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Tuesday, June 25, 2013
We Found It, The Actual L.A. Location of Don Draper's Childhood Whorehouse
Pity young Dick Whitman/Don Draper. The childhood orphan wound up growing up in a Pennsylvania brothel with a stepmother who didn't love him. (At least he had the occasional Hershey's bar.) Season six of "Mad Men" featured several flashbacks to Don's teenage years in the whorehouse, leading to the final scene of the season finale -- in which Don (Jon Hamm) takes his kids to the home (now, years later, in complete disrepair, see above).
In real life, Don's childhood whorehouse is actually in the historic Los Angeles neighborhood of Angelino Heights, a popular spot for film shoots (particuarly period pieces like "Mad Men"). The neighborhood, located just south of Dodger Stadium/Chavez Ravine, is known for its collection of still-standing Victorian homes.
Don Draper's childhood whorehouse, located at the corner of Douglas and Carroll (that's the Google Maps photo above), was built in 1887; is six bedrooms/one bath; 3,160 square feet -- and valued at just under $600,000, according to Zillow. (That sounds remarkably low, given the size and the historic value.)
Here's the Zillow entry:
Note a few important differences: "Mad Men" added *a lot* of CGI to make the house look more rundown than it really is. Plus it's surrounded by apartment buildings in that digitally altered scene from the show, but in real life it's just more homes. (At least the power lines on the left appear to be authentic.) Interestingly, this publicity shot for the show, found on Richard Rushfield's Tumblr, appears to also be without those digital alterations:
How popular is this house as a film location? The Google Maps photo of the house happens to catch a shooting trailer and "No Parking" signs all around the house:
Meanwhile, Nicole Verhamme, who lives across the street from Don Draper's childhood whorehouse and goes by the handle @slowdowncoletrane, has chronicled the "Mad Men" shoots. Check out this pic she snapped from her window:
"Once again, woke up on the set of a Mad Men shooting, & yes, that IS Jon Hamm right in front of me...!!!!" she writes. (Pic by @slowdowncoletrane)
Obviously they did add some junk to the front yard, it's not nearly as nice as the yard in the Google Maps pic. But the house sure doesn't look this shabby:
And by the way, it goes without saying, but there are no smokestacks on the other side of the street, despite this shot:
We've marveled for years about how "Mad Men" has expertly managed to turn Los Angeles locations into mid-century New York (as well as Rome and other locales). Check out some of our past posts here.
How amazing was that Season 6 finale, by the way? It really sets the stage for perhaps a new, introspective Don Draper. And it also gives us plenty to think about as we wait for the show's final season next year. I spoke to creator Matt Weiner about the season ender; read that TV Guide Q&A here.