The King and Queen of Malibu: The True Story of the Battle for Paradise
David K. Randall
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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
months, he had transformed himself into the kind of man he had always wanted to be: physically strong, resourceful, and at ease with a gun on the open range. If not for the freezing weather, it would have been easy to grow comfortable and expect that his body would not fail him again. As Frederick sat in his stately hotel room in Denver, he began sketching out his plans for the year ahead. “After much uncertainty and doubt, I have finally decided that it would be better for me to remain away
property would eventually split the colonists into two factions, leaving Icaria Speranza abandoned by 1886. Whether it was the bucolic surroundings, the placebo effect of mixing feel-good medicine like wine and marijuana with painful blister therapy, or some combination of the two, patients who traveled to Madam Preston’s ranch credited her with saving their lives and vowed to never leave. Preston, as the camp came to be known, slowly transformed from a working ranch into a homegrown religious
growing brood. May was the eighth child, and seventh daughter, in the family, and her appearance suggested nothing if not a young woman whom life had decided to test early and often. She was slow to smile and quick to anger, and when she did offer a halting laugh, little joy danced in her eyes. Her wide nose and deep-set eyes gave her face a flat quality, as if the prospect of expressing happiness had been extinguished and little could be done to rekindle it. The few pieces of nice clothing she
asleep to the scent of lemon blossoms and honeysuckle. If this wasn’t paradise, it was close enough. Though he now woke each dawn to another day of limitless sunshine, Frederick was still not at ease. Ambition knotted his stomach, challenging him to do more. Most mornings, as the sun rose over the city and painted orange strokes across the sky, he could be found in the living room with a cigarette in his hand, plotting a path toward a fortune he could call his own. The boom spilled trainloads of
to be living by the same instinct. The city itself seemed to be blessed, bathed in sunlight and opportunity. With Europe in ruins after the war and New York preoccupied with the collapse of the German economy, Los Angeles set about building structures as grand as its ambitions. In 1923, a mammoth stadium known as the Coliseum opened in Exposition Park, built as a memorial to veterans of the Great War. President Harding’s sudden death of an apparent heart attack while lying in a bed at San