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Where Pigs Danced and Waitresses Reached for Stars

July 15, 1990|MICHAEL SZYMANSKI

For those looking for something to do today that mixes history and exercise, the Hollywood Heritage tour is just the thing.

John Daugherty, one of the volunteers who give the three-hour tours of Hollywood Boulevard four times a year, will be available to point out some of the more interesting points along the way.

"You have to look above the sometimes tacky facades to truly appreciate the boulevard," said Daugherty, who has given private tours for almost 10 years. "Look closely or you can miss the most interesting things."

For example, a sculpted dragon peeks out above the front door of the Pacific Hollywood Building at 6425 Hollywood Blvd. A dancing pig is engraved above the Numero Uno pizza sign next to the Egyptian Theatre as a last remnant of the once-popular Pig and Whistle restaurant.

Furniture with the pig design is now in Miceli's Italian Restaurant around the corner at 1646 Las Palmas Ave.

Some buildings along the boulevard, like the Chinese Theatre, are world famous. The Pantages Theatre at Argyle Avenue was the first Art Deco movie palace in the country. The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, once owned by Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, was the site of the first Academy Awards.

The flashing light on top of the Capitol Records building (the first round office building in the country) spells out "Hollywood" in Morse code.

Daugherty also has a plethora of celebrity trivia about the boulevard that includes:

* Charlie Chaplin and Hedda Hopper had offices, now being restored, in the Guaranty Building at Ivar Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard.

* Silent stars stayed at the Hillview Apartments at 6531 Hollywood Blvd., because it was the only hotel at the time that would take actors.

* The Knickerbocker Hotel at Ivar Avenue is where actress Frances Farmer was dragged off screaming to a mental institution and where Houdini's widow staged a seance on the roof to contact her husband.

* Judy Garland dished out ice cream at C. C. Brown's, 7007 Hollywood Blvd.

* Carol Burnett was fired as an usher at the Pacific Theatre, 6433 Hollywood Blvd. She later asked to have her Walk of Fame star put in front of it.

* Writers Ernest Hemingway, Nathaniel West, William Faulkner and F. Scott Fitzgerald patronized Musso and Frank's Grill, 6667 Hollywood Blvd. They also frequented the bookstore across the street.

* Rudolph Valentino, Gloria Swanson and Joan Crawford often visited the Hollywood Wax Museum building, 6767 Hollywood Blvd., when it was a swanky nightclub where Bing Crosby had his Los Angeles debut.

* Ronald Reagan and Mickey Rooney were roommates at the Montecito Apartments, north on Cherokee Avenue.

"I love pointing out things that surprise people, especially if they've lived here for a long time," Daugherty said. The $6 tours leave from the Capitol Records building each hour from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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