Obituary: Carole Kay Campbell Bush

Carole Kay Campbell Bush 

Carole Kay Campbell Bush—March 5, 1939 – May 13, 2021

Longtime Malibu resident Carole Bush, also known as “Cactus Carole,” died on May 13, 2021, due to post surgery complications of pneumonia.

Loved ones described Carole as a beautiful force of and for nature. She moved to the rural westernmost Malibu mountains in 1972 from Silver Lake, Los Angeles, with her then-husband, Billy Green Bush, and three young children ages four and two (son Clay and twin daughters Robyn and Rachel). After raising her beloved children, she became active in organic farming, growing elephant garlic, Meyer lemons, limes, figs and Nopal prickly pear cactus, earning her nickname “Cactus Carole.” She passionately supported the Malibu Farmers Market, where she sold her harvests, cactus salads and fresh eggs from her happy hens.

She was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1939 to Wm. Campbell and Mary Romano Campbell with older and then younger brothers Glenn and Noel. The family moved to Dallas, then settled in Phoenix in 1952. Carole started modeling in her late teens, taking trips to Hollywood after having local successes, often staying at the historic Hollywood Studio Club, where she eventually moved in 1962. There she made lifelong friends, discovered her talent for painting and art within the artistic community, modeled in Hollywood and met Billy Green Bush in 1967. Carole loved her children, being a mother and helping other women do so, hosting, caring for granddaughter Katlynn, gardening, tap dance, old Hollywood, Malibu history, painting, Frida Khalo, traveling Mexico, and her Deer Creek family ranch. 

Carole is survived by brothers Glenn and Noel Campbell; son Clay; daughters Robyn and Rachel; ex-husband Billy Bush; granddaughter Katlynn; family in Mexico and scores of loving family and friends around the world.

“It was a Wonderful Life,” a loved one said.

Her memorial service will be held July 24 at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of Malibu Church, 3625 Winter Canyon Road. In lieu of flowers, family is requesting donations to a children’s art scholarship in her name. Email for info: