75.120.74, Avalon Bay, Looking North, 1910

When you arrive to Catalina you will recognize the harbor by the large round Casino that greets you with its unique and beautiful architecture. This dance hall and movie theater is not the only reminder of the film history of Santa Catalina Island. When you tour the back island by safari, you will see herds of buffalo and wildlife. These animals are not native to the island, instead, their ancestors were movie stars!

Catalina served as Hollywood’s stage for Westerns and dramas only a short boat ride away. Rather than run after all these animals when they were done filming, they would leave them behind. Years following, The Catalina Conservancy did have to intervene on the wild boards and goats but a few of the species remain like the buffalo and the adorable wild fox.

Along with movies on the island some famous stars have resided on the island as well. Marilyn Monroe (while still Norma Jeane) lived on the island with her first husband, during their first year of marriage.

The very first movie to have been filmed on Catalina was in 1912, Man’s Genesis, this movie opened a flood of movies that were later shot on the island including: Leap Year, Rain, Treasure Island, Murder on a Honeymoon, Catalina Caper, Suicide Kings, and more. To see the famous buffalo watch Bless the Beasts and Children, 1971. Fun fact: the instrumental song recorded for the movie, “Cotton’s Dream” later became the soundtrack for The Young and The Restless soap opera. So, when you are driving around on your golf-cart make sure to play this in your Instagram montage.  

You might know a few other famous one-liners where Catalina is featured, the most popular, “Catalina Wine Mixer” repeatedly quoted through the movie, Stepbrothers starring Will Ferrell. Sadly, Will never made it to the island during filming, but that should not stop you from having your own Catalina Wine Mixer!

TV shows have also used the island’s backdrops for shall we say, critical scenes, such as when Arrested Development, first season, used the rolling hills of Catalina as the stage for the Bluth Company employees to get lost and then aided by sheep herders.

The quaint main street and beaches with picturesque sets are just a short ride away from Hollywood and beckon not just movie-producers but local Southern California residents as well. Hope over for the day or stay the weekend to gather all your YouTube Channel videos, Instagram stories, Facebook-Live videos, and more.  No matter the audience, your film opportunities are endless on the island!

For a full list of movies click here.