This album cover type photo was snapped by Danny Hancock as we recreated a chase that took place requiring us to- jump.
Inside this home is another very basic and simple set. A stairway behind the structure takes you upstairs. There is no backing so you can be seen upstairs, it’s a nice place to visit. It lies in the outskirts of New York Street and Tarzan’s Lake. Nestled along side tall, beautiful pine trees. A couple wild walls provide some cover, you can step directly inside here from the backside. Doors only exist in the front for the illusion this is real. Curtains that haven’t completely fallen off still profide cover, if nothing else. The window we jumped from was where we would sit down and relax at under normal conditions. We picked places depending on; Our mood, our plans, and what is taking place on the lot at that moment. Often, our decisions are based off the work taking place here at MGM. Also a big factor is whose on duty in that Bronco.
Most my memories in this area were security issues, which were several terrifying moments I will never forget.
In 1972, my good friend Pat Rich, was shot at by a salt rock gun in front of this home. He branched off away from a group of us being chased thinking he would be safe away from the pack as we were all running to exit, at the closest fence we could climb. The Red Bronco was going wild, we were on the set of Soylent Green, and we all had some green in our possesion when the guard showed up under the theater marquee on 5th avenue. This story of the movie and chase will be in my new book- A Hole in the Fence.
Fast forward, 1975
Pat brings a couple friends visiting from Oregon over for a backlot tour. MGM was heavy duty with security due to a fire earlier in the week on a set just used in the movie Logan’s Run. The Girls School had just burned down, boys call it Boystown. Whatever you wish to call it, it- was a smoldering ruin. As we snuck up on it we see 5 MGM guards. My posse is also 5 guys, 2 of which don’t have a clue of where their actually at. They know it’s a studio is all.
As we peer from the Tarzan jungle, a branch snaps, a flock of birds take off creating a huge ruckus. That attracts security and the next thing you know as dusk sets in, officer Al Black comes flying in to our group and before we know it he’s on our tail and tackles one of Pat’s friends who has only been on the lot with us for ten minutes. He is apprehended as Danny and I take off running towards- then into, the Hunting Lodge.
We laugh are heads off replaying what just happened as we are on pure adrenaline. So much just happened, and we just got here. Well, wouldn’t you know, here comes a dark figure against a dark sky, it’s Al again. He handed over Pats friend to Culver City Police and is hot on our trail again. It’s the moment Butch says to Sundance-Who is this guy?- He’s really good!
We were too loud laughing, we were so pumped up. Al is like a Indian Chief who knows how to track his prey. We shut up when we see his torso outline, he walks in the door just below the window we’re up inside in. We see the top of his sweaty head. He knows we’re up here. We must wait until he gets as close as possible, all the way up the backstairs. As we see the whites of his eyes, it’s time to exit by jumping out that window. We figured, just like Butch Cassidy did in my favorite cowboy movie ever, that your not going make this jump unless you have to…we have too!
We play cat and mouse until we safely exit…
Fast Forward, 1976
King Kong is on the lot and the production company has hired bikers as security. MGM no longer secures the lot, Heathen’s do, on motorbikes. Like a modern episode of the Twillight zone episode Black Leather Jackets.
I’m by myself when I’m spotted just in front of this house. We stare at each other at 50 yards away. They’re planning and suddenly one takes the backroad behind the house while the other one is hauling ass my way. I’ve never been chased by a biker before, this is new. I hide just inside the front door as these bikes circle the Lord House with little Donnie tucked inside. I have no intention of staying here, I counter their moves. I need to get out of here. I need to make it to the designated dirt pile area across the way. They can’t chase me on there bikes in that area. I can see they don’t want me to get to the fence. I have to escape in the lot.
In between circling the home, I get my moment to take off and get to a no ride area. I can out run them on foot. They’re only chance is these bikes, my counter move works to perfection. I crawl through the weeds and hide under a building –The Courthouse on NY street. I’m like a big racoon they’re after, but this coon got away.
When Chips filmed their Phantom scenes here, in 1978, it reminded me of my Phantom real life escapades at this same.
All these stories will show up in a series of books to begin very soon. Also, Steven Bingen will have his latest book on MGM out shortly after mine as it stands now. His tremendous extrapolations on studio history our unparalleled and is must have studio literature. My books will be great companions, if you dare to actually step foot on these lots. Watch what you wish for…
Just – Be careful…As mom always says!
Written and lived by Donnie Norden…