The Barkley mansion from The Big Valley turned up all over classic television
Everyone from Clint Eastwood to the Beverly Hillbillies popped by the house.
Mack Sennett was Hollywood's first true king of comedy. The producer-director crafted countless silent films that boosted the careers of Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle, Buster Keaton and W.C. Fields. But Sennett's Keystone Studios is probably best remembered for its "Keystone Cops," the slapstick policemen who dominated the early two-reel movie industry. Box-office success afforded Sennett a sparkling new studio, which he built alongside the Los Angeles River in the San Fernando Valley in 1928.
Today, Sennett's ambitious plot of land is known as CBS Studio City. It sits at the intersection of Ventura Boulevard and Radford Avenue. Over the course of 92 years, the studio has changed hands several times. Mascot Pictures, Republic Pictures, Revue Productions, Four Star Productions, MTM Enterprises and, of course, CBS have all owned or leased the lot in those nine-plus decades, as everything from Leave It to Beaver to Seinfeld filmed on the property.
Classic television fans are familiar with the lagoon that once sat on the north side of the land next to the river. It was the home of Gilligan's Island. The lush jungle set was tucked behind a large white mansion. While the Skipper and the other castaways dwelled in the backyard, of sorts, the front of the house did heavy work on Sixties television.
Vines could often be seen crawling up the large white pillars that lined the front porch. The structure's primary starring role was on The Big Valley, as it served as the home of the Barkley from 1965–69. Each week, the faces of the stars — Barbara Stanwyck, Peter Breck, Lee Majors and Linda Evans — were superimposed over the abode in the opening credits of the hit Western. You can see an image from that opening at the top of this post.
But the Barkley Mansion popped up on dozens of other notable productions, too.
Before The Big Valley began, in October 1964, investigator Paul Drake (William Hopper) visited the place in the Perry Mason episode "The Case of the Paper Bullets," where it served as the home of a senator.
The place often popped up on The Wild Wild West. It is just one of the notable things about "The Night of the Eccentrics," the season-two premiere, which also happens to contain the screen debut of Richard Pryor, who plays a ventriloquist.
A chill wind blows dead leaves past the porch in the opening scenes of "The Cemetary" in Night Gallery, the 1969 made-for-TV movie that launched Rod Serling's eerie anthology series.
Clint Eastwood met Charles Bronson in the front yard in "Duel at Daybreak," the 1965 Rawhide episode that brought together two budding legends.
Granny confuses a movie production at the mansion for a rekindling of the Civil War in "The South Rises Again," a 1967 episode of The Beverly Hillbillies.
Rewind the clock to the Fifties and find the joint in Alfred Hitchcock Presents, in "The Morning of the Bride," a sort of spiritual precursor to Psycho.
The mansion even has a place in a cult B-movie serial, 1952's Zombies of the Stratosphere, which also happens to contain one of Leonard Nimoy's earliest screen appearances. Here is star Judd Holdren posing by a tree on the front lawn.
Don't go looking for the Barkley house today. A beige, six-story parking deck now hogs that particular piece of land.