What do Citizen Kane, I Love Lucy, Gone with the Wind and The Matrix have in common? They were all filmed here in Culver City at the now aptly named Culver Studios.
And that is just the beginning of the movie lore and history in this down to earth little burg on the west side of Los Angeles. Kelli and I made a day of it by exploring the area centered around the fabled Culver Hotel.
As we were walking around the neighborhood, I ran in to my former brother-in-law, Fred O’Connor right smack in front of Culver Studios. Freddy has worked on the lot for ages and it was great talking with him as he is a treasure trove of info, gossip and history of the studios and of the Culver Hotel. As Fred told us, Louis B Mayer, producer of the Wizard of Oz and overlord of MGM Studios, rented out the top two floors for all the little people actors who played the Munchkins in the movie. The story goes that the actors were so enamored and thrilled to be amongst their brethren, they might have celebrated a bit too much and behaved like rock stars, taring the place up! This being Hollywood, a movie was eventually made about the entire escapade, called Under the Rainbow starring Carrie Fisher. The movie was a flop, but the story behind it is a hit!
Freddy also pointed out Desi Arnaz’s office on the corner of Washington Blvd and Ince Blvd (named after Thomas Ince, the original builder of the studio, whose ghostly presence is said to still haunt the sound stages). Let’s face it. After a few hours in Culver City, you’ll be convinced that it’s the Real Hollywood and the Culver Hotel is the epicenter.
Kelli and I walked in and were in awe. Of course I was obsessed with the vintage sofas and the stunning Hollywood Regency decor. The staff greeted us like long lost friends and offered the hotel up to us. The only room off limits was the Crystal Room where a bunch of big wig sudio types were taking a meeting. (I have no proof they were big wig studio types, but they really looked the part!). We were free to go upstairs and roam the party room, which was like something out of the Great Gatsby. The room rates are really pretty reasonably priced considering what you get. Continental Breakfast anyone?!! The lobby itself was comfy and we just kicked back and took it all in. We will defiantly go back and listen to the live jazz played in the lobby every evening at 7:30PM…EVERY EVENING!!! It just doesn’t get better than that.
After we visited the hotel, we walked around the neighborhood and took in the sites. A lot of great eateries and shops. The cafe Meet Me in Paris has sentimental value for me as it’s where our family went after my daughter got married last August! It was very fitting as my new son in law is French and they met in, where else? Paris!
I would love to check out live theater the Kirk Douglas Theater or go to a movie theater at the Art Deco Pacific Theaters.
On our day however we grabbed a cup of coffee and sat on the tree-lined streets and people watched. We saw personalized cruiser bikes labeled ‘Courtney’ and ‘Busy’, I innocently asked the riders, “where’s Busy?”. They informed me they ‘worked on the show and we’re just borrowing their bikes.”. It took Kelli and I about ten minutes to realize what the heck they were talking about. “The show” was Cougartown and “Courtney and Busy” were stars Courtney Cox and Busy Phillips! So fun and better than a star sighting if you asked me! But that is what Culver City is all about!
Can I just say that any city with a cool font has to be special. According to both Teri and myself “It’s all about the font”. It lured us in to this gem of a city because of it’s retro vibe. Check out the logo on the firetruck. This town is rich in history and saturated with the glow of the silver screen past and present.
The cities name doesn’t sound glamorous, but it is totally is just that. Culver City is the self proclaimed ” Heart of Screenland”. I told a few people our next adventure was to Culver City and everyone said you have to go to the Culver Hotel. We were not disappointed. I want to go back and have lunch in the beautiful lobby near the fireplace and people watch. We saw businessmen “doing deals”, older ladies “lunching” and young people on their computers drinking coffee by the fire. LIVE music is offered every night of the week. Did you see the glorious Velvet Lounge pictures?
I needed a cup of coffee and we wandered into the local Starbucks housed in the beautiful old Washington building. As we rested with our afternoon cup of Joe, we saw a young ingenue reading her lines to an acting coach right on the sidewalk.
The historic Kirk Douglas Theater is in the heart of the city. Newly renovated in it’s original Art Moderne style. It was orignally a movie theater used in classic old Hollywood form. Now is is a center for performing arts and playhouse. The box office and original mezzanine tile has been preserved. We both love when beautiful vintage buildings are preserved and treasured.
Teri and I plan to go back to Culver City very soon. We know that the historic Helms Bakery Building has been transformed and filled with wonderful shops. Two of which are our personal “Meccas”. As you know Teri has a passion for furniture restoration with her Queen B Vintage business, so H.D. Buttercup in the Helms Bakery District is what she wants to check out and Surfas Culinary District is for me and my cooking passion at I Had a Delicious Time.