Santa Monica Pier is now the official end of historic U.S. Route 66, originally established November 11, 1926. Finally, this highway made famous in song by Nat “King” Cole ends directly at the Pacific Ocean where unofficially many have presumed the highway terminated anyway.
Here’s a short ABC News video account noting the recent Route 66 events of November 11, 2009 at Santa Monica Pier.
The road from Chicago to L.A. has been variously known as the humorist Will Rogers Highway, colloquially as the "Main Street of America" or the "Mother Road" in John Steinbeck’s novel "Grapes of Wrath." This was the road taken by migrants traveling West “including those escaping the devastation of the drought’s “Dust Bowl” in the 1930’s.
I wrote earlier about "Route 66, Music, Memories" including a video of Nat Cole’s vocal solo backed by his musicians. An additional video features a years later recording of the vocal group Manhattan Transfer’s popular arrangement made about the highway. This link is a Rolling Stones version for those who might enjoy a rock arrangement. Maybe it’s just a matter of my personal music tastes, but after listening to several Stones YouTube versions I concluded their arrangements, instrumentation and sound quality hardly did justice to Bobby Troup’s tune. Maybe the first arrangement we ever hear of a song somehow influences our preferences whoever is the performer. You may be the judge.
A 1960’s television series named Route 66 caught the viewing public’s fancy for a few years. Here’s Nelson Riddle’s memorable recording of the shows musical theme.
The "Route 66" TV series made television history by being shot on location entirely. Ironically few scenes were ever shot on the actual U.S. Highway 66 which is so typical of reality in TV series and movies. The show’s seriousness in the beginning focused on pertinent issues of the time that often had political implications. CBS network executives reportedly were concerned about the potential adverse effects on viewership such thought stimulating episodes could have and wanted the show to add more “broads, bosoms, and fun.” Finally acquiescing to network demands the producers “introduced young female guest stars such as Tuesday Weld and Suzanne Pleshette” Another such young actress, Inger Stevens can be seen in this nine minute video of the first of her two appearances on the show.
The person posting this YouTube video noted he was doing so as a tribute including to older TV series “…in the best interest of Fair Use…” He added his intent was to bring new appreciation for the talents of Inger Stevens whose death was untimely.
Series stars Martin Milner portrayed Tod and George Maharis was Buzz. Milner is retired, still lives in Southern California. There’s quite an extensive Route 66 blog with comments as recent as September 2009 specifically about Maharis for anyone interested in reading more. Several writers reported their positive experiences having personal contact with him, including a woman who worked for him for about a year and another individual identified herself as having written about him on Wikipedia.
I enjoyed that television series. We didn't drive a Corvette, but my husband and I did share enthusiasm for short to long cross country driving trips. He traveled all of Route 66 years before we met. Years later we drove the historic route's highway segments that were still open.