On a quaint little neighborhood on the Universal Backlot…We Begin
There are so many iconic homes are on this street, it’s hard to disguise what can still appear as clear as day. Every house on this street has a star attached to it, Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Barbara Eden, Eva Longoria, Marcus Welby, The Cleaver Family and my favorite-The Munsters.
Recently, I was watching Adam 12 and criminal activity was taking place where all these stars have studio homes. Reed and Malloy attempted to make a traffic stop on a speeder in a Chevy Nova, naturally he resisted. Quickly things escalated and backups arrived and scoured the street. I became fascinated, this street has very noticeable structures and all were in play on this episode. Two houses we all know and grew up at were the focus of police attention.
First, the Beaver House needed to be investigated, while the suspect ended up across from the Munsters’ residence. At this point, I’m all in. A potpourri of iconic film sets need police to secure it. This is better than my TV dinner. My mind races as the police search everywhere- my gosh, this could be me running from building to building. Before my long career, I trespassed here, I met Barbara Eden on this street in Harper Valley P.T.A.
I hung out with Dan Pastorini and Greg Evigan along with Sam – the chimp. Bear is his stage name. These were all fine trespassing moments. I never could have dreamed back when I banged the bushes to hang out here, I would eventually have a full backstage pass career here. Before I worked here, I knew these buildings inside and out. As a production electrician, I would need access to all the buildings on this lot. Inside are the shooting stations that we tie our power to and distribute around the set.
My job requires me access to the same buildings I used to hide from security in. My, how times changed.
This street would be moved, one structure at a time, to an upper lot location as the studio landscape was altered and producer bungalows would become a creative campus area. Backlot sets were relocated even deeper in the backlot. In this remembrance, I want you to see what the two homes featured in this episode look like inside. These interiors you walk into now are not the same as they originally were-they were restrengthened, and old rotted wood replaced.
This is necessary if you want another 50 years of movie and TV production to happen here. These sets are now built to last, secured and sealed from weather. Yes, flat out livable. There is one bathroom next to the Beaver House and not every house has water. But wood floors, carpets and drapes brighten up what once were drab interiors.
This episode of one of the best police shows of its time triggered so many memories. Tram guests love this street. Cameras can’t click fast enough as tourist’s heads swing side to side. Many not understanding a single word being spoken. One set is equal to a thousand words in any language. The studio offers tours in several tongues, and it was fun to hear these sets talked about in German, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, and just good old broken English.
I couldn’t understand 90% of the tour, but the faces and reactions said it all. Guides and drivers laugh at how many pictures of us in action are across this great big planet. Since tourists rarely see movie stars, they photograph us. We feel very honored to have this privilege. On coffee tables everywhere foreign flags fly, you may see a tiny piece of memorabilia with yours truly behind the wheel of a Glamour Tram.
Adios, Auf Wiedersehen, Sayonara, Zaijian, Arrivederci… so long everybody.
Written and lived by…Donnie Norden