Under the Rainbow

I’ve seen this movie before…
4 decades earlier…
Original surviving (Little People) returned for this sequel.
Selznick Studios at the time…in the 30’s.
After this show is over- you’re all going home!”– “This town’s not big enough for all of you troublemakers”
Look at those Munchskins go”
“I miss those little folk, already”
Van Buren AvenueBruce Lee lived half-way down this street while playing Kato in the Green Hornet series…”Let’s go to see Bruce!”
This is the funnest city in the Universe...
Security has its hands full…
The princess, born of a queen. How special it was to watch Carrie Fisher film downtown with Chevy Chase. Even more so -reflecting backwards.
A true princessPrincess Leia, swinging in- above. The Queen, Debbie Reynolds deserves a Culver City street named after her. Culver City has lost its roots and names of legendary actors, producers and directors should be added, especially around these backlot locals. Garland has a street, Debbie Reynolds deserves the same. This town should be all things studios – both the past and the present…The Heart of Screenland is like the Tin Man nowadays. It’s in need of a transplant.
Frank Sutton and Jim Nabors pushing the Sarge’s car to a gas station in this Gomer Pyle episode. This is now a theater in the center of downtown, in the hard to recognize, modern Culver City. Everyone from Laurel and Hardy to Starsky and Hutch filmed here. Amazon Studios is currently setting up future film making across the street. May I suggest to Amazon”Hole in the Fence,” submitted for your approval. We go way back-together, in these studios, long before you existed…
The Culver Hotel and the legendary Big Ed’s Bar, across the street. A tunnel connects the duet.
The Culver Hotel- official Hotel for Munchkin mania 1937.
The Magic BusThe Who’s Who of Little People

Almost exactly 41 years to the day have flown by- but it seems like just yesterday folks.
Notice Laird Studios on call sheet, that was the ownership group of the Culver Studios. This film uses some of the same stages as Gone With the Wind. The producers did a nice job on recreation of the craziest of all times in this city’s film history. The scenes involving Tara set recreated would have been done right here and not TBS had we kept up with the payments…Bankruptcy hit this entire corner. The hotel became low income, and the bar across the way with the checkered past sank to its lowest levels, surviving mainly as a dark movie location.
Today the bar is a distant fond memory for those of us old enough to remember and the hotel is luxury and wonderful place to stay, visit, eat, drink and listen to music. It still has charm that you feel as soon as you touch the door handles… back in time you go!
Judy Garland, in what appears to be- totally ignoring posture of the little troublemakers behind her. I wonder if LIFE magazine had a better article than what she happened to be working on…I’m going to leave this studio if it’s the last thing I do!“- I truly see dislike here! Picture taken December 23, 1937. This is one of my favorite photos all time, very rich in flavor. MGM Art Department still.
Judy’s read…1937 December 13, Life Magazine edition. Billions of dollars and Millions of men…featured story inside.
This recreation of the Tara Plantation in Gone With the Wind is on the backlot of TBS. Culver City allowed their backlots to disappear already, so the former Columbia Ranch became the featured backlot still standing.
Emerald City and Atlanta were a short distance apart, in Culver City anyways.
The Munchkins terrorized this film set. The fact is, both these movies, GWTW, and The Wizard of Oz, were in production at the same time in Culver City. That’s the tie in here.
Emerald City location. The TBS ranch, close to where Debbie Reynolds grew up.
The lovely Ms. Fisher on the backlot.
This truck was impeccable inside and out…
Emerald City…When I heard at the Culver Hotel advance locations would be at the TBS Ranch, I packed my things and headed to the valley.
Picture vehicle
Emerald City lies just beyond this old west street that was used in High Noon
One fine piece of machinery, 1930’s water truck. Behind it is scale size T-Rex
Our T-Rex doing a cameo…
I can’t stop-look out!
Same set as picture above this one.
The Gallows Pole…
This Gallow was put in for this scene.
Unfug Bros.
Emerald City...Columbia Ranch– setting up the runaway carriage scene.
The conclusion, a carriage crash, Chevy Chase just pulled Carrie Fisher to safety as the walls come tumbling down.

Roll credits...This show starts at The Queen Mary, moves to Culver City for the hotel and Culver Studio locations. For the backlot scenes, we switch to the Columbia Ranch-TBS. Scenes recreating Tara Plantation in Gone With the Wind were done at the TBS ranch. RKO/Desilu was the site of the original Tara Plantation. I have found an item of extreme interest from just beyond the original Plantation, on private property, that ties to these original films. A truly amazing discovery, a Hollywood heirloom to say the least. Coming soon…

Back entrance to Emerald City…TBS Ranch
That’s a wrap- bet you never forget this bus ride!”
Follow the Yellow Brick Road…For eternity.

Rainbows and Wizards;

When this feature was made back in 1981, I was aggressively applying to film companies and distributors of such around town. I was working for a company called Gilboy. We had movies that we shipped all over the U.S. usually six reels is the average length of a feature and they ship in metal cans. Our top movie was Star Wars. We couldn’t ship it fast enough, that’s when we all discovered for eternity Ms. Carrie Fisher.

She became bigger than life from that role of Princess Leia and most likely, bigger than Debbie Reynolds, the MGM matriarch. Once you’re a goddess from another Universe, you have reached your peak. So, this fun romp was just a throwback to a time when Culver City was overrun by dwarfs and little people. Debbie would eventually grace MGM in the fifties the way Carrie graced the Universe in the seventies onwards.

This story of the Munchkins arriving to make The Wizard of Oz had to touch a sentimental nerve in both Carrie and Debbie. Debbie would have worked with people involved with the making of the original Wizard of Oz. Carrie and Todd Fisher would grow up on these studio backlots that ringed the city.

What’s neat was all things existed in 1981 as they did in the years 37/38. Other than the backlots, which were all scorched earth by the time this recreation was made. Many of our our city landmarks still remained. The Culver Hotel being most centerpiece. A gate was built on the street named Van Buren for this film. It has Culver City Studios attached to it. The studio should be Selznick Studios and Gone With the Wind was taking up much of the studio located on Ince Blvd. The studio was Culver City Studios-in 1981, now Amazon Studios occupies this landmark.

The hotel that was described as Culver’s skyscraper looks down on all of this. It’s as rich in history as our studios themselves. They are directly tied together in fact. Previous owners besides the founder Harry Culver would include Charlie Chaplin and John Wayne. Legend has it Chaplin lost the hotel in a card game.

The Hotel opened September 4,1924, two months before the owner of the studio across the street-Thomas Ince mysteriously passed on- aboard the Hearst yacht. Way back when Hollywoodland sign glowed proudly, looking down upon its aspiring film making entrepreneurs.

Let’s just say- The party was just getting started as this corner was being developed 1918-1924. After Ince’s death, RKO and Joseph Kennedy took over and the studio took on a rogue toughness. The backlot was a wild ranch, not lined with structured game plans like were being designed by MGM. One studio had a master plan while the other – shot from the hip. Even though highly competitive, the hotel and this entire downtown was a place for studio execs to compare notes on who gets what perks and where this film business is headed.

This area came together during silent film days- The Golden Age of Hollywood.

From 1924 until the time Under the Rainbow came here in 1981, the history on this corner is second to none in all of Hollywood. 20th Century Fox, Universal, Warner Brothers are not built in a way that intersects so intimately with its potential audience. Many of our residents work on these films and movie stars are just par for the course. Paramount is centered in a way much like our Culver Studios.

A who’s who of guests have included Clark Gable, Mickey Rooney, Greta Garbo, Judy Garland, Joan Crawford, Lana Turner, Red Skelton, Buster Keaton, Douglas Fairbanks, Frank Sinatra, and Ronald Reagan. Dwight D. Eisenhower even had a campaign office inside in his run for office in 1952. Casts from Gone With the Wind and the Wizard of Oz both staying here including over a hundred Munchkins were lodged here. But entertainment was across the street, at Big Ed’s Bar

It’s famous for the likes of Desi Arnaz, Leonard Nimoy, Batman, and every studio mogul and actor in need of a stiff drink. A tunnel existed from this Culver Hotel to the bar across the street. This was a speak- easy during prohibition. Drinking never stopped around here and drastically increased during this original production. The bar had an escape route back to your hotel. From all accounts, this corner was wilder than this film portrays it.

Drinks were on hand during this remake, Chevy Chase parked his black 911 Turbo Porsche right outside its saloon doors. My dad has many stories inside Big Ed’s. The Bar is featured in the film Barfly. My dad became a member of SAG after some shrewd negotiations by me and the producer in front of this bar. I became an agent, I got my dad a trailer and healthy residuals, a huge upgrade from a box lunch and all the booze you can drink. Ohh the memories…

This corner is as iconic as any in Hollywood. Robert Stack and his Untouchables was never really able to clean up this section, since Studio execs need it to freshen up at lunch time. More than one episode has Tommy Gun’s a-blazing right across the street from this watering hole. I can only imagine Robert Stack coming in to order a drink… “No, no no alcohol here sir!”

It wouldn’t shock me to hear a booze tunnel extended into the studio administration building, but I digress.

Culver Studios was Selznick International Pictures and the Burning of Atlanta took place right down the street from the Culver Hotel and the Ince -Selznick Mt.Vernon style main offices.
What’s that title?- Hole in the Fence. “It’s true stories of kids growing up in all the cities backlots” Sounds fascinatingMaureen is proudly displaying our book in front of a building built by Thomas Ince. Now- Amazon Pictures.
I wonder if they discovered any secret tunnels headed to the bar while building their new facility. I know they overlooked an extremely legendary item over on Lucerne Ave. A silent film star dressing room of mega proportions. I’ll take you there soon enough, and you won’t believe what’s inside this time capsule of movie history…
Written and lived by Donnie Norden…

6 thoughts on “Under the Rainbow”

  1. I loved this. I had a few drinks in Big Ed’s when it was pretty much a dive bar but it was wonderful! The Wizard of Oz and GWTW are my favorites!
    Thank you

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