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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Jim Dykes, entreprener, NYC “celebrity tour guide” and actor

Jim Dykes is an entreprener, NYC “celebrity tour guide” and actor. He is the co-founder and owner of Rich and Famous Tours ( ), a niche NYC tour company for locals or tourists that specializes in celebrities...where they live, shop, dine and party. Although raised in Kentucky, Jim's Mother is from Texas and his Dad is from Brooklyn, and Jim has become an expert on his adopted town of New York City. His style of guiding is casual, warm and spending time with a friend for a few hours. One southern lady on a tour said: "We understand speak our language!"

Also a journalist and former co-publisher of The Citizen-News, a community newspaper for Northern Manhattan, Jim has interviewed and become acquainted with such diverse New Yorkers as: Dr. Ruth, Monica Lewinsky, Joan Rivers, Giuliani and many other interesting news-makers.

Jim began leading tours around New York City in 1984 -- his tours are full of history, architecture and unusual “insider’s” tidbits that make the city come alive, especially his insider stories of New York’s famous names and personal showbiz stories. While a guest on Joan Rivers’ show, Joan introduced Jim as the “celebrity tourguide”. Filmmaker Steven Spielberg also took Jim's tour one day (quite by accident) landing Jim a mention Liz Smith's syndicated gossip column. Jim’s tours have also been mentioned in many other media stories including several mentions in the New York Post’s Page Six and TIME OUT NEW YORK.

Jim's tours are personalized-- His show business, journalistic and tour careers have overlapped, thus allowing him to sprinkle his New York tours with insider tidbits about the rich & famous (he's met many of of them) and tell personal stories that humanize the big city. “My name-dropping all has a purpose…there’s a story to back up every name,” says Jim. “When we pass Meryl Streep’s building, I tell my story about meeting Meryl when I had a scene in a movie with her. When we pass Sarah Jessica Parker’s favorite boutique I mention that I was in her dressing room on her last day as Broadway’s ANNIE (mutual friends) when she was 14. When we pass Melanie Griffith’s building, I mention how we studied acting together at Stella Adler and how I was a guest at her second wedding (Steve Bauer-her forgotten marriage), and so many other personal stories.”

Also a huge Yankees fan, Jim’s family member and namesake "Jimmy Dykes" played on the NY Yankees with Babe Ruth and later became one of professional baseball's managers. Because of his many celebrity anecdotes, Jim was nicknamed The Celebrity Tourguide by Joan Rivers on her show during one of his appearances with the madcap funny lady.

Also an actor, Jim’s appeared numerous times on television. You may recognize Jim as the "funny husband & dad" in any number of TV shows and national commercials such as ODOR EATERS, Hoover Vacuums,Home & Garden, SPRINT, Nabisco, GNC, Diet Seven-UP, G.E. and others. Most of these can be seen on We are pleased to present him as our latest Mover and Shaker!

Peachy Deegan interviewed Jim Dykes for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: What is the route of your tour?
Jim Dykes: I offer several Rich & Famous Tours. My public uptown tour is an exploration of Upper Eastside (old money areas) and Upper Westside ("new" money areas). We see the homes and former homes of Andy Warhol, Barbara Walters, Tom Hanks, Jackie Onassis, Caroline Kennedy, Bill Cosby, Valentino and many, many more. I talk about the Astors and Vanderbilts and tell anecdotes about how the areas developed, famous murder locations, famous private schools and clubs and who goes there and much much more. Also we go by some of the famous uptown restaurants of the "ladies who lunch...but never eat", many of the old mansions and who built them. Also we go into detail about who lives where and interesting real estate prices, values and tidbits including who was rejected from which exclusive co-ops.
Downtown Rich & Famous tours in the Village, SoHo and Tribeca are also popular..we show people some of the various night spots that are hot and always mentioned in the columns...from Bungalow 8 to Gold Bar to The Box, etc. Downtown celebs include Meryl Streep, Justin Timberlake, Brooke Shields, Jennifer Lopez, Kiefer Sutherland, the Olsens, Marisa Tomei, Beyonce, Jay Z, etc. etc. People enjoy seeing where they live or have lived. Also famous death sites such as 421 Broome St. where Heath Ledger was found dead and now 231 Layfayette where DJ Adam Goldstein was just found dead and Boy George's loft bldg where he was caught with piles of cocaine, etc. etc. Much more.

What are the most common questions asked of you on the tour?
Where did Jackie O live? How much do the apts. and houses go for? Which is the most expensive property so far? Where do they shop? Where do they eat? People also ask specific questions about their favorite celebrities and gossip column regulars.

What do you think the highlights of the tour are?
Well it's always fun to see a celebrity and on our tour we have a very HIGH percentage of celebrity spotting, simply because we've researched all the places you are most likely to see someone famous. Recently we spotted Julia Roberts, yesterday we spotted Mischa Barton. We've seen Sarah Jessica Parker, Tom Hanks, and many more. A celebrity sighting is always the highlight. Also once in Greenwich Village a multi-millionaire invited our group into his townhouse for a tour!

Who is the most interesting person you've interviewed and why?
Probably Dr. Ruth Westheimer. She's so interesting and so wise, particularly on her specialty: SEX. It's just so funny to hear an old lady talking freely about orgasms and masturbation very matter-of-factly.

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
Probably my dear friend Michael Foltz, an accomplished writer and editor. He passed away unfortunately in 1999 and I was there in the room. As sad as it was, it's such an honor to be in the room when someone either enters this world or leaves it. It changes you forever in many ways...makes you deeper.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?
Central Park ---Also any theatre (especially if I'm enjoying the show).

What is your favorite place to shop in Manhattan?
Either the gift shop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art or Urban Archeology.

What is your favorite drink?
A dry (gin) martini with three olives made by Joe the bartender on the second floor of Sardi's.

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
I really love Becco on West 46th St...really wonderful, affordable Italian food and wines.

What is your favorite Manhattan book?
Time and Again by Jack Finney.

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?
Sailing on the Hudson River.

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
The High Line definitely! Just a stroll on the High Line. Nothing like it.

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?
Gosh that's hard...I have so many favorites....I just saw the new Off Broadway revival of OUR TOWN by Thornton Wilder downtown at the Barrow Street Theatre on Thursday night. OMG...this old show is dusted off and made incredibly relevant really moved me. It just reminds the audience to live every single day...don't take any of it for granted.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
I think New York's mass transit is really is the lifeline of the city.
New York's real estate values are very overrated and hyper-inflated. Prices here are just not in the real world. My friend's father bought a building in the Village 40 years ago in the 60s for $8,000! a five story apartment building! And now that same building is worth millions! MILLIONS. I'm sorry but New York's real estate is built on sheer hype and the recession is showing that to be true, alas.

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it?
Other than Movers and Shakers, my favorite Whom You Know column is: Tasty Tidbits because I love food and eating out and I always want to know what are the latest, hottest places to try.

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
I'm best friends with actress Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson on LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE and her husband Bob Schoonover and I'm acquainted with Monica Lewinsky (her best friend is an old pal of mine).

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
Please email me at: or

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