Terry “Tubesteak” Tracy


Malibu surfer Terry “Tubesteak” Tracy died Wednesday of complications from diabetes at his home in San Clemente, Calif. at the age of 77. The surfer character “Great Kahuna” in the 1959 movie “Gidget” was based partly on his life.

Tracy was born March 13, 1935 in Los Angeles. He graduated from Cathedral High School and attended Santa Monica College for one year.

Tracy is credited with being one of the original Malibu “pit” crew members during the Golden Years of the 1950s. In the mid-’50s, Tracy lived in a shack on the beach in Malibu for two summers and was one of a group of surfers who pioneered the California surfer lifestyle.

Tracy was reportedly given his “Tubesteak” nickname by fellow surfer Miki Dora. Tracy’s wife Phyllis told the Los Angeles Times he gave various explanations for the name, occasionally saying it was slang for a hot dog, or showoff, and sometimes saying it came from working at a restaurant called Tubesteak’s.

Tracy was also involved with aiding the Malibu community. In 2007, he led a group of volunteers during a Surfer’s Healing event to benefit children with autism.

In addition to his wife, Tracy is survived by his children, Pamela Guinn, Jennifer Tracy, Jocelyn Graham and Patrick, Michael, Jonathan and Moe Tracy, and eight grandchildren.