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Stephen Schochet

 

 

 

Tour Guide Tells Hollywood Tales, Hollywood Independent Newspaper


 

Tourists from all over the world come to Hollywood for all kinds of reasons: to walk the Walk Of Fame, leer at the eccentrics, buy cheesy souvenirs. But very few actually know the real dirt behind what they see.

Stephen Schochet has taken it upon himself to educate not only tourists but Angelinos as well about the legends and lore that made Hollywood what it is. Accumulating a plethora of scandalous anecdotes on everyone from Charlie Chaplin, Errol Flynn, Shirley Temple, Lucille Ball and Walt Disney to Michael Jackson and Alfred Hitchcock. Schochet has compiled it all into a hilarious audio tape called "Tales Of Hollywood".

Schochet's tales begin in the 1920s and 30's and progress chronologically to modern days. One of the tales Schochet recounts is when Walt Disney hired 11 "little people" to dress up as Pinocchio at one of his shows and placed them on top of a marquee with a full day's supply of food and wine, requiring them only to wave hello to the children entering the theater. "By the middle of the afternoon" Schochet narrates on the tape," the crowd outside was treated to the spectacle of 11 drunk and naked 'little people' running around and yelling obscenities. "The most embarrassed were New York City police who had to climb up and take the little fellows off in pillowcases."

Among the other parables on the tape is where Hollywood got its name, how show business found its way to L.A., why movie stars moved to Beverly Hills and how the grand tradition of placing handprints and footprints in the forecourt of the Chinese Theater got started. The tape also provides a history of the city's public transportation system, explaining how the Pacific Electric Railway Co. that stretched 1,100 miles across LA County was built by Henry Huntington who got people to ride the rails by introducing the sport of surfing and showing them the easiest way to the beach. And although surfing stayed, the public transportation didn't fare so well, as wealthy automobile manufactures bought out the railway company and dismantled the street car system.

The 45-minute tape also explores the rocky beginnings of the movie industry, reporting tales of Samuel Goldwyn-- whose real name was Goldfish until he decided to combine his partner's name, Edgar Selwyn, with his, opting against Selfish -- and how some film companies greased the streets, secretly filming car accidents to save on stuntman and cars.

Schochet's own story is similar to those who come to Los Angeles in search of opportunities not found elsewhere. A political science major at UCLA, Schochet, now 31, wanted to be a writer and decided to support himself by driving a limousine. His boss, who realized that Schochet was the only driver who spoke English, asked him to give tours to the customers. Having read books in the past about Hollywood, Schochet's interest was piqued. One day, he got all the maps to the Star's homes and drove to each of them. From there, he began to extensively research their history through interviews and books written on the subject.

"Some of the stories on the tape I found in newspapers or magazines or books," Schochet says. "But for some, it took three interviews to get the story straight." The background music which is appropriate, to the respective time periods of the stories, what put together by Ivor Francis from New Frontier Productions. Schochet and Francis bounced ideas off each other and came up with a product which both were happy. Instead of writing a book, Schochet chose to write the script and make the tape because as he puts it, was "more fun doing a production with the music and everything. "The stories have an oral quality to them," he says. "It calls for them to be heard on instead of being dead on a page."

Besides, he says," I'm a tour guide. I tell stories.

 

 

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