Scene It Before: The Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead House

Swell and her siblings hold down the fort after disaster at a home in Santa Clarita

Two weeks ago, BuzzFeed published an article marking the 24th anniversary of the 1991 comedy Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead. I had to pick my chin up off the floor. How the movie is almost two-and-a-half decades old is beyond me! Don’t Tell Mom was played on a constant loop at my house when it came out, and my obsession never really waned. I still watch the movie regularly and have managed to find out where almost all of it was lensed.

Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead was filmed exclusively in Los Angeles. The “Clown Dog” restaurant where Bryan (Josh Charles) works was The All American Burger at 7660 W. Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. That location was torn down and rebuilt as a Chipotle in 2010. The swanky restaurant where Gus (John Getz) takes Sue Ellen “Swell” Crandell (Christina Applegate) for a working lunch was Opera on Ocean, now Del Frisco’s Grill, at 1551 Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. The Chuck E. Cheese’s where Swell tells Kenny Crandell (Keith Coogan) about her new gig (“I am the executive administrative assistant to the Senior Vice President of Operations.”) was located at 8353 Laurel Canyon Boulevard in Sun Valley. Though the kids pizza chain has since moved a few storefronts north, its former location is still recognizable from the movie.

A screen capture from "Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead"
A screen capture from “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead”
The house in October 2009
The house in October 2009

Photograph by Lindsay Blake

Don’t Tell Mom’s most memorable location is easily the Crandell family’s large farm-style home. In real life, it is located at 15548 Iron Canyon Road in Santa Clarita. One of my friends managed to track the place down several years ago after speaking with a helpful member of the film’s crew. According to them, the dwelling’s exterior and interior were roughed up and made to appear dingy for the shoot. The property also looks smaller onscreen than it is in real life. The eastern portion of the house is shown most prominently in the film, but only the northern portion can be seen from the street. (The very same home is also where the Lubbock family lives in the television series Just the Ten of Us.)

Keith Coogan and Lindsay Blake at Coogan's wedding in October 2013
Keith Coogan and Lindsay Blake at Coogan’s wedding in October 2013

Photograph courtesy Lindsay Blake

Coincidentally, a good friend of mine married Keith Coogan a few years ago, and I was a bridesmaid in the wedding. Had someone told my tween self that I would be in Kenny Crandell’s wedding (and walk down the aisle with Growing Pain’s Jeremy Miller during the ceremony, no less!), I never would have believed it. Life’s funny that way sometimes.

Lindsay Blake is an actress, writer, celebrity admirer and Los Angeles enthusiast who contributes to CityThink each Thursday. Her true love is filming locations, and she founded the Web site IAMNOTASTALKER in 2007 to document her vast findings on the subject. For more “stalking” fun, you can follow Lindsay on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.