Last week, Mike (from MovieShotsLA) and I hit up John Marshall High School in Los Feliz for a little stalking of one of Los Angeles’ most oft filmed high schools. Mike had made an appointment to tour the school with Marshall’s resident historian, Joanna, who has been teaching at Marshall for over 30 years. Not only is Joanna a seasoned Marshall High teacher, but she also attended the school as a teenager and has a vast wealth of information about the school and its prestigious filming history.
Upon our arrival, Joanna provided us with a spreadsheet of productions filmed on campus detailing what specific areas of the school were used for each film and what each particular scene entailed. She rocks! I was most excited to find out that Marshall stood in for the Chicago Catholic all girls high school from one of my FAVE movies of all time- Girls Just Wanna Have Fun ! According to Joanna, three large white crosses were added to the roof of the high school during the filming of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, causing parents and local residents (who didn’t realize a movie was being filmed on campus) to call in and inquire about the religious symbols. The screen capture above, taken from GJWHF, didn’t come out very well as the only scene that shows the crosses on top of the school is actually a very brief scene which fades in from another causing the picture to be a bit transparent.
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun filmed extensively at the school and if you watch the movie you will see it popping up quite a few times – including the scene where one of the nuns (donning a full robe and habit) performs a gymnastics routine on an outdoor vault. LOL According to Joanna, the front of the school is a very popular place for filming due to it’s gorgeous “collegiate gothic” architecture. Even though the school is actually located in Los Angeles, it has the look and feel of a Midwest or East Coast school, leading to its popularity with location scouts and producers. The school’s unique doors (pictured above in GJWHF) are usually a dead giveaway that a movie was filmed at John Marshall.
The school has been featured in literally countless movies, TV shows, and music videos. Just to name a few – Tom Hanks drove a bus for John Marshall students in Bachelor Party, Luke Perry and Kristie Swanson attended school there in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, it stood in for Dewey High on Growing Pains and John Adams High on Boy Meets World, Garth Brooks filmed a music video in the school’s auditorium, it was John Cusak’s alma mater in Grosse Pointe Blank, and the site of the therapy session between Dr. Evil and his son in Austin Powers 2. John Marshall was also featured as the high school in Can’t Hardly Wait, Pretty in Pink, Zapped!, Like Father, Like Son, True Crime, Splendor in the Grass, Rebel Without a Cause, Boston Public, Uncle Buck, Mr. Novak, and Nightmare on Elm Street. Van Halen’s music video Hot for a Teacher was filmed in the school’s former library. And the final scene from Grease – the famous carnival scene – was filmed on the school’s football field (pictured above). According to Joanna, in one of the carnival scenes you can actually see a large “M” (for Marshall) in the background on one of the school buildings. 🙂 Whew – that’s a lot of filming! I would kill for that resume! 🙂
John Marshall, named for the former Chief Justice of the United States, opened up on January 26, 1931. The school currently has 4000 students and a faculty of 200. Famous alumni include Julie Newmar aka Catwoman, Judge Lance Ito, Heidi Fleiss, countless sports heroes and my personal fave, Leonardo DiCaprio. Leo attended the school for only one semester before landing his role on Growing Pains, which ironically filmed at John Marshall High. 🙂 Joanna said that she has been interviewed dozens of times about Mr. DiCaprio, even though his stint at Marshall was so brief. She said that most interviews were quite ridiculous as Leo only attended Marshall for a few months and therefore there just wasn’t that much to talk about. She did tell me that Leo’s counselor really liked him though. 🙂 She also said most interviewers wanted to see the auditorium where Leo would have performed had he ever acted in any Marshall High plays (which he never did). She said countless interviewers walked around the high school’s main stage saying “So he would have stood right here!” LOL
Marshall is a truly beautiful and unique school and I highly recommend stalking it. After all, chances are it has appeared in one of your favorite movies or TV shows. 🙂
Until next time, Happy Stalking! 🙂
Stalk It: John Marshall High School is located at 3939 Tracey Avenue in Los Feliz.