Easily the two biggest Hollywood stars with long-standing ties to Pauma Valley are comic actor Bill Murray, who owns several homes at the country club and is often spotted in the area, and the late, legendary movie actor John Wayne, who loved the valley with a passion.
Locals describe Murray as a quirky but personable, low-key family man who just wants to be treated like a normal local. Of course, there’s nothing "normal" about the brilliant, irreverent, warm but elusive Murray, a longtime golf enthusiast.
Then there’s Wayne, best known for portraying cowboys, soldiers, and other rough-hewn, all-American characters. An Iowa native, Wayne loved quiet, outdoorsy Pauma, according to historian Robert Lerner.
Wayne, who once said his favorite horseback-riding trail was here, owned a ranch house that served at one time as the clubhouse for the Pauma Valley Country Club. That house still stands proudly near the country club golf course’s 14th tee.
The Valley Center History Museum, which is nearby, held an exhibition on Wayne’s life four years ago. When one of the curators first came up with the idea, Lerner scoffed. He did not think anyone would show up—not in 2011, all these years after Wayne’s passing in 1979. However, Lerner was thankfully voted down, and he chuckles about it now.
"We opened the exhibit on a Saturday at 1 p.m., and before noon there were 300 people waiting to get in," Lerner recalls. "The first in line were a grandmother and her 3-year-old granddaughter. I asked the little girl why she was here, and she said, ‘To see John Wayne.’"
Lerner had told the curator that if anyone showed up at the exhibition he would eat his hat. Well, they showed up in droves. So how was the hat, Mr. Lerner?