURN RIGHT ON ORANGE DRIVE AND WALK UP TO HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD.
7000 Hollywood Boulevard at southwest corner of Orange Avenue
You earn your glamour pedigree when you host the first ever Academy Award ceremonies, which is what the Roosevelt Hotel did in its Blossom Room 1929. The hotel itself was founded in 1927 by a syndicate of Hollywood royalty that included Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Louis B. Mayer. The idea was to create a suitable accommodation for visiting East Coast movie-makers who were working in Hollywood. Marilyn Monroe lived here for two years as an unknown model; her first magazine shoot took place on the pool’s diving board. And that first Oscar ceremony? It lasted only five minutes with Fairbanks and Al Jolson handing out 13 statuettes.
ACROSS HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD IS...
6933 Hollywood Boulevard
Anna Maria Grosholtz was born in France in 1761 and learned the art of wax modeling from Swiss doctor Phillippe Curtius, for whom her mother worked as a housekeeper. Tussaud’s first wax figure was of the writer Voltaire, when she was 16. She inherited the doctor’s vast collection of wax models after he died in 1794 and began displaying the figures around Europe. Her marriage to François Tussaud in 1795 lent a new name to the show: Madame Tussaud’s. By the 1830s she had settled in London and opened a museum with as many as 400 wax figures. Some of Tussaud’s own creations survive today although most historical figures come from casts. Today with museums on four continents, Tussauds did not come to Hollywood, source for so many of its figures, until 2009.
TURN RIGHT ON HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD.
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
6931 Hollywood Boulevard
Sidney Patrick Grauman was born into a theatrical family in 1879. His father David took him to Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1890s hoping to strike it rich. Instead the pair organized entertainment events for the prospectors, launching Grauman on a lengthy career as a showman. The pair landed next in San Francisco and by 1918 they were in Los Angeles with their first Southern California movie palace, the Million Dollar Theatre. David died during the construction of their next landmark, the Egyptian Theatre and Sid Grauman opened the Chinese Theatre, perhaps the most famous movie palace in the world, in 1927. Raymond M. Kennedy provided the sketches for the iconic building, calling on his classical training and mixing in his exuberant use of color. Among the theater’s trademarks sought by an estimated four million visitors each year are the concrete blocks set in the forecourt, which bear the signatures, footprints, and handprints of motion picture idols from the 1920s to the present day. Grauman actually owned only one-third of the theater and he sold his interest after just two years but remained the Managing Director until his death in 1950.
Hollywood Masonic Temple
6840 Hollywood Boulevard
Charles E. Toberman was a Texan who began his career as a stenographer before moving to Los Angeles in 1902 when he was 22. He was City Treasurer of Hollywood for awhile and then began putting together real estate deals - Toberman placed fifty-three Hollywood subdivisions on the market, formed more than thirty companies and organizations, built twenty-nine commercial buildings in Hollywood and had a hand in most of the famous theaters along Hollywood Boulevard. “Mr. Hollywood,” as he was often called, was affiliated with forty-nine clubs, civic, and fraternal organizations, including lodge master of the Masons. Toberman spearheaded the construction of this lodge, a Greek temple designed with fluted Ionic columns by John C. Austin. When the new lodge opened, it was one of the most substantial structures in Hollywood, boasting a billiard room, pipe organ, ladies parlor, ballroom and lodge rooms. Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the longest-running late-night show in the history of ABC television, now tapes here after a renovation by Disney which owns both this building and the El Capitan next door.
El Capitan Theatre
6838 Hollywood Boulevard
This historic movie palace opened on May 3, 1926 as a live theater. The exuberant Spanish Colonial Revival exterior was contributed by Stiles O. Clements and San Francisco-based architect Gustave Albert Lansbaugh, who designed over 50 theaters in a long career, gave the El Capitan a lavish East Indian interior. In the 1940s the stage was refitted as the Hollywood Paramount Theatre and served as the studio’s West Coast flagship for decades until the government forced Paramount to divest its theater holdings. After a $14 million renovation in the 1990s the El Capitan was back as a Disney stronghold.
6801 Hollywood Boulevard
This theater, with one of the largest stages in America, is the first permanent home of the Academy Awards ceremonies, built in 2001 with the Oscars in mind. It was also the home of American Idol in its infancy. When the Eastman Kodak Company filed for bankruptcy it lost naming rights to the entertainment complex and Oscar’s home will be known as the Dolby Theatre going forward.
Hollywood First National Bank Building
6777 Hollywood Boulevard at northeast corner of Highland Avenue
Mendel Meyer and Gabriel Holler began a partnership of more than a quarter-century in 1905. By the 1920s theirs was one of most esteemed architectural firms in Los Angeles, taking on ever-increasingly important projects. This one in 1927 for the Pacific Southwest Trust & Savings resulted in one of the Hollywood’s signature buildings and the tallest building in Los Angeles for five years until eclipsed by City Hall.
TURN RIGHT ON HIGHLAND AVENUE AND WALK DOWN A FEW STEPS. ON YOUR LEFT IS...
Max Factor Building
1660 North Highland Avenue
Max Factor was born in Russia in 1877. He became an apprentice to a wig-maker when he was fourteen, and by the time he was twenty young Factor was running his own makeup and hair goods shop in his hometown of Lodz. Business was good, good enough that in 1904 Factor brought his wife and three children to St. Louis where, with a partner, he took a booth at the St. Louis World’s Fair. Within a year his partner had pilfered most of the profits but Factor was able to raise money for another makeup, perfume and hair-products shop in downtown St. Louis. All the while he was hearing tales of the new motion picture industry growing in Los Angeles and in 1908 Max Factor headed to the frontier town of Hollywood. In 1914 he not only perfected the first make-up designed for movie use he invented the phrase. Factor’s work with the movies led to such innovations as false eyelashes, the eyebrow pencil and a powder brush. in 1928 Factor purchased this four-story building, developed in 1913 for Hollywood Fire and Safe by Hollywood pioneer C.E. Toberman, and theater architect S. Charles Lee dressed it up in an Art Deco style. When the space became theHollywood History Museum the building’s four makeup rooms, one each for blondes, brownettes, brunettes and redheads, were preserved.
RETRACE YOUR STEPS TO HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD AND TURN RIGHT, CONTINUING TO WALK EASTWARD.
6763 Hollywood Boulevard
Adolph “Eddie” Brandstatter cut his teeth on the clubs of Paris, London and New York before opening Hollywood’s first nightclub here in 1923. Brandstatter draped a French veneer of elegance on the rough-edged young movie town. The Cafe Montmartre was a Prohibition-era speakeasy where Hollywood stars gathered but he kept the club private, away from the prying eyes of the adoring multitudes. Good for the stars but bad for the bottom line and Brandstatter filed for bankruptcy. He came back even bigger than ever in 1932 with Sardi’s restaurant seen earlier.
Hollywood Theater/Guinness Book of World Records Museum
6764 Hollywood Boulevard
Buried in this mid-block structure is the oldest theater in Hollywood, opened on December 20, 1913 as the Idle Hour Theater. In those days it sported a Romanesque appearance with a glazed brick facade. Its first makeover came in 1927 and an Art Deco facelift by Claude Beelman and Clifford Balch in the 1930s provided its most enduring look. The vertical marquee was one of the earliest installed with angled side panels to attract the motorists who were beginning to fill Hollywood Boulevard. In disrepair by the 1990s, the building was rescued as a venue for the Guinness museum.
6724 Hollywood Boulevard at southwest corner of McCadden Place
Haldane H. Christie churned out axles and springs for the infant automobile industry in Michigan. In 1914 he sold his company to Henry Ford and moved to California. Christie started developing property along Hollywood Boulevard and commissioned Hollywood’s first modern hotel here in 1920. Architect Arthur R. Kelly delivered a Georgian Revival triple tower executed in red brick for the 100-room Hotel Christie. Guests could enjoy steam heat and their own bathrooms, luxuries unheard of before in Hollywood. Its hospitality days long behind it, the building is now owned by the Church of Scientology.
The Egyptian Theatre
6706 Hollywood Boulevard
Sid Grauman and his father David had made a splash in 1918 with their first movie palace in downtown Los Angeles and they followed it up with this exotic showplace in 1922. On October 18 of that year the Egyptian hosted the first ever Hollywood premiere, the Douglas Fairbanks starrer, Robin Hood. The film was not shown in any other Los Angeles theater during that year. Architects Meyer and Holler tapped the Egyptian Revival style for the theater, inspired by the Egyptmania following the recent discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb. The Egyptian would be copied in movie palaces across the United States before the fascination wore out.The Egyptian Theatre would also fall victim to a loss of public interest and fell into disrepair in the 1980s. American Cinematheque purchased the historic property for one dollar by promising to save and restore the treasured movie palace, which they did to the tune of almost $13 million.
Musso & Frank Grill
6667 Hollywood Boulevard
Joseph Musso and Frank Toulet opened their eatery in 1919, dishing out traditional American fare. Still going strong, it lays claim to being Hollywood’s oldest restaurant. Hard by the offices of the Writer’s Guild on Cherokee Street, the diner became a hangout for the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Ernest Hemingway. The original restaurant was located just to the east, Musso and Frank’s has been anchored here since 1937.
6650 Hollywood Boulevard at southwest corner of Cherokee Avenue
ArchitectsSamuel Tilden Norton and Frederick H. Wallis did not leave many undecorated surfaces on this four-story Art Deco creation in 1929. It was the first home of the Directors Guild of America in 1960 after movie and television directors’ unions merged.
S.H. Kress/Frederick’s of Hollywood
6606 Hollywood Boulevard
Samuel Kress founded S.H. Kress & Co. in 1896 and took as much pride in the beauty his stores brought to downtown streetscapes as he did in the profits his five-and-dimes brought to his coffers. An avid art collector who wanted his stores to stand as public works of art in the more than 200 towns in which he operated, Kress kept a staff of architects on the payroll. This was one of the chain’s latest structures, designed by chief architect Edward F. Sibbert and executed in 1935. The exquisite Art Deco creation was a natural location for Frederick’s to peddle lingerie once the Kress chain collapsed.
6601 Hollywood Boulevard at northwest corner of Whitley Avenue
If you have been to Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris or Walt Disney World you might recognize this building with the striking Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. It was one of the buildings selected to recreate Hollywood Boulevard in the 1950s at the theme parks. Others so honored you have seen so far on tour are the First National Bank, the Chinese Theatre, El Capitan and the Broadway Hollywood department store. If you see a Spanish Colonial Revival building in Hollywood chances are architects H. L. Gogerty and Carl Jules Weyl had a hand in it and that is the case here. Harry M. Baine, a Texas transplant, commissioned the building in 1927. Baine quickly became an influential player in the Hollywood business community, serving as president of the Retail Merchants Association and launching the annual Christmas parade.
6541 Hollywood Boulevard
Buried inside this shopping complex is the oldest building in Hollywood, a Shingle-style Victorian built in 1902 for Hobart Johnstone Whitley, a real estate developer whose gravestone calls him the “Father of Hollywood.” Whitley was a Canadian who came to Chicago in the 1870s to run a hardware store and a candy store. He became interested in land development and in the the 1880s founded scores of towns in the Oklahoma Territory, Texas, California and the Dakotas, where he became a good friend of Theodore Roosevelt. He was developing in Hollywood by the 1880s and this speculative property was snapped up in 1903 by Herman and Mary Ruth Janes, who left their Illinois furniture store for a new life in California. The Janes women opened a private school here for fifteen years until 1926 and the Janes family, mostly unmarried children of Herman and Mary Ruth, lived here until 1982. Rather than tear down the building the new owners moved it to the back of the lot and constructed a shopping center out front.
6533 Hollywood Boulevard at northwest corner of Hudson Avenue
In the early days of movie-making the heritage residents of Hollywood did not cotton to the big-city New York stage actors over-running their sleepy little burg. More often than not new arrivals were met by rental signs that read, “No Dogs and No Actors.” Movie moguls Jesse Lasky and Samuel Goldwyn built this multi-unit Mediterranean-style structure in 1917 just so actors could live close to the studios. Stan Laurel, Clara Bow, and Mary Astor were just a few of the early stars who lived in the Hillview’s 54 units. In the deteriorating Hollywood of the 1960s the historic building became dilapidated but it has since be restored and is once again fetching premium rents.
6433 Hollywood Boulevard at northeast corner of Wilcox Avenue
Harry, Albert, Sam and Jack Warner set out to build the largest theater in Hollywood in 1926 and retained fabled theater architect G. Albert Lansburgh to design the studio’s flagship. Lansburgh created a four-story Italian Renaissance movie palace intended to sweep patrons from their hum-drum lives and off to an exotic experience of the mind. Of the Warner brothers, Sam was the most involved in the project but he died of a brain hemorrhage before it could open and his ghost is said to still wander the theater.
Security Pacific Building
6381 Hollywood Boulevard at northeast corner of Cahuenga Boulevard
The architectural father-and-son team of John B. and Donald D. Parkinson was the go-to firm for colossal Los Angeles projects. On their resume would be the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, City Hall and Union Station. This substantial office building, created in 1921 for Security Trust and Savings, tossed away the convention of the day to build a solid, conservative banking temple and instead embraced the elegant Italian Renaissance style. Look up to see the elaborate stone carvings in the exterior cornices.
Owl Drug Store/Julian Medical Building
6380 Hollywood Boulevard at southeast corner of Cahuenga Boulevard
A 1934 contribution to the streetscape by Morgan, Wells and Clement, this is one of Hollywood’s standout Streamline Moderne structures in a town that eagerly embraced Art Deco architecture. The ground floor was originally the drug store with, conveniently, medical offices above.
TURN LEFT ON CAHUENGA BOULEVARD AND TURN RIGHT ON YUCCA STREET.
6376 Yucca Street at southeast corner of Cahuenga Boulevard
Albert R. Walker and Percy A. Eisen designed some of the most stylish residential buildings and hotels in Los Angeles. Here they strung a four-story Renaissance Revival structure along Yucca Street which drew raves in the Los Angeles Times when it opened as the Cross Arms Apartments in 1923 as “one of the largest and most beautiful apartment houses in Hollywood.” It sold the very next year and became the Halifax Apartments. Regardless of the name, it was a popular bedding spot for silent film stars.
6364 Yucca Street
This boutique guest house opened in 1927 as the Oban Hotel. Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Paul Newman, Fred McMurray, Orson Wells, Clark Gable, Glen Miller, Harry James all signed the register here as did props manager and stunt double Charles Love, whose ghost is said to haunt the premises. Frustrated in his acting ambitions, Love is said to have engaged in a shouting match with a studio official and stormed off on a drinking spree. He returned to his room in the Oban several days later in February of 1933 and shot himself.
Yucca Vine Tower
6305 Yucca Street at northwest corner of Vine Street
Henry L. Gogerty and Carl Weyl designed this landmark Art Deco tower in 1929. Look up to see stylized eagles and Mayan guardians. The American Musical and Dramatic Academy now inhabits the building amidst a cluster of residential bungalows used for student housing.
TURN RIGHT ON VINE STREET.
Capitol Records Tower
1750 Vine Street
Capitol was the first recording label to establish a beachhead on the West Coast, moving into this Welton Beckett-designed icon in 1956. The circular awnings on each floor and the tall spike jutting from the center of the roof evoke the image of records on a turntable. A 150-foot height restriction was in effect in Los Angeles at the time and the Capitol Tower butts up against the limit; the earthquake preventative would be lifted in 1964. Guitar legend Les Paul engineered one of the studio’s echo chambers, said to be the finest in the industry. Frank Sinatra recorded the first album in the tower.
1735 Vine Street
This night club began life in 1927 as The Hollywood Playhouse. Carl Jules Weyl, a German trained architect who also won an Oscar for Best Art Direction for the film The Adventures of Robin Hood, contributed the Spanish Revival design. Weyl moved to Los Angeles in 1923, where he designed the Brown Derby Restaurant #2, the Gaylord Apartments and many other buildings and Hollywood estates. The theater transformed into a television studio in the 1950s and it was here that Richard Nixon delivered his famous “Checkers speech” on September 23, 1952 that rescued his place on the Republican presidential ticket with Dwight D. Eisenhower. ABC filmed many television shows here through the years, hosting a roster of legends that included the Beatles, Fred Astaire and Merv Griffin’s talk show. The theater itself took a star turn in the film Against All Odds as the The Palace.
WALK A FEW MORE STEPS TO RETURN TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT AT HOLLYWOOD AND VINE.