Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Facts of Life (1960) - Film Locations

The Facts of Life (1960)

Larry (Bob Hope) and Kitty (Lucille Ball), both middle-class Pasadena suburbanites, are becoming bored with their predictable lives and their marriages. When Larry and his wife, Kitty and her husband, along with another couple plan a future trip to Acapulco, unforeseen events cause Larry and Kitty to spend all their time on the trip together without their spouses. A romance between Larry and Kitty ensues.

When the trip is over Larry and Kitty try to break things off feeling they have made a mistake, but when they return home they continue to try and see each other. In the end, after a little sneaking around together, Larry and Kitty realize that they still love their spouses. The two break things off for good but still continue to be friends.

I visited a few of the locations featured in The Facts of Life, but unfortunately, many of the sites seen in this film from 1960, no longer exist. Below are a few of the sites as they appear today.

Lucille Ball's Home

Corner of Forrester Drive & Monte Drive, Los Angeles

Above is the home of Kitty, Lucille Ball's character. The home is still standing and other than the addition of a fence and large tree, looks mostly the same as it does in the film. The house is at the corner of Forrester Drive and Monte Drive, not too far from the 20th Century Fox studio lot.

Olympic Drive-In Theatre, Los Angeles

Olympic Drive-In 12109 Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles

On one of their dates, Hope and Ball visit the Olympic Drive-In Theatre which used to be located at 12109 Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles. The Olympic Drive-In Theatre has since been demolished, but it is still the site of many cars. The location is currently the home of a car dealership. Above are screenshots showing the drive-in theatre and below is a photo of the car dealership that is there today.

Former Location of Olympic Drive-In Theatre

During another night out Hope and Ball drive to a motel. As they are driving we see them pass many great mid-century motels lit by their neon lights. I've tried to find these motels but I'm sure they have all been torn down and replaced by tacky strip malls. One in particular I have wanted to locate is a "Topper" motel. The sign is shaped like a large top hat. There is one Topper motel in the Inglewood neighborhood, but the architecture of the building does not match up with the one in the film. I've also seen photos of a Topper motel that used to be on Ventura Boulevard in the Studio City area, but again, the architecture doesn't match up. If anyone knows more about these motels seen in the film, please share.

After Hope and Ball end up at a motel where they plan to "talk," Hope steps out to pick up some food to bring back to the motel. Hope stops by Johnie's Coffee Shop. Johnie's was located in Downey, California at 7447 Firestone Blvd and operated from 1958 until 2001. From 2002 until 2006 Johnie's was a used car dealership until it was illegally demolished in 2007. Since then, Bob's Big Boy has taken over the property and rebuilt the restaurant using original blueprints. Below is a screenshot of Johnie's from the film and photos of the rebuilt restaurant that is now being operated as a Bob's Big Boy.

Johnie's Fat Boy Restaurant

Johnie's "Fat Boy"

Johnie's "Fat Boy" logo was modeled after the Bob's Big Boy character.

The rebuilt Johnie's Broiler, now Bob's Big Boy

Our very friendly hostess.

Looking down one of the lunch counters.


The menu is now the normal Bob's Big Boy menu, so it is your classic diner fare. The atmosphere is like stepping into a time warp. You can see what the restaurant would have looked like when it opened in 1958 - not after decades of wear and tear. Like the Bob's Big Boy in Toluca Lake, it looks like the Bob's Big Boy Broiler has special events on different nights, such as Hot Rod Cruising.

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