Sunday, June 19, 2016

Universal Studios, May 1974

Ordinarily I am happy to find a batch of slides from Universal Studios (California, of course), but this group of eight from 1974 is so horribly bland, so unbelievably insipid, that I am posting them all in one not-so-glorious post. 

Hey, ya can't park here! Apparently this little roundabout was for cabs and other pickups and drop-offs. Why that Glamor Tram is there I have no idea. In the distance you can almost see the San Fernando Valley through the smog. Notice the flowers, arranged in the shape of a star. Because Hollywood.

War is hell. Miniature sea warfare is like a tiny hell. This model Destroyer (or whatever) is about to open a can of whoop-ass on an enemy U-boat.

Oh, those sneaky submarines. Maybe it was the other way around, and the Destroyer got whomped by an itty-bitty torpedo. Does anybody remember? The stone structure in the background was built for the 1965 Charleton Heston epic, "The War Lord". You all remember that one!

Meanwhile, over at the stunt show... I guess that fella just dropped a penny, and is diving to retrieve it. Back in the 1800's you could buy a house for a penny.

Down below two varmints demonstrate the art of bullwhippery. If that isn't a word, it should be. The guy with the whip is putting everything he has into his stunt. If only we knew what it was.

And you can't have a western-themed stunt show without some fisticuffs. Hopefully they used a few breakaway chairs and bottles made out of sugar glass.

I like this view looking up a typical western street. In the distance is the train depot, complete with what I presume is an authentic steam locomotive. Can't you just picture some opening shot, with the Sheriff waiting at the station for his bride to be, just arriving from Philadelphia?

And finally, here's a photo of the famous "flash flood" scene that one viewed while aboard one of the trams. This little Mexican village experienced a sudden downpour, resulting in a sudden deluge that ran right down the middle of the street. The tree in the foreground fell toward the tram (slowly), but when it was all over, I always looked behind me to watch it reset into its upright position.

Well, I guess that wasn't so bad! I have more Universal Studios slides to come, and I think they are generally better than today's offering.


Nanook said...


"Bottles made of sugar glass". You know, sometimes when I'm feeling particularly churlish, or merely goofy, I like to throw swanky dinner parties and replace my usual fine Riedel crystal stemware for that made of sugar glass. You should witness the hilarity that ensues when the "glasses" begin to 'melt' in my guests' hands-! It's priceless, I tell you. It even tops a Jerry Lewis stunt.

Thanks, Major.

Patrick Devlin said...

Oh boy, oh boy, do I love Sundays if they're going to be like this!

The year would pretty much coincide with my first visit. I remember the destroyer-U-boat duel. I think the sub got off a shot with a trail of bubbles to mark the path of the torpedo and then a nice pneumatic blast to simulate an impact.

And I loved the downpour/flash flood sequence: Like you Major, I liked to see the tree come back to upright. I believe all right-thinking individuals turned around to watch that, of course.

Graffer said...

I only went to Universal Studios once even though I lived less than 10 miles away for decades. It was in the early '60s. They had very few special effects back then. I remember seeing Marilyn Munster - in costume!

TokyoMagic! said...

So much has changed at Universal over the years, but that little roundabout is still there today for dropping people off and picking them up. I was surprised the first time I went and discovered that the War Lord tower had been torn down. It's not like they had put anything significant in that spot. Also, that pond with the miniature boats had been paved over and replaced with tables and chairs. They only left a teeny tiny rectangular pool of water just below the "rain effect" pouring off the roof of that building. The building and that effect were removed altogether just about a year ago. That western street and the train depot are still standing on the backlot today. I posted an almost identical pic of it that my dad had taken in the sixties and the sign on the station read "Medicine Bow, Wyoming". I didn't realize it at the time, but I have since discovered that was a set for the Universal TV show, "The Virginian". And lastly, I remember the tram host/hostess telling guests that the tree that fell over during the flash flood was made of a very special wood...."Holly" wood. Waaaa waaaa! I love today's photos, Major!

Scott Lane said...

And still no pictures of those chariots. (let it go already, Scott)

K. Martinez said...

Hey Major,

Why do you think I tune in here everyday? It's to see the horribly bland and unbelievably insipid stuff you post. ;-)

However, the day is saved with the telephone/power poles in the second to last image.

Nanook said...

@ Ken-

Telegraph poles; telegraph poles - please-!

K. Martinez said...


Oh, those pesky little details! They get me every time.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I always liked the idea of sugar glass… and was disappointed to discover that nowadays some kind of plastic resin is used. Makes sense, but it’s not as fun. As for your prank, how about sugar glass coffee mugs? Scalding hot java is always good for a laugh!

Patrick Devlin, ha ha, unfortunately most Sundays are going to be much less interesting. Such is life. Your description of the line of bubbles sure rings a bell. As a kid, Universal Studios held a lot of fascination for me!

Graffer, considering that my grandparents lived so relatively close to Universal, I’m surprised that we didn’t go more often. Maybe my elders thought that the place didn’t warrant frequent revisits. I would have been happy to go back over and over.

TokyoMagic!, I’m sure that very little of the 1960’s studio remains, and it’s not really surprising. Between the destructive fires, and random changes over the years, the whole place is constantly in a state of flux. I’m glad to hear that the train depot is still there (is the train there too?)! “Holly” wood, oh my gosh. Even Wally Boag would groan.

Scott Lane, there are photos of a chariot at Universal Studios HERE and also HERE

K. Martinez, lucky for me you are easy to please! ;-)

Nanook, D’OH!

K. Martinez, hoisted on your own petard. Whatever that means. (PS, I know what it means)!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I will have to search for a recent photo that I took of that same train station. There was a train there, but I don't believe it is the same one that is in your pic. I had a theory that the train that is sitting there now is the old "Runaway Train" engine from years ago. Remember when the tram would suddenly "stall" on the R.R. tracks? I think they moved that train engine over next to this train station. Maybe someone else can confirm that. In my dad's pic from the 1960's, there isn't a train there and the train tracks disappear into the dirt. There is more of the tracks showing in your pic. I had also posted an aerial pic of that train station that I got from a pictorial souvenir book and also two pics of the miniature boats one of which, my dad had taken and the other from the same souvenir book. All of those pics can be seen here: Universal Studios 1967 and other parks

TokyoMagic! said...

P.S. Scroll to the very bottom of the page for the four Universal pics!

walterworld said...

TokyoMagic: Thanks for the bonus link!

And thank you Major for another day and yet another fun post.

You (and Baseball) are one of the few 'constants' out there anymore.

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, oh man, I had forgotten about the "runaway train" gag! What a blast from the past. Thanks for the links to your pix... since I left a comment on them, I've clearly seen them before. But my brain doesn't have room for so many images! You're right, the image of the train station is VERY similar to the one here.

walterworld, thank you for the nice comment!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I have a pic that my dad took of the Runaway Train in the late eighties when they had an armored tank-type of vehicle attached to the front of the train and a figure of Mr. T sitting inside of it. I'll have to get that posted some time. And once I am able to dig up my fairly recent pic of that train station, I will send it your way!

Anonymous said...

What Patrick Devlin said. I did all of those things too, including turning around after the flood... I vividly recall seeing the set for "Ironsides", which was huge about then.

Only the one trip to US in my youth. Thinking about going back for Harry Potter now.

Thanks for the insipid pics.