Hollywood & Highland
A point of interest on the Lost Souls of Hollywood Boulevard GPS-guided audio walking tour.
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Rudolph Valentino is often referred to as Hollywood’s first heartthrob. An Italian actor who moved to the United States, he was part of some very well-known silent films, including The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Sheik, Blood and Sand, and The Eagle.
Valentino died at the young age of 31 on August 23, 1926, of an infection that developed post emergency surgery which he had for a combination of appendicitis and gastric ulcers, in New York City. But judging by where his ghost hangs out, his heart’s home was Hollywood.
You can find him kickin’ in post mortem all around Los Angeles, but a few notable places include the Hollywood Forever Cemetery where his memorial service was held, Former Falcon’s Lair Stables in Beverly Hills where he once lived, and a few places along this tour route that we’ll share with you later. But the first place you might find Valentino is the Hollywood and Highland Center.
Hollywood & Highland was not a shopping centre when Valentine was alive, it opened in 2001, 75 years after his death. But the site that the mall sits on is that of the former Hollywood Hotel.
The Hollywood Hotel opened in 1902, and was built not necessarily to house the rich and famous but to help facilitate the selling of residential lots to travellers that arrived in the area. It didn’t become associated with the film industries until the 1910s, when Hollywood big shots would hold conferences on the hotel’s beautiful verandas, and silent movie stars would stay, including one Rudolph Valentino, who lived in room 246. He met his first wife, silent film actress Jean Acker, there, and the pair got married and spent their honeymoon at the hotel.
After Valentino’s death, guests that checked into room 264 reported that Valentino would appear next to the bed. He would then give you one of his famed spirit kisses.
In the early 1940s, the hotel was already starting to fall into poor shape. Charles E. Toberman, a real estate developer, purchased the company that owned the hotel in hopes of tearing it down, but that plan was thwarted because of the restriction of building materials during the Second World War. It ended up being destroyed in August of 1956 to make way for a 12-story office building that housed the First Federal Savings & Loan Association of Hollywood. But that too was demolished in 2001, and the complex that currently sits was built.
Because his former Hollywood home, the place where I’m sure plenty of fond memories were made has been torn down, it’s no surprise that people occasionally report seeing Valentino bum around the area. It also makes sense that he can’t quite decide where to stay after death, so he picks wherever he fancies that day.
Alright folks, let's keep on truckin' east on Hollywood Boulevard. Cross Highland avenue where our next tour stop, the Hollywood Wax museum awaits on the other side. If you get lost, just head for the tallest building you can see!
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