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On the Prowl: Star Maps of Beverly Hills

It's getting to be that time of year again when many of us gear up to fasten our eyes to the television set for the Oscars. However, if you're intrigued by the life of movie stars when they're off screen, try picking up a star map next time you're in Hollywood. Our host Rudy did. Find out what happened.

On the Prowl: Star Maps of Beverly Hills
by Rudy Maxa

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It's getting to be that time of year again when many of us gear up to fasten our eyes to the television set for those hours of glitz and glamour, red carpets and over-the-top music: The Oscars. When you watch it on TV, it's a world that seems a little bit like an alternate reality, doesn't it? All those people garbed in revealing gowns and fashionable tuxes. Sort of makes you wonder what their lives are like away from the camera. I mean, do they stroll elegantly down the hallway every morning just to fetch a cup of coffee? Do you think they ever just hang out in their yard, maybe do a little gardening on the weekends?

Well, if you're intrigued by the home-life of the stars, you might just be able to catch a real-life glimpse next time you're in Beverly Hills. All you need is a star map, a guide to the movie stars' homes that you can buy on the street. I'd heard about these for years, but because they sound like such a Hollywood gimmick, I was skeptical about whether they'd really be accurate. So, on a recent trip out to California, I met up with my producer, Molly Murphy, to check them out.

We thought we'd plan our strategy over a cold beverage in the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where we were quickly reminded of just how un-Beverly Hills we are...

Waitress: "Would you like some Evian, or Pellegrino, or Fiji water?"

Rudy: "Just regular water for me would be fine and an iced tea with extra lemon."

Waitress: "Okaay."

Molly: "Just regular water for me."

Waitress: "Okaay."

Rudy: "Thanks."

Waitress: "You're WELLLCOME."

That vast array of designer water at the Polo Lounge reflects the equally vast array of palatial homes scattered throughout Beverly Hills. You'll see a French chateau, next to a Swiss chalet, next to a modern split level, next to a hacienda, and all sporting teams of gardeners doing things like vacuuming the lawns. As Molly and I drove down Sunset Boulevard scoping out the territory, we suddenly spotted our object of desire.

Molly: "There's a sign, Star Maps."

Rudy: "Star Maps, hey, we're in luck."

You can hardly miss the star map signs, which look like oversized blue and yellow sandwich boards propped up by the side of the streets.

Rudy: "Hi, you have a Star Map?"

Map Guy: "Eight dolores."

Rudy: "How much is it?"

Map Guy: "Eight. Eight dollars."

Rudy: "Eight dollars? Is it up to date and accurate?"

Molly: "Homes of the movie stars. Oh, a lot of stars."

Rudy: "Summer issue 1999."

It unfolds like a typical road map and features the neighborhoods of Bel Air and Beverly Hills through which there's literally a milky way of little red stars scattered across the page, each one indicating a star's home.

Molly: "Now, let's just start at the A's and see who some of these stars are."

Rudy: "Well starting at the A's, it's Robert Alda, Steve Allen... X, Y, Z. The list is endless, more than 400 names, I'm tellin' you. Here's Dick Clark."

Molly: "Ooh, we can find Clark Gable's house."

We drove past Larry Flint's former estate, which is next door to Johnny Carson's former place. We casually looked for Hugh Heffner's place, which appears to be right around the corner from Aaron Spelling's, and before we knew it, we happened upon the Hotel Bel Air, which is elegantly tucked away amongst a thicket of flowering trees. We thought maybe the hotel valet could give us some pointers on star searching. He impressed us right off the bat.

Rudy: "Hi, Rudy Maxa. Your name is?"

Kevin: "Kevin."

Rudy: "Hi Kevin."

Kevin: "I think I've heard your show. Nice to meet you."

Rudy: "Molly."

Kevin: "Hi Molly."

Rudy: "We bought one of these eight dollar maps of the stars. And we thought we'd drive around."

Kevin: "Good investment. People make fun of those maps all the time, but they're really accurate."

Rudy: "Are they? I thought the rap was that they weren't."

Kevin: "They didn't used to be, it's like five, six years, they really are. They got to the records at City Hall and they found out who bought and who did what. The house down here about quarter of a mile on the left used to be Tom Jones', it's now Nicholas Cage's. Nobody knows that except the records at City Hall and the maps that are up to date. Reagan came out one time, Ronnie came out and greeted people by his gate. I saw Nicholas Cage with one of his cars. He brought his Bugati in here."

Molly: "Sounds like a fun job."

Kevin: "Interesting. And that's what I like about it. And in 17 years I've seen a lot. My book's coming out. Can't give it all away now, alright you guys? We'll do it on your next show, the cable access as well. Molly, Rudy, nice to meet you guys. See you later."

We agreed we'd definitely gone to the right guy...

Rudy: "If he isn't just the absolute smoothest valet car parker I've ever met. What a voice!"

Molly: "Do you think he had stock in the Star Map business?"

Rudy: "Wow!"

We didn't know whether to be more impressed by the notion that the star maps might really be accurate or by the fact that Kevin met Nicholas Cage. It led us to think, maybe we could meet Nicholas Cage. So, we pulled out our map.

Molly: "Alright, Nicholas Cage is right... here. 363."

Rudy: "363 Copa de Oro"

Molly: "Now you think you know how to get there?"

Rudy: "I know right where it is. I am Beverly Hills."

Molly: "Excellent."

So off we went in search of Nicholas, or at least his house.

Rudy: "Here's Copa de Oro, the 200 block. Here's 344, here's 362..."

Molly: "Three-sixty-two. . . Beware of dog. That's not very inviting. Is that it?"

Unfortunately, 'Not Very Inviting' captures the general milieu here pretty well. People like their privacy in Beverly Hills, but it shouldn't stop you from taking a look around.

Rudy: "You want to go ring the bell?"

Molly: "Sure."

Rudy: "You do not. You do, but you don't..."

Molly: "Do you think people do that?"

Rudy: "I think they probably get arrested if they do.

Then my cell phone started ringing.

Rudy: "This might be Nicholas calling now to see if we can stop in. Hello?"

Needless to say, it wasn't Nicholas calling. In fact, we didn't see any stars that day, unless you count Kevin the valet parker. I gotta tell you, he certainly looked and sounded like a star. But we did have a great time tooling around Beverly Hills eyeing these palatial homes of the movie stars, imagining a very different sort of life.


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