On Sunday’s (April 22) episode of “Mad Men,” a Howard Johnson motor lodge featured prominently in the story line — Don Draper (Jon Hamm) spirits wife Megan (Jessica Par�) away to a HoJo in upstate New York where — instead of a relaxing bit of work-week hooky — they argue and Megan ends up disappearing.
But the iconic turquoise and orange classic Howard Johnson hotel featured in the show wasn’t actually in New York. Instead, like many of the AMC show’s shooting locations, it was within spitting distance of Los Angeles. The location — once a Howard Johnson, but now known as the Regency Inn and Suites — is located in Baldwin Park, an L.A. suburb in California’s San Gabriel Valley.
Filming took place in October 2011, reports the Pasadena Star-News, which noted that “TV folks” descended upon the location and were somewhat buffered from curious passers-by courtesy of the Baldwin Park Police Department.
According to Highway Host, the motor lodge went into operation in fall 1967 (a year after the events in the episode purportedly took place) and remained a HoJo until 1995 when it was sold and repainted in a somewhat less eye-catching crimson and gold color scheme (see below).
In the episode, it’s obvious that the magic of TV has removed the four-story hotel from behind the restaurant and added back in the chain’s signature colors. What do you think of the transformation? Ready for some fried clams?
[UPDATE: The Wyndham Group (which now owns Howard Johnson) did not know this high-profile product placement was in their future. “We actually didn’t know that the brand was going to be featured on the show but were certainly pleasantly surprised,” public relations manager Rob Myers tells Zap2it. We’re thinking a case of orange sherbet is in order by way of a thank you.]
The hotel, below, in a 1960’s-era postcard and the mid-1990s: