I am at such a loss for words right now. Though television is not my main area of interest, over time I’ve been trying to watch more classic television shows because luckily many of the actors from them are still with us. Without a doubt, Batman was the first one that I watched and thoroughly enjoyed, and I owe that to Adam West. I developed such a crush on him in particular because his kindness, thoughtfulness, and chivalrous manner shined onscreen and was so apparent that I nor anyone else could help but love him. I continued watching the series because of Mr. West, and while I still have a few more episodes to go, I feel even more compelled to honor him by watching them now. Before I even finished the first season of Batman, I wrote Adam a fan letter and bought a picture for him to sign. I never sent them to him because I had been preparing to attend a local convention and hoped that he might make an appearance there, and I hoped that I could dress up as Marsha, Queen of Diamonds (the villainess who almost marries Batman, of course), and tell him in person how much I admired him and his work. It always hurts just a little bit more when you never get the chance to tell someone that you idolize just how much you appreciate them, but I’m sure that Mr. West knew how much he was loved by his fans and just how terribly we all will miss him.
I was so incredibly saddened to learn last night about the passing of Dina Merrill at the age of 93. She was without a doubt among my favorite living actresses, and her generosity and warmth touched so many lives. I’ll always cherish her wonderful performances in films like BUtterfield 8 (1960), Desk Set (1957), and Operation Petticoat (1959), and for the last few hours in particular I’ve been consoling myself by watching her delightful appearances in a number of game shows like What’s My Line?, To Tell the Truth, and Password. If you’re feeling down today like I am, this particular episode of Password that also features Allen Ludden and Tony Perkins will surely lift your spirits. Dina was a treasure to us all, and a wonderful advocate for Lewy Body dementia, the disease which ultimately took her life. She will most certainly be missed.
It’s with a heavy heart that I write about some severely underreported news: Universal Studios in Hollywood has demolished four of their soundstages (Stages 22, 23, 24, and 25 to be exact), putting in motion a five-year plan to demolish their older stages in order to make room for theme park expansions and a newly renovated backlot. Inside Universal first broke the news two days ago, and while I was stunned at first, my feelings quickly turned into sadness and honestly a bit of anger once I began researching some of the history that these stages posessed. Below I’ve decided to point out some of the iconic films and television shows that were filmed on Stages 22-25, as well as what’s next for Universal Studios.
Stage 22, like most of the other stages that have been or will be torn down, was the birthplace of quite a few films that we know and love, including but not limited to: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1947), To Catch A Thief (1954), Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967), Airport (1970), and The Sting (1973). Stage 22 was also the home of some television shows like Murder She Wrote (1984-1996), and CSI (2000-), as well as some more modern films like The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), the remake of Psycho (1998), Hulk (2003), and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004).
The only two films shot at Stage 23 that would be considered Old Hollywood are Harvey (1950) and The Sting (1973), but this stage holds a great deal of recent history. The Rockford Files (1974-80), the legendary television series starring lovable classic film actor James Garner was filmed there (James Garner’s fan page on Facebook is actually how I learned about this upsetting demolition), as well as the original television series starring The Incredible Hulk (1978-1982), the original Jurassic Park (1993), The Cat and the Hat (2003), and the second and third installments of the wildly popular Pirates of the Carribean franchise, Dead Man’s Chest (2006) and At World’s End (2007).
As an Old Hollywood fan, the demolition of Stage 24 upsets me perhaps most of all. Two of Rock Hudson’s best films were filmed here, Pillow Talk (1959) and Man’s Favorite Sport? (1964). From season three onward, Lucille Ball’s show Here’s Lucy (1968-1974) also found a home at the lot.
Last but not least of the recently torn down soundstages, Stage 25 was where the Oscar-winning film Written on the Wind (1956) and the John Belushi classic The Blues Brothers (1980) were shot.
I wish I could say that Universal’s demolitions ended with these stages, but unfortunately there will be more to come. The studio plans to tear down Soundstages 29, 33-37, and 41-44, along with a rehearsal hall. Not all of these offer up any classic film nostalgia, but the some certainly do, like Stage 29, which housed the courthouse exterior of To Kill A Mockingbird (1962). Stage 33 also served as the filming location for the Debbie Reynolds hit Tammy and the Bachelor (1957), and Stage 44 was one of the many places where the legendary Hitchcock thriller The Birds (1963) was filmed.
As tempted as I am to try to do something about the future destruction, I really don’t believe that it would do much good this late in the game. I think all we can really do is offer a moment of silence for these locations that were home to some of the greatest stars and films of all time.