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UCLA Lake Arrowhead Conference Center from “The American President”

Dec 31st, 2010 | By | Category: Movie Locations

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Before heading to Lake Arrowhead, where the Grim Cheaper, my parents, and I spent Thanksgiving weekend this past November, I did some research on filming in the area and just about fell off my chair when I discovered, thanks to the official Lake Arrowhead website, that part of the 1992 romantic comedy The American President had been shot on location there.  Unfortunately, the website did not specify which scene in particular had been shot in the area nor did it say where exactly filming had taken place.  So, I immediately called upon fellow stalker Chas, from ItsFilmedThere, who put me in touch with the movie’s location manager, Richard Davis Jr., whom he happens to know, and Richard was kind enough to write me back that very same day!  Yay!  Richard informed me that filming had taken place at the UCLA Lake Arrowhead Conference Center, which stood in for the president’s country retreat, Camp David, in the flick.  So, I dragged my parents and the GC right on out to stalk the place pretty much immediately upon arriving in the lakeside city.

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The UCLA Lake Arrowhead Conference Center, which was originally known as the North Shore Tavern, was first constructed in 1921 and at the time was Lake Arrowhead’s most exclusive resort.  The property changed hands a few times over the years and was transformed into everything from a yacht club to a grammar school.  In 1957, the Los Angeles Turf Club, the property’s then-owner, sold off the vast majority of the grounds, including the lake, to several different buyers, but they decided to donate the main lodge to a school.  The lodge was first offered to USC, who declined it.  The L.A.T.C. next approached the Regents of the University of California, who accepted the gift and still own the property to this day.  The state of the art facility is currently comprised of over forty acres of land and features a large swimming pool, an indoor Jacuzzi, a ropes course, three dining rooms with first class catering service, an amphitheater, a rock wall, a zip-lining course, volleyball and tennis courts, hiking and biking trails, 12 conference rooms incorporating 9,000 square feet of meeting space, and 105 guest rooms, including 81 “condolets” – two-story villa-type dwellings.

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In The American President, the conference center’s main lodge stood in for Camp David, where President Andrew Shepherd (aka Michael Douglas) took Sydney Ellen Wade (aka Annette Bening) for a weekend getaway.  The lodge is only shown for a very brief six seconds in the scene in which Marine One, the presidential helicopter, lands on the conference center’s expansive front lawn.  Of filming the scene, which took place on March 29, 1995, Richard Davis Jr. said, “The snow had melted before we could land the helicopter so we crushed about 4 tractor trailer loads of block ice and spread it around like snow. The chopper landed on that and VFX painted in the rest. The shots looking down from the helicopter were shot in Tahoe and cut in. Winter ended early that year.  Another couple of weeks and we probably would have had to go to Alaska.”  So incredibly cool!

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Richard also informed me that the interior and exterior of the actual cabin where Andrew and Sydney stayed in the scene were just sets that were built inside of a studio soundstage.

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The real life interior of the main lodge is pictured above.

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Thanks to fave stalking guide Hollywood Escapes: The Moviegoer’s Guide to Exploring Southern California’s Great Outdoors (which also had The American President information listed, but for whatever reason I failed to see it), I found out that the UCLA Lake Arrowhead Conference Center was also used as Cascade, the supposed Vermont-area sanitarium where “ugly duckling” Charlotte Vail (aka Bette Davis) was sent in the 1942 film Now, Voyager.  I cannot tell you how incredibly cool I think it is that the property still looks pretty much exactly the same today as it did when the movie was filmed over 68 years ago!  Love it!  Love it!  Love it!

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The center’s tennis courts were also used extensively in Now, Voyager and they, too, still look very much the same today as they did in the movie.

Until next time, Happy Stalking and a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!  Smile

Stalk It: UCLA Lake Arrowhead Conference Center from The American President is located at 850 Willow Creek Road in Lake Arrowhead.  You can visit the center’s official website here.

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2 comments

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  1. Space Jam was also fimed in Lake Arrowhead. Lots of movies from Hollywood’s “golden age” were filmed in Lake Arrowhead including: The Yearling, Magnificent Obsession and Heidi with Shirley Temple.

  2. Lavonna says:

    Great find! American President was great movie and Bette Davis is a FAV! Whatever Happened to Baby Jane…excellent movie!


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