Leave it to Santa Monica – Beaver and Harold Lloyd

Skokie Illinois stands in for Mayfield

Skokie Illinois stands in for Mayfield

Although Leave it to Beaver takes place in “Mayfield,” set in an undetermined state, I show in a prior post how Skokie, Illinois stood in for Mayfield during a scene from “Beaver’s Fortune” (Season 3: Episode 10; first broadcast December 5, 1959).  While Beaver owns a surf board late in the series, and the gang makes trips to the beach, the show frequently distinguishes the Cleaver’s home state from California, often referred to as a faraway place.

By the 6th and final season, the producers seem to have gotten tired of playing coy.   When Wally and Ward take a test drive (“Wally Buys a Car; Season 6:, Episode 16, first broadcast January 10, 1963), they drive right down 3rd Street in Santa Monica, past the El Miro Theater to the right.  At left in the back stands the Clock Tower Building on Santa Monica Boulevard at 3rd.  The El Miro facade has been preserved as part of the multiplex theater standing there today.


California cruisin’ – Ward and Wally heading south down 3rd Street in Santa Monica.   Clock Tower – Santa Monica Public Library – El Miro – Water and Power Associates

As the scene along 3rd Street ends, the north side of the Keller Building comes into view.  You can glimpse it to the left (yellow box) in each image below.

Looking north up 3rd Street from Broadway.  Absent in the 1927 view are the Clock Tower (left) built in 1929, and the El Miro tower (right) built in 1933.  The yellow box marks the transition from the historic Keller Building on the corner of Broadway and the two story building north of it.  Closed to street traffic today, the site is now known as the Third Street Promenade.  Santa Monica Public Library

Looking north up 3rd Street from Broadway. Absent in the 1927 view are the Clock Tower (left) built in 1929, and the El Miro tower (right) built in 1933. The yellow box marks the transition from the historic Keller Building on the corner of Broadway and the two-story building north of it. Closed to street traffic today, the site is now known as the Third Street Promenade.  Santa Monica Public Library

In another post, I show how Beaver and Harold Lloyd both filmed scenes at the Long Beach Pike amusement park forty years apart.  As shown below, they nearly crossed paths beside the Keller Building in Santa Monica as well.


During Harold Lloyd’s 1924 feature comedy Hot Water, the family’s inaugural drive in Harold’s new car ends in disaster.  Their trouble begins when the car grid-locks the intersection at 3rd and Broadway in Santa Monica.  The Keller Building at back was built in 1893.  The yellow box matches the trio of images further above.

Thanks to movie editing, moments after Harold pushes the family car out of this intersection in low-lying Santa Monica (above), the car careens down Bunker Hill on Olive Street in downtown Los Angeles, a setting also appearing in the 1952 noir classic The Turning Point, as described in this post HERE.

If the Cleavers live in Santa Monica, then Ward must work in West Hollywood! During the episodes “Beaver on TV” (Season 6: Episode 22; first broadcast February 21, 1963), and “Lumpy’s Scholarship (Season 6: Episode 24; first broadcast, March 7, 1963) this establishing shot of Ward’s office was filmed at 9034 Sunset Boulevard.


Although the flagstone detailing has been replaced with brick, and a shabby portico with columns has been added, the basic box-like design and proportions of Ward’s office remain unchanged.  (C) 2013 Google.

litb_maxim_houseIf you enjoy looking at studio backlots, the wonderful Retroweb site shows how the Cleaver’s home and neighborhood were part of the Colonial Street backlot at Universal Studios.  Beaver and Gilbert even walk past the Munster’s home in one episode!

Leave it to Beaver – (C) 1962, (C) 1963 Revue Studios.  HAROLD LLOYD images and the names of Mr. Lloyd’s films are all trademarks and/or service marks of Harold Lloyd Entertainment Inc. Images and movie frame images reproduced courtesy of The Harold Lloyd Trust and Harold Lloyd Entertainment Inc.

Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, CA

This entry was posted in Harold Lloyd, Hot Water, Leave It To Beaver, TV Shows and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Leave it to Santa Monica – Beaver and Harold Lloyd

  1. Chris Bungo says:

    Nice work as always John.


  2. Pingback: Chaplin – 100 Years Ago on Sunset Boulevard | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

  3. Albert says:

    I posted the above pix with Wally and Ward in the car back on 4/2013 on a LITB blog


  4. Fred Cantor says:

    I know you also wrote about an episode in Season 3 which showed a downtown establishing shot done in Skokie, IL, which seemed more in sync with the smaller Midwestern town I had always envisioned while watching the show as a kid when it originally aired.

    There is an earlier establishing shot of an urban downtown scene in Season 2, Episode 15, “The Grass is Always Greener,” which I imagine is in the greater LA area. With your knowledge of metro Los Angeles, perhaps you can identify it. Thanks.


  5. David Shereda says:

    in the episode where Beaver puts a curse on Eddie, in Eddie’s bedroom on the wall to the left is an Ohio State Pennant.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ACW says:

    I know this is late entry .. but episode S2E35 The Cookie Fund. Wally’s hs teacher wants to take students to Mexico. Ward was going to agree but trip cancelled. This was 1959. It had to be SoCal / Santa Monica as only few hours car drive. if Chicago be over 36+ hours one way (per 2021 online)

    Liked by 1 person

    • If the show had been truthful about where it was filmed, they wouldn’t have had to worry about keeping the details straight. Did you see this post where they used stock footage of Skokie Illinois? https://wp.me/p11nfB-1a3


      • ACW says:

        Yes I had seen stock footage of Skokie (i just considered that a home film made by Mr Rutherford who is always traveling). I doubt Hollywood can ever be honest — example shows had to keep show sponsors happy.

        That is why I put travel time by car to Mexico from Chicago. I mean what parent would allow hs student trip to Mexico that takes at least 1/2 week or longer to drive to destination then repeat return trip.

        Also, Chicago in January 2021 had 20.5 inches of snow. Never mention snow or high humidity in show (ie Florida).


  7. Debra Morrison says:

    Season 2 Episode 12 mentions two references to California. A carnival that they went to in Garden Grove and an aunt visiting from Riverside. It seemed by the dialogue that the carnival was close and the aunt was visiting from a considerable distance. At that time with only a two lane road between Orange County and Riverside County the driving time would have been over an hour and seem like an eternity! Once at the Cleavers, Ward directs the aunt to stay on highway 39 to get to her destination. Highway 39 is more commonly known as Beach Blvd.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. BESTTEC says:

    In the Season 6 Episode, Beaver, The Hero, when Beaver’s head swells due to becoming a popular football player at school, he makes a reference to a “surfboard”. Had he been from the Midwest, or many other places in the US, even if a kid wanted to learn to surf in his wildest imagination, he wouldn’t likely make a reference to needing a surfboard… Certainly a young Californian of the 60’s would… and a California script writer probably would think every kid would think that way!


    • 131steve says:

      But in the episode where Wally was supposed to be a lifeguard, but they change the law and he was under 18, so he ended up selling food at the beach instead, if he was in California and you have an ocean you can surf, why was he at a lakeside beach instead of an ocean beach?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Dirk Westerfer says:

    In Season 2, episode 16, The Boat Builders, date 1/15/59, Ward says to June that the ocean is 20 miles away.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. g pipkin says:

    It’ll always be in Ohio to me. It’s just a midwestern state of mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Beatrice Scarlett McAlister says:

    Watching the show on Roku. The show is all over the place when it comes to the location.

    Just finished the episode from the last season where Uncle Billy babysits Wally and Beaver (Beaver sneaks his friend into the movie theater, Uncle Billy has to punish him). At the end of the episode Uncle Billy says he’s heading out to California, has business to do in Los Angeles.

    The next episode, Beaver’s Aunt wants him to go to a school on the east coast. She comments on their house, saying how she’s never seen a house look so eastern that far west. They say the school on the east coast is a 3 hour plane ride from Mayfield.

    Most episodes always seemed Midwestern to me. But it’s perpetually summertime outdoors in all the episodes, yet they are in sweaters and layers a lot of the time. Then again, everyone is in a convertible all the time too, leaning again to California.

    I live in Michigan. People do have surf boards and surf on Lake Michigan. So it isn’t too far fetched to say they are supposed to be somewhere in the Midwest.

    We wouldn’t be calling the lake an ocean though.

    I guess it just depends on the writer of the episode on where it takes place.

    Liked by 1 person

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