Edisto is the type of place that seems hidden from the rest of the world. It’s like a secret nobody wants to tell for fear of ruining the good thing all Edisto-lovers got going down here, so it’s kind of strange to think that this tiny town’s roots extend all the way to Hollywood.
To begin with, Edisto Island provides the backdrop for many films set in the south. Nicholas Sparks’ novel which was turned into the film “The Notebook” features scenes that were shot on the island. For those who are familiar with the flick, the homestead of Frank Calhoun is on the island. The DVD of the film features behind-the-scenes footage of the filming and shows the island’s welcome sign on Highway 174.
Another Nicholas Spark novel that was made into a movie in 2010 called “Dear John” was filmed on Edisto Island at Cassina Pointe Plantation. This plantation was built in the Civil War era and is featured during the Edisto Museum’s annual tour of the island’s homes, cemeteries, and churches.
Then there’s the Jim Carrey hit from the mid-1990s “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.” Many of the scenes in that film that show Ace in the thicket of the jungle, but were actually shot in the woodlands of the island.
Before Mel Gibson was known for his rants and drunken binges, he was a huge film star and his hit “The Patriot” was another movie filmed partially on Edisto. Many of the scenes featuring the South during the Civil War era were shot in Botany Bay Plantation, which is open to the public.
Aside from blockbusters and hit chick-flicks, some lesser-known films also feature Edisto Island.
In 1998, “Animals with the Tollkeeper,” which is about a cab driver who falls in love while in search of paradise, was released in South Africa. It is said that the film, which has an artistic appeal, features such striking scenes that viewers could hit pause during any scene and be struck by the beauty of the film.
“Other Voices, Other Rooms,” a film based on a Truman Capote novel featuring a child sent to live in an old plantation was also filmed on the island.
In addition to contributing to the film industry, Edisto was the home of famed Motown bass player, the late James Jamerson.
After graduating from high school, Jamerson moved to Detroit and began playing in clubs before working at Berry Gordy’s Hitsville U.S.A. studio, which was the home to the Motown record label. From there, he became a member of the legendary Funk Brothers, a core group of musicians that performed on many of the Motown recordings of the 1960s.
Jamerson played bass for hit songs like Stevie Wonder’s “For Once in My Life,” Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “What’s Going On,” the Four Tops’ “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” and hundreds of others.
Edisto also acts as a place of respite for one of the world’s biggest stars of the stage.
In the early 2000s, Broadway star Patti LuPone built a home on front beach. She can be seen around town from time to time, sucking down oysters at local restaurants and buying local tomatoes, but keeps a low profile for the most part – just the way Edistonians like it.
Anyone who’s been to Edisto knows what a treasure the place is and can understand why it’s in the movies and a hideaway for a star. It’s the tranquility of the atmosphere, the crash of the waves, the sounds of the birds, and sweetness of the southern wind that makes the island a secret hideaway filled with people who vow to never let the secret slip.