It is difficult to surprise the residents of the southern California
coastal community of Malibu Beach. Living on one of the most celebrity-studded
stretches of real estate in the world, they are used to just about anything.
Still, when Army trucks and jeeps began pulling up to Beach House #38
during the savage rains last March, residents stared in disbelief.
Did the Governor of California call out the National Guard, as some
believe, to fill and pile sandbags just to keep Linda Ronstadt's $325,000
home from sliding into the sea?
Although the summoning of the Guard to Malibu enraged many homeowners
who had to fend for themselves, the episode served to focus national attention
on the intriguing and mysterious relationship between the two people involved...the
Governor and the Rock Queen. Is Jerry Brown serious about the enchanting,
raven-haired singer, whose name has been linked romantically with his for
more than two years?
And is Ronstadt ready to settle down with the lean, handsome Governor
of the nation's most populous state? After 14 years, Ronstadt, 31, has
climbed to the top of her profession. She has sold more than 17 million
albums, reportedly grossing $60 million on her last five, and has just
made her movie debut ...singing in the just-released FM. If any
motif dominates her career, it is lost love...a circumstance alluded to
in her wailing hit "When Will I Be Loved?"
"All I've done in my music is acknowledge that I've been hurt," she
told Rolling Stone magazine. "Ever since I was 6 years old, I've been looking
for the perfect boyfriend. But I've wanted to sing since I was 2, and when
it came right down to it, I could never give up singing for any old boyfriend."
Ronstadt and Brown met at Lucy's El Adobe, a Mexican restaurant in Los
Angeles, when Brown was California's Secretary of State. They had much
in common: their Catholic backgrounds, long experience in the public eye
and familiarity with life on the road. When Brown launched his strong,
if unsuccessful, bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976,
Ronstadt, along with fellow rock singers Ronee Blakley, Helen Reddy, Jackson
Browne and Joni Mitchell, performed at his fund-raisers.
The friendship between the politician and the singer continued to grow.
They were seen together at public events ranging from a recent tribute
to Neil Simon at the Long Beach Civic Auditorium to a reception at the
Beverly Wilshire Hotel for a group of Chinese diplomats. They've also shown
up at rock hangouts such as the Roxy in Los Angeles. Last December, the
Governor took Ronstadt to some of his old haunts in San Francisco: City
Lights Bookstore, the landmark of the 50s beat culture, the Spaghetti Factory
and the museums at the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. After touring
the city in which Brown grew up, the couple went back to Malibu to spend
The friendship puzzles both Brown's supporters and his detractors. Is
it a political ploy? Is it a platonic relationship? What does Ronstadt
stand to gain?
The answer is unclear. Ronstadt and Brown avoid publicity when they're
together. Photos of them with each other are all but impossible to get;
they often arrive at and leave restaurants and nightspots in separate cars.
And they both consistently refuse to shed any light on the relationship.
But the paparazzi are occasionally successful and are often the major
source of tales about the couple's time together. One such report is that
early last month they celebrated Brown's 40th birthday at the restaurant
where they met. (The Governor likes Lucy's, located across the street from
Paramount Studios, because he feels at ease among its celebrity patrons,
many of whom are his political supporters.) After dinner, the two slipped
out quietly. The next afternoon Brown was seen emerging from Ronstadt's
house. He climbed into his chauffeured 1974 Plymouth Satellite and rode
away. That night, they were seen dining together at Tony Rome's, another
popular Hollywood restaurant.
Reports that the Governor spends weekends at Ronstadt's have surfaced
frequently in the press, and apparently there is truth to them. Orville
Schell, a writer who spent two years traveling with Brown in order to write
a book about him, was at one point invited to Malibu. In his just-published
book titled Brown (Random House), Schell describes a Saturday morning
call to a number Brown gave him:
"Is Jerry there?"
"Just a sec," says a sleepy, female voice.
"Hi. What's happening?" says Brown a moment later, his voice in a lower,
"Did I wake you up?"
"No, no, not really." A short time later, Schell found himself at Ronstadt's
door, chauffeured there by the Governor's driver. Brown answered the door.
"Come in. Come in," he said casually, as if inviting me into his own