Hogan’s Heroes Tree Stump Adventure

Well, since we first explored this camp that one Sunday night, it has become our favorite set on all of our backlots. The Desilu lot is much different than MGM Lot 2. It is layed out like a big ranch. Lots of open space, nature, and many single story exteriors that you frequently see in the background of Andy Griffith, and a huge list of TV shows.

MGM lot 2 is a metropolis of sorts, all crammed in, as efficiently as possible. Huge skylines tower above the fences to the real world, beyond. Desilu is much more rustic. The only part of Stalag 13 you can see from Higuera avenue are the guard towers that stick up behind the chain link fence and the grassy knolls that help disguise the camp.

Stalag 13 is different. MGM Lot 3 had a prison camp, Dachau, for the Twilight Zone. Deaths Head Revisited. Combat used it; 12 O’clock also filmed it as a prison camp. But, stalag 13 has been the same set for the same show for close to a decade. Only a rogue Mission Impossible episode has penetrated these fences—that was as a third world prison and not as Colonel Klink’s inescapable stalag.

Inside the camp is a couple of tunnels used for establishing entry in and out of this stalag. Me and my pals fancy the guard towers, of which there are three. All of them nicely overlook the stalag and the Baldwin Hills beyond. The same hills we look down on from the camp are now our backdrop. Like a reverse camera angle.

Reruns can be found everyday, so we watch an episode then sneak into the camp and follow the footprints of those who preceeded us. It is as if time bridges itself, while we reflect backwards.

This camp is nestled into surroundings that keep all other sets obscure, making you feel that this is all by itself. You walk in one doorway and out another, but you’re still in the stalag. The doorways of most sets are passages to other lands… not here.

This afternoon, after school, this set is where we feel like hanging out. Pat and I make our way from St. Augustine’s to Desilu. We make our entry inside, from the La Ballona creek. Cutting through Gomer Pyle’s barracks, we make a stunning revelation… Stalag 13 is no more. All the wooden barracks are gone. The guard towers have been moved to the western street and Klink’s office is gone.

I want a dog house from Stalag 13 kennel (of which there are six), but as we get closer, we see that they are gone. I am very sad… but I think of one more place where a cool prop may still exist: The entry where the tree stump may still exist.

It’s still there! I feel an urgency to grab this… but how?   

It is very akward, tree stump akward. Real size, except this one can be lifted. It has sat at this location for a decade and today it’s going to leave…. somehow.

Things come together quickly. In a barn on Western street, we find a steel wheeled flat bed cart to move things like this.Next… a rope would make a great handle. Lucky for us, rope exists all around the backlot in every thickness imagineable.

So, we have our make-shift caravan, as we pull it up to the tree stump. Workers are still clearing the stalag for another show that is going to build a set on this site. This lot is going to get busy. No one notices or cares what we are doing.

All the paths and roads are dirt, surrounding this area, so I’m glad Pat is with me. We jockey this stump off its placement above its tunnel, where it sat forever!

It fits perfectly on our rig. This iconic movie prop is on the move… slowly!

We pass through whatever is left of Stalag 13, for the last time, and then through a gate that leads to Gomer’s Camp Henderson. I pull the rope, as Pat stablizes the rear end of this slow moving sight.

We pause in front of Goober’s gas station, wishing that we could grab a bottle of pop, like Opie frequently did.

A dramatic pause, you could say, as my tree stump sits next to a gas pump while we sit on a bench next to an empty soda fridge. We ponder the next step…

We now face the most difficult part so far… going down a steep embankment that puts us onto a cement path that runs along the creek. We remove the stump from the cart and jockey it down this ramp. It is very heavy and if we mess up, it could end up crashing into the deep end of the creek.

But little Irish Pat does not give up. Nor do I. We have sucessfully left the property with this full sized tree stump, whose top opens up to get inside. We head towards Culver High School with our cool prize.

This happens to be where we need to cut through to head to my house. It is mostly level here. One straight shot through the faculty parking lot. It must look odd. We are headed down the home stretch now. Just a few residential blocks to go.

We have to cross a major Boulevard: Culver. We will have to cross in front of an audience of cars and pedestrians. I say to Pat, jokingly, “I hope there are no cops sitting at the red light as we cross.”

People stare, wondering what in the world they are seeing, as we try to get across as quickly as possible. I shout, “school project… just never you mind.”

Funny thing is, most everybody has seen this on TV, as we go down the home stretch, or shall we say Huron. A crowd is following me. Now understand, seeing me come home with movie stuff is a common sight and does not usually gather a crowd. But this is quite a picture.

Gerald, Jimmy, Todd, Danny, and the rest of my neighborhood friends all happen to pop up out of their homework assignments see to this steel wheeled train rumble down the sidewalk, with me as the engineer. Ohh, it’s Donnie is all, with his latest prop.

This prop is about to make its way into my bedroom, where it will sit for the next seven years, until I move out. I have a secret museum developing. Every kid that comes over is so jealous and as the years go on, it gets better.

After I moved out, at age 20, my dad put it outside, where it rotted, inside and out. It is wood framed, with a composite outer skin, typical in set and prop building. It broke down over time and no longer exists… 50 years after.

If you ever wondered what happened to that iconic stump… now you know the final journey of the iconic tree stump!

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This road leads you to Stalag 13 and to the tree stump.

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The picture above is where Stalag 13 stood. The shed in the distance was next to Klink’s office and the water tower. Barracks’ rooftops and cots sit below, removed from the stalag.

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We sat parked here for a bit, planning our next move. The gas pumps and soda machine have since been removed.

Here is a link to little known facts about Hogan’s Heroes:

https://www.metv.com/lists/12-incredibly-true-facts-about-hogans-heroes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Double Standards apply on the Backlot

It is a late Saturday night. The Vets park tower just chimed 10 bells. My pal, Jimmy and I have just been cruising my hood. We stopped earlier to visit my girl, Maureen, briefly, on her front porch. I could tell that Jimmy has an attraction going on. All of us on this street are at the point now, where boys and girls can actually work together. In other words, girls are not just an object to throw fruit at!

As the clock strikes 10 pm, James and I are climbing into the MGM backlot. Dark and eerily silent, we begin creeping  around Lot 2. We know already… being a Saturday… that we won’t have any activity on the lot. Just a gaurd in a Jeep going round in circles, village to village, town to town and everywhere, in between.

Jimmy can’t stop talking about my girlfriend. He is older than I am, so that presents obstacles that work to his advantage. For one, he will have a permit to drive soon. For another, he is pretty cool. All my friends are, but I am the first to claim a female.

As we walk and occasionally jog our way around half the lot already, there are no signs of life in it, except some occasional owl hoots. The backlot is pitch dark and you sometimes have trouble knowing what you are looking at … from a distance anyways.

That is happeng now, as Jimmy and I round a corner on a dirt road, behind what we call “The Watermill House.”. A jungle lurks just beyond this set… Tarzan’s  jungle.

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The Watermill House, a must ride on this paddle. When you walk through the front door of this building, you are in the backside.

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Backside of Watermill House, below. And the road that curves into the jungle…

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Jungles are scary in the dark when you’re trespassing. I prefer New York City, just beyond the trees and forest. A road cuts through the center of the length of this forest. Jimmy keeps bringing up Maureen, as we move about, and I silently wish she was with me now, rather than with him.

As we turn the bend behind the watermill house, we are going to make our way down that long dark road in the jungle. Slowly, we both come to a stop. We are both stupified by what we think is out of place.

There is something blocking the long strait jungle path, so we stare, as we begin to see distinguishing features. I see two oval cylinders that are equally spaced apart, and I see a white glow around their radius. It appears to be the Bronco, parked. I think I see its distinguishing headlight mounts. Yes indeed, I am sure of it!

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It blends in perfectly in these surroundings, Jimmy and I  both realize at the same time, what this is… and at the exact same time, those circular cylinders light up… and this Bronco is storming towards us. Peace and serenity immediatley turn to CHAOS.

The normally quiet jungle now has the roar of an engine hauling towards us. The fence is 20 yards away and we are doing our best to get to it, ahead of this pursuer.  We run a strait line through a Greens department area. The Bronco and its occupant breathe dangerously close to our rear ends.

We hit the fence flying, as the roar of the engine churns louder. It is only then that I look back, as I am about to leap over. The guard is the imposing 6 foot 9 inch, Ron Smith. He takes up a huge portion of the windshield that is now point blank at the fence as we both jump to safety onto Arizona  avenue.

We continue to run home as we hear Ron shout from atop the fence, “I’ll get you next time!”

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Above the fence and behind the Watermill House where this chase concluded…

Yipes, that was as close as it gets…he could have run us over! I was not sure if he was going to crash into the fence. He could have easily shot us on top of the fence, and he packs a large side arm. This was our closest pursuit ever. An adreniline rush like none before.  It takes an hour to come down.

I sit safely at home with my mom, watching The Best of Groucho, just minutes later. I feel like a secret agent with a double life, innocently eating a tuna sandwich with my dear mom, my heart still thumping from my narrow escape.

16 hours later…

Today is Sunday, the day after. I am walking with Maureen, going over last night’s chase. No need to embelish last night, as this chase was better than advertised. If we are going to be a couple long term, she has to know how to handle these situations, I think proudly.

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Overland main gate … Actual chase vehicle Bronco parked below, as seen through chain link fence.

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As we continue walking the sidewalks around this backlot, we find ourselves at the Overland Gate, and guess who is sitting in the Bronco at this gate?

It is Ron Smith, last night’s culprit. I make eye contact with him as he signals me to approach him on the lot. We hesitantly proceed towards him as he simply says,”I let you get away last night,”

I think, Not Quite!… you just couldn’t keep up…

At this same moment, he asks, “who is my friend?” He has a grown man crush on my girlfriend, Maureen, it appears.

I introduce them and the next thing you know, he invites us into the Bronco, for my first friendly tour, ever. It is the same vehicle that hunted me down, late last night. Today, it is our vehicle to enjoy. Like a Twilight zone episode. He drives crazily around this desserted lot, doing donuts as we call them, showing off.

He empties the bullets out of his pistol and hands it to Maureen who is sitting shot gun. We pass  his gun back and forth, impressed. It is huge. 357 Magnum huge. This gun is as big as this guy himself. It is the first real hand gun I ever had my hands on.

I’m admiring his weapon as he admires my girl, who looks so nice in her little blue jean cut offs sitting cross legged. I spin his cylinder and blow in his gun barrel. This is one bad piece!

If only the other guards could see me now… with a pistol in the back of the Bronco. It looks like Ron is my prisoner with this big pistol and all pointing at the back of his head.. He is all about the young lady sitting alongside him and seems to have forgotten the kid in the back seat.

I’m feeling it…Maureen and I make a marvelous team, like um… Bonnie and Clyde.

He is  being so polite today… last night is rapidly becoming distant. He is becomming my pal, at least when I have this pretty blonde girl with me, named Maureen….anyhow!

I have learned a practical life lesson on this backlot; there are double standards. Pretty girls can open even the most well secured gates with just a smile and a simple wave.

Yet, for me, lace those tennis shoes tight boy… because different rules apply. Until next time Mr Ron…

 

 

Same place…different star

Well, this place around the block from me, sure is active. Day and night, what a cool hobby I am developing. Everyday, I keep tabs on this backlot that presents itself in all its glory.

Sounds, smells, and lights punctuate themselves as you walk along the studio’s fenceline. It seems that peep holes exist every 10 feet or so, in the old green fence. Most people settle for this tease, not daring to challenge the Trespassing and Loitering  Forbidden by Law signs mounted by each tempting peep hole.

That ploy worked for a long time, and I obeyed the posted signs. But, my life has become entirely altered. A complete disregard of rules by yours truly, has opened up a pulsating, adventure laden lifestyle that has become compulsively addicting.

Even at school, it’s as if I’m not present. My mind is always focussed on some show, some set, or some chase, on some backlot. I live it, I dream it, I sleep it and wake up to it.

What amazes me is that I am the only kid around who takes it to this level.

Jimmy is my best pal and he often enjoys the same stuff, yet, he is more compliant than I am. His parents are a bit more do-gooders. Jimmy’s dad is a teacher. He is scholarly. He hands out pencils on Halloween. My dad is an ex fireman and thinks this MGM thing is pretty cool.

“Just don’t get hurt” is how my family sends me off. Dad likes my updates on television shows and the sets that I hang out on. When I hear a  “NO,” I often disregard and wonder why it can’t be “YES.”

Tonight, filming is taking place. You can’t miss it… even the tops of these old massive euclyptus trees are illuminated. Lights pointing off into space. This normally pitch- dark area is extremely active tonight, inviting Jimmy and I on another adventure  of unknown origin.

“Let’s do it” we utter to ourselves. The next thing we know, we are over the fence and checking out this very active set from, once again, the church steeple in German village.

This is just like last week, when I was sneaking onto the Medical Center set. I am thinking, this may be that show again. I mention that possibility to Jimmy. We watch the show on TV for its use of the backlot.

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This view is out of the church window, second story. It often has a machine gun protruding from it and blank ammo shells litter the floor.

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The area that is green is the area that is being filmed tonight. You can’t  quite see it, but, that is the Esther Williams pool set or as we call it… The Bewitchin’ pool, from the very last Twillight Zone ever.

We can see a police car with its lights on, parked alongside the pool. We think it’s for the show and not for us, since we have not been seen. But we need to get closer, so we become very ambitious.

We actually formulate a plan basesd off how this set is arranged. We exit the lot, only to reappear right behind this park setting scene.

We climb in at a chain link fence, just behind the pool and the colonial mansion. But, we must be really slick because someone lives in this house we are climbing into.

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It is the caretaker’s house; a family lives inside, complete with a little dog. this place is occupied 365 days a year. But tonight, the adjacent garage will provide us with a rooftop to peer through the tree branches and down on this set.

Here we are on some guy’s garage, I think to myself, but we see the police car clearly. It has NYPD on it, and a black man is walking and talking to a white lady. He appears to be the star. Sprinklers water the grass behind them as the camera picks all this up. Spinklers, walking, talking, police lights flashing. This repeats itself with just the slightest variations, as time slowly spins.

The lighting is mesmerizing and it sedates us. We imagine all the shows that filmed here, prior. Decades worth, still going strong. We are very comfortable, trippin’ out, as a pesky dog starts barking.

We’ve been had by a two pound dog. We jump down and run over to the fence, chased by little fluffy mutt. An old man shouts… “Get out of here!” from his porch, and we oblige.

But not before another backlot adventure gets chalked up. Our confidence is through the roof, literally. Day or night, this place never stops.

By the by, that blackman we see, is Richard Roundtree … also known as… SHAFT.

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We were not sure what this show was, until the next day, when I found this sheet. It is the pilot and has not been on TV yet. Shaft was big at the box office and feature sequels also transpired. It starts the beginning of blacks as heros in movies and TV.

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Who is in that convertible pulling up?

Everyday, my first priority after arriving home from school is grab a friend and go hit a backlot. Desilu or MGM Lot 2, the hardest decision of my day is choosing between these lots. Lot 2 , due to it’s proximity, is on are radar…everyday.

Desilu, is a bicycle ride. Lot 2 is walking distance. MGM is at least a short visit for me almost everyday.  This fall  late after-noon day, I find myself, by myself. Well, who needs friends, anyways. They will just slow me down!

I say this reassuringly, over and over, to myself. First, as I jump down from a top the train station fence, then next as I survey the backlot from the steeple in German village. There is a tremendous amount of activity over across the field at the colonial mansion.

Cables connecting to lighting equipment run along the dusty road sides beaming with people coming and going in shuttle vans. I have a great distant view of the goings on, but trees are blocking the actual area that is being set up for filming. I cannot make it out from here, as I repeat to myself, who needs friends, they’re always afraid …anyhow.

With that reinforcement, after getting a feel for how this set is functioning, I decide to get a lot closer. I will take a roundabout path that allows me to escape since it will involve me hiding in the shrubbery just inside the old green fence.

I make my way slowly, one bush at a time, on to the next,  cutting throughy a cemetary, hiding behind grave stones. There is a steady amount of vehicles driving back and forth on a close by dirt road. It seems like it has taken at least an half an hour but I have sucessfully positioned myself alongside and inside some thornbushes, with a view that allows me see first, camera, then a director and finally a convertible that is rehearsing pulling up to the mansion.

This happens 3 times, each time very similiar. The car pulls in fast to a sudden preconcieved stopping spot, in camera, then  dialouge as the dust settles and two gentlemen step out, and walk towards the recently decorated mansion.

I recognise them quickly. One is a older gray man and the other is a sharp young guy in sun glasses. He is named Chad Everett. James Daly is the older guy.

As soon as I realized what I was watching it ended just as fast. Wrap… is called.

I backtrack out easily since the fence is close by. I run home to tell my sister I just saw her favorite actor from her favorite show.

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Medical Center…cool, kinda fun doing this one all by myself.

 

 

MGM Lot 3…67 acres of Paradise

As the decade of the seventies begins, MGM has six lots in Culver City, and one in England. The UK backlot is called “Pinewood Studios,” and is the site used for Dirty Dozen. The Chateau explosion at the show’s conclusion, as well as the bridge and pond shootouts, all took place there. James Bond has shot interior scenes on its enourmous stage, when massive sets are needed.

MGM, in Culver City, California, has six lots. Sadly, three of them are being torn down: Lots 3, 4, 5 and 6. There is enough real estate for a housing development, as well as a shopping center and more. Yippee.

20th Century Fox has already started tearing down backlots for real estate dough. And MGM is next in line. MGM Lot 3 is the best backlot of the 4 lots. The other lots are support lots for MGM’s main backlots: Lots 2 and 3. But, that’s not to say they are not fun.

Lot 5 was where I first tresspassed. The old worn out, rusty chain link fence allowed too much temptation and not much opposition. Just inside its reach is real WW2 aircraft used in the war. These planes, in this field, that is Lot 5, were my very first tresspassing experiences. Me and my pal Jimmy spent an entire Saturday playing inside them.

Normally, we would be home watching 12 o’clock high, or Combat, or Twilight Zone, or any cool reruns that may be on. But on that particular day, as it turns out, we began living our TV.

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The same bomber plane graveyard/stable location today, is now a Denny’s restaurant and shopping mall on Overland, across from Tara Hill and Raintree… where Lot 3 proudly stood forever.

Lot 3 had one main entrance… this is it. Overland and Jefferson blvd.

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The maps I show here are only a year apart. Mine was found on Lot 3 and is faded. The date 10/31/69.

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The clean one is from Steven Bingen and the must-have book, MGM … Hollywood’s Greatest Backlot. It is a collector’s must. I highly recommend all of his books. The date is April ’68.

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With that… Let us enter for the last time… shall we?

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Can you find this village? It is in the bottom, right hand corner of the previous aerial shot.

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Above: I was fortunate to slip below deck on this Pirate ship, Mayflower.

Below: The paddle ship, Cotton Blossom. A full size steam boat capable of navigating this partially jungled lake. This place is much like Disneyland, but with weapons. The entire lot is an E-ticket ride.

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The sky backdrop… backside angle. Any citizen in Culver City, back in the day, will remember driving down Jefferson Blvd and seeing this humongous structure towering above the old green wooden fence. An image you do not forget. Changing weather patterns happen almost daily, depending on what show is filming directly in front of this massive screen.

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The World, The Flesh, The Devil filmed behind this backing in 1959. It stars Harry Belafonte, and also uses Lot 2 extensively. The show includes wonderful NYC photography done early on a Sunday morning, to get the expansive, deserted shots needed.

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The channel that cuts in a parallel direction here, allow water to stay even, in a seamless way, on camera, rather than flap against the side. Special effects is always involved in scenes that are filmed in this water basin. Scenic painters can create and paint any weather needed, then effects will blow or create wind from large airplane fan blades. Sound has to be recorded or dubbed later, due to the noise of these real WW2 aircraft. But, combined with water spray at the same time, violent storms can be recreated. For dialogue scenes on the waterfront, a large D.C. fan blade is used to create breeze. This direct current apparatus is silent, depending on the blade setting. The type of fan I just described is known in the business as a Ritter Fan.

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Water or weather scenes always have some type of fan, or in most cases, many fans. Waves are created with heavily weighted rotary devices that spin and pound the water.

Today’s cheaper shows use Jet Skis to chop the water. Otherwise, you have a big flat pond, or lake. For oceans to behave like oceans, SPFX is on hand with all kinds of tricks. The backbone of the motion picture industry. When men were men. No CGI.

Ice Station Zebra Base Camp was shot on Lot 3 in the tank as it is called. European street also has a couple of scenes from one of Lot 3’s last movie productions… below

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Above: The backside of the Church. Below: The frontside.

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Combat has a thing about blowing up chuches. Both on Lot 3

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Below: Lot  … What a great  TV show, and the most regular user of Lot 3’s backlot.

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Water reflection…

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Same village, different angles… different years and decades!

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Above: The Church steeple view of the surrounding sets. This cobblestone village is surrounded by the old west’s… DUST!

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The foilage sticking up in the background is hiding the barb wire fence that separates those whotrespass from those who don’t.

Looks like a couple trespassers are headed our way now. Yep, thought so.

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Always remember to carry your Magic Dust. It is proven to work… just ask them.

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Let Rod introduce our next episode… Lance Mcgrew

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What I like here is the truck driving around in the hills, in the background of this SHOWDOWN. It is the white dot center of pic.

This lot just makes me want to play HOOKIE all day with my dog.

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Drummhead road on studio maps is eternity road for Mr Simpson and his dog RIP

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Above: Brimstone blowing in the breeze.

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RIP caught wind of it… this ain’t heaven

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Finally, St Peter …or just a hard working angel. Here Mr Simpson says, “that otherplace down the road would seem like hell without RIP.”

He is told that otherplace is hell, and RIP was warning you when he caught a whiff on that brimstone…

“Mr Simpson, a man will walk into hell with both eyes wide open, but even the devil can’t fool a dog.”

I love this episode so much I have watched it with at least 8 dogs… seriously!

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Just over the top side of the hill in the background is a really steep dirt bike incline. Locals know it as SUICIDE hill. It is legendary. It is also extremely difficult to ascend. The name SUICIDE was coined because if you lose traction going to the top, you fall backwards as does your motor bike. It usually ends with your bike nailing you a couple times.

Entrepreneurs, or bikers without mufflers, have been known to get paid cash for turning off their engines and leaving this site. Reason being, the engines can be picked up on sountrack. The old west can’t have an engine running amok on their sound tracks. Bribery became the effective and expected way to resolve this issue created by a small few dirt-riding teenagers.

I would  say, “I’ll trade ya, my motor bike for that horse over yonder.”

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These two photos above are Jerry Lewis in Family Jewels. 1967, the hills backdrop never change much. This is just outside Lot 3. Before WLA college.

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Billie Rose’s Jumbo set starring Doris Day. I am amazed with all the oil derricks in background.

Below: Production still of the same area.

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Below: Lot 3 is also Peaksville, Ohio.IMG_1933.jpg

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Just keep thinking… happy thoughts!

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Same set, Cloudy street…. above and below

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Tony Vallone, a real life Boystown stow away,  provided me with many of these production stills. He was an actual transplant from Boystown Nebraska. He got his foot into MGM while filming the classic movie at that location… He came back to Culver City with the company and was put to work in MGM’s Art Dept.

We two bad boys quickly became friends. He was much older yet… bad is bad no matter how you cut it. He did his time at Boystown, I did mine at St Augustine’s. Right across the street from the MGM Art Dept, ironically.

Sister Shielia was much more difficult than Father Flanigan could ever be. Maximum security parochial school… they will beat the right answere into you… no day dreaming here, fellas.  But, Bless their heart actually… because they made me smart!

Speaking of terror…

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This set is called Fort Scott on studio maps.

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The pictures below are the same Dachau camp or Fort Scott

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Screen clips next of… Mr. Denton on Doomsday, episode 3, 1959

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All westerns start with a camera pan facing Baldwin Hills which is why these sets stand where they do.

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So cool, Martin Landau… Bad ass

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Lot 3 fake rocks set

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Dan Duryea has seen better days… above

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Back in the Saddle again… riding in to town by the light of the moon… here comes the posse

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Enter… Doug Mclure

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Below: Ooops, there is that mysterious silver bottle.

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No winner here boys!

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Just say this was a service call…from Henry J. Fate

This set is just walking distance to this set, episode 5, 1959

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If you know Culver City, Marycrest Manor is nested up in the trees a top that mountain in picture below.

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“Hi” little Ronnie Howard… Ron is one of three little boy icons of their time, the sixties, and all of them have scenes shot on Lot 3. The others… Billy Mummy and Kurt Russell. The latter appeared in a Man from Uncle episode. I worked with Kurt on Escape from LA, one of the cool guys in the business.

I was fortunate to work with Director Ron Howard on the Grinch movie. A gentlemen named Monty Menepeace was the best boy on this feature. He also worked with Ron on Andy Griffith, decades earlier. He knew my history on these backlots and told me to reminisce with Ron when the time is right.

Well that opportunity happened at the craft service table, one afternoon, during the shoot. It started with this line, by me… “Ron, did you have as much fun growing up in Desilu as I did?”

After a puzzled look on his face, I said,” yeah I snuck in all the time. After your show was cancelled, we turned the upstairs of Andy’s house into a fort.” Then, to keep momentum going, as he started to reflect, I told him about having Hogan’s Heroes tree stump story. It ended up at my house, by the way.

He told me how he used to love to ride his bicycle around the lot, and so did I…

He told me he was just there, at the industrial park that once was Mayberry. He wanted to  share stories with his daughters on the section of land that they took place on.

So this huge star still reflects back on that simple, special time in history… when we were all innocent, and a place called Mayberry existed ….so, so cool!

By the way, this class act, Mr. Howard, threw a surprise party on a stage at Universal for that best boy Monty, who was to retire after this film. Mr Menepeace was so deeply moved, a perfect way to cap a marvelous career. I will never forget it. Class stuff!

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Everyman wants to go home again!

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Production still

Below: Kurt Russell in Man from Uncle.

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Uncle helicopter taking off at Lot 3.

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Man from Uncle, same set, different episode. Pyrotechniques happen all the time around here!

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Same spot the helicopter is flying over.    above/below

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This is MGM Lot 3 property line and the fence seperating good and evil.

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Tarzan filmed this jungle on Lot 3 and it starred Johnny Weissmuller. The elephants were kept at MGM. The problem was that they were Asian Elephants and the Africa location needs African ones. So cleverly, make up put prosthetic ears on these smaller eared pachyderms so they would look authentic.

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Welcome to show buisness my massive 4 legged Asian friends.

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Below: Overland, view looking east.

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Below: Jefferson is the street on the left.

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My remembrance… the sun was just setting as my pal Jimmy and I were riding all over, behind Lot 3 on our sting rays, staring through the chain link fence. It was a Sunday night, close to Holloween, as the clocks had just reset. It was rapidly getting dark and the decade of the seventies has just started.

We always observed this place from fence lines, streets, and knott holes in the fence. But tonight, this just looked to easy. So we hid our bikes in the flood control channel along the rusted, chain link fence side and easily climbed in.

It is dark now, and we use the darkness for cover as we run first to old trains that are stationed on tracks along the fence. We can see this part all the time, so we quickly ran  through the old west, towards the church steeple.

There we are, on a cobblestone road that crosses over a little bridge, above a small lake. A pirate ship is docked in it. First, we just soak it all in. This church is in my show Combat, all the time. We stand in amazement and then peek inside, only to find it is open in the back. Not a complete set. It is pitch black outside now with zero lighting inside this place.

We carefully walk a plank and board this massive 3 sail ship. We go below quarters and feel our way around. As we climb up some rope rigging, we are blessed to see a huge full moon rising above the 3 story rooftops on St Louis street. Behind them oil derricks in the hills share this big moonlight.

We are not scared. There is nothing here to be afraid of. Plus, you can’t be scared on a pirate ship, mate. I was more like Peter Pan, climbing all over this ship’s rigging.

We climbed off board and walked down New Orleans street. It is an awesome feeling to see these dimly lit structures, as the moon shines inside the windows we are looking out of… oil wells can be heard slowly churning, as a couple of owls find interest in us.

This is like being in a candy factory after it is closed. I will never forget this magical night… a night that helped start it all in my passion for these backlots, in the years that are coming.

Lot 3 is gone now, but never forgotten. I hope you enjoy this remembrance, and stay tuned for the 70’s decade of studio backlotting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who shot P.R

That is what we need to know… who is trigger-happy around here? The sooner we know, the better. As time goes on, we see different tendencies attached to the revolving door of security guards. They are all a mixed bag of nuts. Some are spicier than others… some so hotthey shoot.

We can forsee how the day… or night… will go, based on who is behind the wheel. We know more about them than they do us. Jim and I are now beginning a campain to meet these gentlemen… at their posts or guard shacks. Just to innocently talk MGM history with the men who have kept this wonderland secure all these years.

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Did you do it?

Simple enough… inflate their ego, as they describe their favorite stories… tell me more, tell me more. The first guard we approach is working Lot 1, the West Gate on Overland. His name is Ken Wood. As it turns out, a couple questions about the backlot turns into ten minutes of stories… soon, we are comfortable enough to tell him that we sneak in, just to see the place we are in awe of.

Then we spill the beans, mentioning we were shot at a couple weeks ago in a chase on the backlot… we ask, “who would do such a thing?”

His response is “well,  if you do use your revolver, there’s seven pages of paperwork involved.”

I think to myself... seven pages to shoot a kid! …it’s that acceptible?… No problem about the shooting, but all that darn paperwork!…

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Did you do it? …Les Green

Ken allows us to make ourselves at home as we sit in his official chair and spin in circles inside the shack. He is too nice… really, he is!

As Jimmy jokes outside with him, I am reading memos and production sheets. This is a library of important info. Ken tells Jimmy the name of the stocky, bald guard who worked that weekend: Bob Coleman. Better yet, he also drives a green Bel Air.

Then he jokes… “Bob is a boxer, but I think the only boxing he ever did was apples, in Yakima valley,” as he laughed at his own humor. I am in love with this Ken Wood guy. He works this gate all the time and enjoys our company, it seems.

He fills us in on anything we ask him about. An African American gentlemen named Al Black stops by briefly to drop something off at the shack. Call sheets. They are like Gold.

Al puts up a clipboard with Shaft and Medical Center featured as backlot prep and shoot. Both to be in close proximity of each other on the backlot.

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Al Black…Overland Gate also known as West Gate. The closest gate to Lot 2.

Al and I would shortly become good friends, and he knows Wilt Chamberlin!

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Al is a huge Laker fan. He will clown around with you when you’re on the legal side of the fence… but he is all company when you cross the line. Well, I can’t help but think of what it would be like to be chased by Wilt.

We have just met two key figures, both presently and even more significantly in the future. We have achieved even more than we expected.

We bid a fond farewell, saying, “See ya next time, Ken,” as we almost crash into each other riding home… laughing all the way…

We know the shooter’s name… Bob Coleman. We know his personal car and where he parks, when on duty. We also know he carries a gun on duty… and is willing to do seven pages of paperwork, apparently. From this point forward, his nickname for us is “Bronco Bob.”

We know more about him than he does us. Excellent. Daringly, we take our info to the backlot and find some paint. Then we paint a sign and stick it up, at an intersection he can’t miss it. It says BRONCO BOB IS THE SHOOTER! We do this while he is on patrol. We know because his car is where Ken said it would be, and we hide to watch his reaction.

Let’s just say, he slams on his brakes, jumps out and takes the sign away, in anger.

That makes 2 for us, 0 for Bob. Not only can he not catch us, he does not even know who he is trying to catch, shoot, or run over!

We have the upperhand, as it turns out. If you have questions on security, who better to ask than... security? Ken can’t say enough, as we find out. We are just his laugh track.

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The same gate, thirty years apart (above and below).

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South Gate…on Culver blvd. Across from Backstage bar that Combat actors drank at after work. Shots for all, after a hard day playing Army.

Garth Bluff, in the color picture above, is second in seniority and 32 years (and counting) as an MGM guard. He lives a sling shot away, back by the Grand Central station. I would later visit with him at his home. A real gentlemen, he would not shoot a kid. You can see the lot towering in the sky, from his front yard. We would become friends.

We can now go over who is being paid to secure this wonderland.

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Roll call looks this way…Ken Hollywood number one seniority officer.

#2 Garth Bluff

#3 Ken Wood, not to be confused with Hollywood Ken above. He is the one that opened doors for us to meet the men who would chase us. In the future, he was the one that introduced me to Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly.

#4 Al Marioenzi. In the near future, he gives me a tour of the Thalberg building and Louie B. Mayer’s enshrined office. I sat behind the desk of this Hollywood mogul. Al is also a patron of St. Augustine parrish. He shared a story about the Marx brothers, while in Louies’ office… that they took off their clothes while waiting for him to walk in. Creepy… that’s the story he chose to share.

#5 Ron Smith, all 6’9″ of him. A loner who carries a 357 magnum. Clint Eastwood would be proud of this piece. He doesn’t hang with other guards and is friendly but, game on if you tresspass on his watch.

#6 Bob Coleman, Bronco Bob. He IS who shot at P.R.

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Bob’s green Bel Air is parked in this screen shot, he parks there when on duty on backlot, just as Ken told us.

#7 Fernald Millintz.. a fire inspector. He patrols, looking for hazzards, but will chase you if he sees you. He has his own fire vehicle, a mid sixties Falcon.

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Here he is… asleep at the wheel (above).

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Another security napper… above.

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CCPD is a phone call away… missed again!

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The East Gate Exit…Lot 1. Bye Mr. Hitchcock.

Next … A pictorial tribute to MGM Lot 3… soon to be bulldozed. Don’t miss it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soylent Green … at night

Pat sits across from me, obviously still shaken by his ordeal. His first words are… “Why did he go after me? There is one of me and ten of you!” “Never mind that,” I snap back. Then I asked, “Did you get a good look at him?”

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PAT… in his Ted Evans Motorcycle hat and shirt

“Yeah,” he said, “he was hanging his bald head out the window, shouting ‘Stop! Or I’ll shoot!'” Okay… there is one guy we see often, with a bald head, I ponder. I have seen him on foot before… he is short and stocky. Jimmy was not with me this afternoon, but he needs to know immediately that the rules have changed. Shooting is acceptible.

Pat continues, “he aimed the gun and yelled… ‘Stop!’… and I jumped through an open  window into the hunting lodge. Then he fired!”

“Yeah, he was burnin’ rubber all around the lodge… I could see it from the fence. He could have caught a handful if he realized these guys were scared stiff,” I retort.

I continue… “I bet those shots made you pick up your speed a little bit… I always told you you’re slow… good job Pat, you saved lives today.”…”man those shots were LOUD!”

We need to find out more about this Bald guy. As I tell Jim, this is a bit disconcerting. It has been going so well, this backlot trespassing thing. We almost simultaneously come up with a plan. We will ride our bikes to all the guard shacks on Lot 1, in the weeks ahead, casually visiting bored guards. We will put on our best young man charm and dig for information regarding this mean bald guy.

Time to do backlot homework… on guards and their tendencies. Finally, fun homework!

But there is more filming going on before that takes place and we will have to fly blind, for now. Nighttime, though much more scary, may be a safer alternative. Anyway, the next filming will be Friday night, a chase scene, involving Charlton Heston and Chuck Connors. It’s on my call sheet!

Well, Pat is a trooper. He wants to return to the scene of the crime with me tonight, this last Friday before Holloween. I would understand if he was a bit gun-shy. But… If you fall off a bike, get right back on! So… If you get shot at while being chased, shoot back! Same idea. Pat has moxie, I like that leprechaun.

We can’t pick our guards. We play the hand we are dealt.

The lot looks fantastic at night, lit up enough to be seen from space by the Apollo astronauts. Pat and I get in at the opposite end of the lot, at the train station. It is still the safest way to start and is the closest set to my house. Once inside, just follow the lights.

From the look of the set, the camera is setting up in front of the public library. The very first scene of the night is being set up. Transportation has parked picture cars on the street, in front of it. Across the way, but out of view to us, is an alley way that history will show has had more shootouts than any alley in the world. This alley exits to a cemetary set that Decorations just created. We are in the same building that we watched the scoops do their job from, last week.

We are looking out windows and curtains, as Set Lighting’s arc lights penetrate our veil, eerily. We notice graffitti on the wall behind us, lit by a bluish lighting. It says, Merry Christmas from 20th Century Fox. St. Valentines Day Massacre  12/21/67. This gives me chills… a moment in time captured on a wall forever! Another show I need to see!

This warehouse set below was built inside a garage on Brownstone street for this climactic scene…

Chuck Connors is shooting it out, as I speak. The Rifleman is after Omega Man. Round after round of blank ammo, firing away. Blanks are just as loud and fire discharges from the barrel, just like the real deal. Makes me proud to know there is a mountain of blank cartidges inside a warehouse close by.  From this same window, you could have seen Pat get shot last Saturday.  I have seen this movie, like a trailer. Reality and show biz walk a fine line, in this gated paradise.

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We can see Charlton better when in between- filming. His trailer is below us. As is catering. Turns out, there is a crew dinner at mid-night. But, we also see MGM security mingling around. We go on the roof, just below the massive cat walks and soak all this in. Our vantage point now is similiar to the owls who watch from those same catwalks.

There are two owls that we see every evening and I find the spot where they sleep during the day. I wake them up one day, exploring above the alley set. There is a stack of critter bones under their relaxation areas. I wonder how many shows they have watched. Caterers and food attract rodents and then these guys swoop down for the kill. Being in the business I’m in... Trespassing… I will cross paths with these birds …often.

This set tonight has stars… not the million extras the day scenes had. Just the heavies showed up tonight. An intimate little chase and shootout. We have had more people involved in our shootout than this show has. I look over and relive our chase, in between the filming of their chase scenes. This is a really cool feeling. Like we are making our own history.IMG_1448.jpgIMG_1450.jpg

The view we had on the caterer from the top roof of the picture just above this one.

We case the catering area, as drivers’ lunch begins at 11:30 pm. Problem is… we are not old enough to drive and do not look like Teamsters. That plan probably won’t work… to eat lunch with grizzly show biz drivers and B.S. with them while we get our food… “Yep, I traded my 10 speed KenWorth for a 12-speed White Freightliner… I love driving the open roads… pass me the ketchup would ya brother?”

No, too much can go wrong here, we just do not look like truckers! They look gnarly, much tougher than guards. Tatoos, pony tails and red bandannas… I just started shaving a year ago, and I look like a catholic boy. Pat looks worse… he is so short, he would need a booster seat to drive a big rig. These are the things you think about when you become hungry and bored.

If something goes wrong with these guys… we could be getting chased out of here by a honeywagon, or a motor home, or the big mean water truck that is wets down the street.

We decide to leave, as the clock strikes midnight… the latest I have ever trespassed. For now anyways..

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Another show is being filmed at MGM, it is called Westworld. MGM is still producing quality movies as we move towards 1973

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This show would have been filmed on Lot 3… but it was sadly torn down. I will post  a photo tribute to Lot 3 at a future date. I have much to share…

The backlot used for the western street scenes were filmed at The Burbank Studios backlot. This is the first MGM feature that needed to find a western street, due to the sale of Lot 3.

The decimation of MGM Lot 3 starts the official decline of movie backlots. Lot 2 does not have a western street, but Desilu has a mighty fine one… just ’cause it’s always fun to play hookie as a cowboy. I am eyeing a saloon on that street that would make swell fort.

Coming soon… Who shot Pat Rich?

 

 

 

 

Soylent Green

Going to school five days a week is a grind. I ride my bike and leave early every morning. My journey to St. Augustine happens to lead me along the studio’s fence lines. First, I pass the backlot, and I peek through the many existing holes as temptation stares back at me. Eventually, I arrive at school, with an arm full of books and Pee Chee folders and a head full of MGM daydreams.

This is my normal routine, but on this morning, I am flabbergasted by the images appearing on the backlot side. It is as if a circus had arrived. Tents, with movie extras in rag tag looking clothing dominate the landscape. There is a calm order as people are dressed by wardrobe, touched up by make up artists, then fed breakfast by caterers. I can see all of this from a hole which has transformed itself into my personal TV set.

This hole is about 12 inches wide and 2 inches in lenghth. Strategically placed, it is the best hole to see things from on the entire fenced lot. It is located on Montana Ave., just south of Overland. New York street towers above this fence.

Trucks of every size and shape are squeezed into the perimeter of this massive set. All this is in the foreground of my hole. Orange dump trucks, some parked, some driving, are being positioned on the the iconic N.Y.  street, itself—the street most famous for MGM musicals. I have no idea what I am looking at quite yet, but I must head to school  or I will be tardy. All day, my body is in class, but my mind is on the backlot.

I tell my best friend, Pat, a leprechaun looking lad who is tough as nails. He is going to go with me when the school day ends, to figure out what is going on at lot 2. I have a couple of other pals who have been bugging me for a tour and I am inviting friends from both Culver and St. Augustine for a large site seeing tour this Saturday.  That is still days away.

Today, Pat and I will take the plunge into the backlot under feature film conditions.  That means people are everywhere you turn, on this set. As the clock on the school wall hits 3 pm, Pat and I are on our bikes heading to the circus. We stop and peek inside the same hole that captivated me this morning. Let me just say that it’s even better now.

KAOS is being filmed. Garbage trucks that I saw this morning, are scooping people up on the streets. I told Pat this is going to be cool… but not this cool!

We climb in at the train station, after parking our bikes and dumping our books off at my house. I have never seen so much activity on the lot. We encounter set “dressing;” craftsmen are positioning props, such as tables, chairs, and porch lights, to give a different look to a regular old building. Obviously decorating the mansion for another show. They see us walk by, watching us, as we act like we belong. The Bronco passes by without seeing us… another plus.

We arrive at the perimeter of NY street after a long methodical, calculating  journey.  On the way, we identify the movie through a cardboard sign in a car windshield,  Its title is called Soylent Green.

We climb to the top of a five story building to observe below. The fence is a short distance away from this structure, which is handy in an emergency. There is a guard on set that we recognize. He seems to be guarding the large craft service tables, full of delicious looking goodies. We see the iconic MGM sign and water tower in the distance from our perch. The Lion is roaring today.

We cannot believe what we our watching. There is a huge building getting the brunt of the action and it obscures our view. This is the hub of activity as rioters are being scooped up.

As time passes, it is starting to get dark. The assistant director calls a wrap and immediately, like ants below, things are rapidly put away. That is our queue to leave also. We glide to my house, still captivated by what we just witnessed. No one in my neighborhood has a clue about what is going on just a couple blocks away.

Everyone is locked into their daily routine. Mine happens to include backlots. Anything can and does happen here.

Word spreads like wild fire. Two schools are impacted and many kids are becoming curious about this event. Extras are being used and many locals, or residents without jobs, are in this mob scene. 20 dollars and a box lunch are the offerings. I arrange a time to meet at my house, for a grand tour, this Saturday. Be there or be square!

There is still more filming before then, as I am reminded, on my way to school the following morning. Day two… more of the same, but by Friday, the entire set is empty of actors and extras. Just workers moving stuff around.

I figure it is over with, now, and it’s a set strike, so, when I give a tour tomorrow, we will be hunting souveniers in this area.

A sunny morning is upon us and the magnitude of what we are about to do is apparent by all the biycycles parked in my driveway. Pat brings a couple guys I never met who go to Venice High.

Gerald, a kid on my block, also brings guys from Culver. Pat and I are Catholic boys and three schools are represented here. We strart by playing with my Combat ammo magazines… we pour out the gunpowder, then light it. Enough said…

This fires everyone up and the mission is on. “That is a sample of what awaits,” I  proudly say. By the time we get to to the tracks, we have a dozen kids. I don’t know all their names so let’s call them The Dirty Dozen.

I lead them down the train tracks as I think to myself, this could backfire… too big of a crowd. But, I will get away for sure, if we have a security issue… These guys will be lost inside here.

This mission starts like a game of follow the leader. We have all day and plan to cover all we can. We are very adventurous, due to all of our experience in recent months, of doing this stuff. We visit all the same stuff we visited earlier… same sets, different kids.

Train depot first. Kids love trains. Snow room next. Kids love snow. Then, we run into German Village. We look at Combat bomb craters that still exist on this street. A moment of silence for the greatest show ever. Everyone sees the battlefield that my ammo was used in.

Very impressive, indeed. I am a rockstar at the moment, and The Dirty Dozen follows me like puppies.

We run across an old foot bridge that extends over the lake and into the jungle. There, we try to silently weave our way through the jungle. We are close to the Soylent Green set.

We approach as cautiously as a mob can. New York Street towers beyond this jungle and we are close. These guys want souvenirs, and so do I. I think the best place is the huge building that was a hub in the rioting scenes I saw earlier this week.

We run across a New York street. There are about 10 intersections around these parts to give the appearance that it goes on forever. The building we enter is big enough to hold an airplane.

Inside is Soylent Green and Soylent Red, and smashed windows and glass everywhere. It hasn’t been cleaned up and it is exactly how the shot was finalized. We walk into that moment of time. We all stuffed our pockets with this colored bread. Rolls, biscuits, and dyed bagels. We do not know what this show is about and I am like a detective. I am figuring that Soylent Green is food… that is what this set is about, hence the name.

At that moment, I see a call sheet on a table and that is a treasure. All the info I need to plan ahead. This is gold. I stuff it in my back pocket. Each pocket on my blue jeans is full. The Dirty Dozen has filled their pockets also. We are packing Soylent Green.

I fulfilled my obligation at this point. I delivered this group to a huge movie set and we are leaving with the coolest souvenirs, so that we can relive the whole event again, when this show comes out. Confidently, I walk out under the famous theater marquis that extends onto 5th avenue. This is the hub of New York street. You have seen it a million times.

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This is the front of the theater street where this part begins…

I am still buzzed from our find, when I see, then hear… the Bronco speeding towards us… Oh darn! Decisions… deciscions… everyone stares like a deer in the headlights.

Waiting on my move, I pivot and run back inside. A quick 180 degree had this group tripping all over themselves… literally, as everyone runs into each other. The Bronco is hauling ass. I reckon he’ll get out and run inside, lookin’ for us. But the guard stays behind the wheel and chases the one rogue kid that goes on his own. That would be Pat, my pal from St. Augustine.

He diverts the security away from The Dirty Dozen, and I use this moment to run quite a distance, to the fence. Fake palm trees are blocking the fence. They are laying flat, are tricky to navigate… if you’re scared. It appears this group is.

I sit on top of this section of old fence and survey my troops, when suddenly, there is a clowd of dust, a motor reving and a guard shouting, “STOP!” Low and behold …two gunshots!

Pat takes one for the team. Catholic boys are tough, mind you. Now a syndrome identified as rubber legs kicks in. None of these guys can climb, they are so scared. I climb back in to help a couple of guys get back out, I could have been home safe already.

Eveyone makes it, as they topple over to safety… like their life depended on it. We all run back to my place, minus one.

The bikes leave rapidly, in sucession, never to return. Their one memory of MGM. Enjoy your Soylent Green!… Any more volunterrs?

I wait an hour, as the last bike operator arrives… Pat… safely. No blood, no holes, just a bit dirty.

I sit him down and pour him an ice cold Hawaiian Punch, then calmly ask…

“What just happend?”

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This ravaged call sheet was in my back pocket during the chase.

Guest starring … Maureen

I wish to share this entry written by Maureen herself. It is the same story…HURON . What is unique is this is her tale, same afternoon. We had not seen each other to talked in well over thirty years.

She was at a high-school reunion as conversation quickly turned to MGM stories. Everybody has them in this city. A mutual friend told her about the stories or memoirs I have been writing. Next, thing you know, she came knocking at my front door.

My folks have passed on, and I have returned to the scene of the crime.  I live on Huron… again. She looks the same now, as she did then. We hit if off like yesterday. A wonderful reunion. Our lives, of course, have important people in them now… kids—now grown up—and spouses. But our conversation was all MGM.

And, the decade of the seventies. It turns out it is not just me who cherishes those times. I am thrilled that my old pal has shared memories with me about that decade. I only have a few members left from my Hole in the Wall gang. These stories are priceless to most who have, at any time, put their boots on the ground, in MGM’s historic back lots.

This is for those veterans. And today, this story is by Captain Maureen. She earned her stripes! This post is her take on the previous Huron story… Enjoy!

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Maureen and her nephew… notice MGM in background…German village and China St.

Her words…

Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, it was boys vs girls on our block. You would have to scan the tree line when you ventured outside for Donnie and his side kick, Jimmy. They would pelt stuff at the girls from the sycamores that tower over our heads.

I first caught a glimpse of this boy with strawberry blond hair while he was stealing apricots from my tree. He would use my backyard as his personal short cut, while playing “war” with his friends. I kept an arsenal of oranges, or whatever fruit was ripe, handy, in case he ever got within range.

Then as we entered our teens, things changed. We began to coolly observe each other from across the street. We even talked to each other. I asked him, “where did you get such a real-looking helmet?”

He responded, “MGM,” before inviting me to go inside with him. I said “yes,” without hesitation.

So after that, I would sneak into MGM with Donnie. I had no idea what to expect. All I really knew was, there was an ominous fence around this place, with no trespassing signs posted all over it. But now, I would get to see the other side!

We began by climbing loosely hung barbed wire, which was draped around a pole. There were wide open spaces forever, it appeared. What a backyard this city boy has… I thought.

He warned me of the dangers we could face. “They might chase us and we can’t get caught, so don’t make much noise… be on hyper alert, and follow him to escape.”

“OK… got it,”  I answered.

Donnie took pride in showing me around. I was genuinely surprised about his knowledge of these sets and films attached to them. It was really hard to believe this 13 year old, apricot-stealing boy from the neighborhood, would know so much about old movies. He seemed earnestly in awe of each set and was very respectful to this place. It was not just sneaking in “for fun,” but also a privilege.

To this day, I am not sure if this was our first date or just kids playing. Either way, it is one of the best memories of my life. My personal tour guide would take me on many adventures through MGM, in the years to come.

I’m glad I had that apricot tree, growing up!

Shad Maur.jpg

Well I applaud her for sharing this same event through a different set of eyes.

Ironically, shortly after, she would move from Huron to Elenda. The above picture is her in the carport of her apartment that sits directly across the street from our lot. It gets better: her bedroom window was in front of the building and looked directly into the backlot. Like having a legal fort… so cool.

Lots of MGM stories will take place in the image shown above, both on and off the lot.

Let’s just say, I climbed that fence across the street a million times… or at least it felt like a million times.

Thanks Maureen for being a trooper!