Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Once Upon A Time in Laurel Canyon

I really enjoyed the new Quentin Tarantino film Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. Not only because I'm a Tarantino fan, but it depicts a bygone Hollywood that I clearly remember. And now friends have alerted me to a Houdini connection to the film. If you buy the exclusive LP soundtrack, it includes a map of 1969 Hollywood. And if you look closely on that map, you'll see the "Houdini Mansion" among the historic Manson-era haunts.

This is a reference to what is today the restored and privately owned Houdini Estate, a popular site for weddings and film shoots. But back in the 1960s and '70s it was a burnt-out abandoned ruin that everyone called the "Houdini Mansion". This was a haven for hippies and all kinds of characters to flop, including one man who called himself Robin Hood and would shoot arrows at people. And, of course, it was said to be haunted!

The remains of the house and gardens with overgrown stairways and stone arches where open and visible to motorists driving through Laurel Canyon, so the "Houdini Mansion" was a well-known and somewhat mysterious Los Angeles landmark. No surprise to see it on this map as part of the Hollywood Tarantino so lovingly recreated in his movie. [For the truth of Houdini's connection to the property check out my related links.]

No, this photo isn't from the movie, and that's not Brad Pitt! This is me in 1977 at the "Houdini Mansion" showing off a freshly pilfered brick. And look at that cool Magic Castle t-shirt.

The Once Upon A Time in Hollywood exclusive soundtrack LP is available in independent record stores and in a limited quality on

Thanks to fellow Tarantino fans Matt Bradford and Michael Curran for this one.



  1. Thanks for sharing, I too remember Hollywood in the sixties, hippes really had made their presence known, but time moves on and hippies do grow up and actually did get jobs, eventually.

  2. I spent a week at the log cabin next door in 76, almost rented a room there. Rick Schmidlin

  3. I'm a fan of Tarantino. This is a really cool Houdini connection. That picture of you is priceless John. I'm sure you still have the brick right?

    1. Can you believe I don't have it anymore? But I have no idea why or when I got rid of it. I wish I still had it. But I do now have a brick from Bessie's house across the street, the real "Houdini house", so I guess that'll do. And maybe I'll find this brick some day as I can't believe I would have ever thrown it out.

  4. Great find. And I love that pic of you, John! It's begging for a caption.

  5. I purchased a "brick" some yrs. ago of "Houdini's" mansion and it is part of my collection with a "complete letter concerning its history in CA." Benjilini