I fulfilled a life-long dream in California last month – I visited the Brady Bunch House.
Look, I’ll be honest with you – I nearly cried. That’s how special it was – but I’m not sure that my boyfriend shared my enthusiasm, particularly since we’d spent over two hours grinding through traffic to get there. He was kind enough to photograph me standing next to it, though.
Located at 11222 Dilling Street in North Hollywood, Mike and Carol’s crib is still recognisable more than 40 years later. The only real difference is that the trees have grown and there’s a fence across the front yard. Presumably the owners got sick of freaks like me rocking up and wandering across their lawn, or worse – pressing their faces up against the window to get a glimpse inside, which is kind of dumb when you think about it, because filming never took place inside the house anyway; it was shot on a set at Paramount Studios. I must admit though, I’ve always wondered what chintzy decor delights lie beyond those walls. I couldnt really see anything from my vantage point out on the nature strip, so I walked away with my imagination running wild about how deliciously gaudy it would surely have to be inside.
After I got back to Melbourne, I jumped online and worked myself into a google frenzy trying to hunt down photos of the interior. Sadly I came up with nothing. If anyone out there has any pics, send them this way and put me out of my misery. In the meantime, this photo will calm me down:
After a gruelling photo shoot at Dilling Street we decided to head on over to Burbank for some chow at one of the oldest original diners still in operation, Bob’s Big Boy. It opened in 1949 and, remarkably, has remained largely untouched since it was built. Believe me, that’s a rare thing in Los Angeles. Thanks to greedy property developers and interior designers with no taste, the city’s historical eateries, bars, stores and hotels have been dwindling away for decades now.
Like Bob’s Big Boy, though, there are some places that continue to exist against the odds. One such place is The Dresden, where we ended up later that evening. The Dresden was built in the 1950’s and is one of the few original lounge bars still operating in the city today. Apparently its in a sketchy part of town, but it seemed fine to me.
When you step in the front door, you step back in time. Everything is just as it was, right down to the gorgeous semi-circular dark red leather booths where you can sit back, enjoy a Singapore Sling, and convince yourself its 1954. I’m told that Frank Sinatra was a frequent visitor. How swank.
Behind the bar is a restaurant which is much the same, although it has white semi-circular booths for wining and dining and some very tasteful wood-panelling on the walls. Like the venue itself, the menu hasn’t had an update since it was first printed, so if you don’t giggle with delight at the thought of being served a steaming hot Veal Scallopini by a waiter in a tuxedo, it probably isn’t the place for you.
The Pièce de résistance, however, is the entertainment – a duo called Marty and Elayne who have been performing there EVERY NIGHT since 1982. It’s an incredibly kitsch show. When we were there, Elayne seemed to do most of the work (she sings and plays the grand piano) while Marty tottered around with drumsticks in one hand and merch in the other, flogging the latter to anyone that made eye contact with him. Hollywood being Hollywood, both of them look younger than me (they’d have to be in their 70s) and have matching jet-black hair. Despite the kitsch visuals, they’re both fantastic musicians.
When Marty finally set up his drumkit and started playing, it was like Buddy Rich had entered the building; and as for Elayne – it turns out she was a vocalist in Count Basie’s band when she was a teenager and a pianists with Stan Kenton.
If you ever find yourself in Los Angeles I would highly recommend all of the above activities, but if you would like to reminisce without leaving your computer, a good starting point is the Vintage Los Angeles Facebook Page. They’re always posting beaut stuff.