The Jimmy Stewart Show wasn't a hit when it originally aired during the 1971-1972 television season and likely wouldn't perform well today, but classic film fans may enjoy watching this sitcom that features one of the silver screens greatest stars. Yes, the show is hokey, but come on, it has Jimmy Stewart with all his 'Aw, shucks' likability! I could watch Stewart mumble the alphabet and find it amusing. And in addition to Stewart the cast includes the lovely Julie Adams, John McGiver, and a few guest stars including Beulah Bondi and Vincent Price.
Stewart plays James K. Howard, an anthropology professor at the local university of a small fictional town. Things are fine in Howard's life until his oldest son moves back home bringing his own family after their house burns down. Howard's simple life suddenly becomes more crowded and complicated.
The show almost exclusively filmed on the Warner Bros. lot. There are very few scenes that were filmed outside the studio. The center of town was the Midwest Street exterior set and the neighborhood was Residential Street/Kings Row which branches off of Midwest Street. Other exterior sets used include the Jungle/Lagoon set as well as an office building on the lot.
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Stewart in front of "Valley Elementary School."
Valley Elementary School. An office building on the WB lot.
On the show, in addition to Stewart's older son, he and his wife have a young son that is just ten years old. The younger son attends Valley Elementary School which in reality is just an office building on the Warner lot located not far from the present location of the iconic studio water tower.
Stewart talks with his son at Valley Elementary School.
The office building on the Warner lot used for the elementary school set.
The Howard Family Home on Residential Street/Kings Row.
A contemporary view of the Howard Family home house.
Above is a comparison of the Howard Family home which is one of the houses located on Warner's Residential Street. Below are views of a couple more homes located on Residential Street which can be seen on the show.
Stewart rides his bike down Residential Street.
A contemporary view of Residential Street.
The view from the Howard's front yard.
The same view on Residential Street.
The next few comparisons feature the Midwest Street exterior sets.
The center of Midwest Street as seen in The Jimmy Stewart Show.
Contemporary view looking towards the center of Midwest Street.
Stewart drives through Midwest Street.
Midwest Street on the Warner Bros. lot.
Stewart arrives at a Leather Goods shop.
The Leather Goods facade as it appears now.
Stewart's older son works at the East Valley Construction Co. which is an exterior set located on Midwest Street. This facade and the one next to it actually look quite different from the way they did at the time of the show. In the next few comparisons I've used a red rectangle to mark the building/sign for the East Valley Construction Co. site.
East Valley Construction.
Contemporary view of the East Valley Construction Co. facade.
East Valley Construction can be seen in the background.
Looking along the facades that include East Valley Construction.
The East Valley Construction sign location is marked by the red rectangle.
The next comparison shows the view looking inside out from the East Valley Construction facade. The same building that can be seen through the window can still be seen in the background today.
Jonathon Daly and Ellen Geer inside the East Valley Construction set.
The view looking from the East Valley Construction location.
The Howard family arrives at church.
A contemporary view of the church set.
Julie Adams at an art contest. The City Hall facade can be seen in the background.
A contemporary view of the Midwest Street City Hall facade.
The comparison below is of of an exterior set that no longer exists on the Warner Bros. backlot. The first image is a screenshot from The Jimmy Stewart Show where the set is used as Josiah Kessel College. The second image is a screenshot from the film The Music Man (1962) which used the same set as a school in the fictional River City, Iowa. I'm keeping my eyes peeled now to see where else this set appears to see if I can pin point when this set disappeared from the lot.
UPDATE (November 22, 2013) Thanks to Steve Bingen, one of the co-authors of the excellent book MGM: Hollywood's Greatest Backlot, I've learned that the set below used for the Josiah Kessel College was a backlot set known as "Hank's School" and was once located on the backside of the Hennesy Street set, where the Park Place set is located today. According to Steve, "Hank's School got its name from a TV series called Hank from the early 60s. Although the set predated the show. Village of the Giants is another film where its possible to get a good look at the set. It was also Boatwright University in The Waltons in the 70's. It was taken down in 1995 when Batman Forever did a rebuild of Hennesy Street."
Josiah Kessel College in The Jimmy Stewart Show.
A screenshot from The Music Man (1962).
The Park Place set stands where the Josiah Kessel College/"Hank's School" set once stood.
This last comparison is a view of the Jungle/Lagoon backlot set. In The Jimmy Stewart Show there is an episode where Stewart and his younger son are seen fishing from a pier.
Stewart fishing with his son on the Warner backlot.
The Jungle/Lagoon set on the Warner Bros. backlot.
The Jimmy Stewart Show is not available on DVD but can currently be viewed on the Warner Archive Instant streaming service.
More Midwest Street/Residential Street on screen appearances covered here on Dear Old Hollywood include: The Hard Way (1943), East of Eden (1955), Rebel Without a Cause (1955), No Time For Sergeants (1958), The Music Man (1962), Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came? (1970), Nickelodeon (1976), The Monster Squad (1987).
All images (c) Warner Bros. except where otherwise noted.