Garrison’s Gorillas

Selmur Productions 1967 – Comic books meet the backlot.
This tiny village became the most frequently liberated in all backlot folklore... The cover of the comic was photographed on this bridge below the steepleMGM Lot 3
The Backlot Raid begins…
Infiltrate this setting…
This train station has been bombed and machine gunned all through the entire decade of 1960’s. Combat first pelted it non-stop in “What are the Bugels Blowin’ For”
Combat- station under heavy bombardment. Years later, the Rat Patrol raced it’s jeeps down this platform, guns a-blazing. In between those series, and one more-Jericho, the Gorillas needed to hitch a ride here for this mission…
Quality comic book here!
These guys were replaced me and my friends. We often looked exactly like this.
The engineer saysNo objections here”
German Train Yard…
“I‘ll short this joint out...now it’s time to clear out
Box car ahead…now, it’s up to the boys !
All aboard; from MGM Lot 2 Train Station to MGM Lot 3 Stalag set.
” I don’t expect anyone to notice us here, we’re only 2 miles to Lot 3″ says me, in my undercover disguise, white pants, wallabies, and Puka shells.
Watch out for a Red Jeep !
“I got us covered from here!”
Let’s Go Prisoners, No Time to Lose”
Another Death Camp now liberated by the brave hero’s known as Garrison’s Gorillas
ABC canceled this show for a undercover police series.
Our replacement- police shows replace war shows in the decade ahead.
Big Sky Backdrop MGM Lot 3, here being used in Ice Station Zebra.
This picture from the MGM Art Department is the backside of this enormous painted horizon. Garrison’s Gorillas has an episode using this structure’s hind quarters and infra structure. You can see much of the engineering that took place in front, back, and interior of the best set at MGM.
Combat did not have a comic book-only this game…

Realism in look, this took playing army to the next level.
My Untouchables machine gun. I still have this one. I used this one at Desilu. There we played- Elliott Ness verse the mob. I loved this show, Walter Winchell and his opening monologue voice trigger’d the mood for Tommy Guns. Our Desilu gun fights always had this show, The Untouchables, as the center of our imagination.
The Daisy, the official rifle of backlot B.B Gun fights. I could cock this thing as fast as the Rifleman.This gun was designed by a smart, cool-kid! A tiny can of 3 in 1 oil poured down the barrel created smoke when the B.B discharged. We carried spare B.B’s and oil on us, and some Bazooka Joe bubble gum. Time stopped maybe even went backwards- on these fun as heck days!
Rifles, pistols, one-hand grenade each, and a bayonet. We out did security.. As years moved forward, several of my older friends became Marines. Several times, I played this game with real deal Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton. One night, I was on a rooftop, suddenly as I peaked over the side, I got hit in the head from three directions, simultaneously! There was nothing better than playing this game with real, superiorly trained- RECON-RANGERS…OORAH!
Crosman made the perfect pistol for close quarter engagements. We carried pistols in our waistlines and a Daisy long rifle for building to building exchanges. Glass windows would shatter or create a perfect hole for added realism. The fact that shells still existed on the floor decks from Combat made everything seem real. We even came across helmets in these buildings which did add protection, even though the only rule we had was don’t shoot at each others heads. Rules are seldom followed in the heat of a battle…
I had to add this from the comic book because I owned this bike. George Barris designed it. He is the creator of the Batmobile and the Munster’s hearst. When I first started riding it around the outside of the studio fences, it was slick. In fact, the back tire was a slick. Making long tire skids was a way of life. Back when boys were little men!
This is how I grew up- Guns a Blazing !
There’s that kid over there again, he’s armed!

Rewind 1967/68

Combat just completed a run lasting longer than W.W. 2. ABC-TV shutdown one war series and simultaneously kick started another. Many of the crew jumped on board Garrison’s Gorillas. The most important being the powder guy, A.D Flowers. No one did a better job ever of blowing these MGM backlots up then this Hollywood Legend.

26 one-hour episodes are all we have left of this. ABC canceled it and it’s spot was replaced at the network by the Groovy, hip-Mod Squad.

We read comics on the backlot, it made them more realistic. It set off the soldier inside all of us, so we brought in guns also. B.B gun battles were inspired by reruns and comics. Combat had a board game we also played inside the studio. The best part about that game was the cover-with Sgt. Saunders doing his thing.

Combat did not make comics, but it had the best toy machine gun ever designed. It was cool to pretend, for sure, but real fun comes when you can feel pain. If you get hit by a round, you need to feel it. Daisy provide that little- umphhh. It made a nice welt. Realism meets make believe.

Mercy, Mercy, Me

Combat was the show we emulated as we had gun fights at MGM. It was usually on Saturdays when we had these battles. Noon-time happened to rerun Combat. The classic-Soul Train preceded it. I love Motown, you had me at Don Cornelius. When our showdowns began, there was a blend of soul in our ears as we prepared ourselves for battle.

Four Tops– this is WHITE ROOK…OVER ”

The Rat Patrol would be the last war series to film war scenes on a regular basis. I saw all their equipment. It was always parked on the lot. A half track, troop carriers, a tank/cannon on rubber wheels, and the two jeeps with the 50 caliber machine guns mounted on back.

It is hard today to find quality reruns of Garrison’s Gorillas, why I’m not sure. But the star, Ron Harper and I would meet at this very train station discussed in this story. But it was during the filming of Planet of the Apes. Roddy McDowell granted permission for kids to watch filming. My entire street came to watch a Gorilla raid. Not Garrison’s Gorillas- just Urko, the Gorilla, leading a pack of Apes.

I bet Ron Harper never expected the future to become so chaotic. If you get hold of a copy of these two seasons, you will find every single episode uses the backlots of MGM.

New York Street sees a lot of action in this series, disguised as Berlin. Every exterior was practically MGM -somewhere. One episode has a mission, and it takes place in The Big Sky Backdrop, made famous by special effects WizardArnold Gillespie. Nowhere will you be able to see what it was like inside the structure whose front side-is the sky in a broad horizon. If you wanted to be inside that massive historical backdrop first used in 1924 in Ben-Hur, it’s worth the effort to find it.

Everything about this show was awesome, yet it still flies, barely, under the radar, except in Japan. It became a cult classic in the land of the Rising Sun.

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 )

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