Scott Michaels, founder of Los Angeles’ Dearly Departed Tours, recently took the time to sit down for a chat about one of their newest additions – the Hollywood Movie Tour. What follows is a summary of that conversation, which will hopefully give you readers some added insight into the world of Dearly Departed.
Scott was first exposed to death at the age of 3 but didn’t begin pursuing a career relating to it until he was in his twenties. He started out years ago with Grave Line Tours, the company that did the Cadillac hearses, and he ran that for a few years until it was sold and the person who bought it ended up killing himself. He decided that he wanted to do something that stuck with the same idea geographically and covered the Tate House murder site and the Ambassador Hotel, both of which are gone now. Scott has a feeling that’s why a lot of people confuse his tours with theirs.
The movie tours Scott’s company currently has on offer are run through a Hawaii corporation. Scott says that he once took the San Francisco Movie Tour and loved it. He didn’t like the movies that were shown, but really liked the idea of seeing the movies on the screen while he was looking at that particular movie site. From there, the Hollywood Movie Tour was born.
According to Scott, there is a lot of misinformation out there regarding stars’ homes. For example, with Marilyn Monroe, there are a lot of houses that she was said to have lived in that she never did. Scott claims that with his tour, there is a sense of fiction meets reality because he actually has pictures of her in front of the house they are showing. It is not a comprehensive tour per se, but about 50-60 movies and TV shows are covered. Dearly Departed has the exclusive rights in LA to do it, and they will be expanding to other tours soon. Scott points out that you don’t have to like the movies shown in order to enjoy the tour, a major plus, I would think, for children who may not have been alive when the movies hit the big screen.
Speaking of children, when asked whether the tour is appropriate for the little ones, Scott says that he would consider it to be PG-13 for language. Some of the language has been bleeped out of the movie excerpts, so it isn’t that bad, but parents should use their discretion on tours like this.
As far as the most popular location is concerned, the spot that participants get the most excited about is the site of the movie “LA Confidential.” At this point, most of the tour guests are from LA and they like to see great movies about Hollywood. Scott describes LA as a city that loves itself. His favorite movie of all time – and his favorite spot on the tour – is one of the sites where “Sunset Boulevard” was shot. “Ed Wood” is another that ranks high on his list. Among the quintessential LA locations shown on the tour, in addition to those mentioned above, are “Pretty Woman” and “Rebel Without a Cause.” People love to see the hotel where Julia Roberts’ character in “Pretty Woman” lives and also get to see James Dean laying in the street on screen and drive up to the house in “Rebel Without a Cause,” knowing exactly where they are. As Scott points out, it is like riding right through James Dean’s history.
When asked about any possible future additions to the tours, Scott says it is their goal to keep the tours pretty well-rounded, within certain geographic parameters. They have lots of material to work with, from the older stuff up to more recent things, and are always balancing it out. As an added bonus for taking the tour, guests get a complete list of the movies featured at its conclusion.
Scott has obviously had a lot of neat experiences throughout his time working in LA. His tours have been featured on shows like E!’s “Girls Next Door.” In fact, he told me that Bridget, one of the girls from the show, even attended a séance he held recently. He was surprised that she actually attended, but said that she has expressed an interest in the paranormal. Very cool!
Next up for Scott’s company is a tour featuring Alison Arngrim, also known as Nellie from “Little House on the Prairie.” More details on that tour, and information from Alison herself, to come…