2012-06-21 / Community

Oak Park’s history glimpsed through movies filmed locally

By Sylvie Belmond


Norman Lloyd 
Photo courtesy Bison Archives Norman Lloyd Photo courtesy Bison Archives The Oak Park area has been immortalized in films from the 1930s to the present. Residents can see clips from some of those films and learn about the history of their community at a free event at 5:30 p.m. Sun., June 24 at Oak Canyon Community Park.

The free event, “ Oak Park in the Movies,” is cosponsored by Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District and the co-authors of a new book about the history of Oak Park.

Actor-producer Norman Lloyd, 97, who starred as Dr. Daniel Auschlander on TV’s “St. Elswhere” and worked with Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles, will share tales of what the Oak Park area was like 60 years ago.

Lloyd worked on the films “The Red Pony” and “A Walk In the Sun,” which were produced in the area, said Harry Medved, one of the authors of “Images of America: Oak Park.”


Richard W. Smith Richard W. Smith Architect and planner Richard W. Smith, who designed the Oak Park community in the early 1970s, and other local pioneers will be on hand to answer questions and commemorate the 20th anniversary of Oak Canyon Community Park.

Festivities will include a treasure hunt and scenes from locally filmed movies, including “Of Mice and Men,” “Little Big Man,” “Back to the Future III” and “Just Go With It.”

Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks and the park district’s

Don Hunt will talk about preserving open space and Hollywood’s interest in Oak Park.

Attendees are encouraged to bring picnics and lawn chairs or blankets.

Smith will also appear at Oak Park Library from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Sat., June 23 to talk about how the community came to be. He will show photos of the area before it was developed.

A former staff planner with an architectural and urban planning firm in

Los Angeles, Smith said a developer tasked him with creating Oak Park’s master plan. The developer wanted to build homes and other amenities in the unincorporated Ventura County area.

“The developers wanted a different approach to development. They didn’t want to do massive grading and rows and rows of tract houses,”

Smith said.

Smith said he designed the community with the environment in mind. One of his goals was to keep singlefamily homes off the hills to preserve the natural beauty of the region.

“The developer agreed to that, which was a little surprising because it was an unusual concept at the time,” said the planner, who worked to protect open spaces along Medea Creek.

“I had the idea of having the developer dedicate that open space to the Simi Valley Recreation and Park District (now Rancho Simi.) That cemented the concept, embedding land in public domain so it would be preserved forever,” he said.

Medved and his coauthors, Harvey Kern and David E. Ross, both pioneers of Oak Park, and Municipal Advisory Council member Derek Ross, will dedicate the proceeds from books sold at the event to the park district.

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