They're as much a part of the Southern California landscape as beaches, palm trees, shopping malls and amusement parks. We're talking stars. Not the Griffith Observatory kind. The Hollywood kind. But celestial figures--and faces--all the same.
For that reason you can hardly begrudge the visiting relatives when they request a chance to see a "real, live star." You know how it goes . . . They've done Disneyland and the Universal Studios Tour (where they didn't recognize any of the stunt men). They've bought their souvenir T-shirts and coaxed a healthy glow from the wintery Southern Cal sun. Now, if only they could see someone famous before heading home . . .
Sound like a tough assignment? Don't panic. Instead, get practical. After all, most stars live here. (The actual movie making may take place in other states. But the deal-making is centered here.) Stars, after all, eat, drink, shop, run errands and hang out just like the rest of us. Especially on the weekends, when they're more likely to be caught doing "ordinary" things (as opposed to schmoozing for film jobs or doing publicity).
Skeptical? Then head on over to the Rexall Square Drugs at La Cienega and Beverly boulevards. One veteran celebrity photographer (no, he doesn't bring his camera into the store--he shops there) calls it, "the best drugstore in the world." "You always see somebody," he added.
Actually, everybody would be more like it. Those spotted at Rexall, at one time or another by our star-gazing sources, include Lynda Carter, Muhammad Ali, Charles Bronson, Jaclyn Smith, Joan Collins, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, John Travolta, Martin Landau, Brooke Shields (her mom was with her) and Cheryl Ladd ("who wasn't wearing a spot of make-up and looked terrific anyway.")
The clientele at Roxbury Drugs (on Olympic Boulevard at Bedford Drive in the heart of Beverly Hills) isn't bad, either. You just might spot Sammy Davis Jr., Jane Fonda, Joanna Carson (Johnny's ex), Elizabeth Montgomery, Linda Evans and actor-turned-author Tom Tryon. Oh, and, psst, we've also heard that Elizabeth Taylor sometimes stops by.
C'mon, no one is really immune to star-gazing. In fact, a lot of the information for this story came from chats with publicists around town, who couldn't help but ooh and aah over who they'd recently spotted. (In many cases, their observations even included the disclaimer, "And (he/she's) so short in real life!")
One veteran publicist--who works on films starring some of the town's biggest names--is still upset that he didn't "say something--anything" to Irene Dunne as she shopped at one of the upscale grocery stores (more on those later). "I just wanted to tell her how much her movies have always meant to me. But, I couldn't quite get up the nerve. Maybe I should have?"
The same publicist was also bowled over by the sight of Rhonda Fleming as she was dropping off dry cleaning at Nonpareil Dry Cleaners (on Little Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills).
Speaking of going to the cleaners, celebrity sightings at Hollyway Dry Cleaning in West Hollywood include Anita Baker, Nancy McKeon, Cheryl Ladd, John James and Gordon Thomson.
A rule of thumb in looking for stars: Look nearly everywhere. Some stars have been spotted at the most unlikely places. One skilled star-watcher (who can rattle off many of the churches attended by the stars!) still recalls her surprise at running into Barbra Streisand and Jon Peters at a Sherman Oaks McDonald's.
And would you believe Marlon Brando at the Hughes Market (on Coldwater Canyon Avenue and Ventura Boulevard) in Studio City?
You wouldn't expect to come upon Harrison Ford at the Beverly Hills Public Library. But a longtime card holder swears he saw Ford there, checking out a book on carpentry. That same bookworm reports sighting Jon Voight and Susan Saint James. Another source saw Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss browsing among the stacks.
On the other hand, don't expect to run into stars on Hollywood Boulevard. At least not anymore. Aside from a couple of restaurants, like the Musso & Frank Grill (still a hot spot for deal-making on weekdays), the stars seem to steer clear of the area. But wait--there are always exceptions. Wasn't that Michael Jackson--wearing his surgical mask (!)--going through the memorabilia some time back at Hollywood Book and Poster (on North Las Palmas, just off Hollywood Boulevard). Seems he's a bit of a star-gazer himself--collecting material on The Little Rascals, Shirley Temple and other child stars.