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"What I Did on My Vacation!"....


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Hello Everybody,

 

I am currently in San Francisco siteseeing with a couple of friends. After attending a conference this coming weekend, I will be returning home to Calgary.

 

I will post a summary of my trip to Austin and Los Angeles if anybody is interested.

Let me know if you want to hear about "What I Did on My vacation!".....

 

Larry

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Hi All,

 

Here it is for what it's worth:

 

I left Austin a day earlier than I planned, as the Canadian Embassy in Washington was advising all Canadians to leave Texas immediately before ?Rita? hit the coast. I filmed the Pola Negri documentary from September 19th to 21st and didn?t get to San Antonio to see her old haunts because of the hurricane evacuation. Nobody was allowed to drive south by then. But I did get over to the Texas Legislature building and saw the foyer and dome and walked around the grounds a bit; very beautiful area. Then, I left for the airport and wondered, ?What next?? Surprisingly, I changed my reservation quite quickly and got on the next plane for LA, non-stop, what luck. So, I have nothing to complain about with American Airlines. There were, however, many hundreds in the Austin airport and I felt so sorry for them. (Confidentially though, I do travel under V.I.P. status ? a holdover from when I travelled with my grandmother, although she?s been dead for 40 years, - don?t tell anybody!!)??

 

So, I got to LA a day early on the 22nd and went out to the beach at Santa Monica and sat there, where Marion Davies old beach house had been, for about 2 hours and dreamed about how she laughed and we played right there and chased each other around and pushed each other in the ocean?. For the next 3 days I bummed around LA and went out to Malibu on a tour bus and around Beverly Hills, Bel-Aire and Brentwood on other touristy busses and just generally did nothing. It was great!!

 

My guest, David, from Denver arrived on the Monday, 26th, and we hired a car to drive around Beverly Hills and Bel-Aire, as he wanted to see where I had lived and where Pola Negri had lived. (He?s very interested in Pola Negri and has a web site on her and that?s how we know each other). Many, many old star?s homes are now gone or remodeled. Poor Agnes Moorehead would never recognize her old house, nor would Jimmy Stewart, Lucille Ball or Jack Benny. Our house is still there and I had the overwhelming urge to go and knock at the door and go in, but didn?t; we would have been arrested for sure as one just does not do that any more in BH?? Pickfair is now gone completely and so has Charles Boyer?s house and Rex Harrison?s. The only homes still the same to me or at least recognizable are Rosemary Clooney?s, Norma Shearer?s (now Robert Evan?s), Marion Davies?, Rock Hudson?s, Lana Turner?s, Gene Kelly?s, Rudolph Valentino?s, Joseph Schenck?s and Fred Astaire?s??

 

Tuesday, 27th, we went up and down part of Hollywood Blvd. and saw the Silver Gazebo on LaBrea Avenue with the statues of four actresses (Myrna Loy is one of them but can?t remember who the others are). Rather tacky, really!!!! Then we had lunch in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in the Spanish Lobby restaurant; sat at a table next to a statue of Charlie Chaplin. Dave was interested in Charlie because of Pola, but I was because of Martha Raye, who made a movie with him, ?Monsieur Verdoux?; we asked old ?Charlie? how both ladies were doing!!!!!

 

At the Chinese Theatre, we got pictures of the footprints of James Mason, Lana Turner, Paul Newman, Loretta Young, Marion Davies and Pola Negri but the place was so packed with tourists that we couldn?t get to a lot of the forecourt. Too bad. Went inside the new Kodak Theatre and then across the street to El Capitan theatre. Both are beautifully finished. Some of the sidewalk stars we saw that day were Danny Kaye, Claudette Colbert, Joanne Woodward and Ronald Colman. Bought roses and put them on the stars of Ann Miller, Rex Harrison and Jose Iturbi. Not too many others interested me.

 

On Wednesday, 28th, I slept in ? the day before had done me in - and David went off to do research on Pola Negri at the Academy of Arts and Sciences. I got the hotel to make me up a lunch and went over to Greystone Mansion, my Aunt Lucy?s old home. The house is closed up but people can walk around the grounds and so that?s what I did for a couple of hours. I visited the swimming pool and the koi pond and all the gardens and then sat and ate my lunch in the park. There is a park ranger there but no way could I get inside the house ? verboten!!!! Oh well, there?s no furniture inside now anyway. People can look in through the windows but it is cavernous and I became bored.

 

That night, we took my old friend and neighbour, George Chakiris, to dinner at Drago?s Ristorante on Wilshire Blvd. It was for his 71st birthday (belated), although he put the kibosh on a birthday cake?? Had a great dinner; I had roast lamb with eggplant, Dave had rib-eye beef with mushrooms and George had sea bass with lemon and baby spinach. We all had spring vegetables, although where you get spring vegetables in autumn I?ll never know! For dessert, I had mango sorbet with butterscotch cookies (I love butterscotch!), Dave had cr?me brulee with tangerine slices and George had pears anjou with red wine & chocolate flamb? ? more flaming desserts, I do love a good flaming dessert!! Burn the place down and I?m happy; I do believe I was a pyromaniac in another life!!!!

 

After a very late night, on Thursday, 29th, David and I went for a 1:00PM breakfast at the old Pig & Whistle, next door to the Egyptian Theatre. It is an old stomping ground of mine, but was closed down for many years and has now been renovated. But the old ice cream parlour at the front is gone. I first came here with Loretta Young and her mother and kids and we all had ice cream sundaes and floats, etc. but it was Paulette Goddard who always picked me up and came down here for banana splits, until it closed down around 1950. Paulette and I then went over to Musso & Frank?s Grill for banana splits for about the next 6 years. She loved those things and Nell always said she used me as an excuse just to go and have one?.. The Pig & Whistle is now all caf? and we sat at the back and ate, then went through the side door into the forecourt of the Egyptian Theatre and toured it and the theatre, although I sat in a seat for most of the time. Too tired.

 

We made our way to Musso & Frank?s Grill and each had a banana split and toasted Paulette, bless her, she was one fun lady?? Some of the sidewalk stars we saw Thursday were Gloria Swanson, Red Skelton, Vivien Leigh, Charlie Chaplin, Doris Day and Mary Astor. I left a rose on Mary Astor?s star, I loved her so?? I had an early night and slept about 10 hours.

 

Next day, Friday the 30th, I had my 11:00 AM meeting with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Two board members ? the Vice President of Publicity and the Director of Tourism and Special Events ? met me and we were joined by the President of Universal Studios; I was quite pleasantly surprised. All were very pleasant and polite and listened to my request about placing stars in the Walk of Fame for Marjorie Main, Mary Treen, Minerva Urecel and Mary Wickes. I was told that posthumous stars are rarely granted now but that in 2005 Redd Foxx, Freddie Prinze, Stella Adler and David O. Selznick had been given stars and that in 2006 Jack Cassidy and Leonard Goldenson of ABC would be the only 2 posthumous stars granted. My request will be considered and voted on by the Board for 2007 consideration next year. End of story. They then took me out to lunch at Spago?s. We had an extra large extravaganza pizza ? it had everything on it and was really good. I then went back to the Beverly Hills Hotel and went back to bed.

 

Woke up about 5:00 PM and David and I ordered room service ? a roast chicken and garlic roast potatoes and pumpkin pie and diet cokes and watched 2 Pola Negri movies that he had brought from Denver. He loved them and I wasn?t that impressed ? she was rather over dramatic and tended to pose a lot, most silent movie queens did?? I didn?t tell him that though, as he?s quite enthralled by her.

 

Then, on Saturday, October 1st, we walked east down the rest of Hollywood Blvd. and then back to Vine Street and sat and sat in the lobby of the Capitol Records building. I was pooped! We had put flowers on the stars for Mercedes McCambridge, Mae Murray, Mary Boland, Pola Negri, Ramon Novarro, Merle Oberon, Martha Raye and Loretta Young.?? Other stars that we saw on HB that day were Bette Davis, Mary Pickford, Gary Cooper, Dean Martin, Betty Grable, Alfred Hitchcock, Rudolph Valentino and Gregory Peck.

 

We then took a cab back to the Beverly Hills Hotel and I had a visit to the spa there and was massaged and rubbed and soaked for 4 hours. A Clubhouse sandwich and Clam Chowder soup and I went to bed ? 8 o?clock at night; I am getting old, too much walking on cement and it does me in. And, to think that I ran all over LA when I was a kid, always walked everywhere, up and down hills and ravines and canyons; not now ? it?s a chauffeured car for me now!!!!

 

Sunday, October 2nd, I went to the Getty Museum and saw the Ancient Greek and Roman exhibit. Beautiful statues and lots of buildings to explore but I ended up sitting in the Cactus Garden with a tall whiskey and 7Up and lime juice. The main garden there is nice too. I ordered a diet coke and walked around the gardens; I do love gardens?.

 

In the late afternoon, we went for dinner at Elaine Stewart?s and Merrill Heater?s house. Had a great meal and leisurely conversation and talked about the old days and all the people who are dead. She still sees Zsa Zsa periodically and she?s doing fine. David loved her and of course, I always have?..

 

Monday, October 3rd, David and I went to the Norton Simon Art Gallery & Museum in the morning and then out to the Motion Picture Home to discuss some personal arrangements that I?ve made with them about my belongings in my will. I?m donating most of them to MPH. I saw the blueprints of the area where they will be exhibited ? very nice. Right next to the Roddy McDowell Gardens. We had late lunch there and briefly met Edith Fellows, whom I had requested to see. She is a very tiny lady, only about 5 feet tall ? surprising!! I said ?hello? to her from ?Moviejoe?, who?s on our boards and had met her last year. She said, ?How kind he must be to remember her?? I did ask if Yvonne De Carlo was at the Home now but was told no but that arrangements were being discussed for her to stay. This is probably confidential information and I wouldn?t want to embarrass a lady but I know we are all sympathetically interested in our old stars, so I asked and am passing it along and know we are all thinking about her.

 

We then went to the Hollywood Bowl that evening and saw the theatre venue but nothing was scheduled as I guess it?s closed on Mondays but walked around and took pictures.

 

Tuesday, October 4th,

 

Late in the afternoon, we did Vine Street and put flowers on stars for Agnes Moorehead, Linda Darnell, Joan Davis, Ava Gardner, Corinne Griffith, Robert Z. Leonard, Adolph Zukor, Binnie Barnes and Betty Blythe? Other stars on Vine Street are Alan Ladd, Rita Hayworth, Audrey Hepburn, Roy Rogers, James Stewart, Mae West and Cecil B. DeMille.

 

That night, we ordered room service and watched 2 Marion Davies films (Show People and Cain & Mabel) and another Pola Negri movie, Mazurka (a German picture from 1935)?.. These movies were better!!

 

Wednesday, October 5th, I went to visit and have a private tour of Chester Place and St. Vincent?s Church in downtown LA next to USC. Both these places were built by my great-grandfather. I had tea with an ancient nun who remembered me from visits I had there as a kid and teenager. Her name is Sister Symphorosa; what a crappy name for anybody! She?s now 89 and immobile but still as sharp as a tack... St. Vincent?s is a grand old Spanish style church and is as I remembered it; but Chester Place is overdone in Sienna marble and a large Tiffany glass domed ceiling. It?s rather garish for me now and I did not notice it that much when I was younger.

 

That evening, we got dressed up in suit and tie and went to Morton?s in West Hollywood. This is where they hold Oscar parties and is reputedly very snooty. Actually, it?s an alright place and we were treated very well and had a good, but not great table. Didn?t see anyone famous or at least recognizable but our waiter and busboy both hope to be stars ? OK!! We both had Morton?s famous salad with 3 kinds of lettuce and shrimp; it was OK but not anything special, I didn?t think. Then we had lamb chops and fries which was really great and quite delicious. Peach cobbler and mocha ice cream were for dessert. Wow, it was good!!!!

 

Thursday, October 6th, David flew back to Denver in the morning and I had lunch with Elaine Stewart at ?The Matterhorn Chef? in Van Nuys. Since she used to be Elsie Steinberg and always loved German cooking, she decided we?d go for Bavarian food and the only thing she could think of was this Swiss place that?s always advertised on TV. It used to be ?The Old Heidelberg Restaurant? before, she discovered and so we enjoyed clam soup and half a Mimosa salad each and then **** Schnitzel and scalloped potatoes. We finished with apple strudel & vanilla sauce. Yummy!!!

 

At six o?clock, I met George Chakiris in the Polo Lounge for drinks and their tri-coloured chips and salsa. Not my bag, really. So we went into the Fountain Coffee Shop, in the hotel, as I had been given a complimentary pass for two there since I had taken a bungalow at the Hotel. We both had sundaes and I had a banana split at the soda fountain and sat on the famous pink fountain stools there. We both felt very silly but as I told the waiter, we are both a couple of old poops trying to recapture our childhoods!!!!!! We said our goodbyes at around 8:30 PM

 

Friday, October 7th, I flew to San Francisco and that?s where I am now, typing this out on a laptop that constantly needs recharging!

 

Take care,

 

Larry

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Larry,

 

Thanks for the thorough, exhaustive account of your holidays. Really AWESOME!

 

Fernando

 

P.S. I remember Elaine Stewart as one of the ravishing beauties of the 1950's, I bet she's still a gorgeous lady; Isn't she?

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Hi fernando,

 

Elaine is now gray haired and about 75 and a grandmother. But she is still very attractive and fashionably dressed.

She has a great (wicked) sense of humour and so does her husband. They're great together...

 

Larry

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Hi Sandy,

 

Yes, I really enjoyed eating them too..... I do love a good meal, well served and good conversation.

 

Greystone Mansion is open periodically for concertsand special meetings, etc. but there's no furniture in the place anymore and it makes a large house look more enormous than ever.

I really never did like the place; it was too dank for me and only ever stayed there one night in 1955 just before my aunt sold the place. Mostly, I visited for only a few hours.

 

Larry

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Larry, that was a swell account of your vacation days mixing business with pleasure.

 

It had to be a kick walking past all those stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and seeing those prints in cement. Did you happen to fit your shoe into any of the footprints of the great actors of Hollywood?

 

Was glad to hear that you had a meeting with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce regarding those missing and neglected stars, especially Marjorie Main.

It's too bad we have to wait until 2007 for any results, which most likely will be nil. In any event you tried and we will hope for the best.

 

It's also too bad that some of the houses of the stars are gone and some changed so drastically. Does Fred Astaire's widow Robin still live in his house?

Also sorry to hear about Yvonne De carlo although the Motion Picture Country Home is supposed to be ideal for our ailing stars.

 

Wow! That glorious food and those mouth watering desserts were something else. I'm surprised you were able to get motivated again.

 

Through your recollections of Nell, and whatever we may think of her, she is afterall the force behind your golden years in Hollywood, for which we thank her. Otherwise we could not be treated to such interesting stories.

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Hi Mongo,

 

Glad you enjoyed my past reminiscences and my current vacation.

 

No, I didn't put my feet into anyone's footprints. We didn't see all of the forecourt as it was packed..

 

I think Fred Astaire's wife does still live there, but don't hold me to that - not really sure. She did live there in 1998, when I was last in LA.

 

Yes, I do love a special meal, but don't always eat like that -- I'd be 300 lbs. if I did.

 

And yes, I do miss Nell, the wicked old '****', - she was always good to me..

 

Take care,

Larry

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> Hi fernando,

>

> Elaine is now gray haired and about 75 and a

> grandmother. But she is still very attractive and

> fashionably dressed.

> She has a great (wicked) sense of humour and so does

> her husband. They're great together...

>

> Larry

 

Thanks for the feedback Larry.

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Larry, what an amazing trip! And thank you for asking to see Edith Fellows at the MPH. She's a sweet lady, I hope you enjoyed meeting her! If you ever get the chance, see her in "Music In My Heart," with Rita Hayworth and Tony Martin, or "Pennies From Heaven," with Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong. She's great in both. And thanks for asking about Yvonne DeCarlo, as you said, we DO wonder about our older stars and how they're doing.

 

So you stayed at the Beverly Hills Hotel huh! Fancy shmancy! And in a bungalow no less! Did the staff tell you what famous stars had stayed in the bungalow before? As far as I know, Marilyn lived in one for awhile, and I think Liz Taylor spent at least two honeymoons in one of them. I'm glad you saw the Egyptian Theater. I went there on my last trip to L.A. as well, and it's great to see it restored and preserved. I saw a double feature of "Dangerous Female," and "The Maltese Falcon" while I was there.

 

And I know what you mean about the stars' homes. My uncle and I also had a rented car while out there and we drove all around B.H. looking at them. Lucille Ball's is VERY different from what I've seen in pictures, as well as many others like you've said. You can tell by looking at them that they've been greatly renovated. I never saw Norma Shearer's though. Could you tell me where hers is? I'd like to see it the next time I'm out there. And another house that looks as though it's original is Stan Laurel's. And I went to the address of the old Pickfair mansion, and you can see it's mostly gone, but it looked like there was one wall, or perhaps the entrance behind the fence that looked like it might remain from the original house. All of the property has been developed though, obviously. Really there isn't too much left of Old Hollywood in L.A. You really have to seek it out.

 

And thanks for meeting with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Hopefully they consider these names, especially Marjorie Main and Mary Wickes, who are both legendary.

 

I'm glad you had such a great trip Larry. And even though it was exhausting, at least you ate good!

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Hi again Joe,

 

Yes, I stayed at the Beverly Hills Hotel but only because the Century Plaza, where I had meant to stay didn't have suites with two bedrooms anymore and because before I left calgary there was that terrorist threat about hitting Los Angeles and I didn't want to be 19 floors up if the hotel was hit!!!

So, I rebooked the BHH and insisted on a bungalow. There I was on the ground at least.

Bungalow 17 is at the back and quiet. It has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, dining room and kitchen. Perfect.

Greta Garbo stayed there in the 50's and 60's and there's an old picture of her with Leo, the MGM lion on the wall. We said 'goodnight' to Greta every night!

Joan Collins has also stayed in Bungalow 17 and so has Russell Crowe (but who cares about him!).....

 

I sat in the audience in the Egyptian Theatre during our tour (we joined a tourist group there) and just listened to the guide. I was pooped and I'd really seen it year before. It was renovated quite like the old days.

I won a prize when they had a contest to ID movie stars that were flashed onto the screen. Nobody knew who any of them were except one old lady and me and I knew more than she did.

I won when she couldn't ID Gloria Swanso and Wallace Reid and Nita Nadi. I gave my prize - a bus tour of LA to the stars' homes- to her.

 

Yes, I loved Edith Fellows. She is sweet and friendly. David and I shared some neapolitan ice cream with her at our lunch. She joined us late and then excused herself as she had an old film to see at 3:00PM. It was a Peggy Ryan movie and nobody could remember which one..... But we didn't stay.

 

I'm still in San Francisco. My conference starts tomorrow but several of us went out to wine country yesterday and toured that and sampled lots of 'vino'... we are having a big banquet tonight at the St. Francis Hotel, so I better get ready for that. Eating again!!!!!

 

Larry

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Oh Joe,

 

I forgot to tell you where Norma Shearer's house was:

 

On Sunset Blvd. near Palm Drive. It's on the north side and is behind a lot of bushes now and has a gate now too.

It still looks the same because Robert Evans bought it from her in the 50's and she had discovered him.

It didn't have bushes and a gate when she lived there but otherwise it's still the same house.

 

Larry

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Joe, if you wanna get a good look at Norma Shearer's house rent the wonderful documentary "The Kid Stay's in the Picture" all about actor/producer Robert Evans.

He tells the story about his acquaintance with his friend Miss Shearer and how much he admired the house, which he is proud to show off.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Larry and Mongo -

 

Thanks so much for the info on Shearer's house. I've heard of the doc. "The Kid Stays in the Picture," but have not seen it. I'll put it on my Netflix list now! Thanks again for the info.

 

And congrats Larry on winning the contest in the Egyptian Theater. I don't think even I would've recognized Nita Naldi. And how cool to have stayed in the same bungalow that Garbo stayed in! The place must have a great "Old Hollywood" feel to it. Thanks again for your recollections.

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