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Say, Was That Sly? : Summer doldrums are no match for the thrill of celebrity watching. Keep an eye out for Dan Haggerty, Donna Mills, Tom Selleck and a host of others.

August 05, 1993|ROBYN LOEWENTHAL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

These are definitely the dog days of summer. You've watched about as much baseball as you can stand. You've done the bird-watching thing and still can't tell a Least tern from a U-turn. And counting passing Amtrak cars can be tedious after a while.

No doubt about it, you need a new hobby to get you through to autumn.

So allow us to suggest stargazing. We don't mean those boring, inanimate celestial objects. We're talking about actual walking, talking, music, television and movie stars.

Celebrity-spotting is a cheap non-contact sport that requires little more than a minimal level of alertness.

Lest you think Ventura County is off the beaten path for real celebrities, we can put you at ease. Though this may not be the first area to come to mind when talk turns to celebrities, there is a long tradition of them residing in these parts.

Even 30 years ago, while visitors from Iowa were trying to glimpse movie stars at Hollywood and Vine, locals were liable to see Sonny and Cher, the Carradine clan and Walter Brennan cross their path.

In fact, there have been enough celebrities in this area to generate legends.

There's the probably true story about Jerry Mathers, the Beav of "Leave it to Beaver," having attended Cal Lutheran.

"I can confirm that a person by the name of Gerald Patrick Mathers was enrolled from the fall quarter of '67 to the winter quarter of '68," said Jean Sandlin, the university's public information officer.

Staci Stoch, a student at Cal Lutheran, provided more solid information.

"I recall that my father went to Cal Lu at the same time as (the Beav)," she said. "And my dad said that he lived across the hall from him in Mt. Clef dorm."

Then there's the rumor about Jan-Michael Vincent being "discovered" while surfing the Oxnard-Ventura beach. If he wasn't discovered, at least he was raised here.

"Jan-Michael Vincent was from the Oxnard area," said an Oxnard property manager who requested anonymity. "In fact, my mom was a good friend of his aunt, who I believe lived in Camarillo when he became popular in the mid-'70s. I wanted to meet him but didn't then. But I've met Jan-Michael within the last three years. My husband played in a band at a party at his house."

And what was that about Sonny and Cher?

"I remember in the '60s when the storms hit the Oxnard Shores," said Oxnard native Gloria Urango, a former real estate agent. "Sonny and Cher were in danger of serious damage to their home."

Urango also had a story about the celebrity's celebrity, Paul Newman.

"I remember I was in high school," she said. "My mom said she was driving on Wooley Road and saw Paul Newman pass her in a convertible. They were both turning, so their eyes met. And she couldn't believe those gorgeous baby blue eyes."

More legends could be around the next corner, but someone has to be out there to record them.

The following unscientific guide will help point the way to some popular watering holes of the famous, formerly famous, nearly famous, and self-proclaimed famous.

Use the guide to impress your celebrity-starved relatives on their next visit. No more buying maps to the stars' homes. See 'em close up--dining, renting videos, pushing a grocery cart or jogging.

You would expect to see the rich and famous at local country clubs, at posh hotels and restaurants. But celebs also like pizza and movies, and they don't always send a gofer to pick up their clothes at the dry cleaners.

And if you think that was Tom Selleck buying frozen peas at Gelson's Market in Westlake, it probably was.

Employees at local chambers of commerce and realty associations were reluctant to discuss celebrity residents, so we augmented our guide with person-on-the-street queries.

Many people have stories, and everyone's perception of celebrity is relative--or a relative. Consider the woman who was excited because she attended Cal Lutheran University with the niece of Myron Floren, Lawrence Welk's accordion player. Or how about the woman whose friend's husband's brother used to date actress Heather Locklear.

A celebrity is most likely to cross your path in the Ojai Valley, Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village and just across the county line in Agoura Hills. And folks in Moorpark, Fillmore, Simi Valley and Piru can count on filming locations to bring out the stars. Elsewhere in the county, a successful sighting experience requires considerably more luck and effort.

WESTLAKE

For random daily spotting, your best bet is probably Westlake Village. Locklear and her drummer-spouse Tommy Lee, Frankie Avalon, and other equally glamorous residents of North Ranch drop into Bauducco's Italian deli and Gelson's on a whim. And around the corner, Jack's Restaurant attracts its share of stars as well.

Rob Lowe, Sylvester Stallone and Tom Selleck have been known to drop in on occasion, though probably not at the same time. (That's OK. That kind of triple dose of celebrity would be too much for the novice stargazer.)

Other stars drop by too.

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