Why Malibu is famous

Marian Hall’s book “Malibu: California’s Most Famous Seaside Community,” with photos by Nick Rodionoff et al, shows why, indeed, Malibu is so famous, and why many strive to live in this land of which Frederick H. Rindge wrote, “…only Heaven is more beautiful.”

By Laura Tate / Editor

It seems as if a surfeit of books on Malibu have been published recently-from Julius Shulman’s “Malibu: A Century of Living by the Sea” to Dorothy Stotsenberg’s “My Fifty Year’s in Malibu” to Katie Bentzen’s real estate guide “Buy the Beach: How to Make Millions in Malibu Real Estate.”

However, each one focuses on a different aspect of Malibu. Shulman’s pictorial book focuses on the spectacular homes of Malibu spanning 100 years, Stotsenberg’s book is part history and part memoir, dwelling not on the famous inhabitants of Malibu, but the “regular” people who are a backbone of the community, and Bentzen’s is just as the title indicates.

Malibu resident Marian Hall’s new book, “Malibu: California’s Most Famous Seaside Community” offers a combination of most of all the above-history, a sprinkling of fabulous homes, the well-known celebrity residents and the down-home inhabitants. One of the book’s main features, however, are the photos-historical ones culled from collections showing the early beginnings and the most recent, including landscape and surf shots by Pepperdine swim and diving coach Nick Rodionoff, also a Malibu resident.

The history of Malibu-from its earliest inhabitants, the Chumash, to the Keller and Rindge families, the Tapias, the Deckers and more-and how Malibu was developed by its pioneers, is sprinkled throughout the book, in no apparent chronological order. It is punctuated in between with scenic pages containing quotes written by one of its earliest pioneers, Frederick Hastings Rindge. The book is filled with photos of Malibu’s coast and of its current residents and homes, as well as with some great shots of stars from the late ’20s, early ’30s and later, and of more laid-back celebrities such as Jefferson Wagner (Zuma Jay), who, unbeknownst to me before reading it in Hall’s book, was the Marlboro Man for nearly a decade in the late ’80s to mid-90s. There are many interesting tidbits about Malibu’s residents and the old haunts they frequented (although I’ve heard racier ones than described in the book, such as the story of the old Albatross, which sat where Duke’s Malibu restaurant is now located. Told to me by one longtime resident, it once was the “red light” district of sorts in Malibu, with blacked-out windows. Hall simply calls it “The Mysterious Albatross” and describes it as a “hideaway for illicit lovers.”)

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All in all, one gets the rich stories of Malibu’s past, a flavor of its beauty through the photos, and a sampling of its varied citizens and Malibu life through Hall’s writing, Rodionoff’s photos, and photos from other sources. Who wouldn’t want to live here?

Hall will be signing her book at Diesel, A Bookstore, Sept. 24, at 3 p.m.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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