Richard Zanuck, 1934-2012

I’m just heartsick to hear of the death of Hollywood producer Dick Zanuck, who was my college roommate and best friend for several years at Stanford in the mid-’50s. We decorated our room at the Fiji house with African masks and spears and South Seas artifacts from the set lot at 20th Century Fox. We went to movies almost every night. We took a surfing trip in a Fox jeep to Baja California in 1954, and then a Fox Ford convertible on a surfing trip to Mazatlan in Spring of 1955. We partied hard, chased girls, surfed, cultivated sun tans, and weren’t too serious about academic excellence.

   We both loved the beach, surfed, played volleyball, were the same size (not, um, tall) — and competitive (we actually got in a few fistfights). We’d go to a party, get semi-drunk, and take off for LA, arriving around sunrise. His family had a large house on the beach in Santa Monica, and my first experience surfing was riding a 12-foot redwood/balsa board owned by his brother-in-law Bobby Jacks at the Malibu colony. His family had a beautiful Spanish-style home in Palm Springs, built around a pool, where we’d go frequently, and John the butler would wake us up each morning with glasses of fresh orange juice from trees around the pool.

   One of our rituals was started by him when we were teenagers (60 years ago—gad!). He sent me a postcard from Hawaii showing a surfer, with the message “Ho!” (he was there and I was not). I started sending him “Ho!” postcards when I would be somewhere or doing something that would make him jealous, and he’d eventually reciprocate. In recent years I’d send him “Ho!” postcards of me skateboarding or doing well in races, and he’d call me right up.

   In recent years we’d talk about how all our friends were retired and we’d both say how we loved our work and were never going to retire. He never did. I’m so sorry to hear that he’s gone.

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

15 Responses to Richard Zanuck, 1934-2012

  1. Perhaps it was his broad pallet of life experiences that gave Richard his keen eye for worthy film projects. His track record in an industry best known for its high failure rate was remarkable.

    Amazed and awed that you knew him so well, and for so long, Lloyd!

  2. Lloyd,
    Sorry to hear of the death of your long time friend.

    Somehow, it does not surprise me that you two were long ago carousers, long time friends.
    A similar vein of ingenuity, adventure, enthusiasm, intrigue and chutzpah, along with a common sense “ethic” was /is what has drawn me to your books and blogs.

    As you have mentioned some of your exploits (to us), it is interesting to hear the aspects which you feel may have influenced you.

    I wonder if you have ever considered, that you will have had an equally great influence on Dick Zanuck?
    For, the exploits of long ago, of two young men, and their continuing friendship (not such a common thing)…will undoubtedly have been woven into many aspects of Zanuck’s work.


  3. Lloyd… thanks for your words at Dick's service. It was beautiful, entertaining and deeply special to hear stories of that piece of Dick's larger than large life… a piece I never would have known without you. It meant so much to Dean and Harrison, for sure, but it was delightfully special for the rest of us. You made it clear you were holding back "the good stuff"… maybe some day, in a different forum, you'll share those stories that are beyond PG-Rated. Dick lived the fullest of lives, fuller than I personally ever imagine living… thank you for filling in some of the blanks — for helping to paint a portion of such a vivid portrait of a beautiful and rich life — and for doing so in such a genuinely loving fashion. TJM

  4. Lloyd, sometimes I think of you in this respect….
    ———- Sometimes I wonder if you realize your effect upon your (blogging) community….
    —————-you travel, you pontificate, you educate, you inspire….

    Individual Action and The Butterfly Effect
    The Butterfly Effect is not only the name of a movie starring Ashton Kutcher,
    but is actually a physical theory which indicates that small changes made by a source of energy in the natural world can radiate and lead to more profound changes within larger systems

  5. well sure and all, meant to say to re above….

    yours is the "Individual Action" …. you are the "source of energy" — which has the "Butterfly Effect".


  6. Lloyd, you are welcome. I have often considered how you have such a diverse community (of readers), as evidenced by comments which agree/disagree/and sometimes noteably no comments left.

    i have considered how such a diverse group (of readers)very much forms a community of sorts, around ……. the blog/you.

    in my mind, i often wondered at your effect, as in fact, you do say little in the comments, you mostly leave that to readers…

    when i ran accross the "Butterly Effect"


    nice going

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