Leave it to Harold (and Beaver) at the Long Beach Pike

pan 0101In a prior post I wrote how an idyllic Skokie, Illinois street once stood in for Mayfield on Leave It to Beaver.  Although that episode has no connection to silent movies, I was surprised to see that the Season 5, Episode 21 installment “Beaver’s Fear” does.  During the show older brother Wally and his cool older friends allow young Theodore to tag along on their trip to the “Bell Port” amusement park in order to qualify for a group discount.  Shaken by Eddie Haskell’s constant teasing, Beaver has doubts about withstanding the roller coaster, but in the end Beaver has a great time, while Eddie freaks out, and must be carried bodily from the coach at the end of the ride.

The former Cyclone twin-track racing roller coaster at the Long Beach Pike (1915-1968) stood in for the Bell Port attraction.  Although the rear projection footage is about as convincing as Ken Osmond’s acting during the scene (see both above), it nonetheless provides a fascinating photographic record of the long lost coaster, the last twin-track (or racing) coaster in the country at the time of its demise.

Click to enlarge.  The Loff Hippodrome tower, housing the Pike Carousel, appears behind Harold Lloyd

Click to enlarge. The Loff Hippodrome tower, housing the Pike Carousel, appears behind Harold Lloyd during a scene from Number Please? (1920) to the left, and in the Beaver episode to the right.

The twin racing coaster was originally called the Jackrabbit Racer at the time Harold Lloyd filmed Number Please? there in 1920, but was renamed The Cyclone in 1930 after it was upgraded with higher peaks and longer drops.  The Loff Hippodrome shown above and to the right housed a distinctive carousel that appeared both in Number Please? and in Buster Keaton’s 1920 comedy The High Sign.  My book Silent Visions explores in detail all of the beach-side amusement parks appearing in Lloyd’s films.

Lloyd was not the first comedian to feature the Pike’s star attraction in an early film.  Below, the Roscoe Arbuckle – Buster Keaton – Al St. John comedy The Cook (1918) also included many scenes shot on the twin-track coaster.

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Click to enlarge.  At left from The Cook, Al St. John streaks uphill between the twin tracks – to the right a matching shot from the Beaver episode.  The curved roof of the Majestic Ballroom (and skating rink) appears at back to the right in both images.

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A view of The Cyclone racing roller coaster.  The tower to the Loff Hippodrome appears due north of the coaster.  LAPL 00074673

In one of my earliest posts, I write about the Long Beach Goatland attraction that appears during the Arbuckle-Keaton-St. John comedy The Cook, and how the surviving Loff Hippodrome roof and cupola tower (right) sits in a nearby parking lot.  Sadly, a check on Google Street View shows that the cupola is no longer sitting in the parking lot.  I have not been able to determine whether it has been safely relocated or has finally been demolished.  The Pike and Silver Spray Pier were torn down long ago, although the Rainbow Harbor entertainment center that stands there today (see below) has a Ferris Wheel.

Harold and Rich

Harold and Rich

Note: in a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon connection, director Rich Correll, who as a young man was Harold Lloyd’s friend and film archivist, and who remains a leading Lloyd expert and staunch Lloyd proponent, had earlier been a child actor on Leave It to Beaver, portraying Beaver’s friend Richard Rickover.  Although Rich did not appear in the Bell Port amusement park sequence, he does appear in the same episode, providing another link between the show and the silent era.

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.

Leave it to Beaver – (C) 1962 Revue Studios.

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2 Responses to Leave it to Harold (and Beaver) at the Long Beach Pike

  1. geogan says:

    Hi John, I don’t know if I mentioned that my wife and I live in Long Beach and really enjoy its rich and colorful history so it was really a pleasure to see the post about the early Long Beach Pike and the Silver Spray Pier! We were very familiar with the renovation down at the Pike over the last decade and many times saw the Looff Carousel Hippodrome cupola sitting on blocks along side the road when we’d be down there. Recently we’d made a trip down there and saw it missing but then found this building between the Laugh Factory and the Ferris Wheel on the corner of Pine & Shoreline, and thought, there it is! We were excited that they were able to reuse it. But then, when I compared it to the photo you’d taken of the original sitting on the blocks and did a closer examination, It became obvious it’s not the same structure. The roof line is different on the tower and this structure is 8-sided where the original was 16. I guess they felt the old was just too structurally unsound to be able to reuse. Thanks again for the stuff on Long Beach! I’m going to enjoy immersing myself in it!

    Dave David G. Gansen

    Home 562 420-1928 Cel 562 787-0887 davcre8s@msn.com

    Date: Sun, 16 Jun 2013 05:04:02 +0000 To: davcre8s@msn.com

  2. Pingback: Leave it to Santa Monica – Beaver and Harold Lloyd | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

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