|RKO Forty Acres|
|1965 aerial photo of the Forty Acres property, looking west.|
|Location||Culver City, CA|
|Studios in charge|
|1927||Cecil B. DeMille (leased from Harry Culver)|
|1928 – 1948||RKO Pathé|
|1935 – 1939||Selznick International Pictures (leased from RKO)|
|1948 – 1955||RKO under Howard Hughes|
|1955 – 1957||General Tire and Rubber Company|
|1957 – 1966||Desilu|
|1968||Perfect Film and Chemical|
|1969 – 1976||OSF Industries Limited|
In 1935 David O. Selznick leased the property from RKO for his new studio, Selznick International Pictures. For his 1939 production of Gone with the Wind, the plantation Tara, the Atlanta Depot, and other Atlanta buildings were constructed on Forty Acres. The depot and many of the Atlanta buildings became permanent fixtures on the property till its final days, while the set of Tara was sold in 1959 to investors who planned to open a theme park in the Atlanta area (see Tara Plantation). From 1943 to 1958, a separate part of the 28½ acres known as the African jungle set, located on the opposite side of Ballona Creek, was used extensively for the Tarzan series by RKO, and later for The Adventures of Jim Bowie television series by Desilu. Following years of turnovers by several owners, including Howard Hughes, the backlot was practically deserted and cinematic productions declined. It was purchased in 1957 by Desilu with the intention of filming for the burgeoning television industry.
Forty Acres is best remembered for providing the backdrop for the fictional town of Mayberry on the television hit series The Andy Griffith Show. Many of the street scenes and buildings on the backlot were seen regularly on television screens across America and became quite familiar with viewers. The original Town of Atlanta set, comprising a New York style street, a town square and a residential area to the east, was situated in the center of the property and was used on shows like Adventures of Superman, Ozzie and Harriet, Batman, The Green Hornet and Mission: Impossible. It was also used on Star Trek in three episodes entitled "Miri", "The Return of the Archons" and "The City on the Edge of Forever". Sharp-eyed television viewers could note many visual cues that crossed over from one series to the next, including the structures themselves, or signs on doors and windows. In Star Trek's "The City on the Edge of Forever" for example, a crossover from The Andy Griffith Show was evident by noting a window sign for "Floyd's Barber Shop" in a particular scene involving Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Edith Keeler (Joan Collins) who were strolling by..
Forty Acres was also the backdrop for a 1961 episode of My Three Sons entitled "The Horseless Saddle", and five episodes of the hit TV series Bonanza where the backlot’s Western Street, next to the Garden of Allah (1936) set, served as a trail town. An added feature was the fact that some portions of the backlot were occupied by fields and scrub and provided the ideal conditions for filming a western. The Tara set, which sat on a sloping rise at the north western corner of the property, was torn down in 1959 to eventually become the Stalag 13 set for Hogan's Heroes. Most of the sets, which included Camp Henderson on Gomer Pyle, were situated primarily in the center, south and west end of the property. The narrower east end was the site of a western town set at one time, and was later home to an unusual, narrow alley set lined by two long facades facing each other. The alley set was constructed for the 1968 Robert Wise film Star! starring Julie Andrews, and it also later made a brief appearance in the 1975 film Switchblade Sisters, as did the streets and buildings of the central town area.
Overall, the property was an undulating plateau with a southern slope (by the town square) that led to Ballona Creek. Picturesque Sycamore Maple and willow trees dotted the northern and southern perimeter of the property.
The two main arteries that traversed the Atlanta/Mayberry set were Atlanta or Main Street, which ran east/west and opened at one point onto a town square, and North Street, a cross street that bisected it at the four corners just west of the square.
|Image||Structure||flrs||Location||years||Seen on||Seen as|
|church||2||SE end of town square||1950-76|| |
|courthouse||2||NE of town square||1952-76|| |
|residence||2||across from church||1939-76|| |
|bank||2||SE corner Atlanta/North||1939-76|| |
|store/cafe||3||NW corner Atlanta/North||1939-76|| |
|main hotel||2||center, town square||1945-76|| |
|tall hotel||4||NW of town square||1947-76|| |
|theatre||2||NW of town square||1939-75|| |
|buildings||2||rear of courthouse||1955-76|| |
|shop||2||E of town square||1955-76|| |
|store plaza||2||N of town square||1955-76|| |
|depot||1||west of town||1939-76|| |
|store/cafe||3||SW corner Atlanta/North||1939-76|| |
|Tara||2||NW portion of backlot||1939-59|
|office||3||NW end of Atlanta St||1939-76|| |
|cafe||2||S side of Atlanta St||1938-76|| |
|hotel||2||SW of town square||1938-76|| |
|townhouse||2||top of North St||1950-76|| |
|town hall||2||bottom of North St||1950-76|| |