It’s from Nancy Knechtel:
You have captured the history of the studios you have worked at so well - Did you ever find out who occupied your offices at the studios in the past? Rumor has it that some writers have worked in Shirley Temple's old dressing room bungalow at Fox. Were your offices old dressing rooms or writers buildings? Any great writers occupy your space before you?
For history you can’t beat the Fox lot on Pico. I never had an office in the building that was Shirley Temple’s dressing room, but I was in it frequently since at one time it served as the headquarters for THE TRACEY ULLMAN SHOW and my partner David and I wrote several episodes. Shirley had nice digs for a six-year-old.
But for years on MASH and AfterMASH David and I had offices in the Old Writers Building (back before we were old writers). It’s a gorgeous Swiss chalet, and to this day it was my favorite office.
You’ve seen it in many movies and TV shows. BABES IN TOYLAND with Laurel & Hardy for one. Could you ask for better ghosts when trying to create comedy than Stan & Ollie?
They were always filming CHARLIE’S ANGELS and STARSKY & HUTCH outside our office. It was always fun to look out the window and see either Jackie Smith in a tight jumpsuit or a drug dealer being gunned down in a hail of bullets.
In our time there we had three offices. The first was supposedly once F. Scott Fitzgerald’s. We found a few of Zelda’s empty gin bottles behind the couch so we have confirmation.
More impressive to me was when we became head writers of MASH and moved into Larry Gelbart’s old office. That was like having Babe Ruth’s locker.
We used that as our main writers room and one afternoon I noticed several people in the nearby apartment building looking in at us. I didn’t think four guys sitting around a table writing a Radar speech was much of a show but who knows? Later I learned that the Hello Dolly New York set was on fire across the lot. That’s what the apartment dwellers were looking at. Now I feel like an schmuck for waving at them.
Both of those offices were on the second floor. For AfterMASH we took over the entire first floor. Larry Gelbart didn’t have an office but we said whenever he was there he could use ours. The only thing better than having Larry Gelbart’s old office was actually SHARING an office with Larry Gelbart. Babe Ruth using your locker.
Back in the MASH days we parked behind the building and the old Western town from BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID was still up. My spot was right in front of the saloon (which explains why I was often late).
A couple of years ago I wrote a nostalgic post about the 20th Century Lot. You can find it here. Like I said in that piece -- It was a golden time that I cherish now and happy to say, recognized and appreciated at the time. Dream factories were more dreams and less factories.
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