Disney’s classic movie Parent Trap premiered in 1961 with Hayley Mills playing twin sisters Susan and Sharon, who plot to get their estranged parents back together.
Let’s take a look back at the two houses that were featured in the classic film: the townhouse in Boston where their mother lived, and Dad’s ranch in California.
The Boston Townhouse in “Parent Trap”
Sharon lives in this Boston townhouse with her mother and grandparents.
Maureen O’Hara played their mother Maggie, who inexplicably gave up one of her twin daughters at birth to her ex-husband Mitch (Brian Keith). It’s one of those “suspension of disbelief” things… 😉
Hayley Mills says that at times she would be so confused about which girl she was playing from scene to scene that “I was only saved by the wig.”
If she had the short wig on, she knew she was Susan, the “tomboy” twin from California. Her real hair was long like the “proper” twin Sharon’s, but, she points out in the movie commentary, in some scenes it looks as bad as a wig.
After Susan chops Sharon’s hair off at summer camp so they’ll “match,” they both have the short wig on for the rest of the movie.
It became even harder for Mills to remember who she was playing from scene to scene.
In the remake, one of the twins lived in London instead of Boston.
Some of the titles they almost used for the movie:
- His and Hers
- Susan and I
- We Belong Together
- For Now, For Always
- Petticoats and Blue Jeans
They even held a contest and to see if anyone could come up with a better name.
Writer-director David Swift recalls that one day, Walt Disney walked in and announced that they were going with Parent Trap, and that was that!
The movie especially struck a chord with children of divorce.
Hayley Mills says that she still hears from fans who tell her that watching the girls work to get their parents back together was “empowering” for them because they felt so helpless in their own lives when their parents separated.
The “Parent Trap” Horse Ranch
Mitch lived with his daughter Susan at the Golden Oak Ranch in the Carmel Valley.
This was land owned by Disney South of Carmel on Placerita Canyon Road.
They built a shell of a house on the property with nothing but exterior walls and a roof.
The Great Room:
Sharon, posing as Susan, explores the ranch for the first time.
The interiors were all created on a separate soundstage.
One of the great things about the house is how it’s connected to outdoor living spaces.
The doors always seem to be open to the courtyard and covered patio.
June Parker Beck, who edits Maureen O’Hara’s website, tells me:
“I get so many letters from people who want to go to California and see the house where it was filmed.
Maureen doesn’t remember much about the structure. Stars are just taken to the shoot for that day. They do their thing and go home.”
I read a comment on a message board that questioned why everyone apparently had to share this bathroom. Didn’t a house this size have more than one?
There are lots of big windows overlooking the courtyard in the kitchen.
Brian Keith was nervous about the role because he’d never done comedy before.
Director Swift said he wished wardrobe gave Maureen O’Hara something “sexier” to wear in this scene.
He felt it made her look a little plain, and too much like a “housewife.”
I only wish I looked this “homely” while cooking dinner in my kitchen… 😉
Mills says she grew up on movie sets with her father, actor Sir John Mills: “They were my playground.”
A balcony with a walkway that connects to their rooms runs across the back:
The “Parent Trap” Screenplay
Walt Disney bought the rights to a short story published in Germany called “Lisa and Lottie” by Erich Kästner and asked David Swift, who had written Pollyanna, to adapt it for American audiences.
Casting the Other “Twin”
Susan Henning was cast as “the other twin” because she looked enough like Hayley to play her in scenes where she’s shown from the back or side (that’s her back in the scene above).
She had to sign a contract promising to never tell anyone she was in the movie. Years later, Henning was interviewed for the Special Features on the Parent Trap DVD and was allowed to talk about it.
They gave her a rubber nose to wear, put a roll of tissue paper under her lip to make it stick out a little, and padded her bra. Henning says that she and Mills became friends, and she taught her how to talk with American slang.
The “Other Twin” Played by Susan (Left) in a Set Photo:
The Wedding on the Ranch:
Brian Keith, who died in 1997, said: “I’ve made I don’t know how many pictures. Forty, I guess. I’ve seen only about a half dozen of them. But the kind of picture I enjoy seeing is something like Parent Trap. I saw that four times. I liked it so much I forgot I was in it, as a matter of fact.”
In 1998 they filmed a remake starring Lindsay Lohan as the twins and Nathasha Richardson as their mother. In that version she lives in an elegant house in London.
Visit my Houses Onscreen page to see the others I’ve featured, listed from A-Z.
black eyed susans kitchen says
I saw them both…the original when I was a kid, and the remake with my kids. Honestly, for me the story never gets old…twin girls duping their parents….cracks me up. I loved the house that the father lived in, but then I am a sucker for the 1950’s California ranch style.
.-= black eyed susans kitchen´s last blog ..SETTING A THEME =-.
I agree about the balcony outside the girls bedroom. There was one like it in the movie Bye Bye Birdie, too! So glad that you featured this movie. It is a treasure!
Thank you for doing this movie. This has to be one of my favorite movies disney made. When ever I watch it I feel very nostalgic. The ranch has to be my favorite, I would never have thought all the interiors were created on sound stages. Love your web site, always look forward to seeing what you have new.
Kate at Centsational Girl says
I really like both versions of this movie, especially the parents cast in both. Dennis Quaid, huge crush ! I was asked the other day to name some of my favorite movie interiors and I almost said “the original Parent Trap’ so I am so glad you featured this !!! Thanks so much for doing all of this reasearch, it really is a pleasure to read. You really should be writing a book, my dear !
I adore Susan’s room with the furnishings andd that mirror and chain holding up the desk like shelf. Fabulous ! The lamps ? Not so much. And that staircase in Sharon’s house is stunning ! And isn’t Maureen O’Hara the most gorgeous woman, I always liked her in everything, but of course, I adore feisty Irish red heads.
Thanks again, what a pleasure to read on a Sunday afternoon. 🙂
.-= Kate at Centsational Girl´s last blog ..Please Welcome =-.
Kim @ Everything Etsy says
I love the ranch house and the balcony! I really enjoyed reading this post, Julia! I learned so much and the photos were great! 🙂
.-= Kim @ Everything Etsy´s last blog ..Everything Etsy Readers Know How to Organize! =-.
Karrie @ The Brick Cottage says
I LOVE this movie! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it. Thanks for featuring it and sharing the interesting commentary from those who helped make the film. Some of my favorite scenes are the hair cutting scene, the camping scene and the song! Yes, it’ll be stuck in my head for a while, but I won’t mind.
.-= Karrie @ The Brick Cottage´s last blog ..Let It Snow! =-.
Ashley L. says
I almost cried when I saw you featured this—it’s one of my favorite movie sets of all time! My dad and I even tried to draw out the floorplan once. I’m sending this to him. Thank you a million!!
.-= Ashley L.´s last blog ..Evy and Modern Art =-.
Ms. Bright says
Thanks you so much for posting this! One of my all time faves that I grew up with and was fascinated by the set even as a kid. Just like Ashley L. above me, I tried to draw the floorplan of the Carmel ranch house!
This was so much fun to see!!! I’ll definitely be linking back to this soon!
.-= Ms. Bright´s last blog ..Weekend Wishes =-.
Laura Ann says
Thank you so much for posting this, the 1961 Parent Trap house (although not real) was the very first house I sketched in a drawing pad when I was a young teen because I LOVED the flow of the house. I was actually a little upset when I found out it wasn’t real. I enjoyed seeing this post.
Daily laying it at the Master’s feet!
.-= Laura Ann´s last blog ..Can’t help but Dream . . . . . . . =-.
Love that movie and the houses! I awarded you the Sunshine Award! Check out my blog to grab the award and send it off to those who inspire you!
.-= Sunshine´s last blog ..The Sunshine Award!!! =-.
This definitely makes me want to watch the original again. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it. We have the newer version. Thanks for posting this! The ranch is gorgeous.
.-= Carmen´s last blog ..An Outward Display =-.
Nancy Hood says
I love coming here 🙂 and thoroughly enjoyed this post. My parents would have most likely divorced, had they not four kids! haha I loved the movie and imagined being able to change places with a twin 🙂
.-= Nancy Hood´s last blog ..Flashback Friday ~ January, 2009 =-.
susan said so says
This is such a great movie (made the year I was born). I love everything about it; thanks so much for the great back-story, and all the stunning pics.
Your entire blog is a wonderland of fun. LOVE it!!
.-= susan said so´s last blog ..the sight of the blue =-.
Loved this post! This was my favorite movie as a kid- (I had the entire thing memorized) ? And I loved seeing it again here and learning so many fun facts- great angle-loved the houses.
.-= Sharla´s last blog ..Baby Bibs & Backing Fabrics =-.
That was a great post love your details!
Thanks for posting this movie. I was excited when I came here and saw the title “The Parent Trap.”
I love the staircase in the town house and the sets of the ranch. When Hailey Mills came to the ranch house, one of the first things I noticed was the balcony. How I would have loved to have had a balcony like that when I was kid.
Jessica at Lavender & Lilies says
What a great house tour!
.-= Jessica at Lavender & Lilies´s last blog ..Recipe: Chocolate and Strawberry Stuffed French Toast =-.
Richella at Imparting Grace says
Julia! I think this is my favorite of all the movie house posts of yours I’ve read! I’ve never seen the re-make of The Parent Trap, but the original movie was one of my favorites. I loved this movie when I was a girl, along with the other Hayley Mills films (remember That Darn Cat?).
You must have done a lot of work on this post, and I really appreciate it. You are wonderful!
.-= Richella at Imparting Grace´s last blog ..Planning center =-.
my all time favorite movie! thanks for sharing it. I also enjoyed the remake and would love to see both of those homes too. This movie I believe is when my obsession with twins started. How I wished I was a twin and later I wished I would have twins–and I did! I love it!
.-= desiree´s last blog ..Prairie-Style House Gets Modern Makeover =-.
You can see photos from the remake with Lindsay Lohan here:
I just saw Extraordinary Measures last night with Brendan Frasier and Harrison Ford. the million plus house in Portland on top of the hill is worth seeing again and again…the property is spectacular. I can’t wait for you to feature this home.
angela | the painted house says
Wow, the ranch looks so now, doesn’t it? I could take it just as it is. I’ve been renting Brady Bunch seasons from Netflix for the kids lately and I love looking at the ol’ Brady house once again–though it is nothing like this. And the clothes. The first house Mike lived in in the first episode is awesome!
.-= angela | the painted house´s last blog ..Duo Boots on Sale! =-.
Ellen Baker says
Thank you! I was such a Hayley Mills fan growing up. That so shows my age! I watched every movie over and over again.
.-= Ellen Baker´s last blog ..Forbidden Gardens Katy, TX =-.
Julia – what a lovely, well-researched post! Thanks.
.-= Vanessa´s last blog ..I’m Feeling Blue (in a good way) =-.
Art by Karena says
A movie you never forget, and I adored Hayley Mills!!
.-= Art by Karena´s last blog ..Keep Pushing On =-.
The Summer Kitchen Girls says
So loved this post Julia! I’d have to say that anytime this movie comes on I get sucked into watching it – never tired of it! Fascinating trivia – thanks!
Had to laugh about that red carpet…when we moved into our house it was EVERYWHERE – and up the stairs…..the only bit left is – up the stairs…but that should be gone by the end of the year 🙂
.-= The Summer Kitchen Girls´s last blog ..Taking A Back Seat To Shadows =-.
Lesley @ The Design File says
So cool. I love these old scenes. Both staircases are really pretty. And I adore Susan’s bedroom, especially those huge lamps on either side of the bed!
.-= Lesley @ The Design File´s last blog ..Sunday roundup: Game art, wallpapers & more =-.
I loved this movie. I think Mills did a movie, can’t remember the same, with a French boy I have never forgotten, by the name of, I think, Gilles Payon. Pronounced Jill Payon. I know the last name spelling isn’t right. I loved Hayley, all her movies. I can’t believe how old we are, but have to say I think we both have lived in interesting times. 🙂
[email protected] View on Design says
oh yes, I love it – what great sets, really educational too!
.-= [email protected] View on Design´s last blog ..Swan River front home in Perth =-.
Thanks SO much for spotlighting “Parent Trap”!! I am bummed out though, because I have totally dreamed about living in the ranch house.
I have always LOVED the original movie, and my children have grown up watching it ; first on VHS, and now on DVD.
I fondly refer to the movie as ” Double Trouble Twins” , and my kids know exactly what movie we will be watching.
.-= Kerin´s last blog ..These and Those. =-.
June Parker Beck says
I edit and design Maureen O’Hara’s official website and have for the past 16 years. I think you did an incredible job on reviewing the original “Parent Trap.” I get so many letters from people who want to go to California and see the house where it was filmed in that State. Maureen doesn’t remember a lot about the structure. Stars are just taken to the shoot for that day – do their thing and go home.
I’d like very much to link to your feature page on “The Parent Trap” – and would appreciate any comments you have on the layout in general. Maureen owned several homes in the Los Angeles area and is amazed when she reads what they are worth in this decade. One house was next door to Greer Garson and Maureen’s daughter used to sneak through the bushes that divided their yards and Greer and Bronwyn would have pretend tea parties. I have one photos of the back porch area of one of her homes on Stone Canyon Road, I think.
I am an avid fan of “HG-TV” and constantly watch “House Hunters” and “Curb Appeal” in particular.
Again, I’d love to be in touch with you and I’ll see if I can find those photos of one of Maureen’s home. Have you ever seen the one in St. Croix? There’s a link to that on line also.
Bonnie Morscher says
I still have a warm place in my heart for this movie. My sister and I used to act out the scenes over and over, daily for more than a year. It was our favorite movie and we would make ourselves paper wigs so one “twin” could cut the hair of the other! I always got to be Sharon since my sister fancied herself more of a tomboy. Thanks for transporting me back almost 50 years!
Lauren Liess says
i’m so glad you posted on this!! the ranch house is one of my all-tijme favorites and i think of it often… love susan’s headboard and would go crazy if i had a beautiful courtyard at my house.
.-= Lauren Liess´s last blog ..In New York… =-.
Amanda @ Serenity Now says
Fun post, Julia! I like the original version more than the LL one. The fireplace in the ranch house is just amazing. I love how you really research a film when doing these posts. You go so much deeper than “look at the room in this scene.” 🙂 Thanks for all the hard work you put into it so we can enjoy a good read. 🙂
.-= Amanda @ Serenity Now´s last blog ..The Fastest Wreath in the East =-.
Cute ranch house and balcony!!
.-= Stephanie´s last blog ..Geezees Census, Who are you people? And a bit about me =-.
Julia! What are the chances? My first blog-hopping indulgence in far too long, and you showcase one of my favorite childhood movies. (I couldn’t bring myself to watch the remake…) How I love my Hayley Mills flicks! What a great, thorough post…thanks for behind-the-scenes details. I’ve missed reading your posts. 🙂
.-= bungalowbliss´s last blog ..Bidding Adieu =-.
the BLAH BLAH BLAHger says
I LOVED this movie!!! Thanks for profiling those beautiful houses. 🙂
.-= the BLAH BLAH BLAHger´s last blog ..Friday Favorites =-.
Julia, as always I love your site.
The ranch house is credited as the Golden Oak Ranch – 19802 Placerita Canyon Road, Newhall, California, USA. On BING you get a view of the pond seen in front of the house but no house. I guess a shell doesn’t last long.
The same location/road has been used in many films.
I have always thought that the styling in the new parent trap was some really spectacular eye candy. Though watching LaLohan pre-adolescence and melt down does make me a bit sad! She was such a dumpling!
.-= Bailey´s last blog ..Clifford: The Entryhall =-.
Jackie W. says
Don’t think Maureen O’Hara needed anything sexy to wear. She had natural sex appeal. Sexy clothes might have been too much.
I read her biography.
oh my absolute favorite movie of all times. I watched it over and over and still do. I find it ironic that I loved it so much, its about twins ya know and I always wanted to be a twin, I now have twin boys.
I love this movie so much! I actually looked for it at Blockbuster recently and they were out. I can’t wait for my 8 year old to watch it because I know she’ll love it too.
The ranch was always my favorite. I’m always bummed when I find out a favorite movie house was just a shell.
.-= Amy´s last blog ..The End =-.
There’s actually 3 other sequels to the The Parent Trap, The Parent Trap II, The Parent Trap III, and Parent Trap: Hawaiian Honeymoon. Hayley Mills was in all of them. I grew up watching the 2nd one. Personally, the other sequels didn’t live up to the original, but isn’t that the way with most sequels?
JONI WEBB says
i was born in 1954, so you can imagine what an impact this movie had on me. I can still remember going – seeing it in the theatre – it was my favorite movie of all time. my most unfavorite – the one i hated to most? to kill a mockingbird! torture! of course – as a teenager and now an adult – to kill a mockingbird is probably my most loved movie! things change!!!!
.-= JONI WEBB´s last blog ..Prisoner Makes Unusual Request =-.
Beach Vintage says
That house is just so timeless. I love the white car.
.-= Beach Vintage´s last blog ..Back from Heaven =-.
Rocio @ Casa Haus says
I can’t believe it! I was just looking for pics of the houses in this movie, and I saw you just posted about it a day ago! How amazing! Such a lovely house. Thanks for all the research!
Courtney @ Nesting Instincts says
I love all the backgroud info you gave…this was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid. It’s kind of a shame that the ranch was just a set…what a waste…it looked like such a beautiful home! (And you’re right – just READING your post got that song stuck in my head! HELP!) Thanks for all your hard work just to keep us entertained…we love it. 🙂
.-= Courtney @ Nesting Instincts´s last blog ..fairies are afoot – a fairy-themed birthday party =-.
Love that ranch house and all the open to the outdoors spaces!
Just the other day I caught a few minutes of the LL remake on tv and wondered again about the whole twin thing…you’re right, you just have to suspend reality and go with it. Who would split up their twins and keep it a secret?
.-= Holly´s last blog ..Who’s Copying Who? =-.
Thank you, thank you, thank you……The ranch house is still my favorite of all time movie/tv houses! The only thing I would change about it today is put in a gas stove and remove the electric stove! LOL I have been looking for photos of this house for a long time….Thanks again!
Oh my!!!! This movie lives on very vividly in my dreams…like so many others who have posted here! What a superb post! I dearly love the California house in this movie, and the fantasy of Brian Keith and Maureen O’Hara as parents. This house set the bar HIGH for California ranch style. Everything about it seemed perfect and luxurious..and it still does on film! THANK YOU for this post..it really made me smile.
Hi! I really love both of these movies. I’m so glad you put them up. Could you please do the Lass house from Dead Like Me? I love that house so much. Your blog is great!
Sorry, I mean from the series, not the movie. It’s a beautiful home.
Jessica S says
I really do love the windows in the ranch kitchen!
Thanks for all of the beautiful pictures. I love both of these movies, although I’ve seen the remake most often recently. My family lived just a few miles from the Disney property used for Golden Oak Ranch in the original–I never realized that! It’s in Canyon Country, CA, quite a bit south of Carmel–about 300 miles. I sure wish I’d know about it when I lived there.
I love your blog–it’s so fun to check out all of the houses.
I’ve always had a thing about the entry hall in the London flat of the remake with Lindsay Lohan. The orange is perfect.
This was my favorite movie growing up! I think the remake is cute too, but nothing beats the classic. I cant remember what the movie is called but it has hailey mills as an adult as a stepmom of triplet teens, and hailey has a twin in the movie again. I havent seen it in years, if you know what its called…let me know!!
thanks for great posts 🙂
.-= allison´s last blog ..DECORATING MY NEW IKEA SHELVES =-.
Awesome post! I loved this movie! The courtyard and kitchen!!!! Amazing! Thanks for taking the time to research this! It is great to be able to study the photos and see details of the rooms that you miss in the movie!
as soon as i saw the photo – i knew the movie!
not only is that my all-time favorite movie but hayley mills was my very favorite actress when i was a girl. in fact, “the trouble with angels” where she became a nun, made me want to be one for a short time (& i’m not catholic!).
of course, i also loved kathy lennon & used to pretend i was her & that i had a horse named lady but it was really just a bike. & i was crazy about dale evans, too.
.-= randee´s last blog ..i love you a latte =-.
I have been obsessing over Mitch and Susan’s Spanish revival ranch house forever. I am shocked to learn it was all actually built on a soundstage. Whomever the set designer was did an amazing job. It is like my dream house. Amazing post, amazing site. Thanks!
.-= kara´s last blog ..Time, Eminent Domain, Marches on and Into Lofts. =-.
I have been waiting for a post like this for over a year! Yours is even better than I could have wished for. I love Mitch’s house too. I suspected it was a Cliff May until I read about it being constructed for the movie. I hope you don’t mind me using one of your pics from the movie. 🙂 I’ve added you as one of my Favorites.
Incredible! We were trying to find excellent examples of Cliff May houses in film, and to have this complete write-up is a great source to direct our friends to!
I remember growing up and watching Disney on Sunday nights. This movie would come on every summer and me and my sister would sit in front of the TV and bought it. I now own it on VCR and hope to get the DVD as well. I have all ways treasured this movie as being a vital part of my childhood. Thank you.
That kitchen is amazing!!!!
I have loved that ranch house since I first saw the movie when I was very young. Thank you for doing such a well though out and researched post and for all the wonderful photos!
I just had to look this over, Julia, as I’m going to MEET Hayley Mills at the TCM Film Festival this year (2011) and I was looking for ideas on the vintage dress I’ll be making to wear to attend the screening of this all-time favorite. If she mentions anything about the set or the houses, I’ll surely report back. Thanks for the marvelous screen caps–this was an annual must-watch at our house as my kids were growing up. We even used to quiz each other on Parent Trap trivia! Thanks again, Karen N., Rochester, NY
I was a huge fan of Maureen O’Hara and love this movie. The rooms – like a dream – I so enjoyed seeing them again – yea, yea, yea!
I really love this film and it’s one of my favorite Disney movies. I’ve watched this movie so many times and it never gets old. About 2 months ago I MADE my husband watch it just to show him the house on the ranch. Even though he did not admit it, I knew that he loved the home as well. How beautiful, even now!! So now that I almost forty, this is the 1st time I ever looked up any information about the movie, and must admit that I am very pleased to know that the parents actually got married! Yes I know, I always thought that Sharon or Susan was picturing the wedding at the end and that it never quite happened! In some sort of way I always wanted this movie to just continue on and on…….
Wonderful Website, though their is one error Maureen wasn’t 41 while making the movie she 39/40. but not a big difference
I got that number from the IMDb.com website, which says she was born in 1920 and the movie came out in 1961.
this is one of my favorite movies. my sister and I used to watch this movie so much! I was disappointed to learn that the house in California was just a shell and mostly on set. I always loved the way the house blended the outdoor and indoor space!
Loved Loved Loved this post!!!
I always remembered the “ranch in carmel” and while I’m bummed it didn’t exist, your pictures are amazing! I loved everything about this movie, thanks so much for your dedication to it!
Thank you for such a wonderful post! Loved it!!!
I just watched the original movie the other night – for the umpteenth time – I never get tired of either the 1961 or the 1998 films. Maureen O’Hara is the most stunningtly beautiful actress ever. The casting in both movies was perfect. Thanks for this great website with the photos and commentary.