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The Site of Sanford and Son Salvage from “Sanford and Son”

Dec 13th, 2017 | By | Category: TV Locations

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There’s pretty much nothing I relish more than diving into the nitty-gritty when proving or disproving a location – especially if that location is from an old production and/or is no longer in existence.  I love the challenge of it.  I recently had the pleasure of delving into one such case thanks to a fellow stalker named Dale who emailed me in October to ask if I had any information on Sanford and Son Salvage from Sanford and Son.  I never watched the hit series, which ran on NBC from 1972 to 1977 (it was a bit before my time), but started looking into things and quickly came upon this thread about the locale on the Sitcoms Online Message Boards website.  User shakespeares_bust started off the thread in August 2003 with the query, “Does anyone know the actual address of the exterior shot used for the opening of Sanford and Son?”  It was not until eight years later that he finally got a definitive answer thanks to user Shady Grady who in November 2011 stated that the storefront was located at 10659 West Magnolia Boulevard in North Hollywood.  When I inputted that address into Google Street View, though, it became apparent that the locale had either been greatly altered or demolished altogether and replaced with a new structure in the four-plus decades since filming took place.  Thankfully, Shady Grady had pointed out some neighboring landmarks still currently standing to prove he had uncovered the right spot.  I figured it was my duty to further his pursuit in a blog post, as well as dig into the history of the property.  So here goes.

For those who, like me, aren’t especially familiar with the series, Sanford and Son revolves around the curmudgeonly Fred G. Sanford (Redd Foxx) and his longsuffering son, Lamont (Demond Wilson), who run Sanford and Son Salvage, an extremely cluttered junkyard said to be located at 9114 South Central Avenue in Watts.  The duo’s equally-cluttered home is situated directly behind the shop.  Interestingly, though it is the sitcom’s main location, the exterior of Sanford and Son Salvage does not ever appear in establishing shots or in the midst of any of the show’s 136 episodes.  The storefront only pops up in the opening credits (which you can watch here) . . .

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. . . and the closing credits (which you can watch here).

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The junkyard where each episode’s action takes place . . .

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. . . and the adjacent exterior of the Sanfords’ home . . .

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. . . as well as the ramshackle interior were nothing more than parts of an elaborate set built inside of a soundstage at NBC Studios (now The Burbank Studios) in Burbank where the series was lensed.

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The storefront’s rather limited screen time did not provide many clues as to its whereabouts, making the job of tracking it down a laborious and lengthy one.  Doing so was certainly a group effort on the part of the Sitcoms Online Message Boards users.  Clarity on the subject started to take form in September 2003 when member pawson wrote in to say that the junkyard exteriors were shot on Magnolia Boulevard near Cartwright and Denny Avenues, though no proof or further information was given.  It was not until user Retrotek posted a comment in April 2011 stating that the Sanford and Son Salvage location had also been featured in the Season 3 episode of Emergency! titled “Alley Cat” that some headway was made.  Using pawson and Retrotek’s intel, Shady Grady began lining up elements of the Sanford and Son exterior with the “Alley Cat” junkyard and then matching those elements to current Street View images of the stretch of Magnolia between Denny and Cartwright.  It wasn’t long before he landed on 10659 West Magnolia as the right spot.

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Though the building at that address, which currently houses a plumbing service named Power Plumbing, is one story and rather small, it otherwise bears no resemblance to Sanford and Son Salvage.  Enter Shady Grady once again.  As I mentioned earlier, he graciously pointed out several landmarks seen in Sanford and Son and Emergency! to verify his find.  I thought I’d take things one step further by providing some graphics to go along with his comments.  I must apologize beforehand, though, as I did not snap any photos of the neighboring structures while I was stalking the place, so Google Street View imagery will have to suffice for this endeavor.  I also have to take a moment to say a big thank you to fellow stalker Richard Yokley for the Emergency! screen captures that appear in this post.  “Alley Cat,” which originally aired in 1973, is not available for streaming anywhere, so I called upon Richard, who is a huge fan of the series – he even penned the book Emergency!: Behind the Scene – to make some grabs of the episode for me and he happily obliged.  Thank you, Richard!

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In “Alley Cat,” the Squad 51 paramedics are called to a scrapyard to help a junk dealer who has gotten his foot stuck in a bear trap.  Shady Grady explains that as the firefighters head to the scene “they pass an intersection, and a streetlight next to a power pole, then a vacant lot, then the store.”  As the street sign visible in the background of the segment (denoted with blue arrows below) shows us, the intersection the rescuers drive through is that of Magnolia and Cahuenga.  Amazingly, the 7-Eleven they pass (marked with pink arrows) is still there today, though its signage no longer looks as it did at the time of the filming.

Magnolia BlvdCahuenga Intersection

When the paramedics exit their vehicle, a portion of the junkyard’s green, yellow and white awning is visible.  That awning should be familiar to Sanford and Son fans.  As Shady Grady notes, it is a perfect match to the S&S Salvage awning – even down to the bent grim trim!

Sanford and Son awning

Shady Grady goes on to say, “Pay attention to the buildings in the background and then go to the address above [10659 West Magnolia Boulevard] in Google Earth.  As you look around in street view, you’ll see the stores across the street are still the same.”   Though the corner building (denoted with pink arrows below) at 10626 West Magnolia looks a bit different today, it still bears the rounded shape it did on Emergency!  The billboard seen in the episode (blue arrows), as well as the scaffold holding it (purple arrows) and the vacant area where it is situated are all direct matches to what appeared on “Alley Cat.”  The overhang and door and window configuration of the building just east of the billboard (green arrows) at 10644 West Magnolia also remain frozen in time to when Emergency! was filmed.

Magnolia Boulevard Sanford and Son

When “Alley Cat” was shot, the junkyard was located next to an empty lot.  That is now where the Actors Forum Theatre (10655 West Magnolia) stands.  Adjacent to that was a thin one-story building (denoted with pink arrows below).  That site now houses a Poquito Más outpost (10651 West Magnolia) and still looks much the same as it did onscreen in 1973.  Across the street from that structure was some sort of auto supply store (blue arrows).  Little of that spot has changed in the ensuing years.  In fact, it is still home to an automotive store – San Fernando Tires & Wheels (10637 West Magnolia).

Sanford and Son Salvage Magnolia Boulevard

Shady Grady finishes up by saying, “Compare that to the opening credits of Sanford and Son and it falls into place.  As Lamont pulls in the driveway, you can see a sign in front of the house, to the right of the driveway [pink arrow] and a power pole to the left of the driveway [blue arrow].  Both are in the Google earth photo.”  The building with the angled overhang [purple arrow] seen in the background of the opening credits also remains the same today.

Sanford and Son Driveway

Being that the locale portrayed a junkyard in two different productions, I figured it was likely one in real life, too – at least at the time each was lensed.  User waterguybob had written in to the message board in September 2014 to say that he had grown up three blocks away from 10659 West Magnolia and that it was indeed the site of Sanford and Son Salvage (he had even witnessed the filming!).  While he said that the property housed a junkyard known as “Joe’s Junk Shop” during the shoot, I could not find any mentions of that name online or any definitive proof of his assertion – until I registered with newspapers.com, that is.  Thanks to the incredible (albeit pricey!) stalking tool, I was able to uncover quite a bit of the locale’s history.  Via the advertisement pictured below, which ran in the September 21st, 1967 issue of The Los Angeles Times, we know that 10659 Magnolia was the site of an actual junkyard at least as far back as that date, though it appears to have had no name at the time.

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I hit pay dirt thanks to the October 8th, 1977 Valley News article below, which detailed the locale’s transition from a junkyard named “The Select Shoppe” into a theatre.  Yep, you read that right.  According to author Bobbi Zane, somewhere around late 1975, proprietor Joe Lawler turned his long-running scrapyard into a live performance venue known as the Junk Yard Theater.  As Zane states, “He’d been donating props occasionally for various productions and his shop was well known to many actors.  One day an actor strode into the shop and suggested, ‘Why don’t you make a theatre out of the junk yard?’  The idea struck home, and in short order Lawler had cleared the yard and had his first production underway.  It was ‘Everybody Loves Opa [sic],’ appropriately concerning a man who runs a junk store.”  Though the place still had the feel of a wrecking yard, with Zane stating “old furniture, bicycle parts, kitchen utensils, tools line the path every patron has to make his way through to get to the theater,” Lawler did add Astroturf, two fish ponds, and plenty of foliage, transforming the site into a “lovely” space.

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I am unsure of what year the Junk Yard Theater shuttered, but per various newspapers ads and blurbs plays were running on the premises through October 1978.

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I could not find any articles detailing the razing or remodeling of the site, so I next headed over to the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety website to search building records and quickly discovered that the Sanford and Son Salvage storefront, along with the property next to it at 10661 West Magnolia, were demolished in March 1989.  New structures were subsequently built in their place that same year.  So while some have surmised that the locale might have merely been altered in the years since filming took place, I can safely – and sadly – say that is not the case.  Sanford and Son Salvage no longer exists.

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During my research, I came across the Sanford and Son publicity shot pictured below.  (You can see similar images here, here, here, and here.)  Interestingly, though a sign reading “Sanford and Son Salvage” is positioned on the fence, the photo was obviously not lensed at the Magnolia Boulevard location, being that no house was ever situated there.  I am unsure of where exactly the picture was taken or why a different locale was used for it, but if anyone happens to know, please fill me in.

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Big THANK YOU to fellow stalker Dale for asking me to look into this location and to fellow stalker Richard for providing the Emergency! screen captures.

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Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: The former site of the Sanford and Son house and junkyard can be found at 10659 West Magnolia Boulevard in North Hollywood.  Sadly, the building was razed in 1989 and a new structure now stands in its place.

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3 comments

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  1. John (Bay Area) says:

    Wow, what a great post! I love all that detective work. Too bad the original building isn’t still there. I always wonder if the people who work in these places have any idea about the significance of their location.

  2. MM says:

    Great post 👍

    Thanks!

  3. Richard Y says:

    Thanks for asking me about this as I was totally unaware as to the connection of S&S and E! I did not have the Shooting Schedule for this episode and even if I had I still would not have made the connection. It was a fun exercise checking out the still existing structures in the area. Perhaps the ‘Joe’s Junk Shop’ business name is in reference to the owner of Joe Lawler but technically not the actual business name and reason that it does not show up in searches. thanks again .


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