Stroll Down Hollywood Boulevard…


A stroll down Hollywood Boulevard reveals movie history



by Mark Dawidziak
Plain Dealer Television Critic


LOS ANGELES — You can find the history of Hollywood in the decades worth of film gems available on DVD. You can find it between the covers of countless books written by cinema scholars.


Or you can find it by simply taking a stroll down Hollywood Boulevard.    (Click on ‘Continue Reading’ for more)


Here, you will catch glimpses of Hollywood’s glittering past, symbolized by such grand movie palaces as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the El Capitan and the Egyptian. Here, you will find the red-carpeted embodiment of Hollywood present at the Kodak Theatre, home of tonight’s 81st annual Academy Awards.


And somewhere along this boulevard of dreams, you may brush shoulders with the Dream Factory’s future — the next generation lured to Hollywood by visions of big-screen success and stardom.


But remember: It’s also here where ambition meets reality. So watch your step, or you might trip over those broken dreams, as well.


The lyric of an old song promises a broken heart for every light on Broadway. Multiply that by several thousand, and you’ve got Hollywood Boulevard.


Nathanael West brilliantly captured these extremes, the glamorous and the grotesque, in his 1939 Hollywood novel, “The Day of the Locust.” That mixture of desire and desperation he found in the era of “Gone With the Wind” and “The Wizard of Oz” still is the stuff Hollywood dreams are made of.


If you want the theme-park experience in Los Angeles, head to Universal Studios and Disneyland.


But if you’re looking for the film industry’s history, go to Hollywood Boulevard.


A mile-and-a-half walking tour will take you on a journey from 1917 to the present. You’ll pass four of the 10 sites that have played host to Oscar ceremonies. You’ll cover more than 90 years of Hollywood history, taking in stretches that are stately, outlandish, garish, dazzling, tawdry, ridiculous and tacky.


Count on 13 stops, each of them linking Tinseltown’s past and present. Almost all are open to the public, available to tour for the price of a movie ticket or a cocktail.


Start at:

1. The Jim Henson Studios, 1416 N. La Brea Ave.

It’s not actually on Hollywood Boulevard, but it’s the ideal starting point. This block stands out for two reasons. First, the line of quaint buildings resembles a small English village. And second, perched over the front gate, there’s the statue of Kermit the Frog dressed as silent-screen genius Charlie Chaplin.


The Little Tramp built this lot as his home studio in 1917. Chaplin sold the studio in 1953, and it became Kling Studios, home to such TV series as “The Adventures of Superman” and “Perry Mason.” Red Skelton bought the studio in 1958. He sold it to CBS four years later. And in 1966, it became the headquarters for Herb Alpert’s A&M Records. The “We Are the World” video was filmed here in 1985. It became the Henson Studios in 2000.


This is the only stop on the tour that you can’t go inside, but the exterior view is definitely worth a look.


From here, standing in front of the Kermit statue and looking across La Brea, turn right and walk north four blocks to Hollywood Boulevard. Turn right and on your right, you’ll soon see:


2. The Roosevelt Hotel (also known as the Hollywood Roosevelt), 7000 Hollywood Blvd.


Opened in 1927, this was the site of the first Academy Awards ceremony. Financed by a group that included Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and MGM boss Louis B. Mayer, the grand hotel was a favorite with Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor. Celebrity ghosts who have not checked out include Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift .¤.¤. or so they say.


Glance across the street and a little to the right (or east) and you’ll see:


3. Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, 6925 Hollywood Blvd.


You still can catch a movie here, but the real star attractions are those famous feet and signatures immortalized in concrete: Judy Garland, Jean Harlow, the Marx Brothers, Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart, Roy Rogers and Trigger, Cleveland boys Bob Hope and Paul Newman, Humphrey Bogart, Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, Will Smith, Johnny Depp and Daniel Radcliffe. Opened in 1927, the theater was home to three consecutive Oscar bashes (1944-46).


This is also the starting point for the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade, originally called the Santa Claus Lane Parade, which inspired Gene Autry to write “Here Comes Santa Claus” in 1946 after taking part in the fun.


Directly across the street you’ll see the imposing gray edifice of the structure built as the:


4. Hollywood Masonic Temple, 6840 Hollywood Blvd.


Built in 1921 and opened in 1923, the building now is the home of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” In its prime, the lodge boasted such members as W.C. Fields, Cecil B. DeMille, John Wayne, Roy Rogers, Oliver Hardy and Harold Lloyd. Hollywood legend has long held that there is a secret tunnel running under Hollywood Boulevard, linking the Temple with Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. For free Kimmel tickets, go to


If spectacular architecture snares your interest, right next door is:


5. The El Capitan Theatre, 6838 Hollywood Blvd.


Opened in 1926, it is one of the most palatial of the old movie palaces. Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane” had its world premiere here in 1941. It is now owned by Disney, which uses it as a main venue for the studio’s films.


Back across the street yet again for:


6. The Kodak Theatre, 6801 Hollywood Blvd.

Opened in November 2001, it has been the home of the Academy Awards since 2002.


Next door to the Kodak:


7. Hollywood and Highland Center, at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue.


It’s a modern hotel, shopping and restaurant complex connected to the Kodak, but here, too, the past and present collide. Two massive pillars with elephant statues and a vast archway are replicas of the Babylon set from D.W. Griffith’s 1916 silent masterpiece “Intolerance.”


In the next block, on the same side of the street, you’ll find:


8. The Hollywood Wax Museum, 6767 Hollywood Blvd.


Kitschy, no doubt, with its wax likenesses of everyone from Chaplin to Halle Berry. But having opened in 1965, it qualifies as a Hollywood landmark. Admission is $15.95 for ages 13-64; $13.95 for 65 and older; $6.95 for ages 6-12; free for children 5 and younger.


Back across the street you’ll see:


9. The Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd.


Opened in 1922, this opulent theater claims a big slice of Hollywood history. It was the site of the very first Hollywood premiere: Douglas Fairbanks’ “Robin Hood.” The theater now is the home of the American Cinematheque.


A block up, on the other side of the street:


10. Musso & Frank Grill, 6667 Hollywood Blvd.


Another Hollywood legend has it that, in the Roaring ’20s, Chaplin, Fairbanks and Rudolph Valentino once raced down Hollywood Boulevard on horseback, the loser having to buy dinner at their favorite eatery, Musso & Frank. Opened in 1919, it’s Hollywood’s oldest restaurant. It’s a favorite dinner stop for the likes of Nicholas Cage, Martin Sheen, Tim Robbins and Johnny Depp. It was a favorite drinking stop for John Barrymore, Gary Cooper, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.


Across the street:


11. Larry Edmunds Cinema and Theatre Bookshop, 6644 Hollywood Blvd.


In business for more than 60 years, this store is a jam-packed delight for the serious screen scholar, hard-core collector or casual fan of anything Hollywood.


A few more blocks east you come to the:


12. Intersection of Hollywood and Vine, aka “the heart of Hollywood.”


Ever wonder why this address came to symbolize Tinseltown? Well, a brick structure at that corner, the Taft Building (1680 N. Vine St.), was where most of the studios and many agents had offices. This made it a busy spot for actors looking for work. CBS broadcast programs from Hollywood and Vine during radio’s golden era, and, looking north on Vine, you’ll spot the famous Capitol Records Tower (


Continue another block or so and you’ll reach the final stop on the walking tour:


13. The Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd.


Opened in 1930, it was the home of the Academy Awards for an 11-year stretch (1950-60). Bob Hope, who grew up in Cleveland, was a host for seven of them, including the first to be televised (on March 19, 1953). It’s still an active theater, where major musicals are staged.


This isn’t the literal end of the road. Hollywood Boulevard continues for several more blocks. But this is where you run out (or walk out) of Hollywood history, leaving the boulevard of dreams and heading toward the realties of downtown Los Angeles.



2 Responses to “Stroll Down Hollywood Boulevard…”

  1. You can see all the stars as you walk down Hollywood Blvd.~

    Some that you recognize, some that you’ve hardly even heard of~

    People who worked and struggled and suffered for fame~

    Some who succeeded, some who suffered in vain~

    But those who are successful, be always on your guard~

    Success walks hand-in-hand with failure, along Hollywood Blvd.

    (Celluloid Heroes, by Ray Davies)

  2. Landman says:

    What a great “Blog Tour” of the Blvd. I have walked down Hollywood Blvd many times, and every time is like the first, EXCITING! We look forward to our next visit to Hollywood to walk it again, and get that “First Time” feeling. Let’s hope it stays this way for ever!!!!!

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