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Mendocino, California

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Mendocino in California.

 

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Mendocino (formerly, Big River, Meiggstown, and Mendocino City) is a census-designated place (CDP) in Mendocino County, California, United States. Mendocino is located 9.5 miles (15 km) south of Fort Bragg, at an elevation of 154 feet (47 m). The population was 824 at the 2000 census.

Despite its small size, the town's scenic location on a headland surrounded by the Pacific Ocean has made it extremely popular as an artist colony and with vacationers. Because it is less than four hours by car from the San Francisco Bay Area, it is a popular weekend getaway spot for Bay Area residents.

Local state parks

Mendocino Headlands State Park
Mendocino Woodlands State Park
Russian Gulch State Park

Movie and TV filming

Many movies have been filmed in and around Mendocino and Mendocino County, including Dying Young, The Russians Are Coming; Overboard (actually filmed in Fort Bragg); The Dunwich Horror; Karate Kid III; Dead & Buried; Dying Young; Forever Young; Same Time Next Year; Racing with the Moon (partially filmed in Fort Bragg); Pontiac Moon; and The Majestic (also partially filmed in Fort Bragg). Mendocino was depicted as turn of the last century Monterey in the James Dean classic East of Eden. "Summer of '42" starring Jennifer O'Neil included local Mendocino High School students.

However, the TV series Murder, She Wrote has had the largest impact on the community. Murder, She Wrote was set in the fictional town of Cabot Cove, Maine. Nine episodes of the 264-episode program were filmed in Mendocino, while exterior shots throughout Mendocino were used in the remaining episodes. The program was broadcast for 12 seasons, from September 1984 until May 1996, and won many awards. Many local residents looked forward to the yearly filming, as over a hundred and fifty were chosen to play background parts. A lucky few were cast for speaking roles. Poet, playwright and actor Lawrence Bullock cites being cast in a speaking role as a "Townsperson" in the episode "Indian Giver" as giving him eligibility to join the Screen Actors' Guild. Locals Linda Pack, James Henderson and others were also cast in speaking roles. The main character Jessica Fletcher's home in the series was an actual home in Mendocino and is now a bed and breakfast under the name "Blair House."

While scenes for Murder, She Wrote were being filmed in Mendocino, residents say that it was not uncommon to see Angela Lansbury, who played Jessica Fletcher, stop to speak with a toddler, or for Tom Bosley to sign his autograph on a Glad Bag box presented by a shopper stepping out of the local grocery store. Murder, She Wrote also brought in more money to the town due to increased tourism — by some estimates, around $2,000,000. The local high school band appeared in one of the episodes and received enough money from the appearance to go on a band trip.

Mendocino is also the home of the Mendocino Film Festival which was first held in May 2006. Because the area is a haven for artists, the festival honors them with a special "artist category", in addition to the documentary, feature and short film categories.

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