The Pink Motel from “Vanderpump Rules”Mar 24th, 2015 | By Lindsay | Category: TV Locations
The latest season of Vanderpump Rules might have been the most epic yet. With Stassi Schroeder making only occasional appearances, I had a fear that the show was going to lose all of its allure and most of its steam, but that was not the case. Kristen Doute brought the crazy like never before and the fact that Ariana Madix had a larger role made Scheana Marie’s onscreen time almost bearable. I loved pretty much every second of Season 3, especially the ‘50s-style photo shoot that took place in the final episode, which was titled “Dethroned.” The photo shoot was held at the Pink Motel, a historic locale that I had the pleasure of stalking back in June 2012.
The Pink Motel was constructed by a Pennsylvania native named Joseph Thomulka on San Fernando Road in Sun Valley in 1946.
According to a 1990 Los Angeles Times article, Joseph painted the 20-room property bright pink so that it would “get noticed.” In the piece, his son Monty Thomulka says, “He was driving out here from Philadelphia, coming cross the middle states, looking at motels. He wanted something that people would remember.”
Joseph built a small diner, also painted a rose hue, on the site in 1949 and dubbed it the “Pink Café.”
At the time that the Pink Motel and Pink Café were built, San Fernando Road was a bustling thoroughfare that lead from Los Angeles to Santa Clarita. The construction of Interstate 5 changed all of that, though, and while the hotel and restaurant continued to operate for several decades, it was at a much slower pace.
Monty took over the property from his parents in 1969 and still runs it to this day. Operating both a hotel and a restaurant proved to be too much work, though, and he found that he could make more money renting the diner out solely for filming. So he closed the Pink Café to patrons in 1989. Today, the eatery, renamed Cadillac Jack’s, sits frozen in time – ketchup, mustard bottles and table settings in place at each seat – waiting for its next close-up. The Pink Motel continued to operate as a hotel for many years, but it, too, is now available solely for filming. An average of sixty shoots take place on the premises each year!
When we visited the property in 2012, the caretaker happened to spot us taking pictures through the windows of Cadillac Jack’s and, amused at my excitement over seeing the place in person, asked if we wanted to come inside. My answer was a resounding yes! (The photographs below were taken by Mike, from MovieShotsLA. He, too, was invited inside the diner to snap some pictures when he visited the place and was kind enough to share them with me.)
I cannot even describe how cool it was to be able to tour Cadillac Jack’s interior and stand in the footsteps of so many past filmings!
The Pink Motel and Cadillac Jack’s were featured extensively in the Vanderpump Rules “Dethroned” episode.
The shoot made use of pretty much every square inch of the property, including the hotel’s swimming pool which was added to the site in 1959.
The motel’s usual pool, which is fish-shaped, was featured in the 1987 skateboarding movie The Search for Animal Chin and subsequently became a popular destination for skateboarders. Since the motel ceased operations, the pool has been left drained and is now rented regularly for skating events. It is also often utilized for film and photo shoots in its dry state, as was the case with Vanderpump Rules.
Cataloging all of the Pink Motel and Cadillac Jack’s onscreen appearances would be virtually impossible, but I will list of few of the highlights. In 1974, the site popped up in the Season 1 episode of The Rockford Files titled, “Caledonia – It’s Worth a Fortune!” as the spot where Leonard Blair (Richard Schaal) got beat up.
In 1982’s Grease 2, Michael Carrington (Maxwell Caulfield) tutored Stephanie Zinone (Michelle Pfeiffer) over a hamburger (with extra ketchup!) at Cadillac Jack’s.
The Pink Hotel was used in the Season 7 episode of MacGyver titled “The ‘Hood,” which aired in 1991, as the spot where Kelly Dobbs (Nancy Sloan) was held captive.
Mary Anne Spier (Rachael Leigh Cook), Dawn Schafer (Larisa Oleynik) and the gang hung out at Cadillac Jack’s in the 1995 movie The Baby-Sitters Club.
The eatery was used extensively in Mandy Moore’s 1999 “Candy” music video. Both the exterior . . .
. . . and the interior of the property appeared in the video.
And I, of course, just had to pose for a picture in the booth where Mandy sat in “Candy.”
The pool was also used in the shoot.
In the 2004 comedy The Whole Ten Yards, Jimmy the Tulip (Bruce Willis), Oz (Matthew Perry) and Jill (Amanda Peet) grab a bite to eat at Cadillac Jack’s, which is said to be located in Oceanside. While there, Jimmy knocks out a rude patron and teaches the patron’s son a little lesson about manners.
In a later scene, the trio check into the Pink Hotel along with a gangster they have kidnapped.
In the Season 2 episode of fave show The O.C. titled “The Rainy Day Women,” which aired in 2005, Sandy Cohen (Peter Gallagher) and his ex-girlfriend Rebecca Bloom (Kim Delaney) got stranded for a night at the Pink Motel.
In 2006, the motel was where Off. Debra Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter) and Sgt. Angel Batista (David Zayas) tracked down Ice Truck Killer imitator Neil Perry (Sam Witwer) in the Season 1 episode of Dexter titled “Circle of Friends.”
The Dexter crew returned to the Pink Motel in 2013 to shoot Season 8’s “A Beautiful Day,” in which Debra hides out at the property with Andrew Briggs (Rhys Coiro).
At the end of the 2008 comedy The House Bunny, Shelley Darlingson (Anna Faris) did a photo shoot for Playboy at the Pink Motel.
Cadillac Jack’s was used throughout the music video for CeeLo Green’s hit 2010 song “F**k You”/”Forget You.”
You can watch the “Forget You” version of the video by clicking below.
The first season of the 2010 television series The Booth at the End was shot extensively at Cadillac Jack’s.
In the 2011 flick Drive, Driver (Ryan Gosling) and Blanche (Christina Hendricks) hide out at the Pink Motel. Only the interior of one of the rooms appeared onscreen, though. Director Nicolas Winding Refn says in a Movieline article, “The motel was hard, because so much action goes on. It was called the Pink Motel, which has been used in a lot of movies. But I really liked the motel rooms, so I decided not to do any exterior shots so nobody could know where we were actually shooting. It’s a very classic old hotel, it looks like something from the ’50s or ’60s. The day we shot there, which was the first time we shot anything, was the hottest day in L.A., so it was pretty unbearable. I was told afterwards [that the Valley is hot], nobody told me about it!”
Cutie Matt Bomer did a photo shoot for a 2012 issue of GQ Italia at the diner.
In 2014, the pool was used for Major Crimes’ Season 3 promo shots. For whatever reason, though, a different motel was superimposed into the background of the finalized images.
I actually never would have figured this one out had it not been for Phillip P. Keene, who plays camera tech Buzz Watson on the series. I randomly spotted Phillip shopping at the J.Crew in Pasadena last August. I did not approach him, though, as I already had a photograph with him and do not like approaching actors inside of stores. Well, about an hour later, I literally almost kicked myself over the whole thing. I had been trying to track down the motel from the Major Crimes promo shots ever since they had been released and realized I could have asked Phillip if he remembered the location! So I immediately tweeted him and, miraculously, not only did he respond, but he started following me!
The Season 5 episode of Dance Moms titled “Wild Wild West Coast, Part 2,” in which the Abby Lee Dance Company girls shot a music video for the MattyB song “Turn Up the Track,” took place at Cadillac Jack’s and the Pink Motel.
The interior of Cadillac Jack’s was also featured in the video.
You can watch the “Turn Up the Track” video by clicking below.
The property was also featured in The House of Sand and Fog, High Road, and Pirates of Silicon Valley, as well as in episodes of Columbo, Las Vegas, Highway to Heaven, Murder, She Wrote, Law & Order, and Simon & Simon.
Big THANK YOU to Mike, from MovieShotsLA, for sharing some of his photos with me for this post!
Until next time, Happy Stalking!