Hollywood Celebrities and Landmarks

Here Is Some Hollywood Insider Scoop!

There’s something strangely mesmerizing about the lives of certain Hollywood celebrities, especially those who meet unseemly endings (euphemism for death, which I’m trying not to use in what we hope is a generally upbeat website). Well, Los Angeles has more than its share of entries in the weird/tragic-celebrity-demise category. Don’t dwell too long on these train wrecks, but you can visit the locations and get it out of your system—you’ll feel better doing so.

On a happier note, we’ve also included some of our favorite Hollywood celebrity hangouts of a less-depressing nature; interesting and/or funky places to visit. (By the way, this is but a sampling of tons of other interesting/tawdry sites, and one good book among many options to help you find more is California Babylon by Kristan Lawson and Anneli Rufus, to whom we want to give credit where credit it due. You can also visit the Seeing-stars website.)

Chateau Marmont and John Belushi

Actually John Belushi was one of dozens of Rock ‘n’roll and Hollywood celebrities who spent time at this French-style hotel at 8221 Sunset Boulevard. Liz Taylor, Natalie Wood and James Dean (together), Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward (together, but you knew that), Jim Morrison of The Doors getting hurt trying to climb into an upstairs window, Led Zeppelin on Harleys in the lobby, Ringo, Janis, Boris, Greta, you name it.

But Belushi, of Saturday Night Live and movie fame, had the misfortune of trying to combine cocaine and heroin, and overdosing in the process while staying in either Bungalow 2 or 3. It’s at the corner of Sunset Blvd and Laurel Canyon Boulevard. You can get a peek at the bungalows by going up Marmont Lane on the west side of the hotel, and then going right on Monteel Road.

The Chateau Marmont
The Chateau Marmont

Sharon Tate/Charles Manson Attack Site

In the summer of 1969, Charles Manson thought he was going to get a recording opportunity with record producer Terry Melcher (son of Doris Day), who had been introduced to Manson by Beach Boy Dennis Wilson. When Melcher changed his mind (I wonder why…) Manson decided to impose revenge, thinking that his target still lived at 10050 Cielo Drive in Bel Air.

Instead, Melcher no longer lived there; actress Sharon Tate and director Roman Polanski had moved in instead, without notifying nut-case Manson. Charles sent four of his followers, who brutally killed Tate and several friends who were staying with her (Polanski was gone at the time). The original house has been replaced and the new address is 10048 Cielo Drive. Take Benedict Canyon Drive north from Sunset Blvd. To left on Cielo Drive.

O.J. Simpson’s Former Residence

This is where the limousine driver waited for O.J. to come out for a trip to the airport, on the night of the murder. This is where they arrested O.J. The streets were closed for awhile because of the media circus (same circus that visited Rancho Santa Fe?). Now that a new house has been constructed on the site, you can get there again, at 360 N. Rockingham Avenue, at Ashford Street.

Where O.J. Would Have Committed a Crime (If he had done it)

Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman met their tragic ends at 879 S. Bundy Drive (formerly 875 S. Bundy Drive). It’s just north of Dorothy Street. These two were stabbed by an “unknown” assailant on June 12, 1994. The attack took place near the garages off of Dorothy Street The owners of the duplex have changed out the side gate and have otherwise camouflaged the place to avoid uninvited visitors. As always, we suggest you look but not touch or irritate residents.

Goodbye Norma Jean

On August 5, 1962, Marilyn Monroe was found dead of an apparent overdose in the house at 12305 5th Helena Drive. From Sunset Boulevard turn south on Carmelina Avenue, driving to the 5th in a series of cul-de-sacs all named Helena Drive. They found that she had swallowed nearly 50 Nembutal tablets; sadly, she’d have had to be very motivated to consume that many. Some say there was foul play beyond her own actions.

Marilyn Monroe

Historic Tarzana

This community within Los Angeles was in the sticks back in 1919 when Edgar Rice Burroughs paid $125,000 for a 550-acre ranch with his earnings from the book Tarzan. Eddie became a gentleman pig rancher—for awhile. By 1922 he was trying to subdivide the property for a profit, tossing the pigs and hoping to create a new town. He was successful, and in 1930 Tarzana was granted a postmark.

We’re not sure if this qualifies Burroughs as a Hollywood celebrity. You might be able to see some of the remaining structures in the original estate at the southeast corner of Tarzana Drive and Reseda Boulevard. The estate once took up the acreage between Reseda Boulevard and Avenida Oriente, south of Ventura Boulevard all the way to Mulholland Drive.

The Hollywood Sign

This famous sign was built in 1923 as an advertisement for a residential development called Hollywoodland. By 1940 it was a mess, so locals ponied up to rebuild it with the proper, shortened name you see today. However, it has seen subsequent renovations; these cost a lot more than you’d think, because the letters are bigger than you’d think.  Folks: these letters are 50-ft high, taller than a 4-story building each!

Numerous suicides from unsuccessful would-be actors and wanna-be Hollywood celebrities caused the need to fence it off. You can get a good view by driving north on Gower Street, between Melrose and Franklin. It’s not easy to actually get close to the sign, what with gates and alarms. Some have tried by starting at the upper end of Beachwood Drive, or the eastern end of Mulholland Highway.

Hollywood Sign
The Hollywood Sign

The Leave It To Beaver House

Want to see where the Beav and Wally lived? Well most of the time it was in a studio. But the exteriors were shot at 1727 Buckingham Road, just south of St. Charles Place. Enter the neighborhood through St. Charles off Crenshaw Boulevard, as some of the other streets are gated.

Pickfair Mansion

This was once the home of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, two of the biggest Hollywood celebrities, back in 1920. It was very famous as a result of their fame and glamour. It served to start the trend of the rich and famous to move into the rural community of Beverly Hills. There were fabulous parties thrown throughout the ‘20s. The couple split up in the 1930s and subsequent owners messed with the place, not in a good way. You can find it at 1143 Summit Drive. Turn east from Benedict Canyon Drive.