Stan’s Obligatory Blog


Hollywood sightseeing

Filed under: — stan @ 6:55 pm

A couple days ago, I got an email newsletter from Zillow that had a link to an article about mobsters’ houses. The Dearly Departed Tour has a stop at the house in Beverly Hills where Bugsy Siegel was murdered, but apparently, that was not his house. His house was up near the Hollywood Sign. We’ve been by it a hundred times, and I’d never even noticed that there was anything there. So today we set out to go see it. And on the way there, we could also see one of the locations used in the 1956 “Invasion of the Body Snatchers“. There is a scene near the end of the movie where a mob of angry pod people are chasing Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter up a street and then up an outdoor staircase. And that street is Westshire Dr in Beachwood Canyon.

The weather was kind of threatening. The forecast called for a 30% chance of rain, but I figured that was all right, since we’d be riding near several Metro Rail stations, so we had a way to bail out if necessary.

We rode across Eagle Rock and into Hollywood. About that time, it started to rain. But fortunately, it only rained for a few minutes. By the time we turned up Beachwood Dr, it stopped, and that was the last of the rain for the day.

The filming location was just past the Hollywoodland gate on Beachwood Dr. We turned and rode up the hill to the stairway. There are more houses now, and the trees are bigger, but the stairway is the same.

Here’s a little video that shows some of the scenes in the movie that were filmed in Beachwood Canyon. The stairs appear about two minutes in:

After that, we rode back down and up the other side of the canyon. That’s the hill where I always tell people, “you probably won’t see anyone you recognize from TV, but by the time we get to the top, you’ll be seeing stars anyway”. But what do you know. Jeff and GT did see someone they recognized from TV. Cheryl Hines from “Curb Your Enthusiasm. She was outside on her driveway.

We stopped briefly under the Hollywood sign before heading back down Mulholland to see Bugsy Siegel’s house. The house is a bit off the road, and the driveway doesn’t stand out. That’s why we’ve been by there so many times and not noticed it. But it’s right across the street from the spot where all the tourists take pictures of the Hollywood sign. From there, we rode down the hill, past the reservoir, and then up and over the very steep hill to get into Burbank.

We stopped at Priscilla’s for snacks before heading home. Our route back was a new one that we’ve only done once before. We rode across Glendale and took a pedestrian bridge across the 2 freeway to get to Eagle Rock. From there it was the usual route home up the Colorado Hill.

In the end, it turned into a nice day. So it was a pleasant ride.

41 miles.

One Response to “Hollywood sightseeing”

  1. G.M. Grena Says:

    Hi Stan! Thanks for this tip on the Beachwood staircase! On Christmas I biked the length of Vermont past Griffith Observatory, over to the Hollywood sign, then down through Beachwood. I noticed 2 other staircases off the east side of Beachwood, both of which I climbed (carrying my bike), then down the famous 3rd one. After doing a little research back home, I saw that there were also 3 on the west side, but there were some conflicting counts for the total steps. So this morning I drove back & confirmed the details. Since your website is the gold-standard for L.A. staircase info, I thought it would be a good idea to post it here (I’m also posting info on your 12-24-2005 entry regarding the L&H Music Box Steps)!

    The street addresses are listed left-right as you face the staircase whether it’s the top or bottom. Being handmade, the height of each step varies a bit. Though I did not measure every single step, the extremes I observed were 3.5″ to 9.0″, but most of them were about 6″. In some cases, the same step varied by a half-inch at the ends (e.g., 5.5″ on the left, 6″ on the right). The widths varied from about 30″ to 74″. The landings on each staircase varied but I did not measure them because sometimes they included turns (in the stats below, I’m putting the count for each flight between landings in parentheses, as counted from bottom to top); I’m also listing the approximate elevation (based on Google Earth measurements).

    2777-2795 Woodshire up to 2882-2872 Belden
    124 steps (26+41+29+28), not 125
    58 feet (823′-765′); 5.6″/step average

    Woodshire/Beachwood up to 2960-2950 Belden
    148 steps (39+57+10+11+31 left; 39+57+8+13+31 right), not 138
    85 feet (804′-719′); 6.9″/step average
    Note that this special dual staircase bears the Historic Cultural Monument No. 535 plaque (built 1923 – declared 1991).

    2917 Belden / 6495 Rodgerton up to 2960-2954 Durand
    117 steps (3+4+3+4+6+6+6+28+41+16), not 118
    80 feet (895′-815′); 8.2″/step average

    3030-3020 Beachwood up to 3057-3065 Hollyridge
    176 steps (4+5+10+5+7+45+32+68), not 178
    100 feet (885′-785′); 6.8″/step average

    2810-2800 Beachwood up to 2835-2853 Westshire
    143 steps (25+20+6+5+31+38+18), not 144
    74 feet (783′-709′); 6.2″/step average

    2744-2748 Westshire up to 2823-2831 Hollyridge
    149 steps (13+13+39+84)
    91 feet (811′-720′); 7.3″/step average

    This last one is of course the famous one used in the movie. The YouTube clip you cited contains only one segment, but the full-length 55-second chase is available here:

    One of the things that initially made me doubt that you rode to the correct one was the difference in how the right-handrail terminated. Even in the photos at this 2010 blog, it’s in a 3rd configuration:

    Up-close in person, you can see that both sides have been modified/repaired (you’re sitting on the joint in your photo). Also there are 13 steps in the bottom flight, but only 11 visible in the film; however, if you watch the actors, they climb 2 lower ones cut off by the camera. The house at the 0:14 mark in my clip (2:13 yours) is still there with its same chimney & flat roof, & the angle of the cafe/market is still barely visible through all the new trees at the top.

    Anyway, I had fun recreating the entire 55-second run from the Market to Hollyridge! Wearing my weight-vest & going double-steps while imagining the siren (accompanied by a live barking dog in the yard across from the bottom of the stairs), it really got my heart pumping!

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