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How 'The King And Queen Of Malibu' Kept Everyone Out And Saved The Coast

Flowers frame one of the steep, rugged access trails to Dan Blocker Beach in the Corral Beach area of Malibu, Jan. 12, 2012.
Associated Press
Flowers frame one of the steep, rugged access trails to Dan Blocker Beach in the Corral Beach area of Malibu, Jan. 12, 2012.

How King And Queen Of Malibu Kept Everyone Out And Saved The Coast
How 'The King And Queen Of Malibu' Kept Everyone Out And Saved The Coast GUEST:David K. Randall, author, "The King and Queen of Malibu"

Your own little slice of paradise -- that is what so many of us are looking for. The place to call your own and build your own kingdom. On family found paradise at the start of the 20th century and wanted to keep the beauty of it all to themselves. I am joined by a author David Randall who tells the story of that family in his new book, "The King and Queen of Malibu". The true story of the battle for paradise. Who were your king and queen of Malibu? Frederick came from a wealthy East Coast family. He came out to Los Angeles. He is like the founding father of Los Angeles. His wife was -- they came from different circumstances. He grew up wealthy as she grew up poor. They bought all of Malibu -- all 13,000 acres and they bought it for $10 an acre. They saw that -- Frederick did so much to build Los Angeles, he saw it as an escape. Eventually it was a clash between the homesteaders who are living behind Malibu and the family over how can they opened this up and eventually after he died suddenly, his wife took over the Empire. She became the most hated woman in Los Angeles for 30 years. Honestly -- this is one prime piece of property. Exactly -- it is paradise. How did the family managed to keep people and rose out of their ranch? They owned all of it. It was their private property. At that time was so treacherous to get there. It took 10 years just to get through Malibu is self. Countless times of dynamite. When the wife owns it all she has literally guards on horseback with shotguns. So she was willing -- when Frederick died she inherits $700 million. She uses all of it to try to keep Malibu as her private kingdom. You have some great photos in the book. Is things like this alternative history -- one family owned all of Malibu is a private kingdom. They built not just one but two mansions The first one was burnt down by the homesteaders. His wife saw this as a real war. The homesteaders are trying to kill her for the next 30 years. She later starts building a 50 Romansh and as the symbol -- like they are always going to own Malibu for their entire lives. The Great Depression comes and she eventually dies without any money in the West Adams mansion. Everybody knows the happy story of Malibu. Sunshine and surfers and celebrities -- that all rests on this tragic tale of one of the most powerful women in California history 1st did it ever occur to you that despite her authority and Did it ever occur to you that she could be called an early environmentalist? Malibu today would not be preserved without her. She used much of her money to essentially keep the railroad out. She was able to preserve it for so long because she saw it when Frederick died -- she saw it as the memory of her husband. So she never wanted to develop it. Because of that it was almost as if a central Park was preserved in Manhattan grew up around it. This battle that she waged when all the way to the US Supreme Court. What happened? It became a landmark eminent domain decision. Taking private property for public use. Like the Pacific Coast Highway You see something is the obvious necessity -- they argue there is no necessity to build a road they are. They are the only ones that live there. So they did not want the road. The LA County did which is innovative -- they said that the necessity there is it is so beautiful that it would make people better cut it would improve society by allowing them to see beautiful places. It was a progressive idea -- the same idea of the beautification of Washington DC essential part. It was the idea that one of the beat ironies of the story -- the beauty of Malibu that brought them there, it was the beauty of Malibu that made them lose it. Also an irony and the story is that one of her legacies -- is that Malibu is now -- she wanted to keep it for herself and her family. Now it is known worldwide as this famous glamorous community. The word Malibu, I grew up in the East Coast. I knew it was a great place to be. That is a strange legacy of hers is in a? All of this happy story rests on her tragic fall. Because of her, this is all of Malibu -- the way we have it now. If she had lost and did not wage the stand was not able to say I'm going to give everything I have been more. Her eldest son even sued her trying to develop it. She said no to him as well. If it was not for her Malibu with just be any other place in the cost. It might even have a freeway -- they actually did try to build one through Malibu. They thought it would be a lot of people living there. Even today it is only 13,000 people. 27 miles of highway. Is this paradise. What drew you to the store? I grew up in Riverside driving up and down PCH and going surfing. It was only when I moved to the East Coast -- I was stuck in my first blizzard -- this is terrible I am homesick. I found out about PCH. I cannot find anything so I was looking to old issues of the LA Times and seeing stories about this woman who owned all of Malibu and homesteaders were invading her property trying to kill her. It just seemed like this alternative history that I had never heard of. The name and only LA -- he owns more businesses than anybody in the state. He was the Rockefeller of California. He was completely forgotten. He died suddenly -- his wife takes over all of this empire in California did not know what to make of her. He owns this empire from LA, to San Francisco to Boston -- all at a time when she did not have a right to vote. You resurrected a fascinating story. I've been speaking with David Randall -- the author of "The King and Queen of Malibu" , the true story of the battle for paradise. Thank you so much Take you having me -- thank you for having me.

Your own little slice of paradise -- that is what so many of us are looking for. The place to call your own and build your own kingdom. On family found paradise at the start of the 20th century and wanted to keep the beauty of it all to themselves. I am joined by a author David Randall who tells the story of that family in his new book, "The King and Queen of Malibu". The true story of the battle for paradise. Who were your king and queen of Malibu? Frederick came from a wealthy East Coast family. He came out to Los Angeles. He is like the founding father of Los Angeles. His wife was -- they came from different circumstances. He grew up wealthy as she grew up poor. They bought all of Malibu -- all 13,000 acres and they bought it for $10 an acre. They saw that -- Frederick did so much to build Los Angeles, he saw it as an escape. Eventually it was a clash between the homesteaders who are living behind Malibu and the family over how can they opened this up and eventually after he died suddenly, his wife took over the Empire. She became the most hated woman in Los Angeles for 30 years. Honestly -- this is one prime piece of property. Exactly -- it is paradise. How did the family managed to keep people and rose out of their ranch? They owned all of it. It was their private property. At that time was so treacherous to get there. It took 10 years just to get through Malibu is self. Countless times of dynamite. When the wife owns it all she has literally guards on horseback with shotguns. So she was willing -- when Frederick died she inherits $700 million. She uses all of it to try to keep Malibu as her private kingdom. You have some great photos in the book. Is things like this alternative history -- one family owned all of Malibu is a private kingdom. They built not just one but two mansions The first one was burnt down by the homesteaders. His wife saw this as a real war. The homesteaders are trying to kill her for the next 30 years. She later starts building a 50 Romansh and as the symbol -- like they are always going to own Malibu for their entire lives. The Great Depression comes and she eventually dies without any money in the West Adams mansion. Everybody knows the happy story of Malibu. Sunshine and surfers and celebrities -- that all rests on this tragic tale of one of the most powerful women in California history 1st did it ever occur to you that despite her authority and Did it ever occur to you that she could be called an early environmentalist? Malibu today would not be preserved without her. She used much of her money to essentially keep the railroad out. She was able to preserve it for so long because she saw it when Frederick died -- she saw it as the memory of her husband. So she never wanted to develop it. Because of that it was almost as if a central Park was preserved in Manhattan grew up around it. This battle that she waged when all the way to the US Supreme Court. What happened? It became a landmark eminent domain decision. Taking private property for public use. Like the Pacific Coast Highway You see something is the obvious necessity -- they argue there is no necessity to build a road they are. They are the only ones that live there. So they did not want the road. The LA County did which is innovative -- they said that the necessity there is it is so beautiful that it would make people better cut it would improve society by allowing them to see beautiful places. It was a progressive idea -- the same idea of the beautification of Washington DC essential part. It was the idea that one of the beat ironies of the story -- the beauty of Malibu that brought them there, it was the beauty of Malibu that made them lose it. Also an irony and the story is that one of her legacies -- is that Malibu is now -- she wanted to keep it for herself and her family. Now it is known worldwide as this famous glamorous community. The word Malibu, I grew up in the East Coast. I knew it was a great place to be. That is a strange legacy of hers is in a? All of this happy story rests on her tragic fall. Because of her, this is all of Malibu -- the way we have it now. If she had lost and did not wage the stand was not able to say I'm going to give everything I have been more. Her eldest son even sued her trying to develop it. She said no to him as well. If it was not for her Malibu with just be any other place in the cost. It might even have a freeway -- they actually did try to build one through Malibu. They thought it would be a lot of people living there. Even today it is only 13,000 people. 27 miles of highway. Is this paradise. What drew you to the store? I grew up in Riverside driving up and down PCH and going surfing. It was only when I moved to the East Coast -- I was stuck in my first blizzard -- this is terrible I am homesick. I found out about PCH. I cannot find anything so I was looking to old issues of the LA Times and seeing stories about this woman who owned all of Malibu and homesteaders were invading her property trying to kill her. It just seemed like this alternative history that I had never heard of. The name and only LA -- he owns more businesses than anybody in the state. He was the Rockefeller of California. He was completely forgotten. He died suddenly -- his wife takes over all of this empire in California did not know what to make of her. He owns this empire from LA, to San Francisco to Boston -- all at a time when she did not have a right to vote. You resurrected a fascinating story. I've been speaking with David Randall -- the author of "The King and Queen of Malibu" , the true story of the battle for paradise. Thank you so much Take you having me -- thank you for having me.

There's a true story captured in the book "The King and Queen of Malibu." But when you read it, the tale sounds like a good piece of fiction.

Once upon a time, 120 years ago, the kingdom called Malibu — now a world-famous stretch of celebrity-saturated, beautiful Southern California beach — was not so popular.

That was because in those days Malibu was in the middle of nowhere.

But Malibu's nowhere was gorgeous. It was a nowhere that people coming to California to settle kept trying to see and enjoy. They and others already living in the surrounding hills could see the coastline and hear the waves. But they were not allowed to enter. Not for decades.

The king and queen kept them out.

Frederick Rindge, the man who became known as the "King of Malibu," had been a sickly child. A very rich New Englander (and a Harvard graduate), he traveled to San Francisco for his health in 1880. There, he was cared for by the aunt of Rhoda May Knight, the Michigan farm woman who would eventually become his queen. They moved to scruffy, dusty, Spanish-speaking Los Angeles in 1887.

Settling in Santa Monica, the happy couple became even richer and soon found the land of their dreams about 20 miles north: Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit. The wild Malibu coastline offered beauty, seclusion and romance, and the Rindges wanted to preserve it all for themselves.

David K. Randall, author of "The King and Queen of Malibu: The True Story of the Battle for Paradise," tells the rest of the story on KPBS Midday Edition.

Don't expect a happy ending.

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