It may be hard to remember a time before round-the-clock TMZ and Perez. What with incessant updates on Lindsay's latest court appearance and Charlie Sheen's latest manic stunt, movie stardom has been largely stripped of its glamour in the 24/7 spotlight of tell-all celebrity media. But once upon a time, the stars in Hollywood shone a little more brightly.
In the Golden Age of Hollywood -- roughly from the late 1920s to the early 1960s -- the studio system was in full swing, and its stars were anointed like royalty. With the likes of Clark Gable and Greta Garbo, glamour not scandal was the order of the day. If the mystique of Hollywood's more brilliant past captures your fancy, or if you've got a hankering for Hollywood history, this itinerary will steep you in nostalgia.
5:30 p.m. - Check into the Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows, which celebrates its 100th birthday this month. A favorite of stars like Bogart and Bacall, these posh pastel premises have seen more than their fair share of classic Hollywood moments over the past century. Though the hotel has been updated from its original 1912 design, it retains many of its famous features, like the pink-and-mint stripe décor, sceney poolside cabanas and the crowds of Hollywood movers and shakers. The rooms feature opulent marble bathrooms (many with Jacuzzis) and quirky retro touches, like original butler bells. For a super-exclusive experience, opt for one of the famed private bungalows: Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich once bedded down in these.
8:00 p.m. - No need to step off the hotel property for the night: Everything you need for time travel back to the Golden Age is right here. Dine at the hotel's Polo Lounge, which has been a favorite stop for generations of stars and Hollywood dealmakers. Tinseltown power players nibble posh bites, sip extravagant cocktails, and ink deals here. Inside, deep booths and low lighting keep intimate conversations hushed, while the outdoor trellised patio buzzes with an elite group of see-and-be-seeners. Afterwards, linger on the patio with a nightcap and, if it's a summer evening, wax nostalgic over live jazz music.
9:00 a.m. - Breakfast at the Fountain Coffee Room, a real-deal retro diner tucked away in the basement of the Beverly Hills Hotel. It still draws hung-over starlets to its marble-topped counter for a greasy breakfast fix, just as it did back in the '40s. Cool original features like the banana leaf wallpaper, curvy counter and vinyl stools give a neat vintage vibe, as does the charmingly down-to-earth service.
10:30 a.m. - Make your way to Hollywood Boulevard to pay homage to the stars of yesteryear. This iconic stretch of pavement has multiple monuments to Tinseltown glory. Find your favorite marquee names on the Walk of Fame and snap a photo of the famous 1920s movie palace Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Costumed characters pose along the boulevard for photo ops-as long as you're turning back the clock, go ahead and get your pic taken with "Marilyn!" The Kodak Theater (where the Oscars are held) is also here, and the theater tour will give you a good dose of Oscar history. (Come June 18, though, the theater will be rechristened the Dolby Theater, so check with the theater directly for any updated tour details.)
1:00 p.m. - Grab lunch at Musso & Frank Grill, a famous Old Hollywood haunt. Everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Ginger Rogers once graced the generous leather booths, and writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Raymond Chandler talked shop here in their screenwriting years. The steaks and chops are legendary.
3:00 p.m. - Head back to the hotel: You don't want to miss the chance to log some time on the poolside terrace. Many a starlet has frolicked here, and the green-and-white striped loungers are some of the most desirable real estate in town! Even better: take a massage in a poolside cabana courtesy of the Beverly Hills Hotel Spa by La Prairie, and you'll feel like a glamorous star yourself.
8:00 p.m. - Put on your most retro-chic outfit for drinks and dinner at the Tower Bar in the Sunset Tower Hotel, a landmark Deco building that was once a luxury apartment complex to the stars: John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe all hung their respective hats here at one time or another. Housed in Bugsy Siegel's old apartment (yes, there's often a noir-ish underbelly to Hollywood glitz), the bar/restaurant features retro-Moderne décor and sweeping city views. Waiters glide about in crisp tuxedos, and a piano spills early 20th-century classics.
10:00 p.m. - For a little late-night noir, head to the Formosa Café, a prized hangout for Hollywood aristocracy in the '40s and '50s housed in a former trolley car. The brooding film noir-esque interiors are famous for their iconic deep red Chinoiserie booths (you might recognize them from the film LA Confidential; the Lana Turner scene), while eye-catching black-and-whites of famous former patrons hark back to Formosa Café's own gritty past as a clandestine locale for many an illicit Hollywood affair. Throw back a Mai Tai or Singapore Sling to really get into the scene.
10:00 a.m. - Go for brunch at the Farmers Market, a meeting ground for the Hollywood community since the 1930s. It's not primarily a vegetable market but rather a bustling bazaar of food stalls and international-themed restaurants. Walt Disney is said to have designed Disneyland while sitting at a table here, and James Dean ate his last breakfast here before his untimely death. The catchphrase "Meet me at 3rd and Fairfax" was long ago popularized as shorthand for the market as a go-to spot, and you'll still find old-timers gathered around tables playing cards and kibitzing.
12:00 p.m. - Before you turn in that rental car, hit the Petersen Automotive Museum. The Petersen uses impressive diorama scenes and hands-on activities to place cars in their "natural habitats" and engage visitors. The collection includes hundreds of nifty vintage and celeb cars-glimpse classics like Clark Gable's suave 1956 Mercedes Benz 300SC coupe and Jean Harlow's sexy 1932 Packard Phaeton convertible. After a weekend immersed in old Hollywood glamour, you might just feel the urge to put the top down, wrap a silk scarf over your head and drive off into the sunset.
-- Jennifer Garcia-Alonso and Rachel B. Levin, thepurplepassport.com