Life is Good at Hollywood Forever: A Chat With Karie Bible, Tour Guide

If you know me at all, you know I like to hang out in cemeteries. I’ve haunted graveyards all over the world, but my absolute favorite is Hollywood Forever Cemetery. In the middle of crowded and congested Hollywood, it is a haven of rest, for sure, but also a lovely park and a place to spend some quiet time with the Hollywood greats.

The truth is, friends, I’d rather be here than at Universal Studios or Disneyland — any day!

When I’m in Los Angeles researching a book, my pattern is pretty much the same. I have breakfast at Denny’s on Sunset and Western, then head down to Hollywood Forever to walk around and let the bacon and pancakes settle. Then it’s off to the Academy Library for a day of research.

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In 2013, I was a guest speaker at the annual Valentino Memorial Service at Hollywood Forever. I was so excited to meet Karie Bible, a devoted film historian who leads the Hollywood Forever Cemetery Walking Tour. As I figure it, she just about has the coolest job imaginable.

Let’s find out!

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Karie Bible

Michael: How long have you been tour guide at Hollywood Forever? 

Karie: I’ve been giving tours several times a month since February 2002.

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Michael  on his first visit (with Charlene) to Hollywood Memorial (now Forever), about 1986

Michael: My first trip to Hollywood was in the mid-1980s. Then it was Hollywood Memorial Cemetery and was among the first places I wanted to see. When was your first visit and what were your first impressions? 

Karie: When I first visited the cemetery, I was pretty emotional. A co-worker of mine had recently died at a young age and I was very upset about it. When I walked into the gates of the cemetery, I looked around and my mood started to change. I didn’t see the place as sad or morbid. To me it was a peaceful, beautiful oasis and a place to celebrate life. I fell in love with it immediately.

Michael: On that first visit, I was interested in one person: Valentino. Of course, I saw Barbara La Marr, William Desmond Taylor, and Marion Davies. But there really is so much more to see, isn’t there?

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A selfie at Valentino’s crypt, about 2014

Karie: There are tons of things to see! There is a story behind every single grave there. The cemetery has beautiful architecture, unique headstones and hosts a ton of creative people.

Michael: Tell me some of the highlights of your tours. Have you made any surprise discoveries? 

Karie:  One of my favorite things is seeing the look of joy and excitement that people get when they see the grave of a star that was meaningful to them. One day I was giving a tour and speaking to a large group about Valentino.

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Karie at Valentino’s crypt

There was a girl in the group who was about 20 years old. When I started talking about Valentino’s life, tears began pouring down her face. She finally turned around and ran out of the building. I was a bit shocked and couldn’t imagine what I could have said to upset her. I asked her boyfriend if she was ok. He said, “She just gets very emotional about Valentino.” It is a pretty big testament to his charisma and star power that ninety years after his death young girls still cry and react emotionally at his grave.

On another day I had an elderly lady who actually taught Jayne Mansfield’s children. She said that there were many celebrity kids at the school, and that Jayne was the ONLY famous parent who ever showed up in person. Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 4.08.46 PMShe said Jayne was active at the school and a really loving, caring mother. That was a beautiful story and certainly makes her seem much more human. While these people may be icons, sex symbols, etc. they are, in fact, people.

Michael: What questions do you get most from those taking your tour? 

Karie: People often ask me about the peacocks and many of the graves with the faces etched into the marble. Those things add so much character to the place.

Michael: Yeah, I want to get to the peacocks in a minute. Any estimate as to the number of tours you’ve given? 

Karie: I couldn’t even begin to tell you. I do about two or three tours a month and it has now been 14 years. That isn’t counting private tours, the special art deco tour and other things.

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Karie in tour!

Back in 2013, I started getting kidney stones right before I gave a tour. I didn’t want to let the people down who had booked and I figured that the show must go on! I gave a 2 ½ hour tour with massive kidney stones. I was in so much pain that I really don’t remember very much. I have done the tour so many times that I sort of went on autopilot. I was rushed to Cedar’s Sinai right afterward.

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Johnny Ramone’s monument

Michael: What’s the most unusual monument or tombstone? 

Karie: None of them seem unusual to me, but I think that Johnny Ramone’s grave seems to draw a lot of attention. I’ve given many tours to seniors who don’t even know who he is, but that can’t stop looking at his grave.

Michael: On a recent tour, I was looking for the grave of Mae Murray’s brother. I was almost attacked by a gigantic peacock. I’ve since seen their cages. I have to admit they are beautiful creatures. What’s the story behind them and their home at the cemetery? 

Karie: Someone told me that the peacock is a symbol for eternal life. That would make sense because cemeteries are always filled with symbolism and nothing is just there arbitrarily. If you look near the flower shop, there are peacocks in the stained glass and even peacock feathers painted on the dome over the building.

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Watch for the peacocks; they have the right of way!

Michael: What’s the story around the big, black car that sits up front?

Karie: That is an antique hearse that the owner Tyler Cassity purchased. I think it is from 1939. As far as I know it still works and is put to use.

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Michael: Are there any unmarked graves of silent film stars there? I believe Florence Lawrence’s grave was once unmarked, but she now has a marker.

Karie: Yes there are still unmarked star graves. Getting a marker can be a complicated process that involves getting permission from the family (if there are any still alive) and raising money. The cemetery has been great about helping make that process happen. I know that silent comic actor Ford Sterling was recently marked and Ann Sheridan was as well. Tyler and his staff recently got a marker for the grave of Pauline Pfeiffer Hemingway, Ernest Hemmingway’s second wife. Historian Allan Ellenberger does an excellent blog about Hollywood history and written about it. http://allanellenberger.com/sins-of-the-mother-the-story-of-pauline-hemingway/

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 5.04.16 PMMichael: Have all the film related graves, niches, and crypts been identified? 

Karie: To my knowledge, yes they have been identified.

Michael: Are there any missing old timers that may be there?

Karie: Not that I know of. I always preface things by saying that, as you never know!

Michael: What mysteries are there? What are your favorites? 

Karie: The grave of William Desmond Taylor would count as a mystery. It is one of the most famous unsolved murders in Hollywood history. There have been so many books about it, but I think it will always remain a mystery.

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William Desmond Taylor

I love Valentino, but I feel a deep connection to all of the people there. I spend a lot of time at the cemetery and I’m very passionate about film history. There are so many pioneers buried at Hollywood Forever who were at the ground floor as the art form and business of Hollywood was being created. Many of them worked behind the scenes as writers, cinematographers, composers and crew.

Michael: I understand. My passion is researching the lives of those from the very beginning.

Karie: So many of these people go unappreciated. A great number of them were discarded and forgotten. They deserve better.

Michael: Have you ever met any relatives of some of the permanent residents of Hollywood Forever on your tour? Who were they? 

Karie: Several years ago, I was giving a small tour and as I was at JScreen Shot 2016-04-01 at 4.02.20 PMohn Huston’s grave. I turned around and Angelica Huston was standing right there.
She was cleaning up the flowers and grass around her father’s grave. I didn’t want to bother her, but she was very gracious and a total class act.

Michael: If you were an early actor or actress died in Hollywood, what choices did you have? Rosedale, I know. What others? 

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Karie: Hollywood Forever (originally named Hollywood Memorial Park) was founded in 1899. Forest Lawn Glendale came along in 1906. Calvary Cemetery was established in 1896 and Evergreen Cemetery in 1877. I think that Home of Peace has been in their current spot since 1902. Grand View Memorial Park dates back to 1884. I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting, but those are the ones that come to mind.

Michael: Are there any haunted areas of the cemetery that you are aware of? Tell me the stories. 

Karie: People often ask me that question. I’ve been there a long time and I’ve never had a paranormal encounter of any kind. There have been rumors that Clifton Webb walks down the corridor of the Abbey of the Psalms Mausoleum or that you can hear actress Virginia Rappe weeping. Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 4.01.29 PMTo me, the history is fascinating enough and I really don’t want to focus on the paranormal. (By the way, read Room 1219 to learn more about Virginia Rappe, the actress who died after the party thrown by Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. It is an excellent read!)

Michael: So, give the cemetery a little plug for my readers? Invite them to take the tour!

Karie: The “Cemetery of the Stars” tour at Hollywood Forever is a great overview of the cemetery. It includes the big names including Rudolph Valentino, Cecil B. DeMille, Marion Davies, Tyrone Power, Vampira, John Huston, Johnny Ramone, Peter Lorre, Mel Blanc and many more! Hollywood Forever is a beautiful place and one of the most unique cemeteries in the world! Learn more about dates and times for the tour at www.cemeterytour.com.

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Watch for these beautiful birds

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A stunning view of the Hollywood Sign awaits as you exit the cemetery.

 

 

Mae Murray biographer to speak at Valentino Memorial, sign books at Book Soup

By Michael G. Ankerich

My friends in Los Angeles and surrounding environs, mark your calendars for these dates: Friday, August 23, and Saturday, August 24. I want to meet you!

While I am in LA doing research for my new book, Hairpins and Dead Ends: The Perilous Journeys of 20 Actresses Through Early Hollywood, I am making appearances at two events.

I am delighted to have been asked to speak at the annual Valentino Memorial, set for Friday, August 23, at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, in Hollywood. I will talk briefly about Rudy’s friendship with Mae Murray, a close relationship that lasted over 10 years.

Rudolph Valentino and Mae Murray, fall of 1925.

Rudolph Valentino and Mae Murray, fall of 1925.

In preparation for the release of my latest book, Mae Murray: The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips, I posted an interview on YouTube that Mae did in 1960. In this segment, she talks at length about Rudy.  Check it out here!

I have visited Rudy’s crypt countless times over the decades, but this is my first time attending the annual memorial. I’m looking forward to being there.

The next day, Saturday, August 24, at 4 p.m., I am signing my Mae Murray biography, Mae Murray: The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips, at Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood.  I would love to meet you!

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Recap – 

  • Friday, August 23, 2013 – Valentino Memorial
  • Saturday, August 24, 2013, at 4 p.m. – Book signing at Book Soup

More details to come about these events!

Mae Murray’s 1960 Radio Interview

As I celebrate the publication of my new book, Mae Murray: The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips, I wanted to share with you an interview Mae Murray gave in 1960 as she celebrated the release of her first biography by Jane Ardmore, The Self-Enchanted.

The interview can be found on YouTube in three parts.  Follow the links below.  Enjoy!  It is great to hear her voice!

Mae Murray Radio Interview — 1960 (Part I)

Mae Murray Radio Interview — 1960 (Part II)

Mae Murray Radio Interview — 1960 (Part III)

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The Intrigue of Frances Teague

By Michael G. Ankerich

Did you see her?  Did you get a look at Frances Teague in the passing parade?

You had to look fast, but she was there, one of the stunning beauties of the silent screen.

Frances Teague, Photoplay magazine, 1925.

I came across her portrait about a month ago while looking through a 1925 Photoplay magazine. I almost passed it by, but her eyes caught my eye. The mysterious and mesmerizing Frances Teague.

Who was she anyway?  She did she come from?  What was the extent of her film career in Hollywood?  What became of Frances Teague?

She came from Oakland, California, born April 12, 1905, to Walter E. and Margaret Teague.  The name Teague was well known in the Bay area. Frances’s great-grandfather furnished the teams for grading the old Central Pacific Railroad, the final link in the transcontinental railway. Her father was the manager of the Operating Department of the Southern Pacific Company.

Early publicity suggests that Frances had dramatics and dancing as her childhood ambitions. Her daughter, Patricia (Pat) Hillsinger, speaking in an interview with this author in August 2012, said she was not aware of her mother’s interest in the arts. Nevertheless, she stood out in Oakland as a beauty among beauties. The Oakland Tribune followed her development over the years.

After she entered films, the newspaper featured her on the front page, showing her progression through the years.

The Evolution of Frances Teague

According to press reports, Frances spent six years studying aesthetic dancing. She specialized in dramatics at Miss Hamlin’s exclusive girl’s school in San Francisco.

Newspaper accounts of Frances’s entry into motion pictures are contradictory. One account involves director Eric von Stroheim. While on location in San Francisco with Greed, Von Stroheim secured the cooperation of Southern Pacific officals for some location settings. When the director paid a visit to Walter Teague’s office at Southern Pacific, he took one look at Frances’s photograph on her father’s desk and asked to make some screen tests. He promised her a part an upcoming production, but the offer never materialized.

The other account has Frances being discovered  shortly after her arrival in Hollywood.  When she graduated from Miss Hamlin’s, Frances and her parents moved to Los Angeles. Her early publicity suggests the family moved to allow Frances to pursue her acting ambitions.

Frances’s daughter, however, says the reason they ventured south was at the request of a railroad official in Los Angeles who asked Walter Teague to start a produce terminal in Los Angeles.  In addition, Frances’s older brother, Earle, after attending agriculture school, was working in the farming industry in the Los Angeles area.

The Teagues settled into a house in fashionable Whitley Heights next door to Rudolph Valentino. Frances’s daughter remembers her mother speaking fondly of the Latin heartthrob over the years. “She thought he was a very nice man,” Pat Hillsinger said. Plus, they shared a common bond: they were both dog lovers.

“My mother told me that tour buses would come up to Whitley Heights from Hollywood and stop in front of Valentino’s house,” Pat said. Fans clamored for a glimpse of Rudy. A man, dressed in workman’s clothes, frequently worked on a car out front and would wave to the fans as the bus passed. The fans thought they were waving to one of Rudy’s hired hands, never realizing the man covered in motor oil was Valentino himself.

Rudolph Valentino, with his car and canine friend, in front of his Whitley Heights home.

After a short time in Hollywood, Frances was signed to contract at Fox Studios. Press reports at the time stated that John Ford had hired her for the feminine lead in The Iron Horse (1924), which centers on the building of the transcontinental railroad. Madge Bellamy, however, played the lead opposite George O’Brien. Frances appeared as Polka Dot, the dance hall girl.

The publicity machine pitched in to promote Frances’s career. The story was that Lloyd’s of London had insured her curls into the six figures.

Frances then had small parts in John Ford’s Hearts of Oak (1924) and Her Husband’s Secret (1925).

Oakland was proud of its hometown girl and all the stars of filmdom who hailed from their city. Frances, along with Natalie Kingston, Lloyd Hamilton, and Monte Blue returned to their hometown in March 1926 and were honored by Mayor John L. Davis.

Frances, sitting between Monte Blue and Lloyd Hamilton, was honored by Oakland, her hometown.

In Wild Justice (1925), Frances plays Polly Ann Hadley. Polly Ann’s uncle is murdered by a brutal thug. The ruffian takes over the uncle’s cabin and his dog, Arno (Peter the Great). When Polly Ann comes to visit, the bandit attempts to force himself on her, but Arno comes to her aid until the kindly doctor (George Sherwood) arrives on the scene and rescues her.

Frances and Jack Daugherty thrilled audiences in the 10-chapter serial, The Trail of the Tiger, for Universal in 1927 and ’28.

Then, Frances Teague vanished from the screen. Her trail ended with The Trail of the Tiger.

What became of Frances Teague? Her daughter, Pat Hillsinger, filled in the details.

It’s not exactly clear why Frances left films.  She certainly didn’t leave Hollywood.  After they settled in the city, the Teagues built a house in the Hollywood Hills at 2760 Hollyridge Drive.

Frances Teague’s home in the Hollywood Hills.

In April 1931, Frances married Charles L. Tilley, the general manager of the Outer Harbor Dock and Wharf Company in San Pedro. Their daughter, Patricia Ann, was born in January 1932.  A son, Walter, came along in 1935.

Pat said her mother never talked about being an actress, so she couldn’t say exactly why her career came to an abrupt end in the late 1920s. In fact, no one in Pat’s family ever talked about Frances having been an actress.

“My father’s parents didn’t think much of picture people,” Frances’s daughter said. “Some of them didn’t have good reputations. There were some who thought of people in the movies as gypsies.”

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, Charles Tilley, because of his waterfront business, was asked to move down to San Pedro. In case of an invasion of the harbor, he could be on the scene in minutes.

“My mother didn’t want to move from Hollywood,” Pat said. “She thought San Pedro was at the end of the world. ”

Over time, however, the couple built a home in nearby Palo Verdes and Frances fell in love with the area. The former actress was “extremely active” over the years, her daughter said.  She started a Girl Scout troop, volunteered for the Red Cross, and supervised a group who made socks for men in the Army and Navy. She was active in the Assistance League of Long Beach for years. After the war, she devoted herself to a number of charities and remained socially active.

Frances Teague retained her beauty throughout much of her life.

“When I was a kid,” Pat said, “I would hear people say, ‘Your mother is so beautiful.'”

In the late 1960s, Frances was stricken with cancer.  She died on July 29, 1969, at age 64.

Frances Teague was one of the many actresses who passed by quickly in the parade of Hollywood hopefuls.

I’m grateful to Frances’s daughter for telling me the story of her mother’s life. After a month of digging around in the past, I am still intrigued by the portrait I found of Frances in an old Photoplay.  I have it on my desk as I write these words.  I think I’ll keep it around a little while longer.

My desk

Hugh’s Little Sweetheart

By Michael G. Ankerich

In 1925, Mary Pickford was not only America’s Little Sweetheart; she was Hugh Allan’s as well.

The handsome youth had played bit parts in films for the past several years, when in the spring of 1925, Mary plucked the 23-year-old from the ranks of an extra to play her leading man in Little Annie Rooney. Hugh had become what was thought impossible: an instant star.

Hugh Allan, the silent hunk, in 1925.

The path was clear for him to become the newest star in the celluloid heavens.

His hometown newspaper, The Oakland Tribune, sang his praises.

In an interview from his home in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1992, Hugh Allan told me the story of his instant success.

A dashing Hugh Allan.

Mary Pickford had requested a number of screen tests be sent over to Pickfair for her to review. She had little trouble selecting the handsome hopeful. Hugh was introduced to the star on the set of Little Annie Rooney.

“I was flabbergasted,” Hugh told me. “Totally overwhelmed.  She was the goddess of the world.”

Mary, while she didn’t mean to be, was intimidating.

“This was my first big part,” he said. “I had no experience at all. I was completely raw material.”

Mary did her best to put her leading man at ease.

“”They started taking scenes and I realized I couldn’t do them,” Hugh said.  “I was as stiff as a wooden soldier. I couldn’t even walk straight.”

Mary’s brother, Jack, who was frequently on the set, didn’t help matters.

“He was a grade-A, son of a bitch.  A real bastard,” Hugh recalled. “He was on the set making wisecracks while I was trying to do something. I finally got a little annoyed and said to him, ‘One more wisecrack and I’ll put the nose on the front of your face on the back of your face.’ He left the set.  He got his ass out of there.”

After several days, it was obvious that Hugh would be unable to complete the film. Mary, almost as disappointed as Hugh, provided a cover that allowed him to leave the picture without the chance of permanently damaging his fledgling career.

The studio issued a release, stating that Hugh had broken an arm after falling from his roof and would be unable to finish his commitment. Hugh was brought back to the set, where the prop department placed a cast his arm. Mary insisted a photograph be taken for the press.

Hugh (with his fake cast) and Mary Pickford on the set of Little Annie Rooney

The press took the bait. Hugh’s reputation was saved.

The press writes about Hugh’s “accident”.

Hugh never saw the finished film–William Haines took over his role, but he remained in touch with Mary over the years.

“Mary was a very gracious lady,” he said. “She would invite me to parties after the Little Annie Rooney experience.”

Hugh was proud of his telegram from Mary Pickford.

Free from Little Annie Rooney, Hugh Allan got out of town. “I went to Tijuana for two or three weeks. It was a town full of howling, drinking and prostitution.”

Back in Hollywood, Hugh connected with a drama coach, an actress of the stage, who gave him acting lessons for four or five months.

First National took notice and signed him to a contract.

Hugh worked steadily for the next four years, playing leads opposite such actresses as Jean Arthur, Priscilla Dean, Bessie Love, Helene Costello, Jeanette Loff, and Lois Wilson.

With Jean Arthur and George Chesebro in The Block Signal.

To his fellow actors, he was an all-American boy.  To his leading ladies, he was irresistible.

“Priscilla Dean was a nice girl, a good-looking woman with a good-looking figure,” Hugh said. “They used to kid us about the way we were kissing. They thought it was pretty real.  It was!”

Hugh Allan and Priscilla Dean in Birds of Prey.

Hugh Allan and June Marlowe in Wild Beauty.

Hugh Allan and John Mack Brown in Annapolis (1928).

Hugh did two serials with Gladys McConnell: The Tiger’s Shadow and The Fire Detective. “Gladys was a charming lady who always had her mother with her. She was not a promiscuous female. She had a high opinion of herself and she was right.”

The two serials, he said, were his best pictures. He liked the action.

Hugh Allan and Gladys McConnell in The Fire Detective (1929).

Hugh left films in 1929, following a failed film project in Hawaii. The director had taken the cast to Hawaii, ran out money, due to the stock market crash in October, and tried unsuccessfully to raise the needed funds from the locals. Hugh discovered he was filming scenes without film in the camera.

The shenanigans in Hawaii spoiled his opinion of the movie industry. Hugh disappeared from the screen. Over time, he became a successful businessman in the elevator industry. He was dubbed Memphis’ Howard Hughes.

While he wasn’t particularly nostalgic about Hollywood, he was interested in the various ones he worked with while in films. In 1937, he reconnected with Lois Wilson when she came to Memphis to appear in a play.

In 1992, Hugh was the perfect host.  He put me up at his country club and cleared a day so we could talk about his years in Hollywood. At noon that Saturday, Hugh drove me (with a glass of wine in his hand) to a local eatery.

Hugh and Michael, August 1992.

We ran out of time before he ran out of stories. Read the full interview in The Sound of Silence. He talks about a wild party at the home of Serge Mdivani and Pola Negri and the day he ran into Rudolph Valentino in the showers at the Santa Monica Swimming Club.

Sadly, Hugh passed away in February 1997.

Hollywood, Here I Come!

In one month, I will be in the heart of Hollywood!  I’m making my umpteenth journey to the land of dreams, the city that never disappoints.  This trip is dedicated to researching my new book, Hairpins and Dead Ends: The Perilous Journeys of 20 Actresses Through Early Hollywood. It is a companion volume to my 2010 book, Dangerous Curves atop Hollywood Heels.

I’ve already imagined the cover.  Well, it’s a working cover. The publisher will most likely alter it in some way, but it’s a starting point.

The actress on the cover is Edwina Booth, one of the subjects I am researching. Here are some of the actresses I am including in Hairpins and Dead Ends: Evelyn Nelson, Belle Bennett, Margaret Gibson, Gladys Brockwell, Dorothy Sebastian, Mary Thurman, Virginia Lee Corbin, Kathleen Key, Mary MacLaren, Peggy Shannon, Mary Miles Minter, Lilyan Tashman, Valeska Suratt, Corliss Palmer, Lottie Pickford, Marie Walcamp, and Alma Rubens.

You may not know some of the names, but their stories, their journeys through early Hollywood, are riveting.

On my upcoming trip to Hollywood, I’m interviewing relatives, visiting their former homes, paying respects at their final resting places, and researching their contributions to film history at the Motion Picture Academy Library.  As a writer and journalist, it is important for me to visit the places where they lived, loved, and died. It helps me put together the puzzle pieces that make up their lives. Being there helps me understand who they were.

As I prepare for upcoming trip, I can’t help but reflect on my very first trip to Hollywood. It was in the mid-1980s.  I had just started my writing career as a newspaper reporter. I was also interviewing former silent film actors and actresses for a column I had in Classic Images.

Dorothy Revier was one of the first actresses I reached out to. I thought her Hollywood portraits were stunning.

Although she was reluctant at first, we started a conversation, first through the mail, later by phone.  Here is her first letter.

She lived a lonely existence, I suspected, in her little Hollywood apartment. She was estranged from her only child, a daughter. She maintained close relationships with her sisters and writer Richard Lamparski. Dorothy became a regular correspondent. She sent pictures of herself in 1986 and urged me to visit her, if I ever made the trip West.

Dorothy Revier in 1986, a stunner still!

It was in the summer of 1986 that a trip emerged for me. I was invited to go with a theater troupe on their summer trip to Disneyland. I jumped at the chance.  Knowing nothing about southern California, I figured Disneyland was in the heart of Hollywood. It was actually over 30 miles away. It might as well have been a million. My sole purpose for joining the tour was to get to Hollywood, to see old Hollywood, to visit Dorothy Revier.

Fortunately, a writer friend of mine, Joyce (her last name escapes me), offered to pick Charlene (a co-worker from the newspaper) and me up at our hotel in Anaheim, drive us into Hollywood, and show us the sights.  Here’s what we did that unforgettable day in Tinseltown.

Knowing I was a Valentino fanatic, Joyce took us to Hollywood Memorial Cemetery (now Hollywood Forever) and to Valentino’s crypt. Who knew that Barbara La Marr and William Desmond Taylor were neighbors of Rudy’s?

Approaching Valentino's crypt on the left

Hollywood Memorial Cemetery with the Hollywood sign in the background.

We to Paramount. I looked, but didn’t see Gloria Swanson.

Michael at the Paramount gate.

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre was a must. I marveled at the foot and hand prints.

Mary Pickford's hand prints.

We had lunch at The Pink Panda on Orange Avenue. It’s probably long gone.

Well, the sunglasses WERE in style in the '80s.

Joyce drove us into Beverly Hills. The highlight was passing Lucille Ball’s home and driving up the long, winding street to Falcon Lair, Valentino’s famed home. The view from that street, Bella Drive, left no doubt, I had arrived in the land of my dreams.

Later in the afternoon, we pulled in front of 1275 North Havenhurst Drive. Dorothy Revier met us in the courtyard and invited us into apartment #6, her home.  Dorothy was gracious, fun, and outgoing. I had met and interviewed my first silent film actress. Her interview is featured in my book, Broken Silence: Conversations with 23 Silent Film Stars.

Dorothy, Michael, and Charlene

Later in the trip, I visited the Queen Mary ocean liner in Huntington Beach, but wouldn’t you know it, my sights were still on Hollywood.

On the Queen Mary

I even got myself on the cover of a magazine.

People are always asking, isn’t Hollywood a disappointment? True, it’s not what it was in the 1920s when Valentino was making hearts flutter and Mae Murray was striking poses with her bee-stung lips. But, it’s still there. You just have to dig a little deeper to see the Hollywood of the past. (As I write that last line, my heart is heavy with the news that plans are underway to raze Mary Pickford’s studio. Why do we Americans insist on destroying, nor preserving, our past?)

There would be many more pilgrimages to Hollywood over the years, but I’m kind of nostalgic.  You never forget your first time!