The King and Queen of Malibu: The True Story of the Battle for Paradise

The King and Queen of Malibu: The True Story of the Battle for Paradise

David K. Randall

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 0393240991

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


New York Times best-selling author David K. Randall spins a remarkable tale of the American West and the desire of one couple to preserve paradise.

Frederick and May Rindge, the unlikely couple whose love story propelled Malibu’s transformation from an untamed ranch in the middle of nowhere to a paradise seeded with movie stars, are at the heart of this story of American grit and determinism. He was a Harvard-trained confidant of presidents; she was a poor Midwestern farmer’s daughter raised to be suspicious of the seasons. Yet the bond between them would shape history.

The newly married couple reached Los Angeles in 1887 when it was still a frontier, and within a few years Frederick, the only heir to an immense Boston fortune, became one of the wealthiest men in the state. After his sudden death in 1905, May spent the next thirty years fighting off some of the most powerful men in the country―as well as fissures within her own family―to preserve Malibu as her private kingdom. Her struggle, one of the longest over land in California history, would culminate in a landmark Supreme Court decision and lead to the creation of the Pacific Coast Highway.

The King and Queen of Malibu traces the path of one family as the country around them swept off the last vestiges of the Civil War and moved into what we would recognize as the modern age. The story of Malibu ranges from the halls of Harvard to the Old West in New Mexico to the beginnings of San Francisco’s counter culture amid the Gilded Age, and culminates in the glamour of early Hollywood―all during the brief sliver of history in which the advent of railroads and the automobile traversed a beckoning American frontier and anything seemed possible.

8 pages of illustrations; map

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next year, he had no problem unloading all of them at $600 apiece. His eye for property wasn’t always right, however. The same year, he had to watch twenty-five acres at the corner of Seventh and Figueroa Streets that he’d refused to pay $11,000 for go for over $80,000. Sellers whose land was located farther afield from the city center had to resort to more creative means to move their properties. In Orange County, hucksters planted their confidants in crowds with instructions to bid up prices

nestled in the black leather seat of a horse-drawn buggy, taking notes on what he saw. He kept a bucket of cold water at his side, and as the heat rose in the valley and mixed with the pungent smell of horse manure and human sweat emanating from its streets, he would dip in a handkerchief and bring it to his forehead to give himself a small measure of relief. These lengthy work sessions would often sap his body of strength, forcing him to spend hours in bed the next day with one of Madam

Instead, the uncontrolled explosion simply egged the fire on. When it was finally contained, the next morning, more than seven hundred buildings downtown had been demolished and thirty lives lost. A new city was now emerging from the ashes of its colonial past, stretching and growing like a great beast awakening. It was a place where the old ways of doing things—and the people who did them—seemed to change overnight. Immigrants steamed into Boston Harbor and made their way into the city to find

level-headed, too much of a businessman, even if a romantic one. Had he lived longer, Malibu would likely have become the American Riviera he’d said it had the potential to be, full of hotels and marinas, and ultimately just another upscale place along a coast full of them. MALIBU REMAINED largely untouched in the years immediately following May Rindge’s death. Her family sold acres on the borders of the former rancho to satisfy the final claims on her estate, leaving their holdings a fraction

two years in the 1970s re-creating the glaze, culminating in a business commissioning high-end reproductions of Malibu tile for clients such as George Lucas and Jane Fonda. Now a popular venue for weddings, the Adamson House holds its own archives of Malibu history. Before her death, Rhoda’s friend Jessie donated a collection of snapshots taken with Rhoda and May Rindge in the days when Malibu was still private. Tucked alongside a photo in which she is wearing the gun and cartridge belt May

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