HAL ASHBY Malibu 1978

Walking down Malibu Colony Beach one summer afternoon, I noticed a new neighbor. The slim, delicate longhaired blond had her back to me. She turned. It was the bearded Hal Ashby. It could have been a scene from one of his movies like Harold and Maude or Shampoo.

Hal appeared to be the epitome of the laid back, drug steeped, ‘Wow, far out!’ California filmmaker, and he was, but it belied a tragic early life in a dysfunctional family that led to his father’s suicide…

Always the oddball, he could be unpredictable, reclusive and often quite bizarre, but he always managed to treat all of his film characters with respect and love—regardless of the character’s beliefs. Though many loved him, I am not sure anyone really knew him.