Harrison Ford on Location in Verdugo City!
It’s true – Harrison Ford, the famous actor, shot a pivotal scene of one of his biggest movies in Verdugo City, at the corner of Honolulu and La Crescenta avenues. Yes, I’m talking about the handsome leading man who has his star on Hollywood Boulevard. But wait, I know what you’re thinking. I’m not talking about the “second” Harrison Ford of Indiana Jones fame who was surprised to find early in his career that he seemingly already had a star on Hollywood Boulevard (located in front of Musso and Frank Grill). I’m talking about the “first” Harrison Ford, a big silent movie actor, now almost forgotten, who lived in the Verdugo Woodlands.
A couple of years ago I read a small article in a 1926 Crescenta Valley Ledger that a movie was being filmed at Cy Young’s Garage on the southwest corner of Honolulu and La Crescenta. They mentioned the title of the movie, but an Internet search turned up no such movie. Eventually I found that the movie had been released in 1927 under a different name, “Rubber Tires,” but I was unable to locate a copy of the movie. I mentioned this in one of my writings in this paper, and it stuck in the mind of local film and history enthusiast John Hammel Jr. He contacted me last week to tell me he found the movie on YouTube of all places and found the scene filmed in the Crescenta Valley. He also gave me extensive info on the first Harrison Ford, who had been a childhood neighbor of his in the Verdugo Woodlands.
Here’s the background on the movie: “Rubber Tires” is a wacky romantic comedy starring Bessie Love and Harrison Ford, produced by Cecil DeMille, and directed by Alan Hale Sr. (who played Little John in all the Errol Flynn “Robin Hood” movies, and fathered Alan Hale Jr., the Skipper on Gilligan’s Island). It follows the wild adventures of a New York family who, like many did in the ’20s, decide to start fresh in California. They’ll get to California on “rubber tires,” buying a rickety jalopy to transport their family and possessions across the country. An old boyfriend (Harrison Ford) of the family’s young and beautiful daughter (Bessie Love) decides on the spur of the moment that he still loves the girl, and resolves to pursue them. He runs over to Cy Young’s Garage at Honolulu and La Crescenta and spots a car with a For Sale sign on it. However the car has no engine. There’s some back and forth with the owner of the garage, which features nice shots of the interior of the shop and the exterior of the garage/gas station with the Verdugo Mountains in the background. He buys the motor-less car anyway, saying he’ll “coast” from coast-to-coast, and rolls off down La Crescenta Avenue. Later he employs a rope to tie onto other cars to continue his chase.
The movie can be found on YouTube either by typing in “Rubber Tires 1927″ or by following this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9DJuPWktmg. The scene at Verdugo City is at approximately 12:12 minutes. The movie is shot on many of the roads in the Los Angeles area, and I invite readers to see if they can pin down some of the locations. Maybe some other locations were shot locally!
Speaking of local, here’s some info on Harrison Ford, thanks to John Hammel Jr. and Katherine Yamada. Ford, originally a stage actor, enjoyed a decade as a major star of silent movies, enough so to earn a star on Hollywood Boulevard. With the advent of talkies in the late ’20s, he returned to the stage. He lived at 2400 Canada Boulevard in the Verdugo Woodlands. In later years he became the director of the Little Theater of the Verdugos, nestled in a shady glen of Verdugo Canyon. In 1951 he was hit by a car at El Rito and Verdugo, and critically injured. He never recovered, and lived a few painful years at the Motion Picture Actor’s Home, dying in 1957.
It’s yet another link between exciting Hollywood and our peaceful valley.
Mike Lawler is the former
president of the Historical Society
of the Crescenta Valley and loves local history. Reach him at