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Lacing Up Our Skates and Rolling Out to the L.A. Filming Locations of Xanadu


Michael Beck as struggling artist Sonny MaloneMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny MaloneMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesand Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s museMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesin a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesThe film’s opening shot shows millionaire and ex–big bandleader Danny McGuireMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesplaying the clarinet on the beach. In early drafts of the scriptMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesplaying the clarinet on the beach. In early drafts of the scriptMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesplaying the clarinet on the beach. In early drafts of the scriptMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesplaying the clarinet on the beach. In early drafts of the scriptMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Pictureswhere a wall and painting of the Nine Sisters was added in post-production.Michael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesAfter coming to life out of the Venice muralMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesAfter coming to life out of the Venice muralMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesAfter coming to life out of the Venice muralMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesAfter coming to life out of the Venice muralMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesAfter coming to life out of the Venice muralMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesAfter coming to life out of the Venice muralMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesAfter coming to life out of the Venice muralMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesAfter coming to life out of the Venice muralMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesAfter coming to life out of the Venice muralMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesthe muse transforms into a red ball of light and shoots into the sky in front of the Bonaventure Hotel.; Credit: Universal PicturesMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesA view of the Bonaventure HotelMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesA view of the Bonaventure HotelMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesA view of the Bonaventure HotelMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesA view of the Bonaventure HotelMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesA view of the Bonaventure HotelMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesA view of the Bonaventure HotelMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesA view of the Bonaventure HotelMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesA view of the Bonaventure HotelMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesA view of the Bonaventure HotelMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Pictureswhich at the time of filming Xanadu was called Hollywood General StudiosMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesbut it was sold a short time later following the box office failure of his 1982 film One From the Heart. Xanadu made use of the lot's front gateMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesbut it was sold a short time later following the box office failure of his 1982 film One From the Heart. Xanadu made use of the lot's front gateMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesbut it was sold a short time later following the box office failure of his 1982 film One From the Heart. Xanadu made use of the lot's front gateMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesas well as the interior of Sonny’s apartmentMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesas well as the interior of Sonny’s apartmentMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesas well as the interior of Sonny’s apartmentMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesas well as the interior of Sonny’s apartmentMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesas well as the interior of Sonny’s apartmentMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesas well as the interior of Sonny’s apartmentMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesas well as the interior of Sonny’s apartmentMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesthe scene cuts to Danny at Leo Carrillo Beach in MalibuMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesthe scene cuts to Danny at Leo Carrillo Beach in MalibuMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesthe scene cuts to Danny at Leo Carrillo Beach in MalibuMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesthe scene cuts to Danny at Leo Carrillo Beach in MalibuMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesthe scene cuts to Danny at Leo Carrillo Beach in MalibuMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesthe scene cuts to Danny at Leo Carrillo Beach in MalibuMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesshe leads him on a chase along a pier.; Credit: Universal PicturesMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesThe Paradise Cover pierMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Pictureswas built in 1945 as a sportfishing pier. Originally the pier measured about 600 feet longMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Pictureswas built in 1945 as a sportfishing pier. Originally the pier measured about 600 feet longMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Pictureswas built in 1945 as a sportfishing pier. Originally the pier measured about 600 feet longMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Pictureswas built in 1945 as a sportfishing pier. Originally the pier measured about 600 feet longMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesdistracting Sonny.; Credit: Universal PicturesMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesFishing on the Paradise Cove pier; Credit: Jared CowanMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesDistracted from having seen KiraMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesDistracted from having seen KiraMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesDistracted from having seen KiraMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Pictureswhich Sonny painted.; Credit: Universal PicturesMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesThe food truck is parked at the corner of Main Street and Hill Street in Santa Monica.; Credit: Jared CowanMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesPulling a Marty McFly five years before Back to the FutureMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesPulling a Marty McFly five years before Back to the FutureMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesPulling a Marty McFly five years before Back to the FutureMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesPulling a Marty McFly five years before Back to the FutureMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesan outdoor pedestrian mall that ran along San Fernando Boulevard from Tujunga to Magnolia Boulevard between 1967 and 1989. At the time of filming XanaduMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesan outdoor pedestrian mall that ran along San Fernando Boulevard from Tujunga to Magnolia Boulevard between 1967 and 1989. At the time of filming XanaduMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesleftMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesleftMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal PicturesleftMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesthe Pan Pacific AuditoriumMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Picturesthe Pan Pacific AuditoriumMichael Beck as struggling artist Sonny Malone, left, and Olivia Newton-John as Sonny’s muse, Kira, in a blue-screen shot — where you can actually see the blue screen — in front of the club Xanadu (actually the long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium).; Credit: Universal Pictures

Until recently, 1980's Xanadu was a film I tended to avoid. I wasn't born until two months after the film was released and the DVD cover of a gazing Olivia Newton-John never leapt off the shelf at me. Honestly, I didn't really know much about the film other than it starred Newton-John hot on the heels of Grease stardom, it involved rollerskating and featured songs by ELO.

A couple of weeks ago, out of curiosity, I gave in to Newton-John's angelic stare from a library shelf and popped the overplayed disc into my DVD player, not exactly sure what I would see over the next hour and 36 minutes. Though there are some rough visual effects shots and a couple of wooden performances — both of which helped elevate Xanadu to cult status over the years — perhaps the thing that stayed with me most, other than the film's most memorable and hummable song, “Magic,” was how much of an L.A. film it is. Xanadu is a wildly creative mashup of studio soundstages and practical locations that intertwine, not unlike the way the film combines multiple musical genres and various eras of the movie musical.

Thirty-seven years later, many of the film's locations can still be found around town, though some may go unrecognized.

Thanks to NBCUniversal director of archives and collections Jeff Pirtle, Xanadu's first assistant director Dan Kolsrud, second assistant director Venita Ozols-Graham and Burbank historian Mike McDaniel for helping us pinpoint some of the film's locations.

Please keep in mind that a number of these locations are on private property. Do not trespass or disturb the owners.

All photos by Jared Cowan except where noted. Follow Jared on Twitter at @JaredCowan1.