MGM facade

The 1974 film That’s Entertainment, was a surprise hit for MGM, placing in the top 20  movies of the year and resulting in a sequel in 1976. The movie showed clips of the studio’s library of great musicals, narrated by its former stars.: Fred Astaire; Gene Kelly; Elizabeth Taylor; and Frank Sinatra, among others, and were filmed as they walked through the old standing sets of the back lots 3 through 6. In 1974 these back lot standing sets looked forlorn and worn down. Fred Astaire began the documentary at the train station on lot 2, where years earlier he had sung the first song in Band Wagon. He walked in front of a train wagon that was falling apartBing Crosby narrates a visit to the English lake and its Waterloo bridge that he describes as looking “scruffy.” Donald O’Connor introduces the Esther Williams movies by visiting the outdoor pool that had been built just for her films. The whole area looked looked like some of our Southern California foreclosed properties of late.

The 1970s were not good years for MGM. Losses from declining revenues led to a corporate take-over by Kirk Kerkorian in 1969. He had little interest in movie-making, Kirkorian was mostly interested in using the MGM name for his hotel development in Las Vegas and other locations. Kirkorian installed James Aubrey as his hatchet man.  A large staff-cut was Aubrey’s first move, with several film projects cancelled. Next was the  famous (or infamous) 1970 MGM auction held over eighteen days of the studio’s collection of 12,000 props and rolling stock, even including its paddle steamboat, as well as some 350,000 costumes and “star wardrobe.” The year after That’s Entertainment was made, all of the lots with the standing sets were sold for residential development, thus all traces of them are gone today.

MGM gate
The old entrance to the M-G-M Studio

With its patriarch Louis B. Mayer long gone, apparently the only persons that thought the back lots should be preserved for posterity, as a museum  or attraction park, was Debbie Reynolds, and Robert Nudelman of the Hollywood Heritage organization. Debbie had tried to buy them for that purpose (no doubt at an affordable rate) but was unsuccessful. A virtual tour of some of the standing sets through M-G-M’s Golden Age follows.

MGM lot sign (1)

The classic era M-G-M studio had several lots. Lot number 1 where all the offices and major buildings were located was bordered by Washington Street, Culver Blvd. Overland Avenue, and Madison Blvd. While most of the lot had been taken over by sound stages and various buildings by the 1930s, part of the lot still had exterior standing sets through the 1950s. That lot is now occupied by the Sony Studios.

Lot 1 also had standing sets, these changed over time, some having been there since the days when it was the Thomas Ince studio and then the Goldwyn Studio. The M-G-M standing sets were on the Overland Avenue side of the lot. This area even included a concrete lined “lake” and the waterfront town as can be seen below.

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The European town waterfront above could be changed with its storefronts reconfigured and re-painted as-needed for each movie. It extended its length and was known as “Waterfront Street.”


The more wild appearance of the lake or lagoon above was used for jungle-like settings, including for filming parts of Tarzan the Ape Man. Lot 1 also had standing sets replicating haciendas, medieval France, and New York City.

Moving over to Lot 2 across Overland Avenue, the lot was mostly used for standing sets, although various storage facilities were scattered throughout the lot.  The New England town of the Andy Hardy movies was there, and the “Small Town Square”  used in movies as diverse as Raintree County and The Philadelphia Story, not to mention The Twilight Zone, and there was also  the “Grand Central Station.” used in various films.  The “Waterloo Bridge” seen in That’s Entertainment, was also in lot 2, used in its prime for movies like The Divorcee in 1930, The Three Musketeers in 1948, Little Women in 1949, and  Royal Wedding in 1951.

Nearby is “Quality Street,” which was used for a variety of medieval and 18th century European towns.

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Quality Street was one of the old standing sets, originally built for Marion Davies’ starring vehicle Quality Street, from 1927, which William Randolph Hearst and his production company Cosmopolitan Pictures produced for her at M-G-M. It was also used for filming the 1948 production of The Three Musketeers.


Quality Street was also redecorated as an English Street for the Jeanette MacDonald film, Smiling Through from 1941, as seen above.

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A continent away in architecture and theme but adjacent on the lot was a Chinese set used for The Good Earth in 1937. The castle wall and entry was used and re-used for a variety of films set in different countries and eras. It may have been originally built for the first Ben Hur in 1925.

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The mansion-looking set above was used for several movies but looked different for each. In two it was an academic building, having been built, apparently, as a “girl’s school” for Forty Little Mothers in 1940, where the structure had a bell tower. It featured notably in Tea and Sympathy with Deborah Kerr and John Kerr in 1956. The structure as it looks above was used for The Cobweb, where it was a psychiatric clinic. This 1955 movie starred Richard Widmark, Lauren Bacall, Charles Boyer, and John Kerr.

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The New York Street on Lot 2 was a larger set than a similar set on Lot 1. It had nearly ten acres of sets and could serve for a variety of urban settings.  Many movies were filmed there, starting with Wife vs Secretary in 1936others including Words and Music, Band Wagon, Singing in the Rain, and many more were also filmed on these sets.


The photo above shows the suspended electrical power lines feeding into the various sets. The framing supports behind the façades can also be  seen.

We take the tram down Overland to Lot 3 at Overland and Jefferson. This more remote lot (or so it was in the 1930s and 40s), allowed for some expansive outdoor sets.


One of the most famous “neighborhoods” on Lot 2 was the “St Louis Street,” named for Meet Me in St. Louis starring Judy Garland and directed by Vincent Minnelli. It was built expressly for the latter film at Minnelli’s direction. Minnelli can be seen directing the scene on the boom above.

The outdoor set below is the New England street and set for the Andy Hardy movies starring Mickey Rooney. It became known as the “Andy Hardy Street.”


The first permanent Western Town set on Lot 2 was built for the 1939 film Stand Up and Fight, starring Robert Taylor, Wallace Beery, and Charles Bickford. The standing set is amazingly detailed, especially compared to the western sets of the films from the 1970s- on and the spaghetti westerns.


Above is the Adam & Thomas McGara Store set from Stand Up and Fight.


Above is the General Store in the center of the photo with the Drug Store to the left.


The “Bullet Stage Yard” is in the foreground above with a view to Dan Rock’s Restaurant and Saloon.

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Dan Rock’s Restaurant & Saloon is seen above with its hitching posts for horses and teams.

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The house above was the attorney’s home on the set – note the partial front on the neighboring house, but the carefully built picket fence and shutters.


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Note all the paraphernalia at the Hardware Store.

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A proper town needed its Sheriff, and the town of Cumberland had theirs as seen above.

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Luggage is part of the set dressing at the “Bullet Stage Line.”

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The teams and wagons are part of the set at the Bullet Yard

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The Blacksmith’s shop looks like it’s ready to take on any work

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A porch on Cumberland Street opposite the Restaurant & Saloon

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The Church is our last stop as we leave the wild west for other locales.

Lot 3 also had another lake and waterfront, seen below in this Port scene from some unknown film.

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More familiar is the “Cotton Blossom” from the movie Show Boat, which M-G-M publicist Lionel Ascher visits below.


The photo below shows the concrete storage sheds for storing MGM nitrate film cans, circa 1936.  Later, M-G-M had an electrical fire in 1967, destroying most of the studio’s cartoons, silent films, and films from the earlier Metro, Goldwyn, and Louis B. Mayer Pictures.


A fly-over Lot 1 shows the classic era M-G-M and the standing sets that existed, with the Thalberg Building at the bottom left.


The corporate history of MGM post-1974 is its own story, but it separated the classic film library and the studio lot from the name. Similar fates had befallen RKO and Columbia. The three-week long auction of the props and costumes is its own fascinating, if sad story, a subject for another post. The destruction of the many standing sets and the sale of the lots was a tragedy to classic movie fans.

For a thorough history of the M-G-M back lots, please read Steven Bingen’s, Stephen Sylvester’s, and Michael Troyan’s M-G-M: Hollywood’s Greatest Backlot published in 2011 by Santa Monica Press.




  1. Although I applaud Ms Reynolds efforts to save MGM, it may not have been much of a reality.
    In order to maintain any viability, the remaining sets would require extensive work to be kept up. This would have been very costly, if not impractical, as the sets were falling into disrepair as it was. Then there is the shear cost of maintaining a tour at attraction on so many acres of land.
    What should have happened, is a MGM mueseum created, with selected props and wardrobe items that were used in the feature films. A section of the original yellow brick road per say( I understand that it’s now all gone from the sound stage).
    Anyway, I grew up in Ladera Heights, and remember on more than one occasion, riding my bike down to Culver City just to sneak into the backlots of MGM. I remember the famous bridge in lot 2, the Please Don’t Eat the Daisies house and the ship pool( Mutiny on the Bounty) in lot 3, as well as the concrete film vaults. It was a lot for a 14 year old to se and take in, but each trip was awesome.
    I had no idea of the reality of what MGM stood for at that time, as I do now.
    It is sad to think that MGM’s contribution to the arts, it’s business savvy and genius, was not enough to be remembered properly. It seems almost ironic that such an era was simply allowed to crumble, and be Gone with the Wind.

    1. I think you are right Joe about the inability of Debbie Reynolds to have started an “MGM Park” from the back lots. The idea was ahead of its time and too expensive to work. Her collection was big enough, however, to have formed a movie
      entertainment museum -the kind the Academy is building now, minus all the significant treasures that as you say are “Gone with the Wind.”

  2. In 1979 I was working on a film ” Hearts of the West” one of the sets I believe it was the Rose hotel in the movie was one of if not the last feature films shot on lot 2 at MGM. HEARTS of the West starred Jeff Bridges another film shot a few years later Harts of the West starred Beau Bridges and Loyd Bridges it wasn`t shot at MGM but i thought that was interesting. While we were working on the set we were all drinking water out of an arrowhed water thing, later in the day someone knocked the water dispencer over and broke the ceramic crock inside I went over to see and in the water was hundreds of dead ants and some white gloppy junk. A few of us threw up right then but no one got bad sick. Who knows what film that was left over from or how long it had been there. Shortly after that it was all torn down and homes were built. For a long time that had been our parking lot

  3. Hello Christian,
    Do you know who designed the St Louis Street for M-G-M, particularly the main house used in Meet Me In St. Louis? Any recommendations on trying to find this information?

    Does anyone know if it was only a shell used for exterior shots or if was a complete house?

    Thank you for any information!

    1. That’s an interesting question. The street and the “houses” were designed in the Art Department under Cedric Gibbons. Most of the designing for the “Meet Me in St Louis” house and street was done by Jack Martin Smith. The houses were not complete houses but fronts and sides with partial roofs. The interiors sets were filmed in the sound stages. For this film they were designed mostly by Lemuel Ayers with set decor done by several people.

  4. Hi Christian,
    I lived less than a mile from Lot 2 and spent many hours sneaking into the Lot along with friends. We also went into Lot 3, but it was still being used in the late 60s and early 70s. I wrote a Young Adult novel (The Sift in the Backlot) based on my experiences (it’s available on Amazon) and turned it into a paranormal adventure story. It’s been well received on line. Thanks for the site. Brant Vickers

    1. That’s great that you wrote a novel based on your visits to the lot. I never visited other than passing by. I can imagine going through at night alone – back when it was mostly intact. I have to believe the place was haunted.

    2. I too would sneak into lot 3 with my friends at night from the little league field that is not West L A College one night we almost got hurt, we snuck in while thy were shooting the TV show Combat. We were hiding on a little hill a little from all the action when someone started yelling at us. We ran off aways and shortly after some explosions started near where we were

  5. Hi Christian,
    I found your site this morning after seeing Todd Fisher talking about his life with his mom, and sister, while visiting the MGM sets. I am aghast that Debbie was the only actress who felt the need to preserve the costumes. Where was everyone else? Todd said that he used to climb onto the sets, and play on the ships, etc. Why were they demolished? Not preserved? It makes me ill, thinking about how all of this history was virtually destroyed. It seems that the 70s and 80s made a huge set backwards in “developing” land. How interesting are these photos, though. And, that in a comment above, the roads were actually back roads in the orange groves. It’s like seeing your neighborhood on film, the little paths you trek. So much for progress, I can never get enough of Old Hollywood sets. Especially the general stores! Oh, I always say, “I wonder where that item is now?” when I see something I like. Well, sadly, probably dust in the wind. I wonder how much is warehouses? Anything left?

  6. Thank you, Christian, for sharing these photos and your comments. It’s a nostalgic look at a neighborhood I knew in the 1960s. My grandmother lived less than a mile from Lot 1, at the corner of Jasmine Avenue and Tabor Street. Looking down Jasmine, the studio was clearly visible. My grandfather, Frank Ball, moved to Los Angeles to act in silent movies and found work at Thomas Ince Studio. My grandmother, uncle, aunt, and mom joined my him in L.A. in 1923. After Thomas Ince died and his studio closed, my grandfather had difficulty finding movie roles, but he did do some acting in Bob Steele westerns and a few other movies. My grandmother also worked in the movie business, playing piano and organ accompaniment to silents and sewing costumes at M-G-M. When I watched silent movies with my mom, she could often name the streets, some of which were dirt roads through orange groves and undeveloped land. I like thinking of the Los Angeles of the early movie days. I grew up there in the late 50s and 60s but feel connected to old Los Angeles through my family’s experiences. Thank you for escorting me on a visit to some happy memories.

    1. Thanks for your comment Christine. You have a great family association with MGM and the movies.My great-aunt worked briefly in wardrobe at MGM before moving on to Fox and then RKO.While we bemoan the loss of the backlots, at least we have the films to remember and these great photos that the studio itself had taken to document the lot.

  7. Hello Christian,

    Note: The sets shown built for Meet Me In St Louis, were not located on Lot 2, but on Lot 3. Secondly, the photos in which you identify overhead lines as being electrical service, not so. Close up visual inspection reveals reveals their meeting points and methods of attachment prove impossible for such a claim. These wires supported overhead tarps positioned for varying degrees of darkness provided for exterior shots which otherwise would have costed the studio huge amount of overtime, if filmed at night. All power was supplied via massive service wires via underground conduit to various fixed points from where large ‘extension cords’ were routed to lighting and equipment.
    Thank you for the beautiful memories.

    1. Alas, too bad these historic lots could not be designated landmarks – today they probably would be. We can thank Kirk Kerkorian for destroying MGM, much the same way Howard Hughes destroyed RKO. Debbie Reynolds made a heroic effort to preserve as much as she could of MGM memorabilia, but she could only do so much.

        1. Hi Christian,
          I found your site this morning after seeing Todd Fisher talking about his life with his mom, and sister, while visiting the MGM sets. I am aghast that Debbie was the only actress who felt the need to preserve the costumes. Where was everyone else? Todd said that he used to climb onto the sets, and play on the ships, etc. Why were they demolished? Not preserved? It makes me ill, thinking about how all of this history was virtually destroyed. It seems that the 70s and 80s made a huge set backwards in “developing” land. How interesting are these photos, though. And, that in a comment above, the roads were actually back roads in the orange groves. It’s like seeing your neighborhood on film, the little paths you trek. So much for progress, I can never get enough of Old Hollywood sets. Especially the general stores! Oh, I always say, “I wonder where that item is now?” when I see something I like. Well, sadly, probably dust in the wind. I wonder how much is warehouses? Anything left?

          1. Hi Marg, thanks for your comment – yes this is a sad episode in movie history and for the history of the Los Angeles region. Those standing sets and back lots – the best in the industry at their peak – are gone forever.
            Debbie Reynolds managed to collect many treasures from he sale of props and costumes from MGM, as my posts on the sale of her items indicate, she had “sets” of items and costumes from the same movie. These ending up getting divided
            at auction and scattered, sometimes to different continents. As you say, dust in the wind.

  8. In That’s Entertainment part III Esther Williams presents next to her original saucer tank. Where was that located? Is one of the lots that was not sold?

    1. The “Esther Wiliams Swiming Pool” was located in Lot Two that was lost. Many of her films, including I believe the scene you mention were filmed in a tank in Stage 30 on Lot One. The Stage and Lot are still there but the Tank is gone.

      1. Hi there, loved reading everything here. The “ Saucer Tank “ was still around 15 or so years ago as I saw it on the Sony tour, sadly its gone now. I’ve been to the Sony tour a few times in the last 10 years. It still excites me to be in the LOT. ?

        1. Thanks for sharing that information Brett. Sad to see one thing after another disappearing. The fate of the old 20th Century-Fox “Movitone” lot is unclear. Warner Brothers is still interesting.

      2. The circular tank was outside, across from a set shed near where the backlot parking lot stands now.
        As far as I know the big tank still exists. I filmed there several years ago.

  9. Came down fm Seattle 1946 to attend art school Chouinard, stayed at uncle’s home Manhatten Beach. Had to take bus to Pershing Sq, passed MGM lot Culver City daily, see sets looming over fences, particularly large skyscape, must’ve been used countless films. Developed early (16) interest in Adrian after seeing Eugenie Leontovich and Basil Rathborn play Obsession, amazingly dramatic outfits, began collecting ads and pics. Back in Seattle, took summer job as stock boy Best’s Apparel, unpacked, handled countless Adrian’s, heaven! 1949 to Parson’s NYC, wangled way into Gunther Jaeckel spring Adrian collection and paintings at Knoedler Art Galleries, double heaven! Back to LA and got into Adrian Salon for fall African collection, exciting beyond words! Interest began to wane as moved to San Francisco, then Lovely to Look At revived appreciation, out of blue, invite fm J W Robinson for fall ’52 showing, no idea of his heart attack, and this would be end of it. Lovely show, new girls modeling in small Adrian Rm , looser, sportier, would’ve been interesting to see where he was headed, but he and Janet were off to the jungles of Brazil! and retirement.
    T’was end of it, gave my drawings and collection to old schoolmates, for 30 yrs just vague interest, then my mother passed 1995, found she had saved boxfull my drawings, pretty good, hmmm thot I’d try again, checked EBay, got into swing and am again avid fan, enjoy yr book and am collecting all over again, guess I will into dotage. END of SAGA!

    1. Thank you so much Randall for sharing your anecdotes and recollections of MGM and Adrian. How fortunate that you were there for to see his collection at Gunther Jaeckel, at the art gallery, and the finale (little did anybody know ahead of time) at Robinson’s. The end of an era indeed. Neither the Adrian Salon building, Robinson’s or most of the MGM back lots & Wardrobe are in existence any longer. I have a few of his fashion sketches that seemed to have been done after he retired. Quite beautiful and of course very fashionable – a few are in my book but unfortunately the black and white does them no justice. Thanks again for your comments.

  10. Thank you these pictures are amazing. I live in one of the complexes that would have been lot #3 so it’s really interesting to see what was here before. I’m interesting in knowing where you got these pictures because I’d like to have some blown up and hung in our office.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos Lea. That’s great that you live on one of the former lots. I’ve been collecting these, and other Hollywood movie photos for many years. You can find many of them on ebay under “MGM” movie collectibles.

    2. If you get a copy of the book MGM Hollywood’s Greatest Backlot it is full of pictures of the old backlot including a full section on lot 3. There is a map of each lot so you could find out what set stood where your home now is and it also tells you what films were made on each set.

  11. I purchased a digital copy of ” That’s Entertainment” on Vudu for $5.99 ( you can rent it for $2). That’s the impetus for my wanting too see more of the MGM back lot!

  12. Thank you very much for your very welcome post, Christian, which is especially nostalgic for me. I first stepped on the MGM lot in the 1950s, when my father Lee Le Blanc was head of the Special Effects Matte Painting Department. It wasn’t until 1970 that I began my career at MGM, the year that Kerkorian took over the studio. I was working as secretary to the head of the Property and Upholstery Departments until Property was closed down the following January by Mr. Aubrey, at the commands of Kerkorian and his henchmen. It was just one of the many departments that were closed, but when production began to pick up again it became apparent that some of these departments were essential, so were reopened. I have just one correction. The auction began before James Aubrey stepped on the lot as head of production. When I left MGM in 1991, there was no longer an MGM “Studios”. First, all the secretaries and most department heads were all ecstatic when we thought Ted Turner would be taking over the studio, but that was not to happen. Lorimar succeeded in taking over the lot, but that didn’t last long before Sony had the money and wherewithal to claim it and contain it. In the meantime, the rest of MGM was scattered across town in different buildings until they were finally rounded up in a business park in Santa Monica. I can at least say I remember what a great studio MGM was and how happy I am to have been a small part of it.

    1. Thank you Deirdre for providing this additional information on MGM and its fate. Your father and the department he headed produced such great work for the films that MGM produced. In the days before CGI, entire scenes and backgrounds could still be produced with studio special effects and matte painting. The latter needing high artistic talent and the former years of practice and skill development.How great that you were there to see while it was still MGM.

  13. What! No pictures of “Tara”? You used to be able to see it from the surrounding streets (Jefferson & Overland?) when I was a kid.

    1. The Plantation House set used for Tara was on the the Selznick Studio lot’s 40 acreas (once the RKO/Pathe lot now the Culver Studio lot). The set was sold off in 1959 to go to Atlanta. MGM had a similar looking building that tour guides used to say was the Tara building but it wasn’t. The Mansion on the Culver Studio lot is sometimes confused with Tara.

  14. A few weeks ago I met a guy who told me he would sneak on the backlots and take pictures of the lots when he was a kid. He mentioned the lake and how MGM once owned all the land where the Tara Hill condos now stands. He also said that he visited the lot where Gone With the Wind was shot.

    1. That must have been fun as a kid, although by then many of the outdoor sets were dilapidated. But they did shoot such classic TV shows as the Twilight Zone on the MGM backlot, so its great to see many of the outdoor sets on those shows. Gone with the Wind was shot at the Selznick Studio, which is now the Culver Studio. The Tara plantation house is no longer standing (not to be confused with the mansion house which is seen at the opening of the Selznick movies, it is still there).

      1. When I was about 9 years old I was riding my bike past MGM on Washington Blvd. I noticed a gate with a chain and lock, so I went over and began looking through the crack between the two gates I could see the stages one was open and I could see part of a set. About 12 years later I was working at MGM as a Set Painter and I was riding my bike to get around the lot, most people did, I noticed a gate with a chain and a lock, so I went over and started looking through the crack between the two gates, there was a big church and some other buildings. All of a sudden it dawned on me, It was the same gate that I had looked through years before I guess it doesn’t matter what side your on you always want to know what is going on over on the other side. I was there working on the movie Logan’s Run

        1. What a great story Robby – thanks for sharing it. Logan’s Run was a great science fiction movie and you must have enjoyed working on it, especially now looking back on it. The church must be gone by now, however.

  15. Amazing. I have the book on the MGM back lots and have read it 3 times already. It is all so fascinating to m e. Being a big fan of Turner Classic Movies , I frequently try to imagine what it must have been like to work at MGM surrounded by the amazing sets and backlots. I am still sad to this day to know that they are gone. This history is part of our culture and the angst is how we treated it. But the back lots will live in the movies for all of us to enjoy. Thank you for the great post and photos . Excellent job.

    1. Thanks for your comment Glen. Yes, as you say it is very sad. The book is great in its documentation. Have you seen “That’s Entertainment” where they show the back lot’s in 1974 when they had deteriorated? That was just before they were all torn down and the lots sold for development. I’m sorry I never got to visit MGM in its heyday.

      1. Yes I saw That’s Entertainment in the movies when it first showed. I was just 16 and fascinated. I wanted to run away to Culver City and see them in person. My interest in how films were made , pre 1960, started then. It has continued ever since. I would have liked to be part of film preservation too. Again I find all the amazing craftsmanship in these temporary sets so wonderful. I thank you again for keeping this alive and for doing such a great job on the subject.

        1. Thank you Glen. My great-aunt worked in the Wardrobe Department at MGM back in 1925, then moved on to Fox and RKO. There were so many people that worked making all those films look so good. I think of her and the others in bringing some of these scenes back to life.

  16. Hello Christian, thanks for presenting these MGM backlot photos. Many unseen before. I found out about the backlots when I began to see similar sets in different films back in the 70’s as a teenager watching the films on late night tv. It began a quest to put it all spatially together for me- how one set segwayed into another- how the designers built it all.

    The picture under the St Louis picture (Minnelli) is actually New England/Andy Hardy Street. Not to prove a point but to show amazingly how one can pin point exact sets after seeing so many film from so many shots.
    Thanks again! I am always searching for new photos of the lots.

    1. Thank you for your informative comments Craig. I first saw many of these films in the 50s on daytime TV, and then much later when I appreciated them more. I collect these photos too, and other Hollywood memorabilia, notably costume design sketches. Thanks for the info on the Andy Hardy set, I’ll re-caption that image.

  17. Dear Christian, I found this concept fascinating. I was fortunate to spend many years sneaking on the backlots and living amongst that history, I collected call sheets, took pictures and saw many amazing productions. i also have pictures from MGM art dept. And coup de gra meeting Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly on Thats Entertainment.On rainy days we danced exactly where Gene did in singing in the Rain. On the Combat sets we pretended to get shot and die recreating the actual scenes. It was marvelous such a special place. Even funner when vacant of employees and it became mine!

    1. How lucky you were to sneak and the lot as a playground! And meeting Fred and Gene during That’s Entertainment. Great memories. And the lots were used for thw Twilight Zone episodes too, which can be seen with a more eery and perhaps more fitting image now. Thanks for sharing your unique experience.

      1. Around 1960, 61, 62 we used to sneak on the lot where the college and the condos are now off of Overland. We lived less than a mile away. None of us kids owned a camera then but we had a great time wandering through the sets. Ironically my daughter now works at Sony ATV.

        1. Sounds like this was great fun. Too bad you didn’t have a camera – those photos would be rare and valuable now. At the early side of this time period we used to go on bikes to see the Dodger stadium being built – not as much fun but good memories.

    2. Yep,I used to hang with you on this lot.AND I believe I saved your life when someone threw a large wooden crate off of the roof of the Logans Run set.I was glad to have saved you from that.

  18. Dear Christian, I found this concept fascinating. I was fortunate to spend many years sneaking on the backlots and living amongst that history, I collected call sheets, took pictures and saw many amazing productions. You may be interested in my story. It is unique in its perspective and all hands on MGM.

  19. Thankyou for this amazing tour of MGM. I have ‘Hollywood’s Greatest Backlot’ & spend hrs combing thru the pages. Can’t help but lament about MGM’s destruction, if only a wealthy industrial conglomerate like Gulf & Western with Paramount or MCA with Universal had purchased MGM rather than Kirk Kerkorian, all that backlot majesty might still be in place. Meanwhile, while Sony should be praised for retaining & astheticising Lot 1, they’ve also turned it into a bland business park by pulling down stages 18, 19, 20, removing set construction-properties from the lot & converting the amazing stages 5-6 Theatre Stages to recording & an office tower

    1. Thanks for your comment and additional information about the current situation at the Sony lot. There is much to bemoan really in the loss of movie-making heritage at the old MGM lots and in greater Los Angeles. I collect one area, costume design sketches, which have scattered to the winds (those that survived). I started recuperating old MGM lot and set stills by accident. There’s loss everywhere you look.

      1. Hello Christian, thankgoodness for the efforts of yourself & the legendary Debbie Reynolds for preserving artefacts of the MGM legacy. I visited the then Lorimar Studios in the mid 1980s on a holiday to the US. Peering in thru the gates off Overland I marvelled at this place, was like a sabbatical to Bethlehem or the Vatican to me, somehow unreal; the glory was faded & the MGM shingle & lots 2-3 had long gone, but lot 1 was still fully in tact. The place would have been better than Disney Land!

        1. Thanks John. I agree, the lack of vision by the then ownership was staggering. In the case of Universal Studios, even the sale of prime real estate of “Universal City” was a colossal loss of value.

          1. Lack of vision is a nice way for you to put it — I am kind of outraged by it ‘s destruction and of people who think this way. It could have been preserved. Why do some people think if a building is over 40 years old it is of no value anymore. Very stupid and un-enlightened on their part I say

          2. I agree Ava. You could also say they wanted to make a quick buck and weren’t really interested in the movie business .Universal Studios turned part of their sets into an amusement park. 20th Century Fox sold off their back lots and land for cheap, which was developed into Century City in L. A..

          3. It seems that in Hollywood, anything – and anyone – over 40 is of no value.
            The destruction of both RKO and MGM studios by the moneymen is an example of bad management and lack of foresight.

          4. These two cases were indeed shameful. The RKO lot was absorbed by Paramount (after Desilu), but the famous Radio Pictures globe was demolished. MGM was sad all the way around as was well documented. Thanks for your comments.

  20. “The Great Earth”? Try “The GOOD Earth.” Most of the rest of the text is on the same insipid level. The photos are great, of course, but already available to anyone who has the indispensible “M-G-M Hollywood’s Greatest Back Lot.”

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