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



















how often he traveled back to Boston to check on his interests, sometimes with his family in tow. On those occasions he would set them up in a home just off the water in Marblehead, where yacht clubs ringed the harbor, and tell them to soak in the fresh New England summers he remembered from his youth. Like so many other aspects of life on the East Coast, May found the experience foreign, but she pushed on anyway. “This is certainly a strange climate and I do not wonder that the people are tough

line. It wouldn’t be enough to clear the hills of men, but it could deter any would-be settlers from traveling across her kingdom. In October, she made her next move. Horse-drawn heavy wagons, their contents draped in canvas, clomped through the streets of Santa Monica, trailed by dozens of men. Few in the city paid any attention, and those who did assumed that it was all connected to the annual bean harvest at the Malibu ranch. It wasn’t until a week later that May revealed her true intentions.

price that it deemed fair, which, Samuel reasoned, would be far below what the family could get from a private bidder should they subdivide the entire ranch by choice. Eminent domain cases were famously easy for the government to win, especially when something with an obvious public benefit, such as a road, was at hand, making May’s stand seem all the more foolhardy. With the First World War raging in Europe, the War Department, meanwhile, was searching Southern California for a large unblemished

small caravan pulled up in front of the abandoned hilltop estate in Malibu, the ruins of what would have been May’s dream home. Leading the charge was a real estate agent by the name of Louis T. Busch, who faced the question of how to sell a half-finished mansion. Busch was trailed by an assistant, a photographer, and a reporter from the Los Angeles Times—who Busch hoped would write an article, stirring up enough publicity that the home would fetch a buyer. Bringing up the rear of the party was a

discover railroad tracks running along the coast. They were all that remained of the line May Rindge had constructed nearly eighty years before, unearthed once more. In 2011, I visited the home of Frederick and May’s great-grandson Grant Adamson, less than half a mile from the spot where the Rindges had built their first house in Malibu. A kind man whose easygoing manner belied the fact that he still controlled hundreds of acres of prime property in the town, Grant took me on a tour of the Serra

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