Beverly Hills

Moving from the opulence of Dubai to the opulence of Beverly Hills. No more tag lines need to be added to these two locals. The culture and the landscape may be as different as their locations are apart from each other, but both showcase the kind of lifestyle that money can buy.

Beverly Hills, CA - home to the stars and the wealthy moguls of many of the world's industries

Beverly Hills, CA – home to the stars and the wealthy moguls of many of the world’s industries

I was accompanying my husband to a work conference at the newest hotel in Beverly Hills, The Montage. A beautiful Spanish styled architecture replete with a central courtyard area, and the famed Bouchon Bakery, Bistro and Restaurant lining the courtyard opposite from the main hotel building. We arrived a couple of weeks after the Oscars, where Meryl Streep hosted an after Oscar party at the hotel’s restaurant, Scarpetta and Prince was playing host to friends behind a curtain by the rooftop pool.

A block to the south of the hotel is the famed Rodeo Drive. It is much shorter than I thought it would be, but the street and stores are pristine. Every high-end brand you know and several you have never heard of flank both sides of the streets for about four blocks, inclusive of “Two Rodeo Drive” – a cobblestone street of more stores for walking traffic only. Each store on Rodeo Drive has minimal, but high-end stock allowing plenty of room to move around in this shopper friendly layout. Apparently, if a store is closed during normal business hours, it is likely there is a major star or somebody with major money doing some major shopping.

Van Cleef and Arpels and Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, CA - they go together like peanut butter and jelly

Van Cleef and Arpels and Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, CA – they go together like peanut butter and jelly

Bijou - apparently being tailor to US Presidents pays well, as showcased by Mr. Bijou's matching Bugatti which he parks in front of his store everyday

Bijan – apparently being tailor to US Presidents pays well, as showcased by Mr. Bijan’s matching Bugatti which he parks in front of his store everyday

Anxious to see the stars homes, a group of us took a 2 1/2 hour tour guided tour bus ride through the Hollywood Hills and high-buck neighborhoods. An iron gate lined with stars denoted the entrance to Ringo “Starr‘s” house. A stand of bamboo and other dense shrubbery and trees shrouded the apparent castle owned by Johhny Depp. A moving van sat in a driveway that eventually lead to the home of Ellen DeGeneres. The rooftop of Jennifer Aniston‘s peaked out over the treetops. So it was not so much seeing the ‘star’s’ homes, but seeing the general areas these homes are located.

Stars line the iron entrance gate to Ringo Starr's home, Beverly Hills, CA

Stars line the iron entrance gate to Ringo Starr’s home, Beverly Hills, CA

The moving van moving furniture from Ellen DeGenere's old home, up the street to her new home.

The moving van moving furniture from Ellen DeGenere’s old home, up the street to her new home.

The rooftop of Jennifer Aniston's house peaking out over the treetops of the Hollywood Hills

The rooftop of Jennifer Aniston’s house peaking out over the treetops of the Hollywood Hills

The highlight of our tour bus ride was a stop at Greystone Mansion, built by the son of oil magnate, Edward Doheny, Sr. of Wisconsin, back in the late 1920’s. Edward Jr., “Ned”, was shot and killed, at age 36, in a murder suicide by his male secretary who was fired and wanted his job back. Lucy, the widow of Edward Jr., stayed on in the house until 1955 raising their five children. The house was sold a couple of more times, eventually ending up being sold to the city of Beverly Hills for $1.3 million in 1965 and has been used in movie films and shooting of TV and magazine ads ever since – i.e. Batman and Robin, Spiderman, Star Trek 2, the Social Network, The Muppets, National Treasure, the X-Men, the Bodyguard and dozens of other big name movies.

Inner courtyard to Greystone Mansion, Beverly Hills, CA

Inner courtyard to Greystone Mansion, Beverly Hills, CA – where multiple movies have been filmed

A Ralph Lauren Polo ad being shot on the back patio of Greystone Mansion, Beverly Hills, CA

A Ralph Lauren Polo ad being shot on the back patio of Greystone Mansion, Beverly Hills, CA

The home sports a red spotlight that was installed during the heyday of the home’s livelihood. This light was directed at the Beverly Hills Police Department so that if there were any emergencies at Greystone the light would be turned on and the police would be alerted to the emergency. It is said this is where the idea of the Bat-Signal came from for the Batman show and movies. The house also had its own fire department to watch over the 432 acre estate.

A red beacon sits atop the chimney, to alert the police department of any emergencies at the Greystone estate.

A red beacon sits atop the chimney, to alert the police department of any emergencies at the Greystone estate.

That evening we are off to be treated to dinner in the Rita Hayworth Room at Sony Studios. We were given a walking tour of the studio grounds where we saw behind the scenes of a sound room where they make they dub in sounds actually made in the room with everyday items to match the exact sound we would think we would hear in the movie – i.e. dropping keys on the counter or footsteps across a cobblestone road. We also saw the inside of the Jeopardy sound stage, although Alex Trebak was nowhere to be found.

A mock-up for a Loews Theater at Sony Studios, where our dinner was held

A mock-up for a Loews Theater at Sony Studios, where our dinner was held

Standing behind a mock-up of a Jeopardy podium. Wish I had really won that amount!

Standing behind a mock-up of a Jeopardy podium. Wish I had really won that amount!

The next morning my husband and I decided to do the touristy thing and walk the “Hollywood Walk of Fame” where all the star’s “stars” are lined up on Hollywood Boulevard for blocks and blocks. The scene was anti-climatic with Hollywood Blvd having become more Hollywood Homeless and bustling with has beens and wannabes, especially in front of the famed Grauman’s Chinese Theater. It was very evident the heyday of Hollywood Blvd was long gone. Sunset Blvd felt the same way, although it is supposed to still have some great nightlife.

Marilyn Monroe's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA

Marilyn Monroe’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA

Grauman's Chinese Theater, where in it's heyday hosted the 1940 Academy Awards

Grauman’s Chinese Theater, where in it’s heyday hosted the 1940 Academy Awards

For me, Beverly Hills and surrounding Hollywood highlights is a definite must see, but probably will not be placed on my must return to places to visit. If I did return to the area it would in a more relaxed setting of sitting in sidewalk cafes, walking the beaches, eating at some of the world’s hotspots – all in hopes of seeing the elusive star or two.

Check out more photo highlights of Beverly Hills in the Global Gallery link.

2 thoughts on “Beverly Hills

  1. Loved this post as I “walked” through Beverly Hills with you! Your photos are so wonderful and I loved seeing Marilyn’s star, Ringo’s star studded gate, and the amazing Greystone Mansion. I will be ordering a Bat Signal for our house!! Thank you for sharing your experiences in Hollywood, and for the incredible visit to Dubai. I’m so grateful for you!

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