Laguna Beach, with its scenic coves, has long lured movie makers. In particular, though, the dramatic strip known as Treasure Island has held special appeal.
The area, once called Goff Island after its former owners, was renamed Treasure Island when a portion of a movie of that title was filmed there in 1939.
According to a locally produced brochure entitled "Treasure Island, Location for Hollywood Films," among the movies filmed there, at least in part, were "False Colors" in 1914; "The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe" in 1920; "Bobbed Hair" in 1921; "The Life of Emile Zola" in 1922; "Evangeline" in 1929; and "Stolen Life," which starred onetime Laguna Beach resident Bette Davis in 1946.
In addition, a mobile home used by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz during the 1953 filming of "The Long, Long Trailer" still stands at the park.
The 27-acre enclave has also been a home or vacation retreat for a host of people linked to the film industry, residents say, among them actors, cinematographers, sound people and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper.
May Brown, 75, a former script supervisor for "Bonanza," "Chinatown" and "The Apartment," is one of the last people left there with roots in the movie industry.
Brown considers the 1960s and '70s the glory days for Treasure Island.
"We had a number of people connected with the movie industry connected with the park," she said. "Talk about gossip--that's when gossip was rampant here. For a while, this became Peyton Place."
The area was attractive to filmmakers partly because the peninsula was transformed into an "island" only when high tides covered the connecting strip of land over which materials could be transported, resident Wesley Wisely said. In the 1950s, a thick concrete layer was poured atop the connecting strip that disappeared at high tide, so that the "island" would be accessible regardless of the tides.
Movie makers are not the only media people attracted to Treasure Island, Wisely said. The makers of commercials are also drawn to the area, partly by a natural stone archway which serves as a "frame" for models, he said.
Brown said that about eight years ago, she came to the aid of a script supervisor for an Al Pacino movie on the beach. "I brought her a hat and I brought her a cold drink," she said.
But Nancy Gilbert, Treasure Island's service coordinator, said no movies have been filmed at the park in the last four years at least. The present owners bought the land four years ago.
But if the glory days of Hollywood productions are gone, commercials are still being shot at Treasure Island, Wisely said. "The last one I saw was a Depends commercial," he said.