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Treasures of the Valley » Mike Lawler

Posted by on Oct 13th, 2016 and filed under Viewpoints. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

La Cañada’s Famous Resident of the ’90s – Kevin Costner

Since the teens of the last century when Frank Flint transformed the rural La Cañada into the wealthy enclave of Flintridge, giants of the entertainment industry have called the area home. Silent movie stars Francis X. Bushman and Nola Luxford Dolberg and cowboy stars Tim McCoy and Tom Mix had homes there. In the “golden age” of Hollywood, La Cañada was home to Victor McLaglen and Dennis Morgan. Modern times have seen stars such as Angela Bassett, Adam Carolla, Miley Cyrus and Vince Vaughn. But the big name of the ’90s in La Cañada was actor, director and producer Kevin Costner.

In the 1970s, Costner was a business major at Fullerton College. There he met, wooed and married a porcelain-skinned beauty, Cindy Silva, who was playing Snow White at Disneyland. At this point, Kevin was working construction and merely thinking about acting. An architect, John McGinnis, who was employing Costner as a carpenter, loaned the newlyweds money to go to Puerto Vallarta for a honeymoon. The destitute couple skipped out on their hotel bill and boarded a plane back to L.A. (Costner went back years later and paid that bill with interest.) On that same plane was actor Richard Burton. Costner went and sat next to the cinema giant and started up a conversation about acting. It is this chance encounter that inspired Costner to pursue acting full time. For years he toiled at studio jobs and walk-on parts, his wife Cindy encouraging him all the way. In the late ’80s, Costner’s career began to heat up with starring roles in “Bull Durham” and “The Untouchables,” followed by the huge “Field of Dreams” in 1989.

It was at this point in his career, 1989, that Costner decided to move Cindy and his three kids to a quiet spot in the tony suburb of La Cañada. He commissioned his former boss, John McGinnis, to design an estate on a three-quarter acre lot on Fairmont surrounded by the mature deodar trees of the exclusive Alta Canyada neighborhood. The nearly 7,000-square-foot walled and gated Mediterranean villa featured five bedrooms and six-and-a-half baths along with an office, gym, media room, and wine cellar. The manicured landscaping framed a pool, spa, sports court, play area and three-car garage. Despite the size of his home, local lore has it that Costner coveted the several-hundred-acre Hall Ranch a couple of blocks away. He left notes in their mailbox offering to buy the property, hoping his star power would do what hundreds of developers had failed to do – wrest away the 150-year-old property from its multi-generational owners.

But Costner was rarely home with his family in his new estate. He was in the midst of filming “Dances With Wolves,” a venture that was to completely consume 16 months of his life. Cindy tried as hard as she could to stay connected with Kevin, even working on the film with him. But her role as a mother kept calling her back to La Cañada. Kevin made promises to take time off, but roles he just couldn’t refuse, such as his starring role in “Robin Hood” followed by “JFK,” kept tempting him back on location. He wanted to be a family man, he wanted to be home. His heart was in the right place, but his body wasn’t. Sadly, rumors of Kevin’s romantic trysts began to filter back to Cindy in La Cañada. She threw herself into her children, her home, and management of a Pasadena restaurant that Kevin and she had started.

Mike Lawler is the former  president of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley and loves local history. Reach him at lawlerdad@yahoo.com.

Mike Lawler is the former
president of the Historical Society
of the Crescenta Valley and loves local history. Reach him at
lawlerdad@yahoo.com.

Costner’s career continued to snowball, along with his commitments away from family. The strain was too much for the 16-year marriage to survive. As several Costner projects, “Wyatt Earp,” “The War” and “Waterworld” died at the box-office, so too did the Costner marriage. The couple split in 1994. Cindy stayed on in the house in the 1800 block of Fairmont Avenue for several more years, eventually moving to another location in La Cañada. So, for a brief time, La Cañada was called home by the biggest star in Hollywood.

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1 Response for “Treasures of the Valley » Mike Lawler”

  1. Kim says:

    Ever since reading your column last week, it’s bothered me that its more “gossipy” than of any historical value.

    I’m disheartened that you’ve taken a different path on this family and their privacy/history.

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