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Pat Boone's in Tune With Orange County

February 24, 1985|KEN ESTES

Pat Boone has lived and worked in Beverly Hills for 25 years, but lately the youthful-looking, 50-year-old entertainer has been forsaking the comforts of his $4-million Sunset Boulevard estate for a hotel room in Orange County.

The reasons: Since late last summer, Boone has been spending at least part of virtually every week taping a new television show, checking on the operations of Anaheim television station KDOC, of which he is president, setting up and promoting business deals, doing charity and volunteer work and, in his spare time, visiting friends, business associates and a daughter who lives in south Orange County.

In short, Boone spends more time in Orange County than a lot of people who live here.

"My involvement began in earnest 15 years ago with KDOC," he says. "I was one of the original investors in the station, and as time dragged on in getting the station opened, I wound up as president and a 37% owner.

"It's really more than that, though," he adds. "I've always been impressed with Orange County and with its potential. In fact, that's one of the reasons I invested in KDOC in the first place. It's my kind of place--fresh and vital and full of upwardly mobile, conservative, civic-minded people."

The traits Boone ascribes to Orange County residents are a fairly accurate description of the entertainer himself. And if Boone is making any concessions to middle age, it's not readily apparent.

He looks, and apparently feels, terrific. He is a one-man business conglomerate, with new ventures springing up constantly. And, shades of 1960, he recently was nominated for a Grammy award--for a Christian recording on his own label.

It's enough to make anyone over 50--particularly a spouse--envious, says Shirley Boone, Pat's wife of 32 years. "Here I am, trying to lose a few pounds and stay reasonably fit, and he's trim and almost wrinkle-free and is off playing full-court basketball with young men half his age. He says he wants to be able to play basketball with his great-grandchildren, and at this rate, I think he'll make it."

The night before, Boone had played in a charity basketball game in Lynwood, and had relished every minute of it. In fact, he arrived at his Sunset Strip office the morning after looking as though he was ready for a game of "one on one"--in sneakers, white warm-up suit and baseball cap, his usual office attire, according to Maureen Mata, his secretary. The Lynwood game was still on his mind.

"To tell you the truth, I wanted to handle the ball every time down the court, and I didn't want to come out of the game, even for a minute. My age hasn't lessened my passion for participating in sports. I play basketball, golf and tennis, swim and work out whenever I can and run two to three miles four times a week."

It shows. Boone is a compact 6 feet and 180 pounds--only five pounds over his weight when he was captain of his high school baseball team. Still, he frets about those five pounds. "Maybe those exercises I'm doing at the gym are causing me to bulk up," Boone says. "I'd better look into that."

Boone's concern over his appearance isn't just another example of a runaway Hollywood ego. Rather, it appears to be a product of the singer's obsessiveness, which he admits has led to many of his successes--and failures.

"I sometimes don't know when to stop," says Boone. "Several years ago, I was involved in about 50 different projects, and about 30 of them weren't even related to the one business I knew something about--entertainment. I was into restaurants, a chain of TV repair shops, you name it. And I felt a keen sense of responsibility toward each of those businesses.

"Some, of course, made it, and others didn't. And the time I devoted to each of them had little or nothing to do with which made it and which didn't. Since then, I've learned when to throw in the towel and when to cut my losses."

Boone's frenetic schedule during that period also put a severe strain on his and Shirley's marriage. "It was a very difficult time for us," Shirley says. "We were floundering and drifting apart. Pat was having a hard time just trying to be Pat Boone, whoever that was, and had little time for his family. And I was emphasizing the negatives in Pat and in our lives, instead of the positive things we had going for us."

Shirley says they pulled their relationship back together by reaffirming their commitment to their family and faith.

She reflects: "Really, compared with the everyday problems of drugs, suicides and broken marriages in the entertainment business, our problems weren't that bad. But we went through a lot of pain then, and we learned from it and profited by it."

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