Discovering the History of Hollywood
Everyone who visit’s LA has Hollywood on their “must see” list. The bright lights and the energy are just a couple of things to love about it. So is the history. The one’s who came before and left their indelible mark. In fact, if you look closely, you will notice that Hollywood and the surrounding areas are a blend of the the new with the old. If you like history, then you will want to check out some of these places that have made their mark on this town.
A landmark with a rich history, You might recognize Greystone Mansion from some of your favorite films including: Star Trek 2, The Muppets, The Social Network, The Prestige, Rockstar, Spiderman, X-Men, The Big Lebowski, Air Force One and Ghostbusters just to name a few. Built by the heir to one of the world’s greatest financial empires, Greystone mansion took over 3 years to build at a cost over more than 3 million dollars (which in 1927 is equivalent to roughly about $41 million today).It is called Greystone due to its abundant use of stone construction and its somber gray appearance. In addition to the Mansion, originally located on the grounds were stables and kennels, tennis courts, a fire station, gatehouse, swimming pool and pavilion, a greenhouse, a lake, babbling brooks and cascading waterfalls. While the original owner was murdered inside the home by a close friend soon after the house was built, those that cared for it (including his widow) kept the structure intact. In recent years, it has been used for filming, weddings, photo shoots and the extremely popular Murder & Madness dinner theater performed there once a year.
Talk about old Hollywood! Known as one of the most celebrated homes in the world, Pickfair (named by the press) was built for silent film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. Originally a hunting cabin, Fairbanks purchased the house for Pickford in 1919 and they enlisted architect Wallace Neff to create a mock tudor style mansion that had 4 stories, 25 rooms and included stables, servants quarters, tennis courts, a large guest wing, and garages. Pickfair became the “it” place for celebrities to gather. If you were at Pickfair it meant you were a part of the in crowd. Legendary guests included Charlie Chaplin (who was Fairbanks’ best friend and lived next door), the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Greta Garbo, George Bernard Shaw, Albert Einstein, Elinor Glyn, Helen Keller, H.G. Wells, Amelia Earhart, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joan Crawford, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, Pearl S. Buck, Charles Lindbergh, Max Reinhardt, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Edison, Lillian Gish, Gloria Swanson, the Duke and Duchess of Alba, the King and Queen of Siam and many more. After Pickford and Fairbanks divorced in 1936, she lived there with her 3rd husband until her death. The home was eventually sold to Pia Zamora and her first husband who ended up demolishing most of the home. This was met with public outrage and she said it was because the house was filled with termites. It was later revealed that a laughing ghost of a woman kept appearing to Zadora and her children and that is why they tore it down. The only remaining artifacts from the original Pickfair are the gates to the estate, the kidney-shaped pool and pool house, remnants of the living room, as well as the two-bedroom guest wing that played host to visiting royalty and notable film celebrities for over half a century. It was sold to a businessman for over $17 million in the mid 2000’s.
The Walk of Fame
Hollywood Walk of Fame
In Hollywood, stars are everywhere and the Walk of Fame is definitely a blend of the new with the old. In fact, only in Hollywood you can see stars by looking up and by looking down. Of course, we are talking about The Hollywood Walk of Fame. No doubt about it, one of the most iconic things about Hollywood is the historic Walk of Fame – where you can literally walk all over your favorite stars. Running 1.3 miles East to West on Hollywood Boulevard, the walk consists of over 2,500 five pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded along the sidewalk. The Hollywood Walk of Fame attracts 10 million visitors annually. Some of our favorite actors, directors, producers, musicians & performers have the opportunity to be nominated for a star in 5 different categories – Motion Picture, Television, Recording, Radio and Theatre/Live Performance. A celebrity can have a star in all of these categories. The only person, to date, to receive all 5 is the incomparable singing cowboy Gene Autry.
Pierce Bros Cemetery
When you go on vacation, visiting a cemetery isn’t exactly on the top of everyone’s “to do” list. However, if you love all things Hollywood, then you will want to “visit” some of the very famous celebrities interred at Pierce Bros. Cemetery in Westwood. The final resting place of Dean Martin, Marilyn Monroe, Bettie Page, George C. Scott, Natalie Wood, Frank Zappa, Burt Lancaster, Don Knotts, Brian Keith, Eva Gabor,Rodney Dangerfield, Truman Capote and Eddie Albert among others, this small cemetery is a short drive from Hollywood. From the moment you walk in there, you notice the quiet. While looking at the various headstones, you may notice the lipstick kisses next to Marilyn Monroe’s grave or the beautiful photos of the various characters he has played on Don Knotts’ gravestone. Either way, it is a very interesting place to go pay homage to some amazing celebrities and celebrate the history of Hollywood.
The La Brea Tar Pits
If you really want to go old Hollywood… then go way way way back to the prehistoric era at The La Brea Tar Pits. The tar pits are natural asphalt which has seeped from under the ground for tens of thousands of years, trapping animals and preserving their bones. You can walk around the tar pits and check out the George Page Museum which is dedicated to researching the tar pits and displaying specimens from the animals that died there. The museum is full of exhibits including a full skeleton of a giant Colombian Mammoth. There are also still pools of tar that the kids can see live and up close. And now on the weekends you can discover more about these ice age animals in the “Ice Age Encounters” 15 minute multimedia show that features a life-sized saber tooth cat puppet that will will think is the real deal. This is truly a place where the past meets the present in the most fantastic ways!
We can take you to all of these places and more on one of our 5-Star rated Private Tours! Choose from our All LA in a Day, the half day Hollywood Experience, or even Build Your Own Tour of any length and choose exactly what you want to see. We have had a 5-star rating on TripAdvisor since 2011 and all of our tours are completely private, custom tours with just you and your family — like your friend in LA taking you around town.
Call us at 800-549-6625 or email us today to book!
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Eight hours seems like a lot of time, but the day just flew by. It was so fun and interesting. I would do this again with no regrets.
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A big thank you to Scott for our fantastic LA tour!! We got all the sights in, in one day including a last minute shop @ Dash!! Scott was full of information and my family including my 3 year old had a fantastic day!! Highly recommend !!