Movie Stars in Ventura, a long tradition

Kevin Costner by Johanna Spinks from the Face of Ventura from the Ventura Breeze.

by Richard Senate

I was working giving tours at the Albinger Archaeological Museum that summer in the 1980s. It was a fun job and enabled me to meet people from all over the world and tell them the history of our city, as interpreted in the archaeological finds at the small museum. It was a slow day I recall when a couple came in, as was my job, I started to give them the tour pointing out the significant artifacts from the Chumash and Spanish Colonial periods. The man, had short hair, cut in a military fashion but he looked familiar. I racked my brain trying to figure out where I knew the man from. Did I go to school with him? Did we work together on some project? But, being a professional, I didn’t interrupt my tour to flat out ask him who he was. He didn’t ask a lot of questions and toured the grounds with his lady friend. Then, as he left, he signed the quest book. When he left I checked the log only to discover the familiar face belonged to the actor Tom Cruise! I walked outside to see him drive away in a big black car, with a gold grill. He waved at me as he passed. I later learned he was filming Top Gun at the time and that accounted for his haircut. But Ventura has always been a place where movie stars have visited over the year. It is a place to unwind from the rigors of Hollywood.

A list of the greats and near greats who have stopped over in our community is long.

This is but a sample:

Kevin Costner He grew up in Ventura and attended Buena High School. He considers Ventura his home town and returns from time to time.

Fatty Arbuckle, Silent clown and controversial star drove though Ventura, and on Main Street was given a ticket for speeding. He told the policeman he had once lived in Ventura for a time.

Red Grange Football hero made silent films too making his race car movie Racing Romeo at the Ventura fairgrounds. Sadly this film is now lost.

James Cagney The popular star of Hollywood’s Golden Age stayed at the Mission Hotel while doing pick up shots for the race car film The Crowd Roars They filmed this at the Ventura County fairgrounds.

Clark Gable, the uncrowned king of Hollywood’s Golden Age had dinner at the Olivas Adobe after poaching ducks on owner Max Fleishmann’s property in 1939.

Jessie “The Body” Ventura, AKA… James George Janos, Took his wrestling name from a visit to John’s at the Beach. He later became an actor and was elected Governor of his home state of Michigan

Larry Hagman also visited Ventura. Best known for his role as JR Ewing in Dallas.

John Travolta. He had his action thriller Swordfish On Main Street, downtown Ventura.

There are many others that could be listed. You may have met one or two?

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