Initially reading “HOLLYWOODLAND” and emblazoned brightly above the City of Angels, the Hollywood Sign is one of LA’s most recognizable landmarks, and possibly the most famous advertisement in the world. Today, the sign is as synonymous with the television and film industry as Hollywood itself. But these towering letters among the Hollywood Hills, which only recently celebrated their 95th birthday, originated simply as an advertisement for a new housing community known as “Hollywoodland.”
Imagine for a moment some quintessential images of any noir film or novel—an unsolved murder; cops with questionable motives; starry-eyed Hollywood hopefuls on the wrong path; the moonlight shining through horizontal blinds and a puff of cigarette smoke; the dull humming of a glowing neon sign outside; and of course, a dark, seedy motel at the center of it all. While these images could easily be straight out of a Raymond Chandler novel, in Hollywood, where the line between fiction and reality is so frequently blurred, there’s a place where all of these scenes played out at one time or another: the Hollywood Center Motel. Today, the tired motor court sits like an old movie prop along Sunset Boulevard, cast aside after playing a part in movies like L.A. Confidential. But the history of this decaying motel, tucked away behind a worn breezeblock wall, is no less interesting.
One avid collector of Disneyland memorabilia, Robert Kraft, has amassed an impressive range of artifacts that span the 60+ years since the park first opened its gates in Anaheim, CA. Before all the items hit the auction block, he’s giving them a proper send-off with a pop-up exhibit that is free and open to the public.
Those famous words, "through these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world," emblazoned in bright neon above Sunset Boulevard, once beckoned people from across Los Angeles to come to see one of the most glamorous, risque, and tantalizing shows the world had ever known. This was the famous Vanities at Hollywood’s Earl Carroll Theater; a revue known as much for the soaring music, infectious comedy, and elaborate costumes as it was for the scantily-clad performers themselves. Yet today, the now-empty theater shows no signs of the grandeur that attracted a packed house of moviegoers and movie stars alike during its brief, but unforgettable mark on Los Angeles during Hollywood’s heyday.