Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Classic Movie & TV Houses


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Classic TV Houses
Whether it’s the spartan Brooklyn apartment of Ralph and Alice Kramden on The Honeymooners, or the unrealistically large New York City apartment where Monica of “Friends” resides, where a TV character lives says a lot about that person. In fact, sometimes the house is as well loved as the show.
1313 Mockingbird Lane,
“The Munsters”
The house where Lily and Herman Munster lived had a revolving suit of armor leading to a secret room, a trapdoor in the staircase and a basement laboratory where Grandpa mixed his potions.
The real-life house is actually a shell built on Colonial Street in Universal Studios, right across from the house where Beaver Cleaver of “Leave it to Beaver” fame lived. Universal transformed the house, originally built for motion pictures in 1940, by building a big stone gate in front of it. A stovepipe and weathervane were installed on the roof, and the house was landscaped with hanging moss, tumbleweeds, dead bushes, and strewn leaves.
But the house lived on, even after the show died. Most recently Colonial Street has become the setting for Wisteria Lane of “Desperate Housewives” fame. And the Munster’s house was remodeled and draped with wisteria to welcome Oprah Winfrey.

Wayne Manor,“Batman”
   Wayne Manor
Stately Wayne Manor, ancestral home to Batman’s alter ego Bruce Wayne, was located on extensive grounds outside Gotham City. The vast mansion was kept in shape by Wayne’s butler, Alfred, who had no other help to dust the bric a brac. But the real attraction was the Batcave, Batman’s HQ. Access to the Batcave from the house was through Wayne’s den by pressing a switch hidden in a bust of William Shakespeare. A bookshelf would appear, then disappear to reveal twin fire poles that took Batman and Robin under the house. The Batcave was built in a studio. But the exterior was located on five acres on South San Rafael Avenue in Pasadena
001 Cemetery Lane,
“The Addams Family” 
The Addams family mansion at 001 Cemetery Lane was filled with instruments of torture and landscaped with hemlock and poison ivy. The house was said to be inspired by creator Charles Addams’ real-life boyhood home in Westfield, NJ.
The TV series house was originally an LA home located on Adams Boulevard, which had been doctored by the set designer. To create the matte painting, the artist took the photograph of the original house on Adams Boulevard and had it enlarged to a thirty-by-forty inch black-and-white portrait. The photograph was then custom painted with various shades of colored oils. Details such as the bent television antenna on the mansion’s tower and the leafless trees flanking the house were added for mood.
Mary Richards’ apartment, 
“The Mary Tyler Moore Show”
Rhoda had dibs on it, but Phyllis gave Apartment D at 119 N. Weatherly to her friend Mary Richards. Mary’s studio apartment with its sunken living room, pass-through kitchen and large window became an icon for women as did the character who lived there. Every single gal on her own, or little girls aspiring to be single gals, wanted to live in a place just like Mary’s, with her own giant initial tacked on to the wall.
The house used for the exterior is still there, in Minneapolis where the show is set. Late in the show’s run, the producers decided it was time to move Mary into an apartment with a separate bedroom, a decision made in part by the behavior of the owner of the house at 2104 Kenwood Parkway. It seems the owner had gotten so sick of the cameras and the curious crowds the house drew that she strung up an “Impeach Nixon” sign outside to prevent filming.

More famous houses 
from films and TV
It's not uncommon for film and television productions to build elaborate sets depicting living rooms, the fronts of houses and even entire streets. Take Desperate Housewives, not one of those houses is real. Behind the perfectly maintained facades of Wisteria Lane is, well, nothing.
But, sometimes, real houses are used in films and television shows, mainly for the exterior shooting. If the show or the film becomes a big hit, those very real homes that house fake television families often achieve an iconic, almost mythic status that turns them into tourist attractions.

Happy Days 
Happy Days house
The middle class and white bread Cunningham family from the iconic 1970s and 80s sitcom Happy Days lived in a large but utilitarian looking colonial in Milwaukee, WI. The actual house used for the exterior shots, however, is located in the upscale Los Angeles neighborhood of Hancock Park, home to a large number of film and television celebrities.
The current owners of the house bought it in 1995 for $422,000 and according to property records the house has six bedrooms and only two bathrooms. What it does not have is an apartment over the garage like the one where The Fonz entertained Pinky Tuscadero and all his lady other friends.

Brothers & Sisters
Brothers & Sisters house
The sappy and successful nighttime soap opera Brothers & Sisters centers on the wealthy Walker family who live in the Los Angeles area. The meddlesome but well meaning matriarch Nora Walker, played by the legendary Sally Field, lives in an imposing and dignified Mediterranean style mansion where much of the family drama that borders on histrionics takes place.
The real house used for the exterior shots is located on a leafy street in a particularly posh part of Pasadena, CA. The current owners, a financier and his wife, bought the now famous house in June of 1990 for $2,500,000. According to the taxman, the residence measures 6,548 sq. ft. and includes four bedrooms and five bathrooms.

The Beverly Hillbillies
   In the 1960s sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies, common sense-ical dirt farmer Jed Clampett–played by Buddy Ebsen–strikes gold on his land in the Ozarks, becomes wildly rich and moves his sensationally unsophisticated kinfolk to a behemoth mansion in Beverly Hills, CA.
The actual mansion used for filming the show is located not in Beverly Hills, but in the adjacent enclave of Bel Air. The hulking 21,523 sq. ft. house, built in the style of a baronial French chateau, has an interesting history. As the story goes, a wealthy developer built the house in the 1930s as a surprise gift for his wife. When the lavish manor house was completed, the developer brought his wife to see it. Upon entering the gargantuan residence his wife vehemently declared that she could never live in such a grand house. The developer, it is rumored, never told his wife he built the house for her and eventually sold it to hotel magnate Arnold Kirkeby in the mid-1940s.
he Kirkeby family owned and occupied the palatial pile until 1986 when entertainment mogul Jerry Perenchio purchased the property for $13.5 million. Perenchio proceeded to spend years and many millions renovating the house and extensive grounds. Records show the properties main house includes 10 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms. Over the years Perenchio has bought up several of the adjacent properties, on which he built lavish luxuries like a helipad and an underground garage capable of parking 30 or more cars.

The sprawling ranch where JR Ewing schemed his way into our hearts was, according to the show, founded in 1840 and built by Miss Ellie’s grandfather, Enoch Southworth. In reality, the Ewing homestead was a built by another JR in 1970. The ranch house was chosen because it looked good from every angle and was deemed big enough at 8,500-square-feet to house an oil tycoon and his extended family. 
The interior scenes were California soundstages, but the cast and crew went out to the ranch near Plano, Texas for about three months each year to film exterior shots. Almost as soon as “Dallas” aired in 1978, Southfork attracted tourists. The owner at the time, Joe R Duncan, took advantage of the house’s fame by selling off bits of the ranch land for $25 a square foot. Duncan eventually sold the house, but he kept 124 acres of the ranch. The house itself is now a conference centre that’s open daily for tours.
Much of the interior of the big white house been preserved and maintained as they were when the show filmed there on location. Today, tours that take visitors throughout the mansion including the plush bedroom suite of the diabolical J.R. Ewing, portrayed by Larry Hagman.

Dynasty house
One can't think of Dallas without thinking of Dynasty, another 1980s family drama that revolved around the Carringtons who, like the Ewings, were a wildly wealthy oil family full of connivers and schemers. The only difference was the Carringtons were even more glamorous and their lives orbited around a mammoth mansion in Denver, CO.
The exterior shots of Blake and Krystle Carringtion's 48-room mega-manse were of Filoli, an historic estate located about 30 miles south of San Francisco in the very rich and sleepy northern California community of Woodside. The interior of Filoli was not used for Dynasty
but they were used in the Warren Beatty film Heaven Can Wait.

Beverly Hills 90210
The gorgeous Georgian style pile was built in 1917 for mining magnate William Bower Bourn, Jr. who created the name of the estate by taking the first two letters of the words 'fight,' 'love' and 'live.' The main level of the massive mansion and its 650+ acre grounds are now part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and are open to the public.
In the original high-school melodrama Beverly Hills 90210, twin siblings Brenda and Brandon Walsh moved with their family from Minneapolis, MN to Beverly Hills where to lived in a two-story Mediterranean style house in an area of hoity-toity community commonly referred to as The Flats.
The actual house is not in Beverly Hills, but rather it is located due north of downtown Los Angeles in the lovely but far less fancy city of Alta Dena, CA. According to property records the house measures 3,262 sq. ft. and includes four bedrooms and four bathrooms. The property is still owned by the same former schoolteacher owner who retired on the fat proceeds earned from regularly renting the property for the filming of the super successful show.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Image via Spike.com
Part of the plot in the iconic film Ferris Bueller's Day Off revolves around Ferris' bff Cameron "borrowing" his father's vintage Ferrari and tooling around town. At the end of the movie, the two lovable nimrods bring the Ferrari back to Cameron's father's very contemporary house where they try to run the odometer back so that Cameron's father won't know they "borrowed" the car. Disaster strikes and the car goes flying through the plate glass window of the uber-modern garage and flies into the ravine below.
That house, located in the upscale Chicago suburb of Highland Park, is currently for sale with an asking price of $1,800,000. The in need of a sprucing up mid-century modern measures 5,300 sq. ft. and includes four bedrooms and four bathrooms.

4222 Clinton Way,
“The Brady Bunch”

One of the most famous and easily recognized television houses is The Brady Bunch home that housed the most famous blended family in television history. The show took place in Los Angeles but writers and producers were careful about not identifying any specific location.
In actually, the Brady Bunch house sits on a quite street in Studio City, CA, just a mile or two from many of the Hollywood studios. Because the interior sets for the Brady's abode depicted a house with two full stories and the actual house is a split-level ranch
, a faux, removable window had to be added to the roof in order to achieve the illusion that the exterior of the actual house matched the interior sets.

The current owners bought the house in 1973 for just $61,000 and property records show that the house contains 2,477 sq. ft. and includes two bedrooms and three bathrooms. The interior spaces of the house were not used in filming nor were they re-created so the inside bears no resemblance to what is seen on the show. shelter_bradyhouse.jpg
     The Showtime program Californication, David Duchovny's character plays a tortured and sex-crazed writer who relocates with his young family from New York City to Venice, CA. The writer gets divorced and his ex-wife remarries and lives in a modern house that is also supposed to be in Venice.
In this case, the house actually is located in Venice. Known as the McKinley House and designed by architect David Hertz as his private residence, the house is comprised of four structures connected by enclosed bridges that surround an interior courtyard. Altogether there are five bedrooms and six full and two half bathrooms throughout the residential complex. The open plan, U-shaped main living area comprises the lower floor of one structure, and a rec room and pool house with a full kitchen and studio space above are contained in two others. The fourth contains the garage. All the structures open to the central courtyard and its lap pool through massive glass walls that slide open and disappear into the walls making for quintessential California indoor/outdoor living.

In the 2008 romantic comedy Nights in Rodanthe, Diane Lane goes for the weekend to a bed-and-breakfast in the actual town of Rodanthe, NC. The B&B is located in a rustic and quirky shingled and many gabled house sitting right on the beach -- in fact it's sitting partially in the water. The house was not a set but a real house that had become a bit of a nuisance for the public government after the 2003 Hurricane Isabel and subsequent storms eroded the homes beachfront and washed the septic system out to sea.
After seeing the film, a local man became smitten with the structure. He bought the house in late 2009 and moved it in its entirely to a vacant lot less than a mile away but well out of the ocean. He plans to renovate the house and make it available as a vacation rental.

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What lies beneath...

The "PSYCHO house" was undoubtedly based on a painting called House by the Railroad (Museum of Modern Art, New York) by American artist Edward Hopper. The 1925 oil on canvas is of a gray, three-story California Gothic manse against a treeless background. In the foreground is the worm's eye perspective of railroad tracks. The house is so astonishingly similar to the PSYCHO house that the casual viewer might confuse the two.
Also, the accustomed perspective of the PSYCHO house is virtually the same as its inspiration. The window in which "Mother" is seen sitting in the film is there in the Hopper painting. And even the remote setting is not without similarity. As the house in PSYCHO is cut off from the rest of the world when the new highway replaces the old, so too, might Hopper's house be equally isolated by those railroad tracks. Both houses are doomed by arteries of transportation and progress.
The dusty old house is still on the Universal back lot, but had been moved from the site where Hitchcock filmed PSYCHO. Trivia buffs will be interested to learn the PSYCHO house was in other non-PSYCHO related films and TV shows throughout the 1970's and early 80's before the sequels reclaimed it. In fact, a scant year before PSYCHO II, the exterior of the house was painted pink and appeared in the Chevy Chase comedy MODERN PROBLEMS (1981). Through the magic of movies, the house somehow was transported to the beach but cleverly enough the ocean and the house are never in the same shot.

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