Cary ONeal, aka “Mr. Malibu,” was fortunate to be born and raised in the world famous Malibu Colony. His high profile events and celebrity interviews have reached over 22 million on television, 500,000 via social media and nearly 4 million on YouTube.
Here, ONeal shares stories about global celebrities living in Malibu and happenings he experienced through the years growing up in the ‘Bu. This article is the first in a series of iconic Malibu Colony recollections.
Early Years in the Colony
Three-year-old Cary ONeal would run up to Cary Grant’s Rolls Royce with the other neighborhood kids and mess around with the superstar, chatting and laughing. Back then, the younger Cary had no clue the older Cary had a giant global impact. When ONeal was about 10, he met another Cary, the son of TV director Tom Gries ("The Rat Patrol"). One day Cary Gries invited Cary ONeal to drive with “the most beautiful actress in the world” (Dyan Cannon) to Cary Grant’s Beverly Hills home for breakfast—it was a trio of Carys!
Baby Cary lived on the beach in Malibu Colony, next door to Tom Hank’s current home. Cary’s father purchased the home for about $22,000 in 1955; today it still has the original A-frame structure. As far back as Cary can remember, movies and TV shows were always being filmed in the neighborhood. As a child, he figured it was normal, until later in life when he realized the stars, movies and TV shows had massive global exposure.
In fifth grade, Cary fell in love with Dinah Manoff, the daughter of actress Lee Grant. Cary asked Dinah “to go steady”—a fad long gone. At the time, Grant had been leasing a home owned by Cary's father in the Colony. Cary recalls “making out” with Dinah on the roof of the garage overlooking the swimming pool.
Cary’s photography skills began at age 10 when his sister, who had a crush on Paul Newman, discovered Newman laying out in the sun in his front yard. Although she had a high-quality Nikon camera, she was too scared to go and take a photo of Newman, so she asked Cary if he would do it. A Leo with six planets in Leo, Cary was always fearless about walking up to anyone, regardless of their position in life, and start talking to them. He walked right up onto Newman’s deck and looked over the glass wall which was about 3 or 4 feet high and saw him laying back in a chaise lounge.
“Excuse me? My sister is too chicken to take a picture of you so she asked me if I would do it. Is it okay?” Cary blurted out with great joy and excitement. Looking at the 10-year-old kid with the expensive camera, Newman agreed.
“Sure, no problem. Are you sure you know how to use that thing?” Newman asked. Cary snapped the photo and his sister blew it up to poster size and put it on her wall.
Another event in the Colony when Cary was around 10 or so was a 4th of July birthday party for Jane Fonda. Cary was sitting 2 feet behind the drummer of The Byrds who played at the party. The vibrational impact of such an exhilarating experience for Cary played out six years later on a far grander scale.
Cary’s best friend in his early teenage years was Brian Goff, the son of Ivan Goff, creator of "Charlie’s Angels." Cary began playing the drums in fourth grade and by age 13 was in a rock band with Brian. Cary practically lived at Brian’s Malibu Colony home, often sleeping overnight and surfing all day with Brian and the other Colony Cool Cats. People from "Charlie’s Angels," including Farah Fawcett and stunt men, were frequently at the house. Cary and Brian had a sacred pact, sworn to be bigger than The Beatles and were planning on calling their band Pink, 10 years before the singer Pink was born. (Many years later, Cary would be hanging out with Pink at the Malibu Performing Arts Center where she was recording.)
One day, Cary, who was adept at pencil sketching, spent a couple of days drawing a picture of Jimmy Page, the guitarist for Led Zeppelin. Brian called and told Cary that his (Brian’s) father had found out that Led Zeppelin was staying at the Hyatt on Sunset Boulevard and asked if he wanted to drive over and see if they could meet them. Cary readily agreed.
“I’ll bring my sketch of Jimmy Page. Maybe we can give it to him,” Cary said. Borrowing Ivan's car, they drove to the Hyatt and waited in the lobby. As they sat there, a blond British guy walked by, introducing himself as “Cracky.” He was the road manager for John Paul Jones, Led Zeppelin’s base and keyboard player.
Cracky looked at Cary’s sketch. “How would you guys like to come up and meet Jimmy and the gang, and you can give him this drawing?” Brian and Cary about dropped to the floor in amazement, feeling pure electricity at maximum wattage—pure adrenaline! They were going to personally meet Led Zeppelin! They went up to the ninth floor, entered the room and there was Jimmy Page! Cary handed him the sketch, and Page was really friendly and thanked him. Then they met Robert Plant. There were half-naked girls running around and plenty of drugs lying on the tables everywhere. It was a very party-type atmosphere, if not complete chaos. Then Cracky invited Brian and Cary to drive to the Forum and help set up their equipment for the concert that night. They were in absolute heaven. This was at the very peak of Zeppelin’s success.
Cary met Mick Hinton who was John Bonham’s (“Bonzo’s”) road manager and got to help set up his drums.
"He let me thrash away as loud as I wanted in the giant empty Forum with 20,000 empty seats," Cary recalls. "There was such a buzz with that whole experience; it was really 'other worldly'.”
That night, Cary stood at the bottom of the stairs to the stage wearing a “Zoso” sweatshirt when Mick told him to start sanding Bonzo’s sticks with coarse sandpaper. He wanted the varnish removed because his hands would get sweaty, and he wanted to have traction grip. By this time, the Forum was jam-packed with fans and the lights were turned down low. Then Mick told Cary to run up and put the sticks where they belong on the side of the floor toms. Without thinking anything of it, he ran up onto the stage with the sticks, and suddenly the entire audience exploded into a roar, thinking he was one of the band members.
"I suddenly felt like 200,000 watts of electricity were going through my body and I experienced firsthand what excitement they (Led Zeppelin) got to feel every night performing in front of that mass attention," Cary says.
Just a few minutes before they came on stage, Cary had climbed up the light tower and sat about 10 or 15 feet from where Jimmy Page would be standing. No one said a thing.
"I was one of the gang. I got to sit there the whole concert and be so blown away by the greatest rock concert I had ever seen in my entire life (which at that point, I was 16)," he marvels.