Celebrities in the City....from Lady GaGa to the Jim Dykes, NYC "celebrity" tourguide

LADY GAGA?? KIM KARDASHIAN?? As a tourguide in New York these days, we are constantly changing our information especially concerning celebrity names and movie references. With the constant flow of reality shows, internet news and pop culture information spewing out PLUS younger tourists, celebrity names that used to mean something no longer spark interest from most groups.
Gilda Radner (long dead) means nothing, Meg Ryan (career dead...means nothing), Madonna (has-been, gets mild interest), Tom Hanks (mildly interesting), Barbara Walters (might as well be dead), and many other names which I used to mention in my tour 5 years ago get very little eyebrows raised on the tour these days.
Young, hip celebrity names are the answer! I recently did a tour where every young person on the bus dozed thru celebrity names like Tom Hanks, Kelly Ripa, Regis Philbin…even Madonna got a few yawns…they are yesterday’s headlines.
As soon as I mentioned Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian.…the bus erupted…they lov…

New York City's "Celebrity" Tourguide Jim Dykes spots celebs all over New York City!

Since New York is a city of celebrities EVERYwhere, it’s undeniable that celebs pop up on our tours. Sometimes as a passenger on the bus, sometimes as a “sight” on the tour, sometimes they become PART of the tour! I recently put out a request to guides on the Facebook site for guides and people came forward with personal stories. Marc Landman said that he saw both Katie Courie and Savannah Guthrie but years ago his most famous celebrity sighting was SPUDS MacKenzie, the bull terrier from the Bud Light commercials.  Guide Stan O’Connor contributed: “ I was in Midtown, standing in the stairwell of the double-decker bus, giving a tour. As we went past the Four Seasons Hotel, I told the people that I. M. Pei designed it.  Continuing, I went on to say that "he'd also designed the Javits  Convention Center, the big gold pyramid on the National Mall in Washington and a similar pyramid at the Louvre in Paris" and he..." I looked down to my right, where Pei happened to be s…

Natalie Wood's unfortunate death (murder?) is back in the news; My late acquaintance Robert Osborne (Turner Classic Movies) told me about his first meeting with Natalie.

Robert Osborne, who recently passed away, was the star of the TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES channel and knew just about EVERYBODY from classic Hollywood. He started in Hollywood as an actor but after his friend Lucille Ball advised him to be a writer, he changed course. He got a job at the Hollywood Reporter and one day was assigned to interview the young star Natalie Wood, who was one of the hottest box office stars in Hollywood.

Robert said when he showed up at her Beverly Hills home, he was visibly nervous and had made note cards with questions numbered which he kept dropping on the floor. He was perspiring and when he sat down with Natalie she could tell right away. "Is this your first interview?"  He said that it was and she said "Let me see your note cards."  She shuffled thru the questions, marked things, re-numbered the sequence, replaced some questions with others and then said "Let's go out to the pool and relax"...she made them drinks and they sat d…
My Old Friend Donna Murphy Stars as DOLLY in HELLO DOLLY (when Midler is out)

Went to see HELLO DOLLY recently on a weeknight to see my gorgeous and talented old acquaintance DONNA MURPHY starring as Dolly Levi in the wonderful new Broadway production at the Shubert Theatre. I had seen Bette Midler do the role a few weeks before with friends visiting from California and Bette was wonderful as a film star and concert icon playing "Dolly."

But Donna Murphy is a REAL award-winning Broadway star and sells tickets based on her performances, not just her movie fans. She doesn't "coast" on her icon-status as Midler does, she really disappears into the role and "becomes" Dolly Levi, the meddling matchmaker of the Thornton Wilder play the musical is based on. Critics that have seen her performances URGE audiences to see Donna because she plays Dolly as a real character and not as a "star vehicle" like Channing, Merman, Midler and all the rest played …
New York City taxis thru the years

In the 1920's they were big roadsters with running boards; by the 1950s they were big, roomy "checker" cabs; today they are modern design with cellphone charging stations and TV sets!

Obama's former Harlem apartment building has vacancy one floor below his former apartment

President Barack Obama (in college known as Barry) attended Columbia University in the early 1980s in his 20’s. He lived in various places around Manhattan, but one of the buildings was 142 West 109th Street, an easy walk to Columbia’s campus, located between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues. Recently an available apartment was advertised by real estate brokers in the same building and the news was in the local media. “LIVE IN OBAMA’S OLD APARTMENT BUILDING” said the announcement, even though the advertised apartment was Apt. 2E and Obama’s apartment was 3E, one floor up. Both apartments were advertised as “very large” two bedroom apartments with bedrooms large enough for queen-size beds. The listed rent is currently $2,400 per month. In 1981 Obama and his roommate split the $720 rent upstairs and each paid $360. The ad says the apartment is “convenient” to all major transportation: 1,2,3, C trains and city buses. Renters who moved into the building, reportedly get a framed picture of yo…

Harry Houdini's Harlem Home is on the market for $4.6million- People love to drive by the house on my Harlem Tours- 278 West 113th Street

Legendary magician Harry Houdini’s Harlem brownstone is on the market for $4.6million. The address is 278 West 113th Street…built 1904 and measures 4,600 square feet. He bought the 4-story home in 1907 for the princely sum of $25,000 and lived there with his wife Bess until his death in 1928. It was said to be the grandest house that any magician has ever owned. It was the site where he would develop some of his greatest illusions. When he moved in, he did everything he could to turn the place into the ultimate "magician's lair." The home has since been divided into three individual apartments, but could be re-combined into a single-family home. Houdini (born 1874 in Budapest as Ehrich Weisz) lived here with his wife Bess and mother Cecilia Weiss and immigrated from Hungary at the age of 13 with his parents. Houdini employed a librarian to manage his huge collection of books on magic and mysticism…the main floor parlor was called “the trophy room” and was the jewel of th…