A Fond Farewell to the Famed “Columbia Ranch”
Established in 1934 by Columbia Pictures, the historic Warner Bros./”Columbia Ranch” backlot in Burbank, CA was recently demolished to make way for redeveloped real estate. As the author of Twitch Upon a Star, and The Essential Elizabeth Montgomery, both about the star of television’s iconic Bewitched series, I was interviewed in 1996 by TV’s Entertainment Tonight for a special tribute to the actress (who died from cancer in 1995).
Dan Weaver, a terrifically talented producer and equally wonderful human being (who died in 2018) was a segment producer for Entertainment Tonight at the time. It was Dan’s idea to tape the interview in front of the Bewitched house on the Columbia Ranch backlot complex, which was located at 411 North Hollywood Way in Burbank. The facility also housed the exterior for other TV homes such as I Dream of Jeannie, Hazel, The Partridge Family, Gidget, Father Knows Best, Life Goes On, The Middle, and so many more.
Like all the movie and TV home exteriors on the Columbia Ranch, the Bewitched house was in reality a facade. You’d walk through the front doors, and you’d see nothing but lumber, nails, bolds, and hinges holding it all together. There was no “interior” to the Bewitched residence or any of the exteriors of the homes utilized at the Columbia Ranch for various TV shows and movies through the decades.
But from the outside? The Bewitched house, the I Dream of Jeannie house, and the others, indeed once lined a magical street of TV and movie dreams. As I look back at that special day in front of the Bewitched house, and now, in view of the recent demolishment of the Columbia Ranch, the memory becomes all the more magical, poignant… and bittersweet.
The homes have been demolished but some of the other props, including the famous Friends fountain have been relocated to other Warner Bros. lots.