The Farmhouse Painting
When you watch Back To The Future Part I, you'll notice a fairly large Farmhouse Painting on the wall in the back scene of the Banes family dinner room. The painting itself was painted by American folk art painter Simon Zoto , size (without frame) are 48 × 24 inches. We at RentDelorean started a thread to find out where that painting is today. Here is a letter written to fans back in 2018 from Libby, whom lived in the house where that scene was filmed.
My name is Libby Lampert. In 1980, when I was 6 years old my parents, Donald and Sharon Lampert, bought the house at 1705 Bushnell Ave in South Pasadena. I was just about to start first grade and my brother and sister were both in high school. The house’s interior, we learned, had been used in a Hallmark Card commercial as well as a tv movie called “The Solitary Man” … about a guy going through a bad divorce. We thought that was pretty cool that the house had been chosen. I never saw the commercial (super preYouTube), but I did see “The Solitary Man” years later. It was pretty dark but cool to see our house on film. About 1984, when I was in the 5th grade, there was some buzz around the neighborhood that location scouts for a film were starting to look at houses on the street for possible use in a movie. We crossed our fingers. Not too much after the buzz, my parents were contacted by location scouts at Universal. They made an appointment to come see the house. Someone let it slip that the project was for an upcoming Steven Spielberg movie. A couple years earlier we had stood in a line around the block to see our beloved E.T. And Close Encounters, JAWS and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Holy shit! The Universal folks said that they were looking at a number of homes in and around South Pasadena, so it would be a very long shot. The scouts had seen the old commercial and our house had been cataloged as having a beautiful staircase that was visible through the glass windows of the heavy Craftsman style front door. The day the location scouts came by, I had decided I was too sick to go to school. Naturally! I was sitting on my bed watching my little black and white tv my dad had won me at the County Fair when two guys came in to take a look at my room. The Munsters (my fave) was on and one of the guys told me he like the Munsters, too. Just about the time we forgot all about it, my parents told us that the house had been chosen. My mom was excited, but my dad took some convincing. He saw it as a hassle. We would have to be out of the house around the time I left for school and would not be allowed back in until the film crew wrapped for the day, sometimes late into the evening. My dad worked very long hours and had no interest in coming home to a bunch of nonsense. I can’t say for certain, but I am fairly certain that he didn’t know who Steven Spielberg was. Although mom was excited, one of the conditions was that the crew would be allowed to change the furnishing and décor of the living room, dining room, entry and staircase. It would be put back at the end, but my mom is an interior decorator and had the house beautifully done. I don’t mean she just bought stuff she liked, I mean she did that AND hung the wallpaper herself. The house was her baby. Despite that reality, she was still game. And when my dad found out they wanted to use the house for 5 days and would be paid $1,000/day, he was suddenly game, too. The week the film crew showed up, the block was buzzing with excitement. The house next door to us (1711 Bushnell) was chosen for exteriors – both the front and the back. Overnight The crew was massive, and they swarmed the tree-lined street. Lights, cameras, sound, runners, catering trucks, just people and equipment and activity everywhere. Dry ice smoking in the gutters. “Hey, kid! Don’t touch the ice! It will BURN YOU!” Ice that will burn me? Must be movie magic. Since our kitchen was off limits, we’d start the day off by eating breakfast from the food trucks. We’d have lunch at school, back in time for snacks, dinner, desert, whatever off the food trucks once we got home. For a 10-year-old, the catering trucks were like an open bar. The snacks were just purely sinful – I was easily chugging 5 or 6 chocolate milks a day. Since I had to stay out of our house so much that week, I did a lot of exploring around the street, the different co-opted areas, looking for anything cool or weird or interesting. One afternoon I got all 3 in 1 when I met Crispin Glover for the first time. I was crossing the street and he came up to me, says “Don’t we know each other?” Uh… what? I knew he was in the movie because he was always in costume, guessed he was some kind of big deal because of all the scenes he was in, but other than that, I had no idea who he was. He said I looked just like a kid he had done a commercial with (but not me). Nonetheless I was excited to have another cool story, another feather in my cap. He signed my little autograph book. They let us kids watch the exterior shots being filmed. We were absolutely forbidden to speak to the actors EVER/AT ALL/UNDERSCORED. Speaking to an actor was a banishable offense. Making noise on set was equally offensive. My sister, Patti, our resident pain in the ass, broke all the rules but! instead of being banished from our own little version of Tinsel Town, she wound up with 2 different extra/background parts and a union/SAG card. She didn’t drive so my brother took her down to the talent agency to get registered. Talent agency lady barely had time for Patti but she went after my brother to be an extra with unparalleled gusto. He had no interest, thought it was hilarious. Kind of a gut punch to my sister – she had recently won a Marilyn Monroe look-alike contest at the Arcadia Mall and was getting a little big for her britches. In the scene were Marty and George are eating lunch in the school cafeteria, you can see my sister sipping on a bottle of coke through a straw. She’s got goofy 1950’s blond hair and a retro green cardigan sweater. When the camera is on Crispin Glover head/shoulders, my sister is facing the camera above his left shoulder. Patti’s other scene was as an extra/background during the Enchantment Under The Sea dance. I remember when my family saw the movie in the theater, we could spot her, but no one can find her these days. I remember her telling me about it. I have no idea how many extras they used in that scene, 50 maybe? Every single one of them had to undergo a 1950’s make-over, clothes, hair, shoes, makeup. Then they had to learn the dances. And get the scene blocked off. It sounded like all you do during these kinds of things as background players is wait around. I was finding myself much more interested in the behind the scenes stuff. Wardrobe, runners… for a long time I wanted to be a location scout when I grew up. Maybe I still kinda do. So it was amazing and it was all over in less than a week. We went on, back to our old routines. One of the really sad things is we were not allowed to take pictures or document anything. No proof. No reminiscing. The house had been completely destroyed and was finally just about finished getting put back together. And then we got a call. Universal had fired Eric Stoltz from the movie. They had replaced him with Michael J Fox. They had to re-film all of the scenes with Marty, but with Michael this time. We were thrilled! They were coming BACK! And they were bringing Alex P. Keaton! The second time was even better than the first. The backyard scene with George and Marty hanging laundry out on the clothes line was shot in the next-door neighbor’s (1711) back yard. I remember being on set that day and that short little cute scene took most of the day. Some kid got fussy and was banished. They also shot some nighttime stuff that never made it into the movie. One scene we all remember watching being filmed involved an old 50’s convertible that one of the guys drops into the driver’s seat from the second story window. They shot this elaborate, choreographed scene for HOURS and it didn’t make it in. Some things about MJF.
He talked to us. Like as real people talked to us. That whole “don’t even LOOK at the actors!” thing didn’t work for him. He would approach US, asked US questions. I was in 5th grade so we were about the same height. He was so approachable. And so real. At the time, he was still filming Family Ties – he was doing both at the same time. At opposite ends of LA. My mom remembers him making phone calls after they wrapped for the day, trying to find a couch to sleep on that would get him closer to one or the other. Also, he smoked. I found this kind of odd only because it was so extreme. If he wasn’t in front of a camera, he was smoking. There was a guy, standing close to MJF, just off camera, who would pass lit cigarettes back and forth with him so he could smoke between breaks and takes. Now that’s some dedication. I just really have to say, we have all seen MJF turn out to be such a lovely person, but it was obvious even then that he was. Just good hearted. In our dining room, the focal point was a very large primitive painting of a farm scene. They left that up both times. It is clear as day, right up behind Lorraine’s dad’s place at the head of the table. My mom had purchased it at the Goodwill in Los Angeles while thrifting with our neighbor. She thinks it cost around $30. Such humble beginnings…
Los Angeles, CA
The painting is with Craig now in his residence in Long Island, NY:
Some answers from an old BTTF post by Libby:
My sister, Patti was around 17/18. We (kids) were allowed to be on set if we were silent, didn’t talk to any of the actors/crew and didn’t take any pictures. My sister ignored rule #2 and stalked/begged/whined to anyone nearby to see if she could be an extra. She totally wore them down! I don’t remember what order the scenes were filmed in, but she was in the high school cafeteria scene and the big dance scene. I remember her saying the dance scene was epic – they had all of these actors/extras and each of them had to be extremely styled to fit the ‘50s dance thing. Hours and hours and hours. Then dancing over and over and over. I can spot her in both scenes, I’m seriously considering doing screen caps…
Her son/my nephew was around 18 mo old when he bombed as uncle joey. My brother - would have been around 20 – drove my sister to the casting agency to get her registered. The casting people approached HIM to be an extra and he was like “nah, that’s ok.” we were floooooooored! wth? But he had no interest at all in movies and was kinda shy. My dad was not into it at all either, he saw it as a major hassle. They used our house for 5 days (twice) and paid my parents $1k/day (in eighties money - I have no idea what that would be now?) and I think that changed his mind.
My mom remembered something else funny about all that. My sister and nephew were both paid extras, but because of my nephew’s age and that he was going to be in a “role” he wound up making more money than my sister. Also: my mom can’t stand Eric Stoltz, to this day she’s like “what a JERK!” According to her, he spent way too much time “chasing after that girl” (Leah Thompson).
The only scene the house is in is the dining room scene. We were in the running to have my bedroom used in the Calvin/wake up scene but they wound up filming that somewhere else. I remember the location scouts looking at my room – I stayed home from school “sick” (heh) that day thinking on this now, I'm sure there are still “location scouts” but I bet most of it is done online. They came to look at our house because a scout had noticed the awesome front door - they liked that it was craftsman style, specifically that you can see the beautiful staircase through the glass windows on the door. Once they came out they saw the rest of the house and wound up falling in love with the dining room.
The crew would start very early in the morning and we weren’t allowed back into the house until they were done for the day. I spent a lot of time at the food trucks and wandering around looking at all the movie set stuff. One day I needed something out of my room and when I walked in someone was sleeping on my bed. It was the actress who plays Lorraine’s mom - ! She apologized for sleeping on my bed and she asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up. I told her I wanted to be an actor and she said “NO DON’T DO THAT WHATEVER YOU DO!” then she went on and on about how horrible acting is! “You say the same thing over and over and over, you spend 90% of your day waiting…”. and this was over 30 years ago – she made quite an impression on me!