It's awards show season and all eyes are on the stars of Hollywood. This area of downtown Los Angeles became synonymous with a life of luxury, glamour and fame as the world's movie industry was born.
Head to Los Angeles to explore what one of America's top cities has to offer, especially the famed Hollywood neighborhood. Between craning your neck to catch a glimpse of your favorite celebrity and sunning on LA's beaches, check out these vital stops on your Hollywood tour.
1. The Hollywood Sign
The most recognizable feature of Hollywood is the sign - those massive white letters suspended in the Hollywood Hills. When the original Hollywood sign was built in the 1920s, it actually read "Hollywoodland." That's because it was meant to serve as a real estate advertisement for this growing neighborhood, as people from all corners of the entertainment industry moved west. The letters, more than 13 metres tall, were anchored to telephone poles and adorned with lights so the sign could flash. By 1949, the sign wasn't being maintained and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce voted to remove the last four letters. It was completely renovated in the late '70s with the financial help of celebrities such as Hugh Hefner and Alice Cooper.
2. Hollywood Walk of Fame
Another iconic symbol of the Hollywood dream, the Walk of Fame is where celebrities truly become stars. That is, their names are permanently emblazoned in pink stars on Hollywood Boulevard.
The concept was first suggested by E.M. Stuart, a member of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, during the early 1950s. According to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce website, Stuart proposed making a walk of sorts to preserve the glory of Hollywood, but the actual design may have come from the ceiling of the Hollywood Hotel's dining room, where famous names were painted on stars. The official proposal was submitted a few years later and the Hollywood Improvement Association was created to see the project through completion.
At that point, a system had to be devised for choosing which celebrities to honour. With committees for television, music, radio and motion picture, the process was complicated. Eight stars were revealed in 1958 to keep building hype, but real progress didn't begin until the '60s. Today, there are thousands of stars on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood. About two people are added to the list each month, meaning unveiling ceremonies aren't as monumental as they were a few decades ago. As a result, the Walk was extended several times and stars were added between the originals.
3. Hollywood Forever Cemetery
While it may sound morbid, Hollywood has a cemetery that you must check out while you're there. The Hollywood Forever Cemetery was founded in 1899 and became the final resting place for many influential directors, performers, writers and other other moguls of the industry. It shares land with the original Paramount Studios building and has a place on the National Register of Historical Sites.
Seeing-stars.com explained how there are two large indoor mausoleums as well as the thousands of individual headstones. In Abbey of the Psalms, you can find Victor Fleming, director of "The Wizard of Oz" and "Gone With the Wind," as well as Darla Hood from "The Little Rascals" and Charlie Chaplin Jr., son of the famous performer. One grave that many people choose to stop at is Mel Blanc's, who voiced the characters in the Warner Bros. cartoons. One of the most recent additions was actor Mickey Rooney, buried in 2014, who's known for his roles in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "National Velvet."
In addition to the history and culture that you can experience in Hollywood Forever every day, there are special events that make this an even more special place. Day of the Dead festivals are known to be wild at the cemetery, and there are often movie screenings there during the summer.