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Classic Sitcom Houses
PART THREE by Ben Glenn II

The Warner Bros. (formerly Columbia) Ranch: A TV Land Goldmine! Along with Universal, Columbia was the other major Hollywood studio that devoted a hefty portion of its production schedule to television series. The studio never grew to the grand scale of MGM, Universal or Warner Bros.; in fact, its facilities consisted mostly of a series of offices and soundstages on Gower Street in downtown Hollywood, and a small backlot located in southern Burbank.

By the mid-1950s, Columbia's motion picture output was flagging (largely churning out low-budget William Castle films and the like), and so the studio turned to television, thus creating its Screen Gems production unit.

When we TVparty-ers think "Screen Gems", visions of Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, and The Partridge Family are immediately called to mind.

Indeed, Screen Gems produced all of these shows and more, and these families' famous addresses can still be found (for the most part) on the old Columbia backlot in Burbank.

<Looking down the street from the Bewitched house.

Long referred to as "The Ranch", this property is located between Oak Street and Verdugo Avenue at Hollywood Way, just a short drive from the Warner Bros. main lot.

Like Universal's Colonial Street, The Ranch comprises an assortment of architectural styles - suburban homes, two gas stations, a church, and 19th century-style townhouses - encircling a central park with trees, a fountain, and a swimming pool.

Bewitched houseAt one end is the famous Stephens house at 1164 Morning Glory Circle from Bewitched. This charming Cape Cod must be one of the most appealing of TV homes, for it was used extensively throughout the series and - unlike other TV homes - the interior spaces appeared to match those of the exterior.

In reality, the Stephens house is a shell: the structure has no back or right-side wall, and only a partial left wall. (Pedestrians can see the rear of the shell at the corner of North Kenwood and West Oak Streets in Burbank). Other than that, the structure is satisfying to see because it looks much as it did in the 1960s.

Even after staging a real fire in the house for an episode of Home Improvement, studio carpenters repaired the structure and made only minor repairs, such as replacing the original paned windows with casement ones. The main things which dramatically alter the facade's appearance are the two Burbank skyscrapers that now rise up behind it.

Partridge family houseUnfortunately, the fate of The Partridge Family house is not as happy. While the original Mondrian-inspired bus is long destroyed , the Partridge home - which often doubled as Abner and Gladys Kravitz's house in Bewitched -- remained untouched until something called Lethal Weapon came along. That film's script called for a suburban house to be firebombed, and unfortunately the studio - Warner Bros. - chose the Partridge house.

Today, the charming triangular entryway is gone, and the structure has been rebuilt to resemble a barn-like, contemporary home. Fortunately, the adjacent garage where Shirley, Keith, Laurie and the gang rehearsed those groovy numbers still stands. The Partridge house is a not a facade but a fully enclosed structure which is used to store lighting and other equipment when it's not being blown up.

Directly next door to the Partridge house is Maj. Anthony Nelson's Cocoa Beach home from I Dream of Jeannie. This house, with its recognizable ivy-covered porch trellace, also served as the Anderson family's residence on the benchmark sitcom Father Knows Best. Today the house is, happily, still intact, with only minor changes to the front porch area.

As with the Partridge house, this structure is fully enclosed (the back exterior wall is simply white concrete) and is used for equipment storage.

The Ranch is full of more familiar TV Land sites: the houses from Dennis the Menace and Hazel; a red-brick church, hilariously chopped-off on the back and sides where the camera doesn't reach; and the widely used central park, which can still be seen today on the opening credits of Friends.

PART FOUR: Paramount Studios - Nobody's Home!

  PART 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 /

Bewitched House

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DID YOU KNOW: The Dennis (the Menace) Mitchell's house was constructed between 1934 and 1935 for the movie Party Wire at the fictional "Blondie Street" located at Columbia Ranch in Burbank, California. It was later moved and became well-known as the home of the Stone family on The Donna Reed Show in 1958, before becoming the home of the Mitchell family in 1959.

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TV Sitcom houses
"I noticed in an old Dennis the Menace show that Mr. Wilsons' house was actually the I Dream Of Jeannie house. The Bewitched house was used in the '80's Gidget show and there's a book called (I think) T.V. Sets that shows blueprints of what the interiors would have looked like.

"I had the chance to see the Brady living room re created for the feature film. It was like being in the 70's show. Very Twilight Zone-ish! I saw and took pictures of the My Three Sons house a few years ago at the M.T.M./CBS Studio City lot but unfortunately I was on the lot a few weeks ago and the house was gone, replaced by production trailers! They should make a museum for these houses, instead of tearing them down."

- Brian D

"I enjoyed Ben's writeup on old TV houses. Although I'm not exactly sure how it works, because when Samantha opens the door . It looks like she's really inside the house. The interior living room was used in a mid '60's Great Shakes T commercial. The product was some sort of instant milkshake product.

sitcom houses "Also the interior of Gladys Kravitz's house was Donna Reed's. Although the exterior was the same as the Partridge Family. In a early Bewitched episode Darrin and Sam are renting a house 'till they get there own, the interior is the Hazel house. I think you saw the Bewitched house in the distance on Dennis the Menace but was it ever used prior to '64?.

"It's nice to know i have a kindred spirit out there. I'm always referred to as the T nut in my family, but I see I'm not alone. Thanks for the great writeup."

-Sincerely, Benjamin Koffler

"Hi, TVparty guys 'n' gals... browsing through your guide to TV houses, I had to write and ask this question, which has been in the back of my mind for 30-odd years.

"Am I right in remembering that the Cleavers' house in Leave it to Beaver is the same backlot house that Marcus Welby lived in? I seem to recall that the opening sequence in which Dr. Welby leaves his front door and walks toward his humungous 1969 Chrysler takes place in front of the same set from which June and Ward wave good-bye to Wally and the Beav as they headed off for school.

"Can anyone confirm this? Can someone please tell me why I remember this stuff?

- Sincerely, Tom Near Toronto Who Watched Far Too Much TV As A Kid And Can Actually Remember Being Major Angry When The Buffalo ABC Affiliate Refused To Air Turn On.

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