L.A. SLEEPERS Locations: Griffith Observatory

L.A. SLEEPERS Locations: Griffith Observatory
by Dakota Donovan


In my novel, L.A. SLEEPERS: A Hollywood Ghostwriter Mystery, a pivotal scene takes place at night outside the Griffith Observatory. Many people remember the Los Angeles location from REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, the 1955 film starring James Dean. A bronze head of James Dean is now a major tourist attraction for the site.

Here’s how the Griffith Observatory appears in Chapter 15 of L.A. SLEEPERS: A Hollywood Ghostwriter Mystery:

Now that I have time to think for the first time all day, I wonder why Ryan wants to meet at the Griffith Observatory. He’d spent hours at my place the previous day. Why not just meet there?

I see the Griffith Observatory looming in the distance—as imposing and majestic as the Panthenon. This is where people come to look at the sunsets, the stars, the planets. It’s where you go to get inspired, to feel the manifest destiny of living in California.

As usual during the summer, the Griffith Observatory parking lot is packed, and I have to follow people to their cars, hoping someone will back out and I can slip into the spot. Nothing is ever easy. God if I weren’t running on sheer adrenaline, I’d pass out from anxiety and exhaustion.

At 7:05, I find a parking space, and start to get out of the car when I remember my hair. I try to get a glimpse of myself in the rearview mirror. There’s no way I can meet with anyone looking like this. I glance around the car for a scarf and reach under the seats searching for a beret left over from the cooler months.

In the glove compartment, I find one of the scarves I’d bought years before for five francs in Paris—a tiger print in shades of green. I offer up a prayer to St. Genesius, patron of the theater—because this scarf is going to serve as my costume for the evening. I don’t know how to tie scarves or even how to wear them, but try my best to drape this one around my head in a gypsy configuration, then knot it in the back.

At 7:08, I race through the parking lot and head toward the James Dean bust.  I see a man standing with the fading sun behind him, his outline traced in purple and black, as if he’s a figure in stained glass. It isn’t Ryan, but as I get closer, I recognize who it is.

Find L.A. SLEEPERS: A Hollywood Ghostwriter Mystery at Amazon.com.

1 Comment

  1. Marcia says:

    Boy, do I remember that scene from Rebel Without a Cause! I was a big James Dean fan back then. Nice excerpt!


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