Early publicity photo

Filming on Soundstage 30

The infamous stairway

Arte Johnson

On his bike

Playing on the western street

With the Papago Indians

Filming in the cool pool

With teacher Juel Andersen

The Partridge kids

An Interview With


GH: Do you remember the layout of the soundstage, and where the sets were positioned?

BF: There were two entrances. There was the "people" door, which was on the left, and there was a big door in the middle which they brought heavy equipment and scenery in through. Obviously we used the people door. There was a red light hanging outside and if the red light was on, that meant they were filming, so we couldn't go in. It was actually a double door, so you would walk into another small room. When you first came in, on the extreme right corner was the make-up department. Behind that, towards the back of the building is where we always did the musical numbers. That set obviously changed each week depending on what the number was. If you opened the larger door, there was actually an alleyway leading to the back of the soundstage. To the left of that was an area that kept changing. If we used the upstairs hallway leading to the bedrooms, they would be here. I remember Keith's room was there too.

GH: Was the first floor of the home and garage one big complete set?

BF: Yes. The kitchen, living room, dining room and garage were always permanently there. So if you walked through that alleyway into the back, you would walk right into the living room. To the right of that would be the kitchen, and doorway to the garage/outside. If you looked through the living room windows to what would be the front yard, there was a big tapestry hanging that was supposed to show the street and woods beyond. And then there's the infamous stairway to the upstairs where I had my first French kiss and Danny claims over and over again that Shirley sent him to go to his room.

GH: Was the soundstage big enough to hold the entire Partridge home as well as any other sets needed for the week's episode? Or did you have to use other soundstages?

BF: No, we rarely did any location shooting for interiors. We did exterior stuff on location, but I don't remember ever going anywhere else.

GH: What about the bedroom sets?

BF: I think they were to the right of the downstairs set, next to the section where we did the musical numbers.

GH: Was there any part of an exterior set on the soundstage?

BF: I do seem to remember that the garage had an actual door, which was pretty much up all the time. There was one episode with Arte Johnson where he painted a mural on the garage door ["My Heart Belongs To A Two Car Garage"]. I think part of that was done on the actual soundstage as well as outside.

GH: Was there ever a bus "set" or were scenes always filmed on the actual bus?

BF: No, the scenes were always on the actual bus.

GH: Did you have a lot of fun running around the back lot?

BF: Oh, yeah! See, the studio bought us all bikes with our names on them and everything and I was big into bicycle motocross and motocross in general. The western street was covered with dirt and it was fun to ride and slide all over the place. I'm sure the Producers wouldn't have been too happy with it, but there you go! And there was a pond there, too. Remember the opening credits to "The Monkees" when they all drove their bikes into a pond? Well that was there too. So, it was kind of like a big park in a lot of ways. When I visited, they had cut out a big corner of it, and now there's a shopping center where the pond area used to be. Just what LA needs another 7-11! [Laughs] There was an episode we did with a bunch of Native Americans ["All's War In Love And Fairs"] that was done just over the hill from where our dressing rooms were. There is a park right across the street from "The Partridge Family" exterior where we filmed the chicken episode ["Bedknobs and Drumsticks"]. I remember there was a pool in the park which we used in episode where Tracy and Chris ran away from home ["Home Is Where The Heart Was"] and went to Reuben's apartment and played in the pool with all the girls. I remember that it was very cold morning that day and we were in the pool.

GH: What was your average working week like?

BF: Monday was the read-through. So we would sit around and read the script, and discuss the basics. One of the days was reserved for the musical numbers, because that took up pretty much all of the day. I can't remember if we had an assigned day to do that or not. The rest of the week was for shooting the show. As you know, I was pretty much a minor character in the show and was lucky to have one or two lines.

GH: Why do you think that was?

BF: Chris and Tracy didn't really have any written character. They were just the little kids. Danny had a very definite character, so they wrote a lot for him. And the older people, obviously, but we were just the little kids to fill in. There wasn't a whole lot of plot available. They did the obvious stuff, like running away from home, or when Danny and I stole Keith's stuff to make money. I think as the show progressed and they saw what Danny could do, they concentrated on that.

GH: Were you bored or upset that you didn't have more to do?

BF: No, I just did it. I guess because I grew up in show business, I didn't have a big ego. I mean, I still don't. I didn't pout around saying "Hey! I need more lines!" It was just my job and I just did what I did. Sometimes people will ask me if it was difficult to memorize my lines, and in most shows I only had one or two lines that were something along the lines of "Hey! Here comes Keith!" So that wasn't tough. There was a script guy who was always there on book, so a lot of the time I would come in and ask if this was the scene where I had a line and he would tell me what it was. That was it.

GH: How many hours were you able to work?

BF: I think because of child labor laws we were allowed 8 hours. So we had various call times ranging from 8 to 10 AM. I seem to remember starting somewhere around 8:30 or 9AM.

GH: What about school hours?

BF: During the school year we had to have 3 hours of school. Our school was in an old train car. I think it was left over from Petticoat Junction, or something. They had these circa 1800 train cars. It's pretty funny because they look like train cars, but they have these axles with rubber tires on them just like a car. They moved one in next to the soundstage and that was our classroom.

GH: Do you remember your teacher?

BF: Oh, yeah! Juel Anderson. I remember her well because she had been my teacher on a number of commercials I had done. My Mom got a kick out of it because when I did my first commercial I was upset when the shoot all over. I thought I'd never see these people again, and my Mom said "No, trust me you will!" And sure enough, it was "Hey look! There's Juel Anderson!"

GH: How did you spend your down time during the week?

BF: During the school year, we went back to the classroom. If you are in school for half an hour, then shoot for half an hour, and go back and forth like that, it is hard to get your three hours in. Me and Suzanne and Danny were in the classroom, or some combination of the three of us. Obviously Danny was used more, so he was with us less. That was during the school year. The rest of the time, we basically went out and played.

GH: And what did you do?

BF: Ride our bikes around, and stuff. I remember one day Danny, who loved being destructive, pulled this ladder up on top of a building, and was trying to break the ladder by pushing it over. He kept going, trying to break that ladder! Also, there are special light bulbs used in the spotlights, and some of them are pretty huge. They have a pressure-release valve because they have gas in them. When the light bulbs are burnt out you're supposed to break off this tab that releases pressure from the bulb. Well, Danny and I got a hold of one that hadn't been broken off and went on top of a soundstage and threw it off, and it was pretty cool watching the explosion it made! That was fun. I mean, we're talking about a light bulb that must be 2 feet high by 1 foot wide.


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