By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD
Hollywood had a lot of entertaining attractions—after all, it’s the entertainment capital of the world. The entertainment was mostly for the tourists but I have to admit when I was in high school in the 60’s, my future wife and I would cruise Hollywood and stare at the hippies and flower children. We never got out of the car. We figured they would think we were freaks!
Hollywood has attractions for the police officers as well. The aforementioned hippies as well as the numerous other freaks (my opinion) that frequented Hollywood, always provided entertainment. Another entertainment for cops was mistakenly called the “Errol Flynn Estate.” It’s now called Runyon Canyon Park.
History: Runyon Canyon stretched from the north end of Fuller to Mulholland Drive, the crest of the Hollywood Hills. Carmen Runyon bought the canyon in 1919 and that’s where it got its name, “Runyon Canyon.” In 1942, it was bought by Huntington Harford and Errol Flynn stayed at the pool house. It became known as the Errol Flynn Estates. He never owned it! The 160-acre park was bought in 1984 by the City of Los Angeles. It now has a 60-acre dog park and has many hiking trails that are popular with thousands, including celebrities who live nearby. Some of the celebrities you won’t recognize because without make up and fancy clothes they look just like us!
The area is hillsides covered with brush and is home to many wild animals, skunks, coyotes and rattlesnakes. There were also a few decaying foundations, including the cement pool on a hillside plateau which overlooked Hollywood. The views were of the LA Basin and all the way to Catalina on a clear night. In the late 70’s, the so-called Errol Flynn Estates was overrun by kids and punk rockers after midnight. Soon the calls came into the police department from the nearby residents of screaming women, breaking bottles, and fires. Besides the noise and vandalism the neighbors were mostly concerned about the chance of a wildfire burning down their house.
I’m guessing the first incident at the Errol Flynn Estates our Communications (dispatch) sent one two-man police car to handle the disturbance. The patrol car had to park at the Fuller Gate and hike into the canyon. They were met with thrown rocks and empty beer bottles. It sucks when the bad guys have the high ground. Rocks and bottles are easier to see in daylight. In a dark canyon, they are almost impossible to see. As a bottle whizzed past your head you’d know how close it was to hitting the target and giving you a nice scar that you’ll be explaining for the rest of your life. Of course, one of the officers had to run back to the police car and radio for help. This was before officers had radios on their belts.
Soon the entire division arrived and the officers with adrenalin surging through their veins, charged through the canyon looking for someone to arrest. Ok, maybe inflict some sort of justice. As the encounters increased the need for more police officers also increased. Have you ever thought of chasing game through 60 acres of dark chaparral?
The big problem is a cop’s mental state—we never give up or surrender!
Next a game of hide and seek and an adult game of tag!