Tag Archives: farrah fawcett

Michael and Farrah in the Santa Clarita Valley

For many, it was the “day the 70s died.”
 
The sobering announcement on June 25, 2009 of Farrah Fawcett’s death from cancer, followed by the truly shocking news a few hours later that Michael Jackson had died from a drug overdose, saddened an entire generation who had grown up alongside the careers of these legendary performers.

It’s interesting to note that both Jackson and Fawcett had several ties to the Santa Clarita Valley.

Jackson came to Vasquez Rocks in 1991 to film part of the music video for the song Black Or White, a musical plea for racial equality. This video from his multi-platinum Dangerous album uses locations from around the world and contains one of the earliest examples of “morphing” in film.

In the Vasquez Rocks segment, Jackson dances with Native Americans atop a platform while riders on horseback encircle them. It was an appropriate location as literally hundreds of Westerns have been shot here going back to the earliest days of film.

The Black of White single was the biggest seller of 1991, and the video, which was released simultaneously around the world, was one of the most watched ever.

Incidentally, the video’s director, John Landis, was the director of the ill-fated 1983 Twilight Zone: The Movie segment that claimed the lives of actor Vic Morrow and two small children during filming behind the Magic Mountain theme park in nearby Valencia.

A few miles southwest of Vasquez Rocks at 15564 Sierra Highway is the Halfway House Cafe. It was here that Fawcett’s December 1995 Playboy spread was said to have been shot. This issue was the magazine’s biggest seller of the 90s.

Halfway House is frequently seen on film and television and is the site of Cindy Crawford’s famous 1991 Pepsi commercial where she drives up in a Lamborghini wearing blue jean cutoffs and a white tank top. (BTW, Halfway House is also seen in Landis’ Twilight Zone: The Movie.)

At the time of Fawcett’s death, her 24-year-old son Redmond O’Neal was incarcerated in a Santa Clarita area jail on drug charges. He was given a three-hour release to attend her funeral.

This past Saturday, Jackson’s jacket from the Thriller video went on auction and brought in $1.8 million. According to reports, the jacket’s sale will benefit another local Santa Clarita Valley institution – our friend Tippi Hedren’s Shambala Preserve – where two of Jackson’s tigers from Neverland Ranch are now housed.


The Restaurant at the End of Los Angeles, Part Two

Finding familiar things in unfamiliar places can sometimes be a bit unsettling. I was reminded of this a few years ago when my wife and I were watching television in our hotel room outside the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. We were packing our bags for a day-hike when an image of the Halfway House Café, a restaurant we frequent only a couple of miles from our Canyon Country home, appeared on the screen.

We certainly didn’t need to travel to the Yucatan Peninsula to see the restaurant on the tube. For the past several decades it has appeared in literally dozens of films and television episodes shown all over the world. So many, in fact, that even a casual film or TV fan would be hard-pressed not to have glimpsed it on screen.

Yesterday I listed some of the most famous movie and television appearances the café has made over the years. It has also been featured in several well known commercials, music videos, and photo shoots.

A famous 1991 Pepsi commercial featuring Cindy Crawford stepping out of a red Lamborghini wearing a white tank top and denim cut-offs was filmed here. It was later voted by a group of advertising judges appointed by Forbes Magazine to be the “steamiest television ad of all time.” She returned a couple of years later, this time in an SUV with her two sons inside, to film a Diet Pepsi commercial that poked fun at the previous one. (An autographed photo of Crawford, along with a Pepsi can, graces one wall.)

Steamier still were photo spreads done here for Carmen Electra, as well as for the recently-deceased Farrah Fawcett, who posed inside for a Playboy layout.

During the past couple of years, commercials for Suzuki, Miller Lite, and American Express have been made here.

“They brought the director here all the way from Brazil to make an American Express commercial that was only shown in Europe,” laughs owner Bob Lima, who was also originally from Brazil.

The staff of Halfway, many of whom have been working here for years, each has a favorite movie star encounter.

“Jack Black was the best,” says Moore. “He brought his own masseuse who ended up giving all of the waitresses a massage.”

“Cindy Crawford was great too,” adds Lima.

Sometimes they even get into the act.

We once saw a former waitresses on screen serving John Goodman meatloaf during a scene for an episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

The restaurant is open seven days a week, which is about as often as you can find it on television.

Even in the Yucatan Peninsula.