Tinseltown is larger than life, made famous not only by its celebrities but also by its iconic landmarks which shine like stalwart beacons beckoning to the masses of hungry tourists from every corner of the globe who are eager to have their images preserved for posterity – and posted on social media – silhouetted against these famous backdrops, giving them bragging rights to declare to the world at large, “I was there!”.In the second of this four-part series, we look at some of Hollywood’s most famous landmarks.
Arguably one of the most famous landmarks in the world, and certainly an American icon, is the Hollywood Sign, situated on Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills and overlooking Hollywood.Spelled out in 45-foot tall white capital letters, the sign originally read “Hollywoodland” and was actually a huge advertisement for a housing development in the area that was created in 1923.In September 1932, actress Peg Entwistle committed suicide by climbing up to the top of the letter “H” and jumping to her death at the age of 24 and in 1945, the last four letters in “Hollywoodland” were removed.
Opened in 1927, it's probably safe to say that Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood is the most famous movie theater in the world. It has traditionally been the site of more Hollywood premieres than any other theater and, for several years, was also home to the Academy Awards ceremony. Most people can readily recognize Grauman’s by its imposing exterior which includes a huge red Chinese pagoda-like structure. Founder, Sid Grauman, was responsible for implementing the Hollywood Walk of Fame.However, the stars on the sidewalk outside of his theater were ones he reserved for only the most notable celebrities.
Almost as famous as Grauman’s are the brass and terrazzo stars which line the sidewalk in front of it, known as the Hollywood Walk of Fame.The Walk of Fame was inaugurated in 1960 and now stretches across both sides of Hollywood Boulevard as well as Vine Street. Anyone can nominate a star, even a fan, but the star’s management must approve the nomination.The cost of a star is $30,000, with the proceeds going to create and maintain the star as well as the Walk of Fame.All stars who are chosen must appear for their ceremony and have five years in which to schedule it.
Capitol Records, located near Hollywood and Vine, was the world’s first round office building and it’s truly an iconic landmark in Hollywood.The thirteen-story building looks like a stack of records.The building’s 90-foot rooftop spire, which resembles the needle on a phonograph, is topped by a red light that continuously blinks the word “Hollywood” in Morse code.The light was turned on when the building opened in 1956.Capitol Records is where Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, Nat “King” Cole, Paul McCartney and many other music legends recorded some of music’s most enduring albums.
During Hollywood's Golden Age, the Brown Derby restaurant was the go-to place for celebrities and dealmakers. The walls were lined with hundreds of caricatures of movie stars, many of whom could be seen dining there on any given night. In 1939, Clark Gable took a break from shooting Gone With the Wind to propose to his girlfriend, Carole Lombard, in one of the booths.Lovers of the old I Love Lucy show will remember that when the Ricardos and Mertzes arrived in Hollywood, Lucy dragged Ethel and Fred to the Brown Derby where she spotted movie star, William Holden.Needless to say, the encounter became memorable for all concerned, thanks to an overzealous Lucy!
There are, of course, other iconic landmarks that have sadly disappeared from Hollywood’s landscape, having fallen victim to development and bankruptcy like Tower Records on Sunset Strip or Schwab’s drug store, also located on Sunset Strip.They nevertheless continue to endure, thanks to their lofty place in Hollywood’s history, preserved forever in the films we watch and the books we read.