Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dearly Departed

I think it’s pretty clear that I am an organized-tour-kind-of-gal. City tours, historic homes, battleships – I’m down. But when I heard that there was a tour of Los Angeles that showcases the scenes of unspeakable crimes, my ears quickly perked up. Ya see, I have a morbid curiosity for stuff like this so there was no way I was going to leave Los Angeles without taking the Dearly Departed Tragical History tour.

Our tour guide, Brian led the 3.5 hour tour through the streets of Los Angeles, highlighting places where famous celebrities met their demise. We saw the house where Bela Lugosi died at the age of 73 and learned that he died so poor that Frank Sinatra quietly paid for his funeral. (He was buried in his Dracula cape!) We passed by the home where My Sister Sam actress, Rebecca Schaeffer was murdered by a crazed stalker in 1989 as well as the Beverly Hills home where gangster Bugsy Siegel was shot.  His murder still remains unsolved.

5620 Harold Way - where Bela Lugosi died
One of my favorite stops was the Beverly Hills home of the Menendez family – the place where Kyle and Lyle Menendez brutally murdered their parents in 1989. At this stop, our tour guide played the 911 call in which Lyle cried “someone killed my parents!” (I clearly was prepared with props for this stop on the tour.) Ironically enough, this house was once owned by friends of OJ and Nicole Brown Simpson and her baby shower for Sydney was held here.

722 North Elm Drive, Beverly Hills
There was a scheduled bathroom break on the tour, and it was a place that we recognized quite well – the Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills - where George Michael was arrested in 1998 for public lewdness. Even though this happened in the men’s room and I am clearly a female, I still snuck in to snap a picture. (It was empty first! Dan checked. I’m not a creeper.)

9650 Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills
Perhaps one of the most intriguing locations was the John Sowden house located in Los Feliz. Built by architecht Frank Lloyd Wright, this house is quite unusual and is believed by some to be where the Black Dahlia met her demise. For an interesting read on this murder mystery, I suggest picking up the Black Dahlia Avenger. The author makes some stunning revelations.

5121 Franklin Avenue, Los Feliz, Los Angeles
Other notable locations on the tour were the Beverly Hills area where Howard Hughes crashed his plane in 1946, the El Coyote restaurant where Sharon Tate had her last meal, the hotels where Janis Joplin and John Belushi died, the alley that Rebel without a Cause actor, Sal Mineo was stabbed, and the gates in front of the house where Michael Jackson died.

The former Landmark Hotel where Janis Joplin died - 7047 Franklin Avenue, Hollywood
Next time we visit Los Angeles, we plan on taking the Dearly Departed Helter Skelter tour. After reading the book, we both became pretty much obsessed with the Manson murders and seeing all of the locations in person is just something we need to do. For those not so much interested in hearing about horrific murders, Dearly Departed also offers a Hollywood Movie Tours tour that takes you around Los Angeles to famous movie sites.

Tickets are available here.

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