Glendale Plays Chicago in ‘Christmas Vacation’

As Mavis Staples sings at the opening of the 1989 holiday classic “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “It’s that time. Christmastime is here. Everybody knows there’s not a better time of year.” Something lesser known? The yuletide staple (which turns 31 this week!) was primarily shot in Los Angeles, not Chicago where it was set. Mainly lensed on the Warner Bros. Ranch backlot, practical locations were utilized as well, including a stately Colonial Revival in Glendale that served as the home of Frank Shirley (Brian Doyle-Murray), Clark W. Griswold’s (Chevy Chase) bonus-cutting boss.


It is there that Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) commits the Griswold family’s first kidnapping (well, as long as you don’t count that whole Walley World security guard thing in the 1983 original). Upon hearing Clark’s profanity-ridden rant detailing exactly what he would like to say to Mr. Shirley regarding his bonus being swapped with a Jelly of the Month Club membership (the gift that keeps on giving the whole year!), Eddie, whose heart is bigger than his brain (I appreciate that, Clark!), heads out in his tenement-on-wheels to abduct Frank from his “Melody Lane” manse. In reality, the regal pad, known as Bel Aire, is located at 727 West Kenneth Road. 

Built by prominent local businessman Mattison Boyd Jones in 1922, the dwelling features four bedrooms and four baths in 5,698 square feet. With a sweeping circular driveway, columned façade, and manicured 1.82-acre lot, the place screams ritzy curb appeal!

A City of Glendale historical landmark, the residence boasts a long list of screen credits, including cameos in such throwback series as “Flamingo Road,” “Columbo,” “Knight Rider,” and “Emerald Point N.A.S.” The elegant pad is also long rumored to have been the inspiration for Tara in the 1939 epic “Gone with the Wind.”

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