Monday, April 5, 2010

Hollywood Boulevard

SEEING STARS: At the time of this writing, there are 2,403 stars spanning 3½ miles along Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, with more being added regularly. For additional information and to find the location of specific stars, visit the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce's official Walk of Fame website.

Where the stars line up
to be walked all over and
used as stepping stones.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Marilyn Monroe

A publicity photo of Marilyn Monroe.

Icon of beauty —
A candle whose light remains,
though the flame has died.

A playful pose.

As a child, Monroe amused herself by pretending that Clark Gable was her father. Later, it was said that the tension she created on the set of "The Misfits" (1961) hastened the actor's demise.

An early photograph of Marilyn Monroe who was born Norma Jeane Mortenson.

Monroe's first significant screen appearance was in "Love Happy" (1949), the Marx Brothers' last film together as a comedy team. Although it was a very brief walk-on part, it was one that Groucho would remember for decades.

Marilyn Monroe's outdoor crypt (#24) in Westwood (California) Memorial Park's Corridor of Memories is stained from the red lipstick kisses of adoring fans.  (Photo by A. J. Marik)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Detective Robert Goren

HOLD THAT POSE: Actor Vincent D'Onofrio played the ultimate crime-solver in the award-winning police drama, "Law & Order: Criminal Intent."

Quirky super cop.
When he bends at right angles,
you're guilty as charged.

After nine seasons, Goren is moving on. D'Onofrio has passed his role as leading man to veteran performer Jeff Goldblum who plays Detective Zach Nichols, a cerebral and efficient cop with his own set of idiosyncrasies.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: It seems that gossip has been around since the beginning of time. In fact, the word "tabloid," in use since 1901, is derived from "tablet." So, who knows what some of those ancient stone carvings really say?

The singer is gay.
The actress talks to spacemen.
Checkout line fish wrap.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Paradise Lost

THE GARDEN OF ALLAH was a mansion estate turned bungalow village hotel at 8152 Sunset Boulevard. Built and ruled by controversial (and openly bisexual) silent screen siren Allah Nazimova, some of the villa's illustrious and notorious guests and residents included: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Benchley, Ernest Hemmingway, Gloria Stuart, The Marx Brothers, Buster Keaton, Dorothy Parker, Errol Flynn, Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Clara Bow, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Gloria Swanson, Charles Laughton, Elsa Lanchester, Ernst Lubitsch, Ronald Reagan, Ava Gardner, Joe E. Lewis, Artie Shaw, Marlene Dietrich, George Kaufman, Laurence Olivier, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Alexander Woollcott, Orson Welles, Somerset Maugham, Jascha Heifetz, Ginger Rogers and Katherine Hepburn — to name a few!

Refuge for talent.
A den of iniquity.
Gaud's little acre.

"I'll be damned if I'll believe anyone lives in a place called 'The Garden of Allah,'" wrote Thomas Wolfe, in a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald, dated July 26, 1937.

During the filming of the 1939 remake of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," Charles Laughton would return home to The Garden for lunch, still in character as Quasimodo, and float in the pool on his back with his face aimed skyward, to avoid ruining his complex makeup.

Following its heyday, The Garden of Allah endured years of neglect. In summer, 1959, it was torn down to make way for progress. The song "Big Yellow Taxi," by Joni Mitchell, mourns the incredible landmark's passing in the famous lyrics, "They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot."

The Garden of AllahAt the Garden of Allah

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Art of Survival

GERMAN & JEWISH ARTISTS IN EXILE: Only those who've endured it themselves can know what these and other talented individuals went through. But it's thanks to them that we have classics like "The Maltese Falcon," "Some Like It Hot," "Double Indemnity" and "Casablanca," not to mention the entire genre of film noir.

Fleeing Hitler's rule,
they brought a new look and voice
to film in the states.

Although satire, "To Be Or Not To Be" (1942), starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard, captures effectively the pervading mood and climate of war-torn Europe.  The film was Lombard's last and was released posthumously.

THE SPIRIT OF DEFIANCE: This is, perhaps, the most powerful scene in Warner Brothers' 1942 masterpiece, "Casablanca." To those in the know, what makes it even more stunning is that it's cast largely with performers who escaped the Nazi terror and ultimately death, leaving behind home, family, friends and careers, some having lost all and having to start over with nothing. (Clip copyright © Warner Home Video)

A clip from the PBS documentary, "Cinema's Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood." At the time of this writing, there was no word of a DVD release.  (Clip copyright © 2010 Educational Broadcasting Corporation.)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

THE DEMENTED RECLUSE: Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond making her final descent into her imaginary close-up and madness. This scene, more than any other, has come to represent the sometimes tragic downside of fame lost.

The breathing waxworks —
when fallen stars dim to shells
of their former selves.

The scene that inspired the haiku, although I'd never consider Keaton nor Swanson as has-beens. In fact, observe how, even with such a minor part, Keaton works the shot and steals viewer attention with nothing more than a brief facial expression.

Norma Desmond's famous happy ending.

The "Sunset Boulevard" movie trailer.

One of Comedienne Carol Burnett's zany spoofs as "Nora" Desmond. (This is live TV. Notice how you can see the set brace during the two-shot at the door.)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ellen DeGeneres

A CHAMPION OF CHARITABLE CAUSES, Comedienne and TV Talkshow Hostess Ellen DeGeneres has raised more than $40 million for animals and people in need, and the tally keeps growing. A long-time supporter of PETA, The Humane Society, Animal Rescue Site, ASPCA and The Amanda Foundation, in 2008, she became co-owner of Halo All-Natural Pet Care, a groundbreaking company that specializes in optimally healthy food, treats and products for dogs and cats.

TV's Saint Francis,
dancing, laughing and living
with a caring heart.

This Ellen DeGeneres AMEX commercial pretty much says it all — with a smile.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Benicio Del Toro

THE EYES HAVE IT: He's played kidnappers, killers, a revolutionary and, most recently, a werewolf. But underneath it all lies a kind, polite, soft-spoken art and music lover who's afraid of heights.

His menacing gaze
gets him cast as "the heavy,"
the big pussycat!

Known for taking risks, one of Del Toro's milestone characters is Fred Fenster from "The Usual Suspects" (1995). The imaginative actor created the unforgettable out of what would've otherwise been a minor and disposable part, by adding frenetic and awkward mannerisms, a speech impediment, and modifying his own hairline and eyebrows to blur ethnicity.

Del Toro discussing his most recent role, the tragic Lawrence Talbot in "The Wolfman" (2010).

Monday, March 8, 2010

IMDb, I Said

THE INTERNET MOVIE DATABASE: Where movie and TV info goes and where we all go to get it.

Direct to YOUR screen!
Plots! Bios!! Facts and CREDITS!!!
Film's final roundup.

You can find the Internet Movie Database at

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ned Sparks

THE PERENNIAL GROUCH: Character actor Ned Sparks (1883-1957) wrote his own lines and was insured against smiling by Lloyd's of London.

Hollywood's sourpuss —
the nasal-toned sharp-wit you've
seen somewhere before.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rita Moreno

STILL A KNOCKOUT: Rita Moreno is the first and only Latina and one of ten performers who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. In 2004, Moreno was bestowed The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States, for her especially meritorious contribution to American cinema.

At seventy-nine,
she has legs like a goddess!
(Trampoline workout.)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco

In the mid-1970s, if you were young, wild and into glitter, Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco at 7561 W. Sunset Boulevard was the place to be and to be seen. Rodney, the club's owner (second from right and surrounded by his then-usual assortment of jail bait and actress Mackenzie Phillips), caused a second British invasion that included artists such as David Bowie, T. Rex and Slade, and brought to light the American underground sounds of Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Blondie and The New York Dolls, all of whom frequented his shabby hole-in-the-wall. The site is now a martial arts studio and Rodney is a deejay on KROQ.

Glam rock's Babylon —
where Starmen and Jean Genies
danced in platform shoes.

Zolar X was a fixture at Rodney's and got great reception.

A weekend regular at Rodney's, this adolescent fan and music scene junior reporter was dubbed "Gladys The Night Tripper" by Wolfman Jack and guested occasionally on his radio program.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Jerry Lewis

Veteran performer Jerry Lewis in his most famous screen role, that of Julius Kelp from "The Nutty Professor" (1963). He began in vaudeville at age 5 and has been entertaining audiences worldwide for more than 80 years.

The heroic clown
throws the world a lifesaver,
the gift of laughter.

Since its founding in 1950, Jerry Lewis has served as National Chairman and Spokesperson of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, hosting the organization's annual Labor Day fundraiser telethons. Lewis is so dedicated to finding a cure that children and adults benefiting from MDA's programs, research and services have come to be known as "Jerry's kids."

For more information, visit

Monday, March 1, 2010


Standing near the corner of Melrose and LaBrea Avenues in Hollywood, Pink's is without question the most famous hot dog stand in Southern California, if not in the world.

There's always a line,
no matter the day or time.
Hot diggity dog!

For more information, visit

Friday, February 26, 2010

8433 Sunset

From 1940 through the late 1950s, Ciro's nightclub was "the" Hollywood hot spot frequented by Tinseltown's elite. But it was also a hangout for the local mob. Crime boss Mickey Cohen ran more than a few illicit businesses out of Ciro's back room and basement, with several other types of "acts" and "hits" being performed regularly. Even Cohen himself received a bullet wound while on the premises.

The whitewash of mirth
now roars through yesterday's halls,
but rooms hold secrets.

Today, the building houses The Comedy Store, a world famous comedy club owned by Mitzi Shore and her son, comedian Pauly Shore. On numerous occasions, staff, talent and guests have reported inexplicable and, at times, frightful goings on. It seems that laughter raises all sorts of spirits.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Milt Larsen's Castle

The Magic Castle is one of Hollywood's most exclusive private clubs, as well as the home of the Academy of Magical Arts. There's only one way in, and it's not through the door.

Where greeting an owl
is your passage to wonder,
as if by magic.

Who goes there?  Yes, here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

This Book Belongs To...

This 1915 photoplay edition book belonged to Wardrobe Designer Ralph Jester (1901-1991) who received an Oscar nomination for his costumes in Cecil B. DeMille's, "The Ten Commandments" (1956). Considering the costumes, he may have used the book for research purposes.

The silent stills spoke
to his creative nature,
commanding attire.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Not Another One!

Actor Alec Baldwin

Al Baldwin on pills?
From his looks, he should be on
an exercycle.

(For details, click HERE. And for the record, I love Baldwin's work.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

John Mayer

John Mayer's reply to the question, "How many brain cells do you have?"

His thoughtless attempts
at staying in the spotlight
have made him a douche.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Carroll O'Connor

Carroll O'Connor as Archie Bunker in CBS's "All in the Family," the role that made him a household name in the 1970s. (Photo by Michael Roughier)

From "Sunday Showcase"
to "In the Heat of the Night" —
Yep, those were the days.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Lord of the Rings

Apparently, Gollum has never seen jewelry by Harry Winston.

Gollum, just toss it!
You may think the ring's precious,
but it ain't all that.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Sign Of The Times

THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN GETS A TEMPORARY FACELIFT: The Trust For Public Land has until April 14 to raise funds to purchase the property surrounding the famous landmark, or the real estate goes up for sale on the open market.

Once, development.
Now, legendary icon.
Soon, high-priced condos?

To learn more, visit

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Alas, Sweet Dreams

Michael Joseph Jackson  (1958 - 2009)

He risked it all for
one night of heavenly sleep.
Rest in peace, EO.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Many Faces of Johnny Depp

He transforms like a
Technicolor chameleon.
Present-day Chaney.

(From the top down) Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter in "Alice in Wonderland," John Dillinger in "Public Enemies," the Earl of Rochester in "The Libertine," Jack Sparrow in "Pirates of the Caribbean," Willy Wonka in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," Sweeney Todd in "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," and as himself.