In 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.
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.
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.
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.