As I write this post, I’m looking out the window into a haze of smoke, blowing down to the Bay Area from the Camp Fire in Chico. California is fighting several severe wildfires right now, and as of this writing, the entire city of Malibu is evacuated, we have over a dozen dead, and more who have lost everything. The fires this year and over the past few years have been devastating and tragic, and the smell of smoke in the air has become all too familiar.
And now, the fires are threatening Hollywood history at both ends of California.
Yesterday, I was sad to learn that the Western Town at Agoura Hills’ Paramount Ranch has burned in the Woolsey Fire. Purchased by Paramount in 1927, the Paramount Ranch has been used continuously as an outdoor movie set for 90 years. It has served as the filming location for The Sign of the Cross (1932), Sullivan’s Travels (1942), and Morocco (1930), and the Western Town was famously the set of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman between 1993 and 1998, as well as the current show Westworld.
A tweet from the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area states: “We are sorry to share the news that the
#WoolseyFire has burned Western Town at #ParamountRanch in Agoura. We do not have any details or photos, but it is our understanding that the structures have burned. This area is an active part of the incident and we cannot access it.”
Farther north, in Chico, the Camp Fire is threatening Bidwell Park, the location that served as Sherwood Forest in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). As of right now, the park is safe, but the fire remains unpredictable.
In the absence of a proper Sherwood Forest in the area around Los Angeles, Warner Bros decided to move production of The Adventures of Robin Hood up to Chico, a town in far northern California near Mt. Shasta. Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland spent many hours in lower Bidwell Park (the park is divided into an upper and a lower section), the area chosen to serve as the legendary forest where Robin Hood woos Maid Marian.
One of the wonderful things about the classic Hollywood community of yesteryear was their ability to rally and come together when times were tough for any of them. They were all there for each other–donating time, money, and resources to their fellow industry workers as needed. Right now, times are tough for the communities that have given us our movies. If you are able to help financially, volunteer, send supplies, or simply keep the communities in your thoughts, I know it would be much appreciated and a gesture very much in the spirit of classic Hollywood. Here is how you can help:
Hannah Darden for the Sacramento Bee outlines what is needed. Here are some places she suggests:
- Camp Fire Evacuation Relief Fund: https://www.nvcf.org/fund/camp-fire-evacuation-relief-fund/
- Caring Choices:http://www.caring-choices.org/wild-fire-donations.html
- The Red Cross and AT&T are partnering up: text CAWILDFIRES to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
- The Salvation Army: https://deloro.salvationarmy.org/del_oro/camp-fire-response
United Way of Northern California Relief Fund: To donate text BUTTEFIRE to 91999, or visit https://www.norcalunitedway.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=2 and select “Camp Fire Relief”
GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/cause/californiafires
- The Ventura County Community Foundation and specifically the Hill Fire/Woolsey Fire Sudden and Urgent Needs Effort Fund
- Humane Society of Ventura County
- United Way of Greater Los Angeles
- Red Cross Los Angeles
- Los Angeles County Animal Care
- Salvation Army Ventura Corps
Thank you for helping to keep our classic Hollywood heritage alive, and the people and animals who live in those communities safe.