This weekend my boyfriend and I hung out with Mike, from MovieShotsLA, and his fiance Jen, and we all sat down to watch some Season 3 episodes of the original 90210. I became a bit obsessed with finding the location that stood in for the Paris garden where Brenda takes “Reek” in the episode entitled “Shooting Star/An American In Paris”. I knew, from the Universal Studios tour, that most of the Paris scenes on 90210 were filmed in the Little Europe section of the Universal backlot, but the garden area used in the episode we watched on Saturday was definitely not a backlot. Mike and I figured out that the scenes had to have been shot in one of three places – the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia, the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens in Pasadena, or Descanso Gardens in La Canada. I decided if I really wanted to find Brenda’s garden, I was just going to have to hit up all three (I told you I was a bit obsessed!), so yesterday I dragged my boyfriend out to the Arboretum for a little 90210 stalking. Unfortunately, after walking pretty much every square foot of the 127 acre property, I realized that 90210 was not in fact filmed at the Arboretum. But since countless other productions have been filmed there, I still felt it was blog-worthy. 🙂
The Arboretum was originally the private ranch of real estate tycoon Elias Jackson Baldwin, who first purchased the land in 1875. He lived on the property, which at the time was called Rancho Santa Anita, and eventually built a guest home, called the Queen Anne Cottage, to house his many guests. In 1936, the land was purchased by a group of investors led by Harry Chandler, publisher of the LA Times newspaper. That same year Hollywood came a knockin’ on the Arboretum’s door when producers of the film Tarzan Escapes chose to film much of their movie on the vast property. In 1947, the property was purchased by both the State of California and the City of Los Angeles, who turned it into a public arboretum and botanical garden.
Since Tarzan Escapes, literally hundreds upon hundreds of film, television and commercial productions have shot at the Arboretum. The most notable credit on the Arboretum’s resume is the television series Fantasy Island, which showcased Elias Baldwin’s former guest house, the Queen Anne Cottage, each week in its opening credits. The Cottage was none other than the location where Tatoo proclaimed “De plane, de plane!” at the beginning of each episode. The first few episodes of Fantasy Island were actually filmed on location at the Arboretum, but after that a replica of the cottage was built on a soundstage to be used for filming. You can watch the intro to Fantasy Island here.
The Queen Anne Cottage was also featured in Meet the Fockers as Ben Stiller’s parents’ home. In Meet the Fockers the Cottage was painted brown and looks very different than it does in real life.
Besides Fantasy Island, the Arboretum shows up in The African Queen, The Road to Singapore, Roots, Wonder Woman, The American President, Anaconda, Bedazzled, Battle of Shaker Heights, Terminator 2, as well as a recent episode of Heroes, where it stood in for the Peruvian jungle. The waterfall and bamboo park area of the Arboretum were also featured in the Destiny’s Child Survivor video (pictured above).
The Arboretum is an absolutely beautiful place to visit, with a very reasonable $7 entrance fee. Even though I was seriously dissapointed that it was not the location used in 90210, I still had a great time spending my day there. The Arboretum features over 127 acres of gardens, ponds, lakes, waterfalls, meandering pathways and forests to explore. I highly recommend stalking it!
Perhaps the best feature of the Arboretum, though, are the hundreds of peacocks that make their home there and walk the property freely. The peacocks are extremely tame (I even saw them eating grapes right out of a little girl’s hand) and walk right next to you, as if exploring the Arboretum themselves. They were so much fun to see!!
Until next time, Happy Stalking!! 🙂
Stalk It: The Los Angeles State and County Arboretum and Botanical Garden is located at 301 N. Baldwin Avenue in Arcadia. The Arboretum is open from 9am to 5pm. Tickets will cost you $7 per person, but you can get in free each third Tuesday of the month.