Royal Dale Townhouses from “The Ropers”Sep 28th, 2016 | By Lindsay | Category: Michael's Guest Posts, TV Locations
Michael, our resident The Brady Bunch filming locations expert, is back once again with a non-Brady locale. (You can check out his TBB columns here, here, here and here, and his non-TBB columns here and here). Today’s location is one from way back when, so enjoy!
One summer when I was in middle school, I vividly recall watching a daily programing block of Three’s Company reruns. Those familiar with the show know that in the final episode of the third season, Jack, Janet, and Chrissy’s landlords, the Ropers, sell their rental building. But, in real life, ABC executives were hoping to capitalize on the popularity of Stanley and Helen Roper and create a new sitcom centered around those characters.
During the fourth season of Three’s Company, The Ropers premiered and lasted a 6-episode first season and a 22-episode second season before cancelation. The series’ first episode, “Moving On,” begins with the Ropers in their old apartment while Helen dreams of a move to Cheviot Hills. After Stanley capitulates, we’re treated to a location shot of the Ropers pulling up to their prospective townhouse in the fictional condominium complex, Royal Dale Townhouses, “for the discriminating homeowner.”
Stanley quickly makes a bad impression by driving up in his jalopy while potential new neighbor and real estate agent Jeffrey P. Brookes III (Jeffrey Tambor) watches on. Brookes tries to keep the Ropers from buying the unit, but by the end of the episode, they’ve purchased the townhouse.
Location-filming with the actors was limited to the pilot, but additional footage of the townhouse can be seen throughout the series in establishing shots and the closing credits.
Many of the Three’s Company opening title filming locations have been known for years. Even the rare exterior apartment footage location was more recently uncovered by Lindsay’s friend Owen, however the townhouse from The Ropers has remained a mystery.
In researching the location, I came across a comment online from someone purporting to have frequently driven by the complex in Cheviot Hills, but no specifics were given. And others centered their searches around Cheviot Hills, but had come up dry. Adding to the confusion, even the Cheviot Hills Homeowners Association lists The Ropers as one of the many television productions filmed in the area. I wasn’t so trusting—just because the fictional townhouse was located in Cheviot Hills, I wasn’t ready to believe that the footage was also filmed in that neighborhood.
I decided to try a different method and looked up where The Ropers was produced. Once I found out that the sitcom was taped at CBS Television City, in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles, I started looking at townhouse complexes relatively near the studio. My thinking was that since it was rather uncommon for a 1970s sitcom to do any location filming, perhaps the scene was filmed close to the studio. Using this search criteria, I quickly zeroed in on the right spot, Wilshire Country Manor, located only 2.5 miles from the studio. And when I was in Los Angeles last month, I ventured out to see it for myself.
Remarkably, not much has changed since the series was taped nearly 40 years ago, even the distinctively gnarled tree near the curb is still recognizable. The planter near the entrance however, now contains a large tree that obscures a pair of windows and some of the mansard roof, while larger shrubs have absorbed most of the iron fence. The fire hydrant and red curb seen in the screen grab below were only props used in a first-episode gag.
Wilshire Country Manor was constructed in 1973 and as its name hints, it’s located in Hancock Park—a neighborhood which surrounds the Wilshire Country Club. Early ads mention you could buy an “elegant townhouse condominium” starting at $62,500. “A home, in the place, amidst a cultural happening.” I think Mrs. Roper would approve.
Editor’s Note – Big THANK YOU, once again, to Michael for this fabulous – and fabulously retro! – post!
Stalk it: Wilshire Country Manor, aka Royal Dale Townhouses from The Ropers, is located at 646 Wilcox Avenue in Los Angeles’ Hancock Park neighborhood.