Big Bear, CA, February 22, 2014 – In July of 1911, a movie company from back east arrived at the new Pine Knot Lodge in Big Bear and began filming. That began a love affair between Hollywood and Big Bear that still continues.
At about the same time, tourism started taking off in the valley, but only in the summer. During the winter, Big Bear sat empty. However, an enterprising local named Fred Skinner who was the manager of the new Pine Knot Lodge, let Hollywood know that the Lodge would remain open during the winter if the studios wanted to come up and film. He even brought in a generator, giving Pine Knot Lodge electricity five years before it reached the valley. Until the ski resorts came along, it was the movie business that kept Big Bear alive during the winter months.
‘The Last of the Mohicans’ was filmed on location here in 1920 as well as other films such as the 1969 musical ‘Paint Your Wagon’ starring Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood, Disney’s ‘Old Yeller’, and the 1983 film ‘War Games’ with Matthew Broderick. The television industry also found Big Bear. In 1969, the show ‘HR Pufnstuf’ shot their opening sequence right on the lake. Episodes of ‘Daniel Boone’ were shot here and a number of ‘Bonanza’ episodes were shot up at Cedar Lake. ‘Lassie’, ‘FBI’, and Andy Griffith’s 1970s series ‘Winter Kill’ all used Big Bear as a location as well.
In the 100 years since Hollywood discovered Big Bear, literally hundreds of movies and TV shows have been shot here. Because of Big Bear’s proximity to Los Angeles and it’s ability to look like many locations all over America as well as the world, it doesn’t look like Hollywood’s love affair with Big Bear will end anytime soon.