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Malibou Lake from “Parks and Recreation”

Sep 13th, 2012 | By | Category: TV Locations

Donna's Lake House - Parks and Recreation (20 of 21)

A couple of months ago, I set out to find the lake house belonging to Donna Meagle (Retta) and her family in the Season 4 episode of fave show Parks and Recreation titled “Sweet Sixteen”.  (It was that search that led me to discover Johnson Lake in Pasadena, which I blogged about here.)  And while I was absolutely convinced that Donna’s home was located on the banks of the oft-filmed-at Lake Sherwood, I scanned through aerial views of pretty much every single property in that area and came up completely empty-handed.  Then fate took a hand and led me to some information about another oft-filmed-at lake in the vicinity – one that I had never before heard of – named Malibou Lake in Agoura.  I immediately became intrigued with the place and, after a few minutes of searching, found Donna’s house.  Yay!  Unfortunately though, because Malibou Lake is a bit of a hike from Pasadena, I was unable to drag the Grim Cheaper out there to stalk it until a couple of weekends ago.  But, let me tell you, it was well worth the wait!

Malibou Lake Mountain Club, as the area has come to be known, was originally founded in 1922 by fishermen George Wilson and Bertram Lackey, who had purchased 350 acres of land in the Santa Monica Mountains with the intent of turning them into a lakeside community, resort and social club.  According to a November 2007 Los Angeles Times article, the development was named Malibou Lake with an “o” to avoid being confused with the nearby Malibu Lagoon.

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Donna's Lake House - Parks and Recreation (4 of 21)

To create their idyllic development, Wilson and Lackey built a clubhouse, sold plots of land for housing, dammed up two nearby creeks, and waited for the 65-acre central basin to fill with water and become a lake.  That water took four years to arrive, though, to the consternation of the many new homeowners who had built what they thought were lakeside residences.  Finally in the spring of 1926, thanks to a long-overdue bout of storms, twenty million gallons of rainwater fell into the basin and Malibou Lake was born.

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I can honestly say that Mailbou Lake is one of the coolest, most picturesque places that I have ever stalked.

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Not to mention one of the most unique.  Pictured below is a sign that I never thought I would see in L.A.

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I cannot even imagine what it would be like to live there!  As you can see below, one lakeside house even had a sailboat docked nearby!  Sigh!

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Donna's Lake House - Parks and Recreation (10 of 21)

And while the club, lake and surrounding houses are gated and private, I am very happy to report that much of the area is visible from public streets.

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Donna's Lake House - Parks and Recreation (18 of 21)

Malibou Lake Mountain Club has appeared in hundreds upon hundreds of productions since its founding and it would be absolutely impossible for me to catalog them all here, but I will do my best to mention its more notable onscreen appearances.  In the “Sweet Sixteen” episode of Parks and Recreation, Donna’s lake house is where the gang threw a surprise party for Jerry Gergich (Jim O’Heir).  Sadly, the property is not visible from the road, so I was not able to snap any photographs of it.

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The interior of the house – which is uh-ma-zing, by the way – also appeared in the episode.  You can check out some interior pictures of the property here.

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The iconic drowning scene from 1931’s Frankenstein was filmed at Malibou Lake.  You can read a FABULOUS article about the exact spot where filming took place penned by screenwriter John Cox (a man truly after my own heart) on the Frankensteinia blog here.

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In the 1940 film The Great Dictator, Malibou Lake was where Hynkel – Dictator of Tomania (Charlie Chaplin) shot ducks and was later captured.

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In 1956’s The Bad Seed, Malibou Lake stood in for Fern School – the private school attended by Rhoda Penmark (Patty McCormack).

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The Malibou Lake Mountain Club clubhouse masqueraded as the Havenhurst Motel in the Season 4 episode of Perry Mason titled “The Case of the Angry Dead Man”, which aired in 1961.  The lake and its environs have actually appeared in countless episodes of Perry Mason over the years, some of which are detailed on the Perry Mason TV Series website here.

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Malibou Lake was where Lane Meyer (John Cusack) first met Beth Truss (Amanda Wyss) in 1985’s Better Off Dead.

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In 1990 and 1991, Malibou Lake stood in for “Easter Park” in several episodes of Twin Peaks, including the Season 1 episode titled “Cooper’s Dreams” (pictured below).

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The Malibou Lake Mountain Club office also appeared throughout the series as the Timber Falls Motel.  You can see some real life photographs of the office along with comparison screen captures on the In Twin Peaks blog here and on the Brad D Studios website here.

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Malibou Lake was used extensively as Urbania, Ohio in 1994’s Little Giants.

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In 1998’s Mr. Saturday Night, Malibou Lake stood in for the Catskills resort where Buddy Young Jr. (Billy Crystal) regularly performed his comedy routine and also met his future wife, Elaine (Julie Warner).

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In the 1999 dramedy The Story of Us, Malibou Lake masqueraded as the lake at Camp Pinewood, the summer camp where Ben Jordan (Bruce Willis) and Katie Jordan (Michelle Pfeiffer) spent Parents’ Weekend with their children, Erin (Colleen Rennison) and Josh (Jake Sandvig).

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In the 2002 horror flick The Ring, a house on Malibou Lake was used as the office of Doctor Grasnik (Jane Alexander), where Rachel (Naomi Watts) went to seek out more information on Samara Morgan (Daveigh Chase).

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The real life interior of the house was also used in the movie.

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Sadly, that property was torn down to make way for a new, larger residence sometime in 2010 or 2011.  The original home is still visible via Bing aerial maps, though, as you can see below.

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A view of the vacant plot of land that remained after the residence was torn down, which I found on fave website Zillow, is pictured below.

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And the new abode, which is currently for sale for a cool $1.29 million, is pictured below.  The GC and I had actually been gushing over it while stalking the lake.  You can check out its real estate listing here.  Um, yeah, I could live with that.  Winking smile

Donna's Lake House - Parks and Recreation (1 of 1)

John Cusack returned to Malibou Lake in 2005 to film the scene for Must Love Dogs in which Sarah Nolan (Diane Lane) chases down his character, Jake, to ask for a second chance.

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Thanks to fellow stalker Owen, of the When Write Is Wrong blog, I learned that in the Season 4 episode of The Office titled “Dunder Mifflin Infinity”, which aired in 2007, Malibou Lake stood in for Lake Scranton where Michael Scott (Steve Carell) drowned his car due to “faulty” GPS directions.

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You can find me on Facebook here and on Twitter at @IAMNOTASTALKER.  And be sure to check out the latest post – about trying to track down a diabetic-friendly evening bag – on my other blog, The Well-Heeled Diabetic.

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Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: Malibou Lake Mountain Club is located at 29033 West Lake Vista Drive in Agoura Hills.  Donna’s lake house from the “Sweet Sixteen” episode of Parks and Recreation is located at 2140 East Lakeshore Drive, inside of the gated Malibou Lake Mountain Club community.  It is, unfortunately, not visible from the road.  The home that was used as Doctor Grasnik’s office in The Ring was formerly located at 29175 South Lakeshore Drive, but it has since been torn down and replaced with a new home.

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11 comments

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  1. Mallory says:

    Add Modern Family to the list – the fishing scene in last nights season premier appears to have been filmed at Malibou Lake also :)

  2. Ted says:

    Lindsay,

    Loved this post! I live on Malibou Lake….if you ever want to go out on the lake my wife and I would enjoy showing you the sites.

    My friend Brian Rooney wrote a great book about filming done at the lake and in the local area that might interest you. (Book profits go to charity). The book can be purchased at the Maliboul Lake club house or directly from his website. http://www.r7media.com/3MM.html

    Thanks for the interesting read!

    Ted

  3. Art Edeson says:

    Anyone interested in the Hollywood history of Malibou Lake and the two neighboring movie ranches (owned by Paramount and 20th Century Fox where hundreds of movies where shot) should check out this book called “Three Magical Miles” http://www.r7media.com/3mm.html It’s great!!

  4. Owen says:

    I know you couldn’t catalog them all, Lindsay, but I’m bummed you didn’t discuss Malibou Lake’s most notable small-screen appearance — to me, anyway. Malibou Lake is the home of Michael Scott’s automobile … literally. In the Season 4 episode of “The Office” titled “Dunder Mifflin Infinity,” Michael drives into the lake, which doubles as “Lake Scranton,” because he’s blindingly following directions provided by his rental car’s GPS system. Later, he summarizes his feelings about technology by saying, “And computers are about trying to murder you in a lake.” (I agree, Michael!) In the episode, Michael (with Dwight tagging along) is heading east on Lake Vista Drive and turns into the lake just before he should have turned right, onto E. Lakeshore Drive.

  5. Dave C says:

    Hey Linds,

    Uhhhh…….there’s a couple of VERY important things you should know. First…..the Malibou Lake neighborhood sits directly to the northwest of Malibu Creek State park, which was the filming location of M*A*S*H. Malibu Creek State Park was also the filming location of the famous canyon river jump from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In the 3rd photo down in your post there are two pointed mountain tops in the right portion of the background. Now that I’ve told you that M*A*S*H was filmed about 1000 yards to the southeast of where you took that picture, do you recognize those mountains? Yup…..they’re the famous two mountains that the helicopters fly past during the opening sequence of the show. They’re also visible again about :29 seconds into the opening as the helicopters descend on the landing pad. Here’s a youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDSMm8IlR9I.

    The M*A*S*H filming location was located about 1/2 mile into the park. I visited it many times when I lived in So. Cal. The landing pad is still there. In fact, the entrance I used was just south of Malibou Lake. Park at the east end of Cragg’s and walk in about 1/2 a mile and you’ll come to the M*A*S*H set. By the way, that’s where much of Planet of the Apes was filmed as well.

    Oh, and one final thing……rumor had it that the famous comedian Gallagher lives on Malibou. I was never able to confirm but a bunch of people stated it as fact when I would ask.

    • Lindsay says:

      Um, do you not know who I am? ;) Of course I knew about M*A*S*H being filmed at Malibu Creek State Park. It’s a separate location, though, which is why I did not mention it in the Malibou Lake post.

      • Dave C says:

        Yea, I figured that…..just kinda cool that the mountains from the opening M*A*S*H shots were in your pics. :) .

        By the way….I confirmed via public records that Gallagher is in fact a resident there at Malibou.

        • Alex says:

          Always fun to read about the lake and what other people think :) Hate to break it to you, but Gallagher is not a member of MLMC. I am a resident at the lake, and I can tell you that he doesn’t live here. Perhaps he lives close by…

          • Dave C says:

            Hi Alex,

            Yea, I know he doesn’t live directly on the lake. I don’t have the exact address but I know his house sits on a small hill just outside of the lakefront community. I’ve googled the property records before and seem to recall his house is just east of the community.


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