Friday, August 28, 2009
the back story-part 3

I found this picture on the net and it was of great interest to me because of a couple of things....First of all, I love the history of certain things---Hollywood being one of those things---And because this is my neighborhood, it all has even more interest for me. This picture is from around 1927 soon after this great theatre was built. The Hills in the distance are a part of what is known as The Hollywood Hills, and as you can see, it looks almost empty of homes.....The area that I live in and love, was still just an idea, at this point in time.....Over on the left side of the picture is a low building with archways.....That building is still there. This is a most recent picture or rendering, showing Tussuad's Wax Museum---the newest building in that complex of 'entertainment', going from Highland Avenue to the street you see in the picture above, Orange Drive. And there is that one-story building with the arches....so we know it is over 80 years old..... Once again, another pristine picture of Grauman's Chinese and those Hills and that building with the arches, way over on the left....You can see that right next to Grauman's, over on the left, is a parking lot. That is where one parked when going to the movies or, in fact, going just about any place right there in the neighborhood. I love that long luxurious Grauman's awning that goes almost to the street---the Box Office was right there, and when it rained, one was very very grateful for that lovely long awning because it went all the way to the doors to the lobby! And of course, this was before The Hollywood Walk of Fame, though not before the Hand Prints and Foot Prints.....Sid Grauman started doing those right after the Theatre first opened. He was a true 'showman'.....!Above, is the early 1950's.....A view looking towards Highland Avenue. You can see a car pulling into the parking lot right there on the side of Grauman's where Tussuad's Wax Museum is now.....That area stayed a parking lot until they began building Tussuad's....and by that time there were other choices for parking....! As you can see here in the above picture.....that iPod Ad on the side of the building and a portion of the Film Strip Mural there on the side of Grauman's says that this picture was taken more recently.....If you look closely you can see some of the Walk Of Fame Stars in the sidewalk there in front of the Theatre. The Walk Of Fame, begun in 1958, was an attempt to revitalize Hollywood which was no longer the exciting glamorous area it once had been....... And above, another two pictures which I did not take....You can see that the rest of that Film Strip Mural on the side of Grauman's is beginning to look a bit tattered.... Fade Out. Fade In. I took this picture through the car window (that's why it has a greenish tinge---and Charles, if you are reading this, that is why the building in my last post looks like it is a different color...The picture was taken through the tinted window of the car) back in March of 2008 when I was out and about on another drive-around.....You can see that this Mural was now in truly terrible disrepair, but they didn't care because they knew it would be gone soon---covered up! And, indeed, it was covered up----well, not completely.....It's almost completely gone in this picture above....The Wax Museum was built flush to the wall of Grauman's and of course, it covered the Mural and the Ad space, too.....Except for that little tiny section, though by now, that could be gone, too....after all this picture and the one below were taken by me in November, 2008..... See, this is the entrance to the Parking structure for the Hollywood & Highland Entertainment Complex and Mall.....Next time I get out, I'll make sure to see if the Mural is completely gone----after all, it is almost 10 months since I took that last picture above......Okay. Now, back to 'the characters' of 2009.....! I had no idea who this guy was supposed to be and Joe said laughingly, "It's Chewbacca!". It turns out if you have never seen STAR WARS or any of the sequels, you don't know who Chewbacca is.....Well, NOW, I know....lol! So......will the real Chewbacca please stand up!And there he is above! Now, let's take a closer look at the Chewbacca that was out in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre that day...... Don't you love seeing his watch and his shirt cuff? Oh, and then Joe said, "Be sure to get a picture of Chewbacca's sister....!" His wish was my command! Then we saw this interesting furry person, too......The Lion from....The Lion King? That's my guess. Can you imagine wearing a costume like this on these dog days? I mean it is very very very hot here right now.....I don't know how these people do it. And I hope the "contributions" they get from each person who feels privileged to have their picture taken with them, is worth it! I don't know who this is, but the costume looks quite warm...Well, at least the head thingy does.....And here below, is Elvis and a friend..... Wow! In one picture, Freddy K., Elvis and his friend---I'm not sure who 'the friend' is supposed to be, except, he plays for 'Elvis' so he can sing---Do click on all these pictures to make them bigger, and you will see that 'Elvis' has a microphone....Oh, and his friend? I love looking at his feet...! (lol)! I don't know who this person is, either! Anyone? If you know, please leave it in a comment for me.....And, of course, there below, is good old Spider Man...... He looked like he was taking a break....maybe a little bathroom break....I don't know, but he was definitely leaving The Stage..... And speaking of 'The Stage'.....I think that this three tiered area---(see the people way up there at the top?----) is truly extraordinary. Whoever the designer was and the Architects---well, it is really quite brilliant and awesome to see.....Here below are a few pictures I took in 2008 from a different angle and at the time, they kind of took my breath away..... This is a closer look at the staircases and escalators that take you to the different levels of this complex.....and I love that there are Stage Lights hanging up there as they do on Film Stages and Theatre Stages....Below....Another picture I took from the car back then, getting in as close as I could. At the time I thought...My God, this is fantastic! To be able to see The Hollywood Sign from up here..... Well, it is brilliant and amazing beyond words! And after really thinking about it more carefully, I came to the conclusion that it is a beautifully painted/photographed backdrop and a perfect thing to put right there....In truth, there is no way one could possibly see the Hollywood Sign that close up from this vantage point---it is too far away---and to see it so clearly, too. I could be wrong. In fact, I'd love to be wrong about this. But, I'm afraid is ain't 'the real thing'.....But, what a great great idea. And after all, Hollywood is all about illusion, isn't it? So why not give the people this illusion, too?

Over the years, I cannot tell you how many people have driven by my house and when they would see me out front working in my garden, they would ask me...."How do we get to the Hollywood Sign from here?" Well, in fact, they are many miles away from the Hollywood Sign being up there on my Hill----it is much further East. I guess now if I am asked I could say: "You can go on down to the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland, only it isn't really the "real" thing........"




More To Come...........













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Wednesday, August 26, 2009
back story - part 2

Hollywood & Highland, 1905. That house that is pretty clear down at the bottom of the picture, dead center, was still there about 15 years ago....On the actual corner of Hollywood and Highland across from where that whole complex of entertainment is located now, was The Hollywood Hotel.....which I believe was built in 1905....here it is, below. Way over to the far right was the corner of this famous Hotel....And, and eventually, making way for progress, this very famous Historic Hotel it was torn down......... A great friend and wonderful actor/performer, James O'Reare, loved anything and everything about old Hollywood and Broadway and he was so dismayed when he read that they were going to tear this famous landmark down, that he went into the Hotel and took as much Stationary as he could and as many Postcards as he could, too.....It was always a treat to get a letter or Postcard from Jimmy. This is the building that was built on the old Hollywood Hotel Property....and here below is another picture that I took of that building
in November of 2008, through the car window........
And of course....over on the left side of the picture above is the Hollywood & Highland Complex......Going back to some more of those characters who were out and about on that recent Monday....here below are some more 'backs' of some the other dress-ups......Why it's Superman and Capt. America...(Is that right? Captain America??? Yeah, I think so)....And Captain America is all padded up......And below, we got to see their faces....well, sort of...... A blond Superman and a Captain America that looks kind of like a girl....Or am I just imagining that? Maybe it's the thing covering Captain America's head and all that puffy stuff in the costume....Let's look closer..... You see what I mean? Well, I do think it is all that puffy stuff in the costume.....Superman has all that puffy stuff, too---plus the blond hair....lol....... Well.....Superman's 'puffy' is not as puffed up as Captain America, as you can see from these two pictures.....One wonders where they get these costumes....Maybe they make them themselves..... Look at this guys puffiness...And I don't have a clue as to who he was supposed to be---I never saw him from the front. And then there is a third Capt. Jack---different color Cape...And some tourist having his picture taken with both these 'characters'....Simply Amazing! This guy above was "Rick James" and he was really great! His whole costume including his shoes and the guitar were very authentic looking....Here is a closer look at him, below..... There he is and there's Snoopy right next to him going the other way.....This guy really looks like he is having a great time....He is happy to be there and loves what he does....... I love this picture below because it shows Grauman's Chinese when there was almost nothing else around it.....It's astounding when you know what it all looks like now........ It looks as if it wasn't finished yet and in fact, they were still building it.....It was one of the great Movie Palaces.....everything pristine and exact as well as ornate.....! The picture above was during the late 1930's.....When a "premiere" was a true happening...People dressed in formal clothes....There was no Red Carpet, as we know it now.....There was no television, but these Movie Premiere's were a very important moment for a new picture, and Grauman's Chinese Theatre was home to many of these great Premiere's.....It also was one of the early theatres which held The Academy Awards......What a lot of History has taken place right there..... And now.....it's come to this. Someone dressed as Darth Vader, having his picture taken with two young kids and a man dressed as Shrek with some very colorful pants.....!


There will be a Part 3, my dears.....






More To Come

UPDATE: I cannot let this day go by without saying something about the loss of Ted Kennedy....So very sad.....The end of something that we will never see again. A family dedicated to "service" in the truest sense. Whatever else some people may think about the Kennedy's, what cannot be denied is the impact on American life and values that they have had on our beautiful wonderful country in terms of their "service" to people in need....Civil Rights comes to mind first, for me, but there was and is, so much more, not the least of which was his very deep commitment to Health Care For All, which he spoke about publicly as far back as 1962......I am only one year older than Ted Kennedy and like many of you reading this, have lived through all the triumphs and tragedies of their family and in turn, the fallout of these tragedies to our country....Nothing was the same after John Kennedy was assassinated in November of 1963. Nothing. Then, in 1968, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, just two months after Martin Luther King's assassination....what was happening to our country??.....Everything seemed lost, once again. And it didn't look like Teddy Kennedy was up to carrying on the legacy of his brothers. Well, it turns out he was more than up to it...And he grew in stature and in every other way as he matured. Ted Kennedy carried on the legacy of his two brothers in his 47 years in the Senate, in a consistently stunning way, that will reverberate for many many many generations to come....With his death, it feels like the true end of something that has been a part of our life---certainly a part of my life, for as long as I can remember....My heart goes out to all of his dear family and to his many friends everywhere and to all of us who feel this loss.....Let us hope that his words will live on in actions, despite his sad and untimely death......

"......The dream shall never die!"





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Saturday, August 22, 2009
the back story

Oh look! There's Shrek! Now what was he doing? Well, he and a number of other 'characters' who dress up for The Tourists, were out in full force! You can see just a tiny bit of the top of 'The Chinese Theatre' up there on the upper right part of that picture above.....My friend called out to him so he would turn around towards us and I was able to get this pretty good picture of him from the front..... It was a Monday afternoon and Hollywood Boulevard was busy. Think of that----busy and crowded on a Monday. Especially busy around Grauman's Chinese Theatre.....A good friend took me for a ride and we went down the Hill to see what was happening there at Hollywood & Highland and The Kodak Theatre and Grauman's Chinese and at the new Madame Tussuad's Wax Museum.....There was Freddy Krueger, looking quite haunted. It actually looks like a pretty good mask/make-up. He had a bad looking hand, but I couldn't get a very good picture of that. I was in the car and not about to get out of it and mingle with all the world and their possible germs---I was happy to just be out in a car for a lovely outing. You can just barely see the edge of his hand in the picture above--he just happened to be facing the street so that is why I was able to get a good shot of him from the front.....All of this activity down there on Hollywood Blvd. is startling to me. Grauman's was my neighborhood movie theatre when I first moved to Los Angeles back in 1961. (I've always lived in this area....) And Hollywood was in a downward turn back then and remained so for many many years....Of course Grauman's was always 'the' place to go because of the Hand Prints of all the "stars" in their courtyard and it is a beautiful theatre with a lot of Hollywood History....And The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, across the street, still had a certain rather worn and tattered elegance, and, a wonderful History, but generally speaking, Hollywood Blvd. was pretty depressed and depressing if one was expecting something else. And most people were. And, as time went on....Hollywood Blvd. got worse and worse. Still.....it was my neighborhood. Some of my favorite places in L.A., were there on Hollywood Blvd. The Pickwick Bookshop----three floors of fabulousness....anything and everything you could possible want where books were concerned. You cannot tell how great this bookstore was from the picture above....but, it was THE Primo Bookstore in Los Angeles. And I spent a lot of time and money there, and loved every minute of it. One could spend hour upon hour just browsing and looking for hidden treasures. It's gone now, the way so many privately owned book stores are now extinct and just a memory in people's minds. Sad, really. The Cherokee Bookshop was another favorite haunt of mine. I loved old Movie Magazines and The Cherokee was known to have an amazing room on their second floor, filled with "old"...I mean OLD Movie Magazines from the 1920's and 1930's.....those were the ones I was interested in---I was doing some research for a particular project....Back then, you could just go into that little room all by yourself---it was like a big closet---and sit and look at anything and everything you wanted.....That all changed as time went on. Years later you had to ask for a particular Magazine, issue date and all, and they would get it from some filing cabinet---(the magazine protected by a glassine envelope)----for you to gaze at....No more freedom to just explore it all at your leisure with everything right there before you in big piles. Somewhere along the way they realized the value of these magazines.....They also had the most extensive Comic Book Collection of just about anywhere....! But my interest were those treasured Movie Magazines.......Musso & Frank, the oldest restaurant in Hollywood....that is still there and still looks pretty much the same as it has since it opened in 1919.....The Menu has been the same for as long as I have been going there on a regular basis, and that is 48 years now---except I cannot go anymore because of my health. But kind and caring souls bring me goodies from Musso's occasionally. And, it is a Restaurant that Hollywood people still do go to....On any given lunchtime or dinnertime you might see just about anyone of note there.....They have "specials" every day and those haven't changed either. Thursdays is "Chicken Pot Pie"....Oh My! So Hearty and Yummy...what I call 'Mommy Food'......A meal that makes you feel warm all over..... This is the long block above, where Musso's is---you can see it there towards the right side of the picture.....The Vogue Theatre was on the same side just West of Musso's and The Pickwick Bookshop was further on down the street on the same side. My first California Dentist was in that large building on the corner of McCadden. The very tall building beyond my Dentist's "Medical Building" is the corner of Hollywood & Highland, and across from that, still on the North side of the street, is where that whole Hollywood & Highland complex is now---including The Kodak Theatre, The Renaissance Hotel, all the smaller theatres there at Grauman's, The H&H Mall and the most recent addition at the end of that block...Madame Tussuad's Wax Museum. I watched this being built from my home.....This picture above was taken in November of 2008, on another car outing day....The Wax Museum wasn't finished yet.....It's not a great picture because it was overcast and late afternoon, too.....but, it gives you a bit of an idea about the size of the building, from behind....Straight ahead there going down Orange Drive that building is The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel that sits on the south side of Hollywood Blvd..... The picture above---taken the same day---shows a closer look at the construction progress---with the TV Guide Building across the street..... I didn't take this picture above----in fact it almost looks unreal because there is no traffic on Hollywood Blvd., and not one car on Orange Drive....I have never seen it like this....So it is probably a rendering of sorts....The building is 40,000 square feet of space and reportedly cost $55 million to build and is three stories high. And I am deeply grateful that it isn't a ten or twelve story building because it would have changed my view considerably......Here below is a closer look at what was on that table sitting just off center in the first Museum picture above. Marilyn Monroe. I don't know if that is Wax, but it is something that can sit out in the heat and not melt, that's for sure....This figure of Marilyn is recreating the day she put her Hand Prints in the cement at Grauman's Chinese all those many years ago...maybe 1957. I don't know how popular this Museum is, but there were certainly a lot of people milling about in front of it..... Look at this adorable little boy below..... You have to see who he was reaching out for there on Hollywood Blvd......Good old Barney. He, Barney that is, was all over the place....people wanting their picture taken with him and that darling little boy just wanting to touch him...... Way over to the right side was one of the two 'Captain Jack's' that were working the street that afternoon....Everyone wanted their picture taken with this guy, too..... We never did see this Captain Jack from the front....only from the back, being in the car and all....Do click on these pictures and then you can see them much bigger..... This guy above was the other Captain Jack, and the only reason he was facing us with that gun...(oy)..was that my friend Joe yelled out to him to get his attention.....He obviously takes his work very seriously....! I think this little boy is so darling---I just had to show you a closer look at him and the 'the baby' he was toting on his back....Adorable, beyond words.....! There will be a Part 2......!





More To Come........


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