Monthly Archives: November 2008

The Californication House

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First off let me wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving!¬† ūüôā¬† Now on to stalking!¬† Yesterday, while doing some Venice Beach stalking, I visited a location I have long been obsessed with finding – the house from the David Duchovny series Californication.¬† I have long been a DD fan – ever since I saw my first X-Files¬† episode over 15 years ago I have pretty much been obsessed.¬† So when my boyfriend got the¬†Season 1 DVD’s of Californication¬† a few weeks ago, I had to watch!¬† Sadly, I have to admit that I don’t really like the series. ¬†But¬†I did become¬†a huge fan of Hank Moody’s ex-wife Karen’s¬†home while watching.¬† On the show Karen lives in a very modern style cement and wood home that is very reminiscent of James Woods’ house on the TV show Shark.¬† It also has some of the same characteristics of John Lautner homes.¬† So, I course I immediately became obsessed with it.¬†ūüôā¬† Luckily, while doing some cyberstalking I came across this awesome website¬†which gave me the home’s location.¬† YAY!

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The home, which is known as the McKinley Residence,¬†was built by architect David Hertz for his family and originally only consisted of the¬†structure that is pictured above.¬† The original structure consisted of¬†two separate buildings, one in the front and another in the back, that were joined via a covered bridge.¬† A few years later¬†Hertz bought an adjoining lot and built the property’s second structure which also consisted of two buildings.¬†¬†Today the property is made up of a total of four buildings all surrounding an outdoor courtyard and pool area and¬†connected via several enclosed bridges.¬†¬† David Hertz ¬†has designed numerous homes throughout the West Coast and has a strong commitment to only building “green” structures and protecting the environment.¬† He is also the inventor of a building material called “syndecrete” which is a “green” cement based surfacing substance that is used in the building of many homes.

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The McKinley Residence is a frequent filming location.¬† Besides Californication, the house has been featured in Adaptation, Men, Women & Dogs and¬†a Season 3¬†episode of CSI: Miami¬† entitled “Murder in a Flash.”¬† The house has also been featured in Dwell Magazine¬† and Shape Magazine. You can see all of the projects this extraordinary house has been featured in here.¬† You can also see some great interior photos of the home here.¬† The McKinley Residence is an amazing home to see in person and I highly recommend stalking it!

Until next time, Happy Stalking!¬† ūüôā

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Stalk It: The Californication house is located at 2420 McKinley Avenue in Venice.

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Casa Walsh

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Last Friday, Mike, from MovieShotsLA, and I set out to do a little Pasadena stalking.¬† Who knew that our day would¬†hold the stalking adventure to end all stalking adventures!¬† Even as I sit here, days later, writing these words, I am pinching myself, unsure if the whole thing even really happened.¬† But since I have the photographs,¬†I guess it really did.¬† ūüôā¬†

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On Friday afternoon, after stalking a few Pasadena locations, Mike and I¬†stopped off at our old staple,¬†the 90210¬† house, aka Casa Walsh.¬† Even though Mike and I¬†had stalked this¬†home countless times before, we had to return yet again as it is one location that we just never grow tired of.¬† On this particular trip, though, the stalking gods must have been smiling down on us because the owner of the home pulled up in his car right when we arrived.¬† So of course, we got to talking with him.¬† ūüôā

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The owner, whose name is Jack, could NOT have been a nicer guy!¬† He stood and talked with us in the Walsh driveway for about 45 minutes, sharing all sorts of 90210¬† stories and behind the scenes info.¬† For instance, he told us that on one occasion when they filmed at his house, producers cleared out all of his living room furniture and built a soundstage¬†of Kelly’s bedroom in the vacant room!¬† LOL¬† He also told us that¬†some of the camping scenes from¬†the Season 2 episode entitled “Camping Trip” were actually filmed in his backyard!¬†¬†And – my personal¬†favorite story of the many Jack shared with us –¬†one day he got home from work¬†to find a message on his answering machine from a woman who said “Hi this is Emily Valentine and I wanted to let you know that I just got out of the asylum.”¬† LOL¬†¬†Jack even told us of¬†a few other 90210 ¬†filming locations that he knew about.¬† ūüôā¬† Now, this¬†is where the story gets REALLY¬†exciting.¬† After talking with us for a bit in his driveway, Jack invited us into his backyard to take some photos.

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Numerous events in the Walsh twins’ lives took place in Jack’s backyard, ¬†including Cindy and Jim’s 20th wedding anniversary, Jackie Taylor and Mel Silver’s wedding, the painting of the gang’s homecoming¬†float¬†which¬†was later doused with gasoline by Emily Valentine, and –¬†my personal favorite – one of the first times Brenda lays eyes on Dylan.¬†

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In that episode,¬†entitled “Isn’t It Romantic”, Dylan and Brandon are working on Brandon’s car Mondale in the Walsh backyard.¬† In the meantime, while speaking with Kelly on the phone, Brenda walks outside onto a little balcony to admire Dylan from afar, but he notices her and turns around to give her that cute Dylan smile that I was so in love with.¬† ūüôā¬† LOVE THAT SHOW!¬†¬†Anyway, Brenda’s¬†balcony is really a part of the Altadena home and I could not have been more excited to see it in person!¬† I believe it was at this point in our Casa Walsh tour, as Mike and I stood there snapping pictures like crazy and screaming like little schoolgirls, that Jack told us we both had way too much time on our hands.¬† LOL¬† ūüôā

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After seeing us go a bit crazy over being in the actual 90210¬† backyard, Jack (wait, are you sitting down for this???) INVITED US TO SEE THE INSIDE OF THE HOUSE!!!! ¬†Yes, you read that right – HE INVITED US INSIDE THE HOUSE!¬† THE 90210 HOUSE!¬† BRANDON AND BRENDA’S HOUSE!¬† WE GOT TO GO INSIDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!¬† Mike and I both just about keeled over and died at this proposition and¬†I am surprised we didn’t knock poor Jack¬†to the floor¬†as we¬†made a running b-line for the house.¬† ūüôā¬† LOL¬† While inside, Jack first showed us¬†some scrapbooks he had made¬†with photographs and articles from¬†his house’s filming days.¬†¬† The scrapbooks included all sorts of photographs and memorabilia from the 90210 ¬†days, including photos of his kids with the stars and the original contract he signed¬†allowing the production company to use his home for filming.¬† I couldn’t help but smile as I read one clause¬†in the¬†contract which stated that a basketball hoop would be added to the exterior of Jack’s garage.¬† ūüôā¬† That basketball hoop is now gone as Jack is in the middle of remodeling his garage (say it ain’t so!).¬† There were actually two different basketball hoops used¬†during the filming of 90210 and¬†when the series ended, Jack got to keep both of them.¬† Many years later he ended up giving both of those¬†hoops away to 90210¬† fans who had stopped by his house to take pictures.¬† Like I said – what an amazingly nice guy!¬† Mike was extremely bummed that he wasn’t the lucky recipient of one of those basketball hoops, but we should consider ourselves lucky as Jack said that Mike and I were the first two fans he had ever invited inside the house.¬† ūüôā

The most surreal moment of the day for me happened when my phone rang while I was standing in the 90210¬† kitchen.¬† You see, my ring tone¬†is, and always has been, the 90210¬† theme song.¬† I kid you not.¬† So there I was standing in¬†Casa Walsh¬†when the familiar strains of “Duh-nuh-nuh-nuh” came pouring out of my phone.¬† LOL¬† After looking at Jack’s 90210¬† scrapbooks, he took us on a mini-tour of the downstairs of his¬†home.¬†¬†I was in utter shock not only at the fact that he would¬†invite us into his home,¬†but also¬†that I WAS ACTUALLY STANDING INSIDE THE 90210¬† HOUSE!¬† I had dreamed of seeing the inside of that¬†home for YEARS and the only thing I can imagine that would have been more satisfying to a stalker like myself would be to have¬†visited the studio set of the Walsh home during filming.¬† I had read that the set of Casa Walsh was based on the real interiors of the Altadena home and on Friday I saw for myself that that¬†was sort of true.¬† While the kitchen area looks nothing like Cindy Walsh’s kitchen, the entryway, living room and dining room are all very similar to what we saw on TV.¬† When walking inside the house it was like worlds were colliding inside my head¬†as the image I knew of the interior sets meshed with reality.¬† It was surreal and almost as if my brain couldn’t accept both images at the same time.¬† LOL

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The dining room area, which was just re-painted and therefore has no furniture in it, is very reminiscent of the Walsh dining room.

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The living room is also quite similar to its television counterpart, except¬†that it¬†is longer and not quite as deep as¬†the Walsh living room.¬† In real life it is also missing the Walsh’s¬†built-in bookshelves.

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The area of the home I was most excited to see was the entryway/stairwell, as the Walsh’s entryway/stairwell was shown so often on the show.¬† In reality, the stairway is situated like a mirrior image of how it appeared on 90210.¬† The stairs run from the left to the right, while the Walsh stairway went from right to left.¬† I asked Jack why he thinks they made this change for the studio set and he said he thinks that it worked better for camera angles that way.¬† Aside from the stairway running the opposite direction, the real entryway looks very similar to the Walsh entryway and I still cannot believe I got to see it with my own two eyes!

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Of course, we just had to take a picture with Jack in the entryway to document our time spent at Casa Walsh.¬† On our way out, after giving Jack our phone numbers and telling him that if he ever needed ANYTHING to give us a call :), Mike told him that if he ever decided to sell Casa Walsh he wanted to be the first to know.¬† ūüôā¬†

I still can hardly believe this whole thing even happened!!¬† Mike and I seem to have a lot of luck when it comes to stalking 90210¬† locations,¬†and I think¬†I need to bring him with me on all of my stalking adventures from now on.¬† ūüôā¬†

Until next time, Happy Stalking!¬† ūüôā

Stalk It: Casa Walsh is located at 1675 E. Altadena Drive, in Altadena.¬† We got really lucky being let inside the house, but please don’t bother the owner to do this yourself as it is not his common practice.

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A Drink with the Dearly Departed

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This past Saturday night, thanks to E.J. over¬†at¬†The Movieland Directory ¬†who made the¬†introduction,¬†Mike, from MovieShotsLA, his fiance, my boyfriend, and I met up with Scott Michaels, creator and founder of both the Find-A-Death website and the Dearly Departed Tour Company.¬† Scott’s tours and website both focus on famous Hollywood death and scandal locations.¬† (The bathroom stop on his tour is the very same bathroom where George Michael was caught with his pants down a few years back!¬† LOL)¬† You might remember Scott from a Season 2 episode of The Girls Next Door, entitled “Girls Will Be Ghouls”.¬† In the episode, Bridget arranged to take the girls on¬†Scott’s Dearly Departed tour¬†right around Halloween.¬† Ever since viewing that episode I have wanted to take the tour for myself, but have yet to get around to it.¬† So I was especially excited to meet up with Scott this weekend!¬† Besides The Girls Next Door, Scott has also been featured in the book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” and on E!’s 20 Most Horrifying Hollywood Murders special.

Scott suggested we meet up for drinks at Vitello’s Restaurant in Studio City.¬† Quite a fitting locale to meet up with the man who calls himself the “Director of Undertakings”, dontcha think? ūüôā¬† For those not in the know, Vitello’s is the restaurant where Robert Blake’s wife Bonnie Lee Bakley ate her final meal before being murdered in her car which was parked just a block and a half away.¬†¬†At the time of her murder,¬†Blake claims he¬†had run back to Vitello’s to¬†supposedly search for his lost gun.¬† Nice alibi!¬† I’ve eaten at Vitello’s a few times and it is a GREAT restaurant.¬† One of my faves in all of L.A.¬† And we had a blast hanging out with Scott.¬† It was very cool to chat with him about Hollywood history and scandal¬†locations.¬†

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After drinks, as morbid as it may sound,¬†I asked Scott if he wouldn’t¬†mind¬†showing us the exact spot where Bonnie Lee Bakley’s murder took place.¬† I¬†knew it was just a block and a half away from Vitello’s, but I was never sure of the exact location.¬† So after we finished our drinks, Scott led us over to the spot.¬† It was very cool to be given a little mini-tour and history of the murder from the founder of Dearly Departed and Find-A-Death himself!¬† : )¬† And now, I really can’t wait to take his tour!¬†¬† ūüôā¬†

Until next time, Happy Stalking!¬† ūüôā

Stalk It: Vitello’s Restaurant is located at¬†4349 Tujunga¬†Avenue in Studio City.¬† Bonnie Lee Bakley’s murder site is located a block and a half from the restaurant,¬†just off the corner of Kraft Avenue and Woodbridge Street.¬† Look for the large green electrical box on Woodbridge, just east of where it meets Kraft.¬† Bonnie’s car was parked just in front of it when she was killed.¬† You can visit the Dearly Departed website to book a tour with Scott here.¬† Tickets run from $35 to $50, depending on the tour.

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The Rubio House

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One of my new favorite shows of the¬†television season is the¬†CBS series The Mentalist.¬† Simon Baker’s acting on the show is truly incredible and I¬†absolutely love watching his character!¬† Anyway, while watching last¬†week’s episode, I recognized not one, but two filming locations! ¬†The first location I recognized is a home that is used fairly often in movie and television productions and is known to us stalkers as “the Rubio house”.¬† While watching¬†the episode on Tuesday night, I turned to my boyfriend and screamed “Oh my god, that’s the Rubio house!”¬†to which he replied “What’s the Rubio house?” and I realized I had yet to blog about it.¬† So here goes.¬† ūüôā

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The Rubio house is a large colonial style¬†home located on Rubio Street in Altadena, just a few miles north of Pasadena.¬† On Tuesday night’s Mentalist¬† episode, which was¬†entitled “Seeing Red”, the home belonged to millionaire murder victim Rosemary Tennant.¬†¬†The¬†interior and exterior of the home, especially the front porch area, were featured several times¬†in the¬†episode.¬†¬† According to the Movieland Directory, the Rubio house has also been featured in the pilot episode of 7th Heaven (as the Camden family home), How Stella Got Her Groove Back, The Babysitter’s Club, Can’t Hardly Wait¬† (as the party location), Bye Bye Love, V: The Final Battle, and The Great Mom Swap.¬† According to¬†Seeing Stars¬†¬†the first two American Pie¬† movies also used the interior of the¬†Rubio house –¬†¬†Stiffler’s parties at the beginning of both flicks were filmed there.¬† There are some conflicting reports and ongoing debates among stalkers that the home was also used as Tom Cruise’s house¬†in the movie Risky Business.¬† But according to one of my fave tour books, it has been confirmed through several location scouts who¬†worked on the 1983 movie¬†that the entirety of Risky Business¬† was shot on location in Chicago, Illinois and that the Rubio house¬†was not, in fact,¬†used.¬†¬†I am sure it is something stalkers will continue to debate about for years to come, though.¬† ūüôā

Note – Just got a comment from Timothy over at Altadenablog that the Rubio house was also used as Lindsay Lohan’s residence in the movie I¬†Know Who Killed Me.¬† Thanks for the info and the shout out Altadenablog!¬†

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The Rubio house is HUGE in person –¬†much, much larger than it appears onscreen.¬† It is easy to see why producers choose to use this home again and again in productions,¬†as it¬†looks like a very typical American home that¬†could be found¬†anywhere in the Midwest.

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The next location I recognized from The Mentalist¬† was the swamp area from the Warner Brothers¬†Lot, which Mike, from¬†MovieShotsLA, and I had just visited a few weeks beforehand.¬† In The Mentalist, the car that killed murder victim Rosemary Tennant is found in the WB swamp and a short scene takes place there as Simon Baker and his crew watch as the car is being removed from the water.¬† As I mentioned in last week’s post about our WB tour, the swamp has been used in numerous productions over the years including ER, Million Dollar Baby, and Gilligan’s Island.

Until next time, Happy Stalking!¬† ūüôā

Stalk It: The Mentalist  house is located at 1090 Rubio Street in Altadena.  The swamp is located on the Warner Brothers backlot and can only viewed while on a WB tour.  Warner Brothers Studios is located at 3400 Riverside Drive in Burbank.  Tours run every 30 minutes Monday through Friday from 8:20am to 4:00pm.  Advance reservations are recommended.  Tickets cost $45 per person.  You can learn more about the tour here.

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The Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa

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While stalking in Pasadena a few weeks ago I stopped into the Langham Huntington Hotel¬†& Spa to snap some pics.¬† The Langham has long been a Pasadena institution and it is an absolutely gorgeous place to spend an afternoon or grab an evening cocktail.¬† It is also an oft-used Pasadena filming location and celeb hang out.¬† ūüôā

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The Langham Hotel was originally built in 1907 and was known as the Wentworth.¬† Never gaining much popularity¬†under its original ownership, the property was sold to Henry E. Huntington in 1911, who hired renowned L.A. area architect Myron Hunt to renovate, expand,¬†and improve the hotel.¬†Three years later, in¬†1914,¬†the Wentworth¬†was reopened under its new name – the Huntington Hotel.¬†¬† Architect Myron Hunt is¬†also known for designing the Rose Bowl, Occidental College, the California Institute of Technology, and Henry Huntington’s private home, which¬†later became the museum known as the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens.¬† After Myron’s renovations, the Huntington Hotel became¬†an overnight success and it remained that way¬†for¬†more than seven decades.¬†¬† But in 1985, while under the ownership of the Sheraton Corporation, the Huntington had to be closed due to earthquake code¬†violations.¬† In 1987, the Ritz-Carlton Corporation purchased the property and, with a $100 million upgrade, brought¬†it up to code.¬† In 1990, the new Huntington Ritz-Carlton Hotel & Spa opened its doors to the public.¬†¬†Just this year, the¬†hotel was sold¬†yet again – this time¬†to Great Eagle Holdings who renamed it¬†the Langham Huntington Hotel¬†& Spa.¬† Even with all of the ownership changes,¬†the Huntington¬†remains the finest hotel in the Pasadena area.¬† It also remains a favorite of both celebrities and location scouts alike.¬†¬†

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The interior of the Langham stood in for the Stratford Hotel in the 1998 Lindsay Lohan remake¬†of¬†The Parent Trap.¬† The exterior of the Stratford, however, was a different location altogether.¬† For that producers used the Administration Building on Treasure Island in Northern California, located a few hundred miles away from the Langham.¬† The Langham also appeared in Beverly Hills Ninja¬† where it stood in for the Beverly Hills Hotel.¬† The¬†hotel was also featured in Seabsicut,¬†America’s Next Top Model, Charlie Wilson’s War,¬†and Brothers and Sisters.¬† And just a brief list of the hotel’s past celebrity guests:¬†Teddy Roosevelt, Bill Clinton (shortly after winning the ’92 election), Albert Einstein, the Dalai Lama, Prince Philip of England, musician Pete Townsend, Salyma Hayek, Bachelorette Trista Rehn, and Judd Hirsch.¬† Marcia Cross’ wedding reception was held there, as was the wedding for Taboo from The Black-Eyed Peas.¬† Shannen Doherty is a reported frequent guest of the hotel, and especially loves their¬†premiere¬†restaurant, The Grill, and their piano bar.¬† I actually saw Shannen once during one of my many visits the to the Langham.¬† She was doing some press for her former reality show Breaking-Up With Shannen Doherty.¬† Shannen was super tiny in person and seemed very sweet, although¬†I did not go up to her.¬†

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The Langham is an absolutely beautiful resort, with sprawling lawns, meandering pathways, koi ponds, a dark wood paneled bar, and excellent food.¬† I had the pleasure of staying at the hotel a while back, when it was still owned by the Ritz-Carlton.¬† The service at the time was impeccable.¬† One night at the bar¬†I ordered my fave soda, Dr. Pepper.¬† The bartender told me that while Dr. Pepper isn’t served¬†at the hotel, he thought there might be a vending machine in the employee break room that had some.¬† Despite my protests, he ran downstairs to the breakroom and returned a few minutes later – Dr. Pepper in hand!¬† I also attended the Ritz-Carlton employee Christmas party a few years ago with a friend who used¬†to work for the hotel and it was one of the best parties I’ve ever been to!¬†

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I highly recommend stalking the Ritz and grabbing a nightcap in their piano bar.  Time and time again it is mentioned as one of the most romantic places in Pasadena. 

Until next time, Happy Stalking!¬† ūüôā

Stalk It: The Langham is located at 1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue in Pasadena.  You can visit their website here.  Rooms start at $269 per night.

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Stalking the WB – Again!

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After spending our morning at Sony Pictures Studio, Mike from MovieShotsLA, his fiance Jen, and I headed over to Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank to take their VIP tour once again.  I had heard that no two tours are ever alike at the WB and Mike and I wanted to see if that was really true.  And you know what?  It was!  This experience was COMPLETELY different from the first time we took the tour back in September of this year.  It was like seeing an entirely different studio.

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Our tour started off the same way as last time, with a movie spotlighting the many productions that have been filmed on the WB lot.¬† Then we were whisked away to our golf cart to begin our backlot tour.¬† This time Mike and I both asked to be taken to specific places that we¬†didn’t get to¬†see on our last Warner Brothers excursion.¬†¬†Mike was¬†dying to stalk the New York City Street area, which was closed off during our last tour due to some filming that was taking place¬†there.¬†¬†My location request was¬†to see the stoop Carrie sat on during her visit to the WB in the SATC episode entitled “Escape From New York”.¬† It is on this fake stoop that Carrie, after many failed attempts at smoking in L.A.,¬†lights up a cigarette only to have a security guard walk up and tell her to put it out.¬† “But this is New York!” she says, to which he replies¬† “No, Ma’am, it’s a set!”¬† ¬†LOL¬† LOVE IT!

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Our tour guide, Matthew,¬†pointed out¬†Carrie’s stoop on the New York City Street right as we began our tour – it is located about ten feet away from the fire escape where the upside-down kiss from the first Spiderman movie took place.¬† For some reason¬†the stoop¬†didn’t look familiar to me, and “I couldn’t help but wonder”¬†if our¬†tour guide had made up the location to appease me and, in¬†truth, didn’t really know where Carrie’s stoop was located.¬† Turns out I couldn’t have been more¬†wrong!¬† As soon as I got home, Mike emailed me a screen cap¬†of the scene¬†with Carrie smoking on the stoop and quite obviously our tour guide had been correct.¬† ūüôā¬† Turns out¬†they really do know their stuff!¬† The fact that he knew the exact location of a scene that lasted only about 30 seconds in one brief episode of SATC¬† that¬†was filmed¬†over eight years ago absolutely amazed me.¬† I think the WB tour guides may even be better than me at this stalking stuff!¬† ūüôā

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Not only did¬†Matthew know where Carrie’s stoop was located, but he¬†also pointed out that¬†the administration building where our tour began is the very same location where¬†Carrie attended¬†the studio¬†meeting with Matthew McConaughey in the same SATC episode.¬† AND the gate where she entered the studio for that meeting is the very same gate we were taken through at the beginning of our tour.¬† ūüôā¬† Let me tell you, Matthew really knows his stuff!¬† ūüôā

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Next our guide took us up and down New York Street, which was amazing to see!  Countless movies have been filmed there, my personal favorite being the 1982 movie Annie. So I was super excited when we were shown the orphanagewhere Little Orphan Annie lived before being rescued by Daddy Warbucks (pictured above).  The orphanage looks a bit different now, as it has been dressed and remodeled for different productions through the years.

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Other locations on New York Street include Ross’ apartment building from Friends,

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the salon from You Don’t Mess with the¬†Zohan,

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the restaurant where Jack Nicholson has a heart attack in Something’s Gotta Give,

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and Jack Nicholson’s therapists office in As Good As It Gets.

New York Street was extremely cool – literally every single building there¬†had been used in¬†a famous¬†television or movie production.¬† So much so, in fact, that I can’t even remember all of them!!¬† Next time I need to take along a notebook to write everything down.¬† ūüôā

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After New York Street we headed over to a small office building which had just been used in the filming of Without a Trace earlier that morning where it stood in for a motel.  The episode was supposed to take place in Autumn, so the prop department had brought in fall leaves to place all over the ground.

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Then we were driven by one of the studio’s commissaries, which our tour guide told us had stood in for a college campus restaurant where Rory Gilmore and her father¬†eat lunch in an episode of Gilmore Girls.

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Next we were driven by another set of offices which just recently were used as the high school in the Sarah Conner Chronicles.

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After that our tour headed to the WB lagoon/swamp area which has been used in countless, countless productions including Million Dollar Baby (where a shack next to the swamp stood in for a roadside cafe), ER (the scene where George Clooney saves a boy from drowning during a rainstorm was filmed inside the lagoon) and Fantasy Island (the lagoon ws the location where the boats bringing weekly visitors were docked).

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Next to the lagoon is a fairly new set named Warner Village, which was built after the WB’s Wild West Town was torn down.¬† Warner Village is a small street of middle America style homes very similar to the Wisteria Lane set over at Universal Studios.¬† Homes on this street have been used in everything from The George Lopez Show to Cold Case to this year’s An American Carol. Inside the Warner Village homes are production offices for television series and movies which are produced on the lot.

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After visiting Warner Village, we headed over to the ER hopsital set.  Even though we had seen this set on our last WB tour, it still held a new experience for us.  This time the entire hospital exterior was decorated for Christmas and covered in snow, which was really exciting to see.  In actuality, the snow is made from the shavings of plastic water bottles, but even up close it looked extremely real.

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During this tour, we¬†were allowed to venture inside the Emergency Room facade of ER to snap some pics.¬† The vending machines pictured above are fake, by the way.¬† In reality, they are high quality photographs of real vending machines pasted onto carboard stands.¬† They were so realistic, though, that I actually had to go up and touch them before I would believe that they weren’t real.¬† ūüôā

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After the ER set, we were driven by a small park-like area where some Ghost Whisperer filming was taking place.  AND we even got to see Jennifer Love Hewitt for about half a milli-second as she hopped into a waiting van.  JLove was super cute Рat least she seemed so in the very brief moment we saw her.

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Next¬†we headed to a prop warehouse where everything from furniture to artwork used in various Warner Brothers productions is stored.¬† The most famous prop piece located there?¬† One of the Sam’s pianos from Casablanca, which is actually on loan from an art collector who stumbled upon the piece at an auction a few years back.¬† The art collector liked¬†the look of piano, bid on it, and apparently¬†got it for quite a steal as the previous owner¬†didn’t realize its cinematic significance.¬† It wasn’t until the new buyer got home that he noticed a piece of paper with a Warner Brothers¬†stamp and a serial number¬†tacked to the inside of the piano.¬† When he contacted Warner Brothers to ask about it, the¬†serial number led them to discover¬†the movie in which the piano had been¬†used.¬† And, lo and behold, it was one of the most famous films in¬†history. ūüôā

Mike, Jen and I¬†had a blast on our second Warner Brothers Tour and it is definitely true what they say – it’s never the same tour twice.¬† I HIGHLY recommend taking this tour¬†– even if you have already been on it previously.¬† : ) I can’t wait to go back myself for yet another WB adventure!¬† ūüôā

Until next time, Happy Stalking!¬† ūüôā

Stalk It: Warner Brothers Studios is located at 3400 Riverside Drive in Burbank.  Tours run every 30 minutes Monday through Friday from 8:20am to 4:00pm.  Advance reservations are recommended.  Tickets cost $45 per person.  You can learn more about the tour here.

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The Sony Pictures Studio Tour

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Last month Mike, from MovieShotsLA, his fiance Jen,¬†and I decided to¬†go on¬†another studio stalking adventure.¬† This time we¬†opted for¬†the Sony Pictures Studio Tour in Culver City.¬† The studio lot that is now owned by Sony¬†Pictures Entertainment¬†(parent company to¬†both Columbia and TriStar Pictures)¬†was originally built in 1915 by producer Thomas Ince for his company Triangle Pictures.¬† During that time, Culver City¬†was quite a powerhouse in the motion picture industry.¬† The city even¬†touted itself with the slogan: “Culver City – Where Hollywood Movies Are Made”.¬†¬†In 1918, Ince sold his¬†studio¬†to Samuel Goldwyn of Goldwyn Pictures Corporation.¬† Six years later the lot became the legendary MGM Studios when Goldwyn joined forces with¬†Louis B. Mayer and¬†Metro Pictures forming the conglomerate¬†Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.¬† The rest, as they say, is history.¬†

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During its heydey MGM liked to say it had “more stars than there are in the heavens”.¬† And it was pretty much true.¬† Such mega-stars as Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Clark Gable, Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Joan Crawford all called MGM home at one time or another.¬† Hundreds of hit movies were created within the historic studio walls, including Singin’ in the Rain, The Wizard of Oz, Meet Me In St. Louis, Ben Hur, David Coppefield¬† and Grand Hotel.¬† When billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, former owner of the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, purchased the legendary studio in 1969, he sold off¬†more than 150 acres of MGM’s property.¬† In one fell swoop, the studio downsized from¬†183 acres¬†to 30.¬† ūüė¶¬† ¬†Almost all of what was sold off was the studio back lot area, including the street Gene Kelly danced on in Singin’ in the Rain.¬† How sad!!¬† After several subsequent ownerships, in 1991 the former MGM Studios was purchased by Sony Pictures.¬† The good news in all of this is that Sonyspent $100 million rennovating the legendary¬†lot and also¬†opened¬†the place to the public for daily¬†tours.¬† It is that¬†tour that Mike, Jen¬†and I embarked upon last month.¬† ūüôā¬†

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The tour starts off in the lobby of the Sony Pictures Plaza building (pictured above).  As we pulled up to the building, Mike pointed out that the exterior was used in the filming of the 1987 movie Adventures in Babysitting in the scene where young Sara climbs the exterior of a Chicago skyscraper while her parents unknowingly attend a cocktail party inside.   Love that movie!

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After checking in with out tour guide in the lobby of the Plaza building, we were given Sony Studio Tour VIP lanyards to wear around our neck which we actually got to keep! ūüôā¬† I was way excited about that!¬† ūüôā¬† Then while waiting for the tour to begin, we were encouraged to walk around the¬†Plaza lobby, which is a movie memorabilia museum of sorts.¬† I absolutely LOVE looking at movie props and costumes, so I was extra excited about this part of the tour.¬† One of the exhibits included Julia Robert’s wedding dress from Steel Magnolias¬† and one of Cameran Diaz’s costumes from the first Charlie’s Angels¬† movie (both are pictured above).¬†¬†

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Other items on display in the museum include, the gameboard from Jumanji,

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Annie’s letter to Sam and Jonah’s teddy bear and backpack from Sleepless in Seattle,

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artifacts from The DaVinci Code, including the book Tom Hanks character authored,

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Will Smith’s sunglasses and the notecards which contained his¬†speech from Hancock,

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and Julian’s toys from Big Daddy.

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¬†After milling around the museum for a few minutes, our tour¬†was ready to begin with a short walk across the street¬†to the entrance of¬†the¬†historic studio once known as MGM.¬† Our first stop was probably my favorite part of the tour – the lightpost which Jennifer Garner posed with for the 13 Going On 30¬† promotional movie posters.¬† The lightpost and background were all digitally changed after the photo was taken, but I¬†could not have been more excited to pose there¬†nonetheless!¬† In fact, Mike, Jen and I almost¬†got separated from the rest of¬†our tour group because we¬†spent so much time¬†trying to get¬†a photo of me in the exact same pose as Jennifer Garner.¬† LOL¬† ūüôā¬†¬†¬†

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Our next stop was the Irving Thalberg Building, an administration building which was built in 1936 and named¬†for the legendary MGM producer after his untimely death at the young age of 36.¬† Besides now¬†housing all of¬†the Columbia Pictures Best¬†Picture Oscar statuettes,¬†the building¬†was also recently used as the site of Peter Parker’s high school graduation in the first Spiderman¬† movie.

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Next we headed over to Main Street, where the studio commissary, cafe, and gift shop are located.¬† Our tour guide told us that¬†Main Street is often used as a filming location for productions being shot on the lot, but he didn’t know in particular which movies or television shows had filmed there.

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While there, he also demonstrated how¬†most of the doors on Main Street don’t really lead to anything but a stucco wall.¬† LOL

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Next we headed over to the¬†only¬†exterior/backlot type street located¬†on the Sony lot – an East Coast looking Street, which can stand in for New York, Washington D.C., and even Boston.¬† Both sides of that street are pictured above.¬† The exteriors in the top photograph above were used as Jack Nicholson’s apartment building in the movie Something’s Gotta Give.¬† During the filming of the movie, producers were trying to film a¬†long shot of Jack walking away from his apartment building.¬† Because there are¬†no sidewalks located on this¬†backlot street, Nicholson appeared very short when walking next to the cars parked along the side of the road.¬† To fix the problem, producers simply removed¬†the tires on all of the parked cars and voila, Jack appeared to be a normal height.¬†LOL ūüôā

After walking down the studio’s sole backlot street, we were¬†taken through the main part of the studio, which includes many¬†soundstages (27 is where they filmed The Wizard of Oz), the¬†scene shop¬†where humongous backdrops are painstakingly painted by numerous artists all working at the same time, the “scoring studio” (a favorite of Barbra Streisand’s) where scores from movies are recorded, and an interior set inside a soundstage that was used in the filming of the new Beyonce movie Obsessed.¬†¬†Unfortunately we couldn’t take pictures of any of these things. ūüė¶

All in all, the tour lasted about two hours.¬† While the Sony Pictures Studio Tour was fun, and I was super excited that we got to keep our VIP necktags, I would say that I much prefered the Paramount Pictures Studio Tour ¬†and the Warner Brothers Tour.¬† My favorite part of studio tours is seeing backlots where countless exteriors are filmed and unfortunately there just wasn’t enough of those to see on the Sony tour.¬† ūüė¶¬†¬†So while I did enjoy myself, if you are a tourist who only has time for one tour, I suggest one of the other studios.

Until next time, Happy Stalking!¬† ūüôā

Stalk It: Sony Pictures Studios is located at 10202 W. Washington Boulevard in Culver City.  You can visit their website and purchase tickets here.  The tour cost is $28 per person and only those 12 years of age and older are permitted.

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The Formosa Cafe

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This past weekend I dragged my boyfriend out to West Hollywood to grab drinks at a Los Angeles staple that I had yet to stalk – the legendary Formosa Cafe.¬† The small cafe, located on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Formosa¬†Avenue in West Hollywood, was opened up in 1925 by former prizefighter Jim Bernstein.¬† The original restaurant, which served only¬†lunch,¬†was built inside a former Red Line trolley car¬†and went by the name of¬†“The Red Spot”.¬†In 1932 Bernstein partnered up with¬†a man named¬†Lem Quan, expanded his little cafe, and changed the name to its current moniker – “the Formosa Cafe”.¬† Due to its close proximity to¬†what at the time was known as¬†the Pickford-Fairbanks Studios (now¬†the studio is¬†simply called “The Lot”)¬†which was located right across the street, the¬†Formosa¬†quickly became host to a bevy of Hollywood stars.¬† Today the restaurant,¬†now owned by Vincent Jung (grandson of original¬†partner¬†Lem Quan),¬†is still popular today with¬†many Hollywood A and B listers.

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Just a brief list of those who have frequented the Formosa over the years: everyone from movie stars of yesteryear like Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, James Dean, Clark Gable, Bugsy Siegel, Mickey¬†Cohen¬†(the outline of a safe he used to keep in the floor of the restaurant is still visible to this day), Johnny Stompanato, Elizabeth Short aka the Black Dhalia, Eva Gardner, Natalie Wood, and Jane Russell, to the celebs of today like Laura Flynn Boyle, Luke Perry, Shannen Doherty (who used to be a regular), Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Jodie Foster, Johnny Depp, Matthew Perry, James Woods, and Christian Slater (who is reportedly a bad tipper).¬† Literally anyone whose anyone has eaten at this tiny cafe.¬† The Formosa has also been the site of a few celebrity scandals.¬† It was just outside the Formosa that Eddie Murphy picked up a transvestite prositute on the night of May 2, 1997.¬† Just minutes before Eddie had been hanging out at Jones, a club across the street, when he spotted Ken Atison Seiuli just outside the Formosa Cafe and decided to give her/him a ride.¬† Shannen Doherty also had a run in with the law¬†outside the famous cafe¬†when she¬†was arrested for¬†hitting¬†a fellow patron’s car with a beer bottle in the Formosa parking lot a few years back.¬† Besides being a celeb hot-spot, the Formosa has also¬†appeared in several movies, the most famous of which being the “A hooker cut to look like Lana Turner is still just a hooker”¬†scene in L.A. Confidential.¬†¬†The¬†Cafe¬†also appeared in Swingers, The Majestic, and Still Breathing.

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I absolutely LOVED being at¬†the Formosa.¬† The restaurant has managed to¬†preserve an old Hollywood vibe and you can feel it the second you walk through the doors.¬† It’s like magic!¬† All I could think while sitting in that old train car was that Marilyn Monroe had once sat in the very same restaurant.¬†¬† I was absolutely mesmerized looking at the 250 plus signed black and white headshots which wallpaper the restaurant.¬† It’s amazing to think about all the history held within the red painted walls of the small hang-out.¬† I must say that the food was excellent, too – especially the chicken pot-stickers!¬† The service was also great, too, without any of the typical L.A. pretentiousness.

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Until next time, Happy Stalking!¬† ūüôā

Stalk It: The Formosa Cafe is located at 7156 Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.  You can visit their website here.

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The 90210 Halloween Party House

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Mike, from MovieShotsLA, has done it yet again!¬† I really think I need to name my first born after him or something.¬† ūüôā¬† One of my very favorite episodes in 90210¬† history was the Season 2 episode entitled “Halloween”,¬†in which¬†the whole gang dresses up and attends a¬†Halloween bash in a humongous, spooky mansion.¬†¬†I’m not sure why I loved that particular episode so much – most likely because Halloween is my favorite holiday and¬†also because I absolutely LOVED Brenda and Dylan’s Bonnie and Clyde costumes.¬† Ever since October of 1991, when the “Halloween”¬†episode aired I have wanted to dress just like Brenda and Dylan did for Halloween!¬† ūüôā¬† Anyway,¬†ever since moving to L.A. eight years ago I have been on the lookout for that Halloween party house, but was¬†always unable to locate it.¬† Then, during¬†October’s Haunted Halloween theme, I got Mike in on the hunt, but¬†even¬†with our two heads put together we just could not find the house!!¬†¬†¬†¬†Until yesterday!!!¬† ¬†

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Ironically enough, Mike was looking for another movie location in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles when he¬†ran across this article ¬†and immediately recognized the home in the picture!¬† Mike called me and I just happened to be IN Hancock Park at that time, so I immediately drove myself right over to the house.¬†¬†¬†And sure enough it was the “Halloween” house!!!!!!!!¬†¬†YAY!¬† I could not have been more excited to see this home in person.¬† It was a stalking adventure eight years in the making!¬†

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¬†90210¬† featured¬†both the interior and the exterior of the house¬†during the filming of the “Halloween” episode.¬† The front porch area was also featured quite prominently.¬† It is on the front porch that Steve tells Kelly that he still loves her,¬†right after she is rescued by both Dylan and Steve after almost being raped by a fellow party guest.¬† Besides 90210, the home also appeared in Willard, Ben, Witchboard, The Addams Family Halloween Special, Mae West, Inner Sanctum II, Night Walker, Secret Games 3, Life Without Dick, Out on a Limb, and Masked and Anonymous.¬† Sadly, according to the article Mike found, the owners have since “retired” the home from filming.¬† ūüė¶

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The house, which is¬†known as¬†the Higgins-Verbeck-Hirsch Mansion, has an interesting real life history, as well.¬† The 9,918 square foot, 32 room home was¬†built by renowned L.A. area architect John Austin in 1902 for a wealthy grain merchant named Hirman Higgins and his family.¬† The mansion was originally located on three lots on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Rampart Boulevard.¬† In 1919, the Higgins family sold the home to the Verbecks, who were forced to actually relocate the¬†mansion a few years later.¬† As strange as that sounds, apparently it was quite commonplace at the time.¬† Due to the commercialization of Wilshire Boulevard and the widening of many Los Angeles streets, homeowners were forced to either move their homes or lose them to the wrecking ball.¬† The Verbecks chose the former and bought a parcel of land 2.5 miles away, on Lucerne Boulevard in Hancock Park.¬†¬†On June 28, 1924 at 1 O’clock in the morning,¬†house-mover George Kress split the¬†Queen Anne mansion¬†into two pieces, and using TWELVE trucks, moved it to its¬†current location.¬†¬†Apparently the Verbecks decided to mark the occasion with a¬†party and invited the mayor and over 100 of their closest friends to hang out in the house¬†during its 2.5 mile, four hour drive down Wilshire Boulevard.¬†¬†From the 30s to the mid 80s, after many subsequent owners, the¬†mansion suffered from severe neglect, until it was purchased by current residents Peggy and Perry Hirsch in 1986.¬† The couple spent the next few years painstakingly restoring the home to its original beauty and grandeur.¬† In 1988, it¬†was designated¬†a Los Angeles cultural historical¬†monument.¬†¬†

The house is absolutely HUMONGOUS in person – much larger than I had expected it to be – and absolutely beautiful. ¬†I highly recommend stalking it, even for the rare few of you out there who aren’t 90210¬† fans.¬† ūüôā¬†

Big thank you to Mike, as always, for finding the location and for providing the screen caps!

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Stalk It: The 90210  Halloween party house is located at 637 S. Lucerne Boulevard in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles.

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The Ambassador Hotel

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Katharine Hepburn once said, “I have many regrets and I’m sure everyone does.¬† The stupid things you do, you regret . . . if you have any sense.”¬† Katharine was right.¬†¬† One of my biggest regrets in life¬†is that I never got to see the Ambassador Hotel in person before it was torn down in 2005.¬† I lived in L.A. for a good five years before demolition¬†began on the legendary hotel and am literally kicking myself now for never taking the opportunity¬†to see the hotel with my own two eyes.¬† And now it is too late.¬† Today the hotel is completely gone.¬† It absolutely sickens me that this rare piece of Los Angeles history has vanished from our skyline.¬† ūüė¶¬†¬† I asked Mike, from MovieShotsLA, if he had ever visited the Ambassador while it was still standing, which of course, he had, and he sent me the above photos.

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Today, the 23.7 acre property that once held one of L.A.’s finest hotels is nothing more than a construction site – the future location of three new public schools for the Los Angeles Unified School District.¬† ¬†

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The only pieces of the hotel that remain are the circular entrance,

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and one wall of the legendary Cocoanut Grove nightclub –¬†both of which are said to be incorporated into the building of the new schools.

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The Ambassador opened it doors on New Year’s Day 1921.¬†From opening day up until the late 1960s, the 500 room hotel was a home away from home for movie stars, world leaders, U.S. Presidents, and other V.I.P.’s.¬† Such famous names as Howard Hughes, Lana Turner, Clark Gable, Carey Grant, Katharine Hepburn, President Kennedy, President Hoover, and Bob Hope all frequented the hotel at one¬†time or another.¬† The hotel’s Cocoanut Grove nightclub was the place to see and be seen once upon a time.¬† Such legendary performers as Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Liza Minelli, Bing Crosby and Richard Pryor all performed on the Grove’s hallowed stage and the Academy Awards were held there six times.¬† One of the Ambassador’s main claims to fame (or at least my favorite) is that it is the place where Marilyn Monroe first got her start.¬† In 1944, the then unknown Norma Jean Baker signed with Miss Emmaline Snively’s Blue Book Modeling Agency, which was located inside the hotel.¬† Perhap’s the Ambassador’s more well known, and much more tragic, claim to fame is that it¬†was the location where Robert Kennedy was shot and killed in the early morning hours of June 5, 1968.¬† Kennedy had just won California’s primary nomination for the presidency and was giving his victory speech in the hotel’s Embassy Ballroom.¬† After the speech, he was wisked through the hotel’s kitchen on his way to the press area.¬† Sadly, he never made it.¬† He¬†was instead shot to death near the kitchen’s pantry by Palestinian radical Sirhan Sirhan.¬†

At the time of RFK’s assasination, the¬†area surrounding the¬†Ambassador had become¬†infested with gangs, drugs, and¬†crime, causing the¬†once grand hotel¬†to fall into¬†a steady economic decline.¬† Sadly,¬†once the hotel began its slump, it was never revived.¬† ūüė¶¬†¬†¬†The Ambassador’s¬†doors were closed to the public¬†in 1989¬†and the hotel was sold to Donald Trump for $64 million.¬†¬† The Donald, and many others,¬†had plans to completely rennovate the hotel and restore¬†it to its former grandeur, but sadly, that was not to be.¬† The Ambassador¬†sat empty for the next 16 years while its fate was decided.¬†¬†The Los Angeles Unified School District, in need of property to build new schools,¬†obtained rights to the land¬†based on imminent domain.¬† This plan tied up the property for years, while¬†L.A.U.S.D. fought developers, conservationists, and even¬†lawyers for Sirhan Sirhan, who argued that the hotel’s kitchen must be kept intact so further evidence could be gathered to exonerate their client.¬† Sadly,¬†the¬†developers and the conservationists lost the battle and in September of 2005, L.A.U.S.D. began¬†its demolition of the Ambassador.¬† The last¬†remaining piece of the Ambassador was knocked down on January 16, 2006 – almost 85 years to the day¬†of the hotel’s¬†grand opening.¬† It sickens me that this was allowed to happen.¬†¬†

During the years¬†when the Ambassador was closed and¬†a battle was being fought over¬†her future, Hollywood moved in and¬†started filming!¬† The¬†500 room hotel provided producers with the perfect locale to shoot movies – a vacant,¬†already-built hotel set with plenty of parking for film trucks. ¬†The Ambassador has been featured in¬†so many¬†movies that it is virtually impossible to even try to mention them all.¬† A short list of examples: That Thing You Do (where it played itself), Crossroads (where it stood in for all of the hotel room scenes), The Graduate (it was the hotel where Dustin Hoffman carried on his illicit affair with Anne Bancroft), Catch Me If You Can, The Mask (where it stood in for the Coco Bongo Nightclub), Bobby, The Fabulous Baker Boys, Pretty Woman (the main ballroom was used for the scene where Hector Alizondo teaches Julia Roberts about table manners and the scene where Richard Gere plays the piano), Forest Gump (it was featured as the bar where Jenny plays the guitar naked onstage), Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion (it was the reunion locale), Apollo 13 (two hotel rooms stood in for Gary Sinese and Kevin Bacon’s apartments), L.A. Story (it stood in for¬†the fictional L’Idiot restaurant), and The Wedding Singer – among literally countless others!¬† So even though the Ambassador is now gone, she¬†will be¬†forever preserved on the silver screen thanks to the magic of the movies.

Here is a great website devoted to the hotel.¬† Here is a great article written by one of the last men to ever photograph the hotel, Whit Wagner.¬† I absolutely love the title.¬† ūüôā¬† And here is a link to some of the photographs he took that day.¬† Here are some more great photos of the interior.¬† And finally, here is a great blog about the hotel’s demolition.

Until next time, Happy Stalking!¬† ūüôā

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Stalk It: The site where the Ambassador Hotel once stood is located at 3400 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.

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