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A surfin' safari at the Autry

June 19, 2003|Craig Rosen | Special to The Times

Gene Autry, the legendary singing cowboy, actor, broadcast executive and onetime Anaheim Angels owner, was known for many things. Surfing wasn't one of them.

Nonetheless, surf -- or at least surf culture -- will be up at the Autry Museum of Western Heritage on Sunday, even if it's approximately 20 miles inland.

In conjunction with its exhibit "Ocean View: the Depiction of the Southern California Coastal Lifestyle," which ends its eight-month run July 27, the Autry will host a free "Beach Party." It'll feature four bands, representing four decades of surf music, on two stages; surf movies; surfboard painting and shaping demonstrations; a Woody car display; a portable skate park; and craft activities for the gremmies. (For the surf-speak impaired, that means the younger set.)

Dick Dale, "King of the Surf Guitar," hits the stage for the festival finale at 6 p.m. He'll be preceded by "Wipe Out" '60s combo the Surfaris, board-bustin' rockers the Tornados, neo-surf music guitar twosome the Duo-Tones, and '80s Orange County surf punks Agent Orange.

If the session gets a little too hot, festival-goers can chill out in the Wells Fargo Theatre where the 1965 cult classic "Beach Blanket Bingo," starring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon, will be screened along with two new surf documentaries, "Flight Academy" and "The Kill 6." In the Museum Plaza, kids can enjoy ocean-themed craft activities through most of the afternoon and a reading and book signing by "Rhinos Who Surf" author Julie Mammano. Locals, wannabes and even Vals are welcome at this beach. You'll see some boards, but it's doubtful you'll be bored. And in case you're wondering, Autry wasn't a beach boy, but he did appreciate the ocean scene, according to his widow, Jackie Autry.

"The American West is a composite of many different lifestyles," she says. "Gene had a healthy respect and love for our beautiful California coast."

In other words, "Gene-o thought the beach was cool, Daddy-o."


Beach Party

Where: Autry Museum of Western Heritage, Sunday, 4700 Western Heritage Way, L.A.

When: Noon to 7 p.m.

Cost: Free

Info: (323) 667-2000 or

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