Mayberry R.F.D. visit…

One of my backlot forts, upstairs- left window. It was framed with a back wall, most likely for an upstairs scene looking out. It gave us seclusion from the road behind this structure. The Mayberry Dirt Highway lies behind this home. Picture taken by me in 1974Culver City

In its Original location just north of the Gone With The Wind Train Depot. This house was relocated next to the Train Depot in 1963 to make way for “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, Jerusalem sets. If this set wasn’t connected to a TV series that was still in use, they would have just torn it down. It was needed, yet in the way of something that was bigger, budget wise anyway.

Built for the Television Show Guestward, Ho! Here is the original Mayberry R.F.D. house in 1960. Original location before being moved to a deserted spot close by.

In the T.V. Series Kentucky Jones with added front chimney (1964)

Batman cruised through here, as did Lassie, and Marlo Thomas, in a chicken costume,.- 1966-69 Batman also filmed a couple episodes at the Warner Brothers backlot. Laundry room missing…Extra chimney to change appearance

Here is the house post-1963 in its new location and slightly remodeled

Mayberry R.F.D. switched lots and this house was built at Warners also. It became most famous for the family that moved in with all those kids...But, this Desilu location saw tons of kids, right here, this was the official backlot party house. Just good clean fun!

I played catch here too…batter up!1968 Opening CreditsCulver City…C’mon Sam, Mike can do it!Throw him a hard one-burn it in Sam!

Another scene from Mayberry R.F.D., the window on the upstairs left is my fort that lasted for years. Simple boxes left over from Hogan’s Heroes were what we sat on. Some said- Wine. Some said- Explosives. We hung posters on the back wall that framed in our private room. We even had a nice carpet we installed.

Last generation of Mayberry citizenship…
I’d like to pluck herEvery actor had a fancy costume on this Desilu lot in the 60’s.This episode of That Girl is titled –Nobody Here But Us Chickens-10/9/69. They were careful how they photographed this, since this house was tied to R.F.D. at the same time.
I hope Batman doesn’t see me in this outfit”... Mayberry R.F.D. would see Arlene Golonka and even guest stars Farrah Fawcett and Teri Garr, more groovy “chicks” who may have crossed this road. Beautiful comedi-hens.
This duplicate house is at Warner Brothers and was better known as the Waltons. Located in what is called the jungle, from a 1956 film called Santiago, starring Alan Ladd. This is where this house was constructed and was then known as Doonevan Flats. In November of 1991, this house burned down at Warner Brothers.
Warner Brothers recreation…for Mayberry R.F.D.
I’ve been to these houses several times, but never did laundry, that’s kids for ya!
Interesting that article is from Orlando, 3000 miles away. Is there no Burbank Sentinel?

John Boy-Have you been smoking again?-I just missed crashing an old picture car into the porch right where the family has been rudely awakened. It slid, then stalled, just short of the steps. We left it right there, said good night in fine Walton tradition, and exited just behind the chicken coop.
Mayberry R.F.D. was part of this rural purge being referred to…

Lassie horsed around this old horse set..Desilu.
Desilu and Lassie TV series…
This lot is more ranch than studio in many ways…
Someday, I want to ride a big horse like you Dad!
My front porch when visiting this set, an artificial hillside separates this set from Stalag 13
This is a hilltop just above this farm house. Notice the empty water pond with the bridge below, and a path to the front door of this set. Gomer Pyle had a picnic there with Larry Storch and Ms. Bunny, Sgt. Carter’s girl.

This neighborhood has a lot of history. The fence is hiding the residential neighborhood behind this North end of the old RKO lot. Normal homes with normal goings on, just behind that wall.
This was the site of the Atlanta Depot, Gone With the Wind... A pond with two bridges was put in. I have seen it used in Gomer Pyle and Lassie. It was full of water then. I had access to the sprinklers and water spigots so we attempted to fill this pond back up. The studio found our project and sealed this water pipe feed before it was full, then drained it. Otherwise, we would have had our own pool.
This classic photo shows the Atlanta Rail Depot at the West End of this street that would become Mayberry a decade later. Where Scarlett is making her way would soon after become the church from Miracle of the Bells.

My picture, almost exact angle as above.

The white house top left of picture is someone’s home on Higuera street. The homes around the studio had views like this. The Mayberry R.F.D. house and a grass berm would later change this vantage point. The R.F.D. house would be a short distance from the white house in this photo.

I was able to obtain this door from Gone With The Wind. It was part of the dressing room used by Scarlett O’Hara for make-up. Outside view. She would enter with a simple twist of this handle.

Inside door view, This entire door was mirrored on the inside. The door mirror was exactly the same shape as the front facial mirror. This door mirror would catch her backside.

Notice round front mirror matches door.The scene pictured with the Black and White photo had its make up done in here. Much more on this at a later date.
Subsidiaries of Perfect Film and Chemical Corp- 1973- Culver Studios

Let’s take a tour around here... Located in the hub of the RKO/Desilu backlot, there stood an ordinary house which over time hosted its share of occupants. First, there was Andy and Opie, then Sam and Mike, then the Waltons and lastly me. I was the last tenant of this house. What good times were had – for years. We never worried about guards here, only the German Shepherds that patrolled the lot in the very early 70s. Rounding up trespassers in this wild west ranch was impossible. This was the easiest of all the lots in Culver City to access. There is not even a fence along the La Ballona Creek.

We had 4 forts going in this place at our peak. They were located in Andy Griffith’s house, the Spanish Cantina, The Ranch house from Mayberry R.F.D., where we took over Opie’s, then Mike’s upstairs bedroom and the Saloon.   

The Saloon would become our make-shift casting office. We even had a working rolling phone and used it to call random numbers from all over the country, letting them know we were famous producers calling from Desilu Studios in California. We would often order pizza from our favorite local spot and have it delivered right to the lot!  The phone bill probably red flagged the old rotary phone so our Saloon/office fort was discovered and boarded up. Other than the saloon, these forts stayed active for years. I have those stories in my upcoming book.

The Mayberry R.F.D. farm house was located dead center of this lot. You could walk in the front screen door, or just walk up a flight of stairs behind it. The smell of licorice plants is intoxicating as they sprout behind this façade. Follow a wood stairway upwards takes you to a tiny bedroom set, fit for “four” teenagers. But, the roof could hold another 4 to 6 on a busy night hanging out. It served as an outside the window floor you could sit on and be part of this room.

We would usually have music and party as the moon climbed above the Baldwin Hills and gave us all the light we needed. If this ranch house could talk, what a story it could tell. We were confronted by security out front once-but he was drunk as a skunk. So we let him go, we stayed, what’s he going to do, call the cops? This was during the filming of The Fortune

The view out the upstairs windows looks toward the old train depot, the area beneath where we would sit overlooks the scene of civil war soldiers in a triage medical situation in Gone With the Wind. At night, it’s easy to imagine the soldiers lying all around below us. It’s spooky. Behind that, a railroad ridge for Hogan’s Heroes, then finally a big mountain that frames every show ever done here. If you film this backlot, it’s hard for this hilltop not to show up. It’s the elephant in the room, if ever there was one. It’s part of the Baldwin Hills.

Ironically, the Waltons upstairs view also sees a big, similarly shaped mountain which is the backside of the Hollywood sign, in Burbank.

On one trip to the Waltons set at TBS, “The Burbank Studios” we were lucky to find a slightly beaten-up coupe with the key in the ignition. I was 14 and didn’t have a license yet, but when opportunity knocks… Besides my dad let me practice in the driveway a couple times. My first time driving a stick! After getting the hang of shifting gears, I drive my buddies to John Boy’s home. I have the idea to park the car and say good night to this most highly rated television family, but, I’m moving a bit too fast. This iconic house is quickly becoming centered between… the headlights and the hood ornament. And I can’t slow it down! Just at the moment of truth, the car decides to turn itself off like it wants us to leave! Miraculously, we are successfully parallel parked blocking the front patio stairs.

The Waltons made money before, so let’s try our luck again. Another house was built for special grown up Waltons episodes on the Warner Ranch. John Boy gets married was one, who would have guessed that? I will end this piece at what they now call the Gilmore Girls house. They built in the wrong community, the Warner Ranch will soon succumb to bulldozers and be the next backlot Same Old Song and Dance tragedy.

Written and lived by Donnie Norden…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s