With three mini buses full, we left Culver City at 9:00 AM on Saturday, November 13th. Our first location came almost immediately after the buses departed from Media Park. This was the Culver City City Hall, which served as the front of the Hospital in County Hospital and as the courthouse in Going Bye-Bye! Although the original building is long gone, a recreation of the front facade remains and looks much the same as it did in the two films.
Still following the same route as the 2009 tour, we next traveled down the street from Towed in a Hole where Ollie yells, "Fresh fish!" Nearby, we saw the location of Babe's home in the film Hog Wild. Our buses then hopped on a nearby freeway to take us to the finale of Hog Wild. There, we disembarked to get a closer look at several of the buildings seen in the film.
Back on the buses, we traveled to downtown Los Angeles to get a glimpse at the building upon which the set for Liberty was constructed. The film was made atop a fully constructed building, with wooden "girders" erected to give the illusion of being high in the air with nothing but a bare skeleton of a steel building below. For safety reasons we are not allowed to go on the roof of the building, but from the ground we were able to match other structures in many directions which can be seen in the film.
Our next stop was the park used in Men 'O War. There, we were able to walk down to the lake and examine the few remains of the boat house seen in the film. We then traveled a short distance to see the corner where Laurel first met Hardy in The Lucky Dog.
The last stop before lunch was to see the location of the spinning gate seen in The Second Hundred Years. Although the gate is long gone (it had already been replaced when the location was used for a second time in the opening scene of The Hoose-Gow), a piece of the wall remains as seen in the film. Several structures also remain in the background, at this recently discovered location.
Pottsville Train Station: click to see high resolution photo
Pottsville Train Station: click to see high resolution photo
Lunch was at Heritage Square, which is the home of the fully restored and preserved train station seen at the end of Berth Marks. The "Pottsville" station was originally located in Palms, along the current location of Interstate 10 and not too far from the studios in Culver City. Heritage Square is a museum of historic buildings, saved from demolition throughout Los Angeles, and contains many interesting homes and structures in addition to the train station.
Following lunch we traveled to Oliver Hardy's grave, then to the the gravesite of Stan Laurel. Everyone disembarked the buses to pay their respects at each site.
The final stop on our tour was the Music Box Steps, generally the most popular and well known of the Laurel & Hardy filming locations. Seen in both The Music Box and Hats Off, a walk to the top of the stairs is a must for any Laurel & Hardy fan, and this was a great place to wrap up a long day touring.
Our goal was to visit the Laurel & Hardy film location sites that we didn't visit last year plus revisit five sites from last year's tour and be back in Culver City by 3:00 PM. We got to all of the sites that we planned on visiting and returned to Culver around 3:30 PM. A couple of things that slowed us down were a crowd of visiting students at USC and a parade Downtown. After those obstacles were passed, we seemed to get back on schedule by our lunch stop. In all, we visited eleven sites and had a great time doing it. While we did not visit as many locations on this tour as we had in some previous years, we were able to get out and spend time and nearly all of the sites.
(L-R) Authors Randy Skretvedt, Richard Bann, & Leonard Maltin
Joining us on our tour were three men who have written a lot about Laurel & Hardy: Leonard Maltin, Richard Bann, and Randy Skretvedt. All of them are experts on Laurel & Hardy films and all of them are great guys to have on a Laurel & Hardy locations tour. Thanks to each of you for joining us.
Thanks also to my son, Jimmy III, who designed the programs and edited the videos that we used on the tour. Thanks to my fellow tour guides, Bob Duncan and Stan Taffel and their assistants, Reverend Dave Spahn and Ken Runyan. Thanks to my wife, Kris and David Rodriguez for bringing lunch to us at Heritage Square. Thanks also to Lori McCaffery for receiving and sorting the tour registrations and depositing the payments.
With every seat full in our three buses, we departed Culver City at 9 a.m. with 75 Laurel & Hardy fans eager to visit the locations seen in their films. Our tour began in downtown Culver City, with a look at the site of the former City Hall seen in both County Hospital and Going Bye-Bye! Nearby, we saw the site of Ollie's home from Hog Wild and the intersection from the beginning of Towed in a Hole.
The tour included a first-time visit to the porch of the mansion seen in Wrong Again. The owner of the estate was gracious enough to allow our entire group to get a close up view of the front of this house.
Wrong Again Mansion: click to see high resolution photo
Our next stop was the always popular Music Box Steps. Most the the group climbed to the top of the steps, to match various "then" pictures along the way. We then saw the spot where Laurel first met Hardy in The Lucky Dog, followed by a quick glimpse of what is left of the prison gate in The Second Hundred Years.
The tour proceeded to three of the more recently discovered locations, which are the homes seen in Love 'em and Weep, Me and My Pal, and Another Fine Mess. A lunch break took place in a park in Cheviot Hills.
After lunch, we visited a home which was seen as the hospital in The Finishing Touch. A short distance away, we arrived at James Finlayson's home in Big Business.
Big Business House: click to see high resolution photo
This was followed by a visit to the duplex from the opening scene of Big Business, which was back in Culver City. After passing the site of the Hal Roach Studios, we saw the home from Perfect Day.
Perfect Day House: click to see high resolution photo
The bus tour concluded back in downtown Culver City. A walking tour of Main Street and the area around the Culver Hotel included scenes from 45 Minutes From Hollywood, Duck Soup, The Second Hundred Years, Hats Off, Putting Pants on Philip, Leave 'em Laughing, Two Tars, We Faw Down, Liberty, Bacon Grabbers, County Hospital, Going Bye-Bye!, and Angora Love.
The Mayflower Club in North Hollywood was the starting place for our 2005 tour. Buses departed at 9am on Sunday, April 24, with Bob Satterfield and Lori Jones McCaffery guiding the first bus, and Jimmy Wiley Jr. and Bob Duncan guiding the second. This tour marked the 25th anniversary of our first publicly offered locations tour, and was the first time we were able to show video clips of each location aboard the bus, which really added to the whole experience.
Our first stop was at Valhalla Cemetery, where everyone exited the buses to pay their respects at the gravesite of Oliver Hardy. We then traveled to Forest Lawn Cemetery to to visit the grave of Stan Laurel. Comedian and Stan Laurel impersonator Jim MacGeorge joined us for the tour, and he said a few words about Stan at the grave.
Back aboard the buses, we watched a documentary on the steps used in The Music Box. At the conclusion of the video, we were at the steps, where everyone had a chance to get off the bus and climb to the top of the flight of stairs used in both The Music Box and the long lost silent film, Hats Off.
Our next stop was at Heritage Square, where we saw the train station from the end of Berth Marks. In the film, this is known as the Pottsville Station. As part of our tour, we presented a plaque with photos to the docents of Heritage Square, to be displayed inside the building and to commemorate the day that Laurel & Hardy spent filming at this now historic building. We then traveled by bus to another location in downtown Los Angeles, to see the site of the train yard from the beginning of Berth Marks.
Next on the tour was the park and lake seen in the film Men 'O War. This was a great place to stop and have lunch, before touring the park on foot. We walked around the lake, getting good views of where the boathouse once stood, as well as the location of the bridge and paths seen towards the beginning of the film.
At the next location, we disembarked the buses once again for a short walk to the site of the streetcar wreck at the end of Hog Wild. Then we traveled by bus to see another streetcar disaster, which was the location used at the end of County Hospital.
Three newly discovered locations were next on our tour. We briefly saw the mansion from Another Fine Mess, which was restored to look nearly identical to the film following the Northridge earthquake. Then we traveled to see the home featured in Love 'Em and Weep, which has also changed very little since the film was made. Next was the street used in Me and My Pal. The front of Ollie's home is never actually seen in this film, but an entire row of houses across the street are featured prominently each time someone pulls up in front of Ollie's house.
On our way to our last location, we traveled by the construction site where the Ambassador Hotel was being demolished, and where Laurel & Hardy won their Academy Award for The Music Box in 1932. About a block away was the apartment building seen in Love 'Em and Weep.
We then returned to the Mayflower Club, after a long day of sight seeing. Thank you to everyone who joined us on the tour, and those who helped make the tour possible.