Malibu Remembers Lin Bolen at Westward Beach Memorial

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Cantor Marcelo Gindlin of the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue plays the guitar at the memorial.

A pod of whales playfully spouted water and frolicked close to the shore Sunday afternoon at Westward Beach in Malibu where a memorial service was held for a local woman known as a trailblazer for women in Hollywood. The people who came to remember Lin Bolen commented that the whales’ presence so close to the service and for such an extended period must have been some sort of sign that Bolen’s playful spirit was in attendance as well.

Bolen was a well-known television executive who was a pioneer for women in the entertainment business. At 31 years of age in 1972, she was named director of programs at NBC and with many successes quickly became the network’s vice-present of daytime programming. By 1976 she formed her own production company. One of her huge successes was bringing “Wheel of Fortune” to television. Many Hollywood insiders have claimed Bolen was the inspiration for the hard charging network executive Diana Christensen, played by actress Faye Dunaway in the Academy Award winning film “Network.”

In 1983, Bolen married television and movie director Paul Wendkos, best known for directing a 1959 movie with Malibu ties—“Gidget.” Wendkos died in 2009.

Bolen, who died unexpectedly January 18, was a familiar face in Malibu for many decades. Even those who didn’t know her by name or fame may remember the blonde-haired woman with the effervescent smile often seen with her two Bichon Frise puppies she took everywhere. She was a familiar sight at the Malibu Colony Plaza with her remaining pup Alfie, who also attended the beachside service.

Cantor Marcelo Gindlin of the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue played guitar and led the informal gathering in remembrance of his friend. One of those who spoke was Tina Stern, who hired Bolen more than 40 years ago and then remained close friends. 

“It’s hard to imagine that she’s not here anymore,” Stern remarked. “She was the most iconic, vibrant, smart, tenacious human I’ve almost ever encountered and also the most generous. She cherished friendships and I cherished my friendship with her.”

 “Our bodies are not perfect, but our souls are,” Gindlin said while leading a toast for Bolen. “Her soul brought so much light and love to this world that she’ll always continue existing in our hearts and we will treasure those memories. We are grateful for the memories and the quality time we spent with her.”

A friend of 45 years, John Cosentino, said one of his earliest memories of Bolen was seeing her running up Pacific Coast Highway years ago when she first moved to the beach. He said he was only 12 when he first met Bolen while working at his family’s flower shop—Cosentino’s. 

“As the years went by, I got to know her better. I got to know her better as a steady customer in 2000 and got to know Paul, too,” Cosentino said. “As her real estate agent, we became even closer.” 

Calling her “phenomenal,” Cosentino added, “She was definitely a trailblazer. She was a powerful woman yet she had a wonderful charitable side. She had a close relationship with her father that enabled her to be a strong force in the movie world and mix it up with the big boys. She was in their face at a time when it wasn’t commonplace for a woman—yet she had a finesse about her. 

“She had grace,” Cosentino said. “She had feminine qualities, but she was strong. It was inspirational to see.”

Her longtime friend said that she was “sweet, but she didn’t tolerate baloney” and had a power and confidence about her that was inspirational.

“She would be happy that people were here for her today, but knowing Lin she would want people to celebrate life,” Cosentino said. “It was inspirational to be in her presence. You got sucked up in her energy. That’s what I remember about her.”