The Fresh Prince of Bel Air hit the airwaves back in 1990 making an immense cultural impact and forever solidifying actor/rapper Will Smith into Hollywood history. It also solidified something else… The Fresh Prince of Bel Air house will forever be a national treasure.
Many of you may be surprised to know that the show, which was produced by Quincy Jones (father of the insanely adorable Rashida Jones), was actually based on the life of music producer Benny Medina. Medina decided to pitch the idea with his real estate buddy to Mr. Jones who had just signed a TV contract with Time-Warner and the rest, folks, is history. If you’re interested in learning more about this iconic show, then you’re in luck, because we’re here to answer all of your top questions about one of TV’s most iconic sitcoms.
Where was Fresh Prince of Bel Air filmed?
The actual show was filmed at several locations over the course of six seasons. These locations include Sunset Las Palmas Studios, Hollywood (from 1990-1991), Sunset Grower Studios, The Burbank Studios and Burbank (from 1993-1996).
Fresh Prince of Bel Air House
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air house Glendale CA
There have been reports that the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air home was located in Glendale, California, however, these reports are false. The home in question (named the Bel Aire), was however most notably used by producer Aaron Spelling as the main home in the TV show Flamingo Road.
Fresh Prince of Bel Air – 251 N Bristol Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90049
Believe it or not, America’s favorite home was actually not located in Bel Air at all, but in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles. However, the truth of the matter is that when it comes to demographics, these two neighborhoods are pretty similar and definitely the upper-crust of the upper-crust if you know what I mean.
The single-family home has five bedrooms, five bathrooms and is a whopping 6,438 square feet. It sits on a .88 acre lot and was originally built in 1937, but was given a renovation in 1946. The Colonial-style, two-story home came with a beautiful fireplace and pool and included 9 rooms in total.
According to Realtor.com, the property was last sold for $732,000 back in 1978, however, its value literally skyrocketed with the advent of the show. Current estimates put the property’s value at a whopping $8,777,990. Now, the price of the average home in this area is already pretty steep (we’re talking like around $2.99 million), but this particular home’s estimate still manages to be 192.7% greater than the median listing price in the Brentwood area. That’s pretty impressive.
According to Gary Gold, executive vice president of Hilton and Hyland brokerage in Beverly Hills, the producers picked the location because it communicated that “upper crust, conservative, WASP-y” vibe the show was looking to create with the Banks family.
Fresh Prince of Bel Air House Floor Plan
For those of you interested in checking out the Fresh Prince of Bel Air home’s floor plan, 3D Warehouse has a great mockup of the first floor to give you a better idea of the layout of the home from the show. Keep in mind, this is the layout of what you see on TV. which was actually a set at a studio, not the actual inside of the home above. #GottaLoveHollywood
Fresh Prince of Bel Air Cast
For those of you who are as obsessed with the show as I am, you pretty much already know any and everything about the main cast. But, let’s break it down for a moment for those readers who don’t and in the meantime, I’ll provide you with a few interesting factoids along the way.
Will: The character of Will was played by none other than Mr. Will Smith himself. The character was actually created specifically for the actor/rapper, who was heavily courted by producer Benny Medina to be a part of the show. Will at the time was reluctant due to the fact he didn’t have any acting experience and also because he pretty much already had an established career in music. The show not only cemented him into Hollywood history — it also helped him pay off his IRS debt. Will at the time was notoriously bad with his money and owed the IRS a whopping $2.8 million in back taxes. What many people may not know is that for the first three seasons, 70% of Smith’s salary went directly to the IRS.
Carlton: Who to this day doesn’t know the Carlton dance? Alfonso Ribiero played the role of the Banks’ uptight, straight-laced son Carlton and to this day, it was his most famous role yet. Ribiero said the dance was inspired in part by Courtney Cox’s dance in a video for Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” and by Eddy Murphy’s notorious “white man dance”.
Hilary: The role of the Banks’ oldest daughter Hilary was played by the brilliant Karyn Parsons — who pretty much hit the nail on the head when it came to portraying the role of a spoiled, pretentious but lovable space cadet. Parsons was 24 when she was cast for the role, which single-handedly been the biggest one of her career.
Ashley Banks: Believe it or not Ali’s acting debut was actually on Sesame Street. However, she pretty much hit gold and make her breakthrough at the ripe old age of 11 when she was cast to play the role of the Banks’ youngest daughter.
Nicky: Who didn’t absolutely fall in love with Ross Bagley’s character on the show. He still today is pretty much the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Did you know that his full name for the show was actually Nicholas Andrew Michael Shawn Nathan Wanya Banks? Sound familiar? That’s because he was named after the members of Boyz II Men — who also just so happened to perform at his christening in season four.
Geoffrey: The lovable, overwhelmed and constantly annoyed butler of the household was played by English actor Joseph Marcell. Prior to the show, Marcell had already made a name for himself when he became a part of the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company in London. He eventually made his way to television and film and was picked up for the show in 1990 at the age of 42.
Aunt Viv: The loveable role of Aunt Vivian was originally played by actress Janet Hubert for the first three seasons. We all pretty much had a heart attack when the show promptly replaced her with actress Daphne Maxwell Reid for the remaining three. Hubert was actually offered a 10-episode contract, however, she turned it down due to the fact that it was exclusive and thus, prevented her from booking any other work during the time. The producers refused to negotiate with her and ended up recasting the role to Reid. That sucks!
Uncle Phil: Actor James Avery played the patriarch of the family, and ended up being pretty much one of the most iconic father-figures in TV history. Avery actually had a pretty darn long list of television and film credits before he was picked up to play the role of Uncle Phil in the show. Avery sadly passed away in December of 2013 due to complications from heart surgery.
Who lives in the Fresh Prince of Bel Air house?
So, it’s a little tricky to nail down, but the Brentwood home is believed to now be occupied by a Persian businessman and his wife.
Fresh Prince of Bel Air Lookalike House
Okay, so there was a home that was used in the show for one of their Christmas episodes (“Deck the Halls”) that was different from the main home that was used for filming. This home later came back into the public eye during the time when VH1 was producing a reality television series called Barely Famous. The show featured the lives of two sisters by the name of Erin and Sara Foster who also happened to be the daughters of music producer David Foster. Viewers quickly realized during the pilot episode that the home looked vaguely familiar and guess what — they were right!