Lots of Hollywood tourists want to see movie stars homes. It's a fun idea, getting to gawk at the places where Hollywood film stars and glitterati live. Maybe you'll catch a glimpse of a leading lady walking the dog or a leading man mowing the lawn, you may think. Or at least you can brag to the folks back home that you saw a famous actor's house.
Before you go on a movie star homes tour or go looking for their residences on your own, there are some things you need to know.
What You Need to Know About Where Movie Stars Live
Many of today's Hollywood stars don't live in Hollywood, or Beverly Hills or any of the other neighboring areas. Some live up in Malibu, or down in Orange County. Many others have homes thousands of miles from Los Angeles. The ones who do have homes in Hollywood treasure their privacy. They put up fences that a giraffe couldn't peek over and plant hedges so dense a gnat couln't get through. They want to shield their homes from prying eyes, and you can't really blame them. Who wants some paparazzi, or even a tourist from East Chabip taking their picture when they're trying to relax?
To satisfy visitors' curiosity, tour operators and map-makers may highlight the places where a star used to live. In some cases, they just make things up or rely on unsubstantiated "facts" that are anything but true. I've even heard a tour guide claim that Beverly Hills' fire hydrants are platinum-plated, all the while wondering why someone hadn't ripped them off just to get the precious metal.
Given that you are unlikely to see a real stars' home and even less likely to see the stars themselves, I think most of the Hollywood movie star tours are a waste of your hard-earned money. Nevertheless, I also realize that at least some of you won't listen to me, so I outlined the ways you can see the stars' homes and listed two tours that I can recommend.
Maps to Hollywood Movie Star Homes
On Hollywood Boulevard, in Beverly Hills, in Brentwood and on Sunset Strip, you'll find dozens of streetside vendors hawking maps that claim to show you where the movie star's homes are, their hand-lettered signs boasting "Maps to the Stars Homes."
Before I knew better, I bought one of these maps and ran around Beverly Hills sticking my camera out the car window. Then I did some research and found that their information is woefully out of date, if it was ever accurate to begin with. Let my experience be your guide and don't fall for it.
If this kind of joke appeals to, just drive around taking pictures of nice houses and make up a story about who lives there - the folks back home will never know the difference.
Movie Star Homes Tour Companies
Lots of companies offer movie star home tours in Hollywood and Los Angeles. They make claims like "see where the stars actually live" or "tour of all your favorite Hollywood movie star homes." Unfortunately, the reality of these tours can be much different than their promise.
The tour companies don't fare any better than the map-sellers in terms of accuracy, and they'll cost you even more. However, there are a couple of tours we can recommend:
Beverly Hills Trolley Tour tells you up front that they're going to respect current residents' privacy, but they do dish up generous helpings of tales about those who used to live there.
Dearly Departed Tours is run by Scott Michaels, who prides himself on backing up everything with facts. This entertaining tour will take you to lots of interesting spots and stars' homes and despite what the name might make you think, it's more gossipy than creepy.
Movie Stars' Final Homes
One place that you can be sure a star is really in residence is at their final resting place. Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Westwood Village Memorial Park and many others boast a number of departed celebrities.