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Star Track: The Next Generation : O.C. Author Keeps Hollywood Tour Book Current for Those Hoping to Catch Sites of Celebs


HOLLYWOOD — "The most interesting things aren't on the movie star maps or the established tours," William Gordon was saying as he hiked along the canyon-hugging9 trail overlooking Lake Hollywood not far from the famous Hollywood sign.

As Gordon spoke, a torrent of concrete and bricks thundered down a plywood chute into two dumpsters at the bottom of a steep cliff, shattering the tranquillity of Castillo del Lago, the spectacular new digs of pop diva Madonna.

Gordon, a Laguna Hills free-lance writer and author, stared up at the white nine-story Spanish-style castle, which served as mobster Bugsy Siegel's gambling casino in the '30s and which is now being renovated for its Material Girl owner, who purchased the 8,000-square-foot, nine-bedroom, six-bath manse last year for $5 million.

"I always thought it was a fascinating house," he said with a grin. "I'm just so happy Madonna bought it."

Gordon makes it his business to keep track of the latest real estate doings of Hollywood's stars and celebrities.

It's all fodder for "The Ultimate Hollywood Tour Book" (North Ridge Books; $15.95), which is billed as "the incomparable guide to movie stars' homes, movie and TV locations, scandals, murders, suicides, and all the famous tourist sites."

If you're hooked on the American Movie Channel or can't miss an episode of "Entertainment Tonight," you'll love Gordon's book.

Want to see the former homes of Agnes Moorehead, George and Ira Gershwin, Jack Benny, Lucille Ball, Rick Schroder, and the current homes of Jimmy Stewart and Peter Falk? Simply cruise down Roxbury Drive in Beverly Hills.

Interested in the dark side of Hollywood? Check out the house at 12305 5th Helena Drive in Brentwood, where Marilyn Monroe died of an alleged drug overdose. (Notes Gordon: "She lived in the house alone with her dog Maf (short for Mafia), which she received as a present from Frank Sinatra.")

Have a fascination for the obscure? How about the Brentwood house where Richard Nixon lived after losing the 1960 presidential election, or the Hancock Park apartment that served as a hideaway for John Kennedy during the 1960 Democratic National Convention. Gordon even lists Sunset Strip Tattoo, the tattoo parlor on Sunset Boulevard favored by Cher, Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts and Charlie Sheen.

And if you want to visit the high school where "Beverly Hills 90210" is filmed, don't go to Beverly Hills. The exteriors are filmed at Torrance High School. And the Walsh family home in the show? It's actually in Altadena, a good 30-minute drive from Beverly Hills.

The 272-page book, which spans the Greater Los Angeles area, features 33 easy-to-follow street maps and 47 photographs (including aerial shots of those hard-to-see-from-the-street homes such as the Pacific Palisades compound of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver).

Gordon is enjoying a modest success with his self-published book, having sold 5,500 copies in six months. Not bad for a tour book that came out last September-- after the summer tourist season.

"There are certain stores it just flies out of," he said, noting that the manager of the B Dalton Bookseller in Farmer's Market "was telling me some of the tour guides buy it and tell the people on the tour buses about it."

Gordon, 42, has an affinity for tourists.

When he moved out to Los Angeles from Akron, Ohio, in 1988, he did what every visitor from the Midwest yearns to do: He got in his car and began driving around in search of the city's famous and architecturally unique homes.

"It's just fun going out in the Hollywood Hills and getting lost," said Gordon, who considers himself neither star-struck nor a movie buff. "I really wasn't all that into celebrities as much as the houses."

Gordon originally considered offering customized driving tours such as an "L.A. Law" tour or a "Star Trek" tour that would focus on the location sites from each show and the stars' homes. But, he said, "I got frustrated with the insurance situation. It was going to be too expensive, so I thought I'd just do the book."

The author of two previous books--one a compilation of quotations about the craft of writing and the business of publishing, and the other on the Kent State killings--claims his Hollywood book is more up to date and accurate than the maps to the stars homes hawked on street corners and is more contemporary and geographically comprehensive than a competing Hollywood tour book.

Gordon said it took him six months to do the research for his book, although "I had been sightseeing for years so I knew a lot of this stuff."

In addition to talking to several dozen film location scouts and other knowledgeable sources, he spent countless hours at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences library where he scoured celebrity biographies and magazine and newspaper clippings dealing with the stars' homes and other Hollywood attractions.

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