The Endless Summer, Then and Now
By Jamie Reno
(page 1 of 2)When Del Mar Fair organizers agreed on the theme for this year’s run—“Endless Summer, Endless Fun”—they thought it would be cool to invite the stars of the 1960s surf epic The Endless Summer to Del Mar to greet fairgoers on opening day. After all, the film, a sunny documentary about two surfers who travel the globe in search of the mystical perfect wave, is an enduring classic and the definitive paean to surf culture.
But while director Bruce Brown and costar Robert August were asked to participate in the event, The Endless Summer’s top-billed star, San Diego’s Mike Hynson, was inexplicably left off the invite list. Why on earth would Hynson—the charismatic, blond trend-setter and Windansea surfing legend—not be invited to an affair in his own backyard honoring the film in which he starred? Says Allen Seymour, coordinator of the fair’s Endless Summer– themed events, “I didn’t know how to find him.”
San Diego Magazine found him—in about 15 minutes—by simply phoning a couple of local surf shops and tracking him down. When reached, the weathered waterman was surprised and seemed hurt to learn the fair was about to honor the movie without him. “They never bothered to call me,” he said, laughing self-consciously.
The real reason for Hynson’s non-invitation likely has something to do with the animosity that has built over the years between surfer Hynson and filmmaker Brown. Hynson, 58, an obstinate iconoclast who even close friends say has burned bridges over the years, has battled drug and alcohol problems, been in and out of jail and even spent some time living on the streets and out of Dumpsters. And the longstanding acrimony between him and Brown is no secret. Brown told People magazine several years ago that he keeps his distance now from Hynson. “I don’t trust him,” Brown said.
Like most such disputes, this one involves money. Hynson, who says he turned down the $5,000 Brown once offered to pay him for his participation in the film—insisting it was an insult and that he deserved more—filed a lawsuit in 1995 charging Brown with breach of contract, among other things. The suit was eventually dismissed. “Bruce has made a lot of money on that film over the years,” says Hynson, “a lot. He’s basically a sailor, a kook who still doesn’t surf, and he’s made millions off surfers like me.”
From his home near Santa Barbara, Bruce Brown says he had nothing to do with leaving Hynson out of the fair. “It wasn’t my decision; I didn't know anything about it,” says Brown. “Allen [Seymour] has worked for me in the past, and I suspect he was just protecting me. Mike has upset me and my family over the years. But if he wants to show up, I’m okay with that. It might be a little awkward when we shake hands, but it would be fine. He’s always easy to talk to.
“With The Endless Summer, I gave him a great opportunity to capitalize on his notoriety, which he hasn’t done. He’s had his problems. He filed a stupid lawsuit against me filled with fabrications that was thrown out of court twice. The $5,000 I offered him was actually more than the guild scale actors were paid in those days. I’ve felt betrayed by Mike. He’s the only guy I’ve ever had a problem with in all my years making films. But if he wants to come, of course he can come.”
Says Hynson of his omission from the fair festivities: “I’m sure this is because of Bruce, not the people at the fair. It kind of sucks, though, because I’m the San Diego guy. Bruce and Robert [August] aren’t San Diegans. Robert never surfed Windansea in his life. This is my town, and they’re gonna come down here and greet people at the fair and talk about this movie, and I’m not a part of that? I’m not going to crash their party or anything. Those days are over. But I’m not going to be intimidated in my own town.”
Hynson grew up in San Diego and Hawaii loving two things: golf and surfing. He was already a well-known surfer when Brown invited him to costar in the movie, which was filmed on location around the world for $50,000 in the winter of 1963. Hynson’s charismatic style, in and out of the water, and his chiseled blond surfer-boy good looks are, along with Brown’s folksy narration, among the most identifiable aspects of the film, which earned a reported $30 million when it was released nationally in 1966.