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) . . .
. . . and the closing credits (which you can watch here).
The junkyard where each episode’s action takes place . . .
. . . and the adjacent exterior of the Sanfords’ home . . .
. . . 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.
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.
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!
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.