Renown historians of Los Angeles history, Marc Wanamaker and Mary Mallory, gave a two-hour lecture Saturday afternoon discussing the TV shows shot locally. It's the 50th anniversary for TV shows show in the CBS Studio Center lot (Radford Studios), where shows such as "Mary Tyler Moore," "Seinfeld" and "Gunsmoke" were shot.
But, some of the facts that the historians shared (with some film buffs from the audience throwing in what they knew), was shocking even to longtime residents of the area.
The event was sponsored by the Studio City Neighborhood Council and held at the Studio City Library with about 75 people in attendance. Among the attendees were many members of the Neighborhood Council board, and author Joann Deutch, who just published the definitive book about the area "Studio City: A Mile of Style."
Here are some of the fascinating facts you may have missed (also see the interview of Dawn Wells one of the surviving castmates of "Gilligan's Island" shot on the lot, as well as other photos, historic and of the event in the gallery.)
1. When the studio was built in what was then known as "North Hollywood," the U.S. Post Office called their outpost "The Studio City Post Office" and the name stuck.
2. The studio was located along the Los Angeles River, and there was a "jungle" and "lagoon" as well as a lot of swampland because the river would often wash away land, houses and parts of the studio, until the river was concreted in 1955.
3. Universal Studios down the river (established in 1913) had a police department, and police patrolled the river because it was a dumping grounds for bodies, contraband and Indians who would use the river to bathe in.
4. The Administration building, built in a Spanish Rancho style architecture, still exists on the lot at 4024 Radford Ave. The two large studios built originally at the lot also still stand.
5. The area was a lettuce ranch before the 29-acre studio was built. The area now known as Colfax Meadows was supposed to be housing for the actors and staff that worked at the lot.
6. The success of sound movies (notably "Don Juan" in 1926) spurred the building of sound stages on the lot, and the studio roofs on the buildings were reinforced strongly because of the equipment needed to hang from the ceilings.
7. William Hornbeck swept the floors for the Mack Sennett studios and then became an editor ("Suddenly Last Summer") and retired 70 years later as the chief editor of the studio.
8. Western stars such as John Wayne, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and many others got their claim to fame at this studio.
9. When Mack Sennett had to sell off the studios after the Great Depression hit, he had to sell his house and moved to the Hollywood Garden Court Apartments.
10. At one time there was a New York Street, Western Street, underwater tank and large wall for blue screen filming. "The Wild, Wild West," "Wagon Train," "The Rifleman" and many other Westerns were shot along these streets.
11. The first two years of "Leave it to Beaver" were filmed on the lot until it was moved to Universal Studios, when the house was changed. The first two years of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" was also filmed on the lot before he became more associated with Universal down the river.
12. Fred MacMurray's "My Three Sons" house and the mansion for "The Big Valley" were among the iconic buildings on the lot. "The Big Valley" mansion was razed for Doris Day's house when her series was shot on the lot.
13. In 1963 the lot became the property of CBS at a cost of $9.5 million. (Today, many of the homes on the hill above the studio go for much more than that.)
Wanamaker himself appeared in the "Spin and Marty" series and "Zorro" as a child, because Walt Disney's daughter moved in next door. No, there was not casting agent, he said.
"This is our heritage, it's all fake," he laughed.
He also pointed to the maps and how many people think of Hollywood as over the hill, and not in the San Fernando Valley. Wanamaker said, "This is also Hollywood, it's all connected and it always has been."