Watch for Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards around Newport Beach this summer. They're about to become Orange County's most famous residents-on-water.
For the past eight years, the movie producer and the nightingale longed for a spot to park a yacht at the Balboa Bay Club. And a few weeks ago, their slip came in. But they had a problem--no boat!
So Edwards went to the broker who has been buying and selling his yachts for 25 years: Russ Conner of Fraser Yachts in Newport Beach.
"They decided they'd better get a yacht," Conner says. "To get a slip at the Balboa Bay Club, somebody almost has to die. " (Or divorce.)
The search led Conner to Dick and Deeanna Ashby of Huntington Harbour. Their 65-footer, the Mariah, was up for sale for a cool $1 million. The Ashbys had a new yacht on order, a 130-footer they hope to take around the world.
Edwards fell in love with the 10-year-old Mariah. What makes a member of the super-rich set swoon over a used yacht? Timing. Waiting for a new yacht just isn't Edwards' style, Conner says. "That can take two years. Blake's impulsive; he doesn't have that kind of patience. Plus, the Mariah is a hell of a boat--all custom."
Edwards decided to buy it and surprise his wife. Last week, he lured her to the Ashbys' rambling home on Trinidad and presented it. Andrews flipped.
Was it a birthday gift? "No," Conner says, "Julie's birthday is in October. Blake just loves her."
Chances are, the famous couple will hang onto the Mariah moniker. But then again, says Conner, Andrews loves the names Symphony and Gannet.
To say so long to the boat they've owned for four years, the Ashbys had a recent farewell cruise for close friends. For several hours, the water mansion plowed the cobalt-blue water of Huntington Harbour, the revelers sad to see her go but excited that the yacht would be in famous hands.
One guest on the party list was Ben Padilla, publisher of Harbour Light, a magazine for Huntington Harbour. "At the beginning of the party, I didn't feel very emotional about the Mariah," says Padilla, "but when they started playing 'Auld Lang Syne' and 'They Call the Wind Maria,' I have to admit I got a lump in my throat."
Morsels: Gustaf Anders restaurant at South Coast Plaza Village in Santa Ana, where Prince Edward of England ate a late supper last Friday, is still buzzing about the royal visit. For the record, the prince went for the gravad lax (salmon) and Italian sausage with polenta. On Saturday, Priscilla Presley popped by the popular bistro for lunch and ordered Caesar salad and a prawn sandwich. "In one weekend, we were visited by the son of a Queen and a wife of the King," sighed William Gustaf Magnuson, co-owner of the restaurant with Ulf Anders Strasberg . . . Arts activist Elaine Redfield of Santa Ana will receive the Orange County Philharmonic Society's coveted Golden Baton Award May 19 at the Four Seasons Hotel. Last year's recipient was the late Daniel Aldrich, founding chancellor of UC Irvine. The Philharmonic is hoping that Henry Segerstrom, the first to receive the award, will make the presentation to Redfield . . . Mercedes-Benz dealer Jim Slemons plans to prop a ladder over the entrance to his new 10,000-square-foot Harbor Ridge mansion in Newport Beach tonight when he tosses a Friday the 13th bash for about 80 friends. Slemons' new pad has only three bedrooms. "But they're big," he says. And it has a family room with 15 antique slot machines. Do they pay off? "Of course," Slemons says. "How do you think I make my house payments?" . . . Watch for a hot fund-raising trip to the island of Nevis in the Caribbean early next year. Arts supporter Eva Schneider is dreaming up a getaway that will christen the new Four Seasons Hotel there. John Strauss, once an assistant manager of the Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach, is managing the Nevis resort . . . Invitations will go out countrywide next month for the $250-per-person dinner at the Century Plaza on July 19 that will salute the opening of the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda. The buzz on the circuit: Who gets to go? "It's going to be a reunion for Nixon Administration people and supporters of the library," says Kevin Cartwright, director of the facility's public affairs. (Hostess note: the library, which overlooks the First Lady's Garden, will be available for private parties immediately after the opening. A Pat Nixon inaugural gown will be among the memorabilia on display, as will the wedding dresses of the couple's daughters, Tricia Cox and Julie Eisenhower.) Roger's Gardens owner Gavin Herbert is personally overseeing the landscaping of the First Lady's Garden. Herbert is the current owner of the lushly landscaped Casa Pacifica in San Clemente, the former Nixon home known as the Western White House during his presidency