Saturday, August 16, 2014

Universal Studios, March 1961

Today I have some neat pictures from Universal Studios, circa March 1961 - the earliest photos that I have from the public tours.

According to, "In the mid 1950’s, Universal began letting bus companies drive on to the property (the same bus companies that offered guided tours of the homes of Hollywood stars) as a way to increase revenues. The studio charged the bus companies a small fee and also benefited from the extra lunches they could sell to the tourists in the Studio Commissary." 

Another article says: "Universal reopened its lot to visitors in 1961, outsourcing the tours to the Gray Line bus company. But, following a feasibility study by Buzz Price — the same man who helped determine the locations for Disneyland and Walt Disney World — Universal decided to start its own tram tour of its facilities, and Universal Studios Hollywood opened on July 15, 1964".

So today's photos date (as far as I can tell) from when the studio reopened its gates to visitors! I love this first view, taken through the windshield of a bus, looking down a Western street (with another bus not far ahead). The place is abuzz with activity!

Dodge City Bank? I'm not putting my money there, it gets robbed twice a week. Look at those nice railings one the second level, perfect for stunt men to fall through or over!

If you think this one is dark now, just know that I have lightened it considerably. The fellow with the cowboy hat has to be an actor, don't you think? What little I can see of him doesn't ring a bell, though. 

Continuing on our way, we look out the window to see a few recognizable faces.

There's Wayne Rogers in the white hoodie - he became famous a few years later playing Trapper John on the M*A*S*H television series. The man he is talking to looks vaguely familiar, but maybe he just has "one of those faces". Almost eclipsed by the foreground gentleman's forehead is one of cinema's coolest badasses, Charles Bronson! Both Bronson and Rogers appeared in MANY television shows in the 1960's, though I couldn't find anything that they were in together when I searched IMDB.

Here's yet another photo (slightly blurry) of a TV show in production, I love the extras in their costumes hanging around until it was time to wander into the frame. Notice the smoking arc lights, used even in broad daylight.

And finally, we get one last look as some of the backlot, though it is clearly not in use for this particular shoot.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to Universal Studios!


Nanook said...


Back in the day when Universal looked like a real movie studio-! This, in spite of the fact they were producing mostly television fare. Ahhh - you can't have everything.

Thanks, Major.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Wow cool photos. You are right though seems to be no connection to CB/WR on imdb during that time period. Wayne was busy filming Stagecoach West at the time. The mystery man next to him looks very much like a young (slightly heavier) Robert Ryan but it's anyones guess who he is.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, they did make plenty of movies too, but when a TV show produced 36 episodes a year, that was a lot of money in Universal's pocket. You can't blame them! And… some of those TV shows are classics that I wouldn't mind watching today.

Alonzo, the Asian lady also looks familiar, I feel as if I've seen her on old episodes of various shows. She looks very modern and fashionable, and that street appears to be "late 19th century", so perhaps she was part of the crew (hair/makeup, wardrobe, etc).

Nanook said...

@ Major-

I guess what I should have said was "quality motion pictures". And let's not forget Warner Bros. Television -churning out many great TV shows during that same period.

Chuck said...

WOW! What a great set today!

I love Wayne Rogers' tucked-in hoodie. I think that should be the next major fashion trend.

I agree - the guy he's talking to is very familiar, but I can't place it. Maybe it's because he looks vaguely like Kyle Chandler, but I could swear I've seen him in something before. The Asian woman looks very familiar to me, too.

Not convinced that's Bronson on the right. The mouth doesn't look right to me, although that could be contorted mid-speech or gum chew or whatever, and neither do the ears or chin. But there is a definite resemblance and i could easily be mistaken.

Thanks for sharing!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, all I care about is Quinn Martin Productions. ;-)

Chuck, I am pretty sure that it is Bronson. So sure that I am willing to fight to the death! Well, maybe not. I did just look at Google images and still think it looks like him, though.

Nanook said...

@ Major-

It's Ziv Television Productions for me, or nuttin'-!

Dennis Dickens said...

Images are of a studio tour other than universal - Did your tour bus go to MGM or Burbank ?
compare them to collection

Anonymous said...

Western Town look more like Republic Studios rated than Universal lot