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The Safari Inn from “True Romance”

Mar 15th, 2013 | By | Category: Movie Locations

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One oft-filmed-at locale that I had known about for ages, but had never gotten around to stalking was the historic Safari Inn on West Olive Avenue in Burbank. I had driven by the motel countless times over the years – I get my hair done right across the street, in fact – and, even though I knew of the site’s prestigious filming pedigree, for some odd reason, I never thought to stalk it. Then, a couple of weeks ago, my hair stylist happened to be running late, so I decided to pop on over to the decades-old inn to finally do some proper stalking of the place.

The Safari Inn was originally constructed in 1955 and, amazingly enough, still looks almost exactly the same today as it did then.

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The site is most famous for its iconic neon sign, which has stood as a beacon on Olive Avenue, beckoning passersby and road-trippers alike, since the day the motel was founded.

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Today, the boutique hotel, which was just recently renovated, boasts 55 rooms and suites, most with their own kitchen or kitchenette, a fitness center, laundry facilities, free parking, and complimentary shuttle service to and from the Burbank Airport. Not bad for around $100 a night. And the traveler reviews on TripAdvisor all look to be pretty favorable, to boot.

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The Safari Inn also features a large, second-story patio deck . . .

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. . . which overlooks a pool.

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I absolutely love the pool’s feather-shaped cut-out, which you can see in the bottom left of the photograph below and which matches the feather on the inn’s famous signage. So cute!

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The Safari Inn’s most notable onscreen appearance was in 1993′s True Romance, where it masqueraded as the supposed Hollywood-area motel where Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) and Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette) stayed while visiting L.A. Some camera trickery and crafty editing was used to make the hotel appear as if it was located on Sunset Boulevard in the movie, though, and not in the heart of suburban Burbank.

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The interior of Clarence and Alabama’s room was just a set and not an actual Safari Inn room. You can see what one of the hotel’s real life rooms looks like here. Despite this fact, a girl in one of my former acting classes booked the “True Romance room” for her True Romance-loving boyfriend’s birthday one year.

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Because Clarence and Alabama’s door is never actually shown in the movie, I was not able to figure out what room was used for the exterior shots.

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All I was able to ascertain was that it was a second floor room, located in the northwest corner of the property, in the vicinity of the area denoted with a pink arrow in the photograph below.

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True Romance is hardly the first production to utilize the Safari Inn, though. Thanks to the L.A. Bizarro website, I learned that way back in 1970 the property masqueraded as the Sunshine Motor Inn where Shirley Renfrew Partridge (Shirley Jones) and her family stopped to take a shower after being sprayed by a skunk in the Season 1 episode of The Partridge Family titled “But the Memory Lingers On.”

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In 1995’s Apollo 13, the Safari Inn stood in for the supposed Florida-area motel where Marilyn Lovell (Kathleen Quinlan) stayed the night before her husband, Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), embarked on his mission to the moon.

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In 2000, the motel was featured on the The Wallflowers’ sampler CD for (Breach).

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In the Season 4 episode of Six Feet Under titled “Can I Come Up Now?”, which aired in 2004, the Safari Inn was where George Sibley (James Cromwell) and Ruth Fisher (Frances Conroy) visited George’s estranged son, Kyle, (James Waterston). In the episode, the exterior of the hotel is shown only very briefly.,

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The interior of one of the Safari rooms was also used in the filming. It is while there that Kyle, who is somewhat agoraphobic, announces that he has purchased a $7,500 espresso machine so that he never has to leave his motel room. Now that’s an idea I can get behind! Winking smile

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In the 2005 movie Coach Carter, the Safari Inn was where the Richmond High School basketball team stayed – and snuck out to go party – during the Bayhill Tournament Championship.

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The real life interior of two of the Safari’s room were also used in the filming.

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The Safari Inn also popped up in the Season 4 episode of Prison Break titled “The Price”, which aired in 2008, as the motel where Dr. Sara Tancredi (Sarah Wayne Callies) had a run in with Gretchen Morgan (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe – whom I did not even recognize in the role!).

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One of the hotel’s real life rooms also appeared in the episode.

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In 2009, the Safari Inn was where former child star Christine Rapp (Elizabeth Perkins) tried to hide out and wound up killing someone in the Season 8 episode of Monk titled “Mr. Monk’s Favorite Show.”

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In the Season 7 episode of Desperate Housewives titled “Pleasant Little Kingdom”, which aired in 2010, the Safari Inn was where Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria) said goodbye to her switched-at-birth daughter, Grace Sanchez (Cecilia Balagot).

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In 2012, the Safari Inn stood in for Sunset Boulevard’s Crystal Motel, where Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) discovered the body of Gwyneth Adler in the Season 7 episode of The Closer titled “Hostile Witness.” Only the interior of one of the Safari’s rooms appeared in the episode.

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According to IMDB, both the Season 3 episode of T.J. Hooker titled “Undercover Affair” and the Season 7 episode of Falcon Crest titled “Legacies” were filmed at the Safari Inn, but I could not find copies of either with which to verify that information. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation also supposedly filmed at the hotel, although I am unsure of which episode.

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And while IMDB also states that the Season 1 episode of Southland titled “Mozambique” was filmed at the Safari Inn, that information is incorrect. “Mozambique” was actually filmed at the Saharan Motor Hotel located at 7212 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood – a site I am going to have to stalk in the near future as it is where Patrick Swayze and his wife, Lisa Nieme, lived upon first moving to Los Angeles.

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You can find me on Facebook here and on Twitter at @IAMNOTASTALKER. And be sure to check out my latest post – I FINALLY wrote a new one – about mozzarella-stuffed meatballs on my other blog, The Well-Heeled Diabetic.

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Until next time, Happy Stalking! Smile

Stalk It: The Safari Inn, from True Romance, is located at 1911 West Olive Avenue in Burbank. You can visit the motel’s official website here.

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7 comments

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  1. John (Bay Area) says:

    Awesome! I could have sworn you did a post on this hotel before but I guess not. I must have seen it somewhere else. Not too many places like that are kept up. Its nice to see that this one will probably be around for awhile.

  2. tammy says:

    The lobby of the hotel also played as a florida nursing home in the Ron Howard movie Apollo 13

  3. Becky says:

    Love it! I actually had no idea how popular of a film spot this was – I drive by it a lot when I come to town. Thanks for this post. I’ll definitely have to stop by and check it out sometime!

  4. alpha-60 says:

    Correction: True Romance came out in 1993, not 1995.

  5. Ashley says:

    Aww bummer that you weren’t able to figure out the CSI episode. I’ll keep it in mind and let you know if I ever come across it! Very cool location, I love the sign/pool shape similarity too!


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