Image: circa 1939 Malibu beach.
It’s a long complicated story, but here is the very short version: Wealthy Frederick and May Rindge purchased the Malibu Rancho in the 1880s and later purchased additional adjoining properties. Frederick died in middle-age and May spent most of the family fortune on preventing access to the Malibu land. Eventually, May allowed limited development on the beach which was the beginning of what was known as the movie colony in the 1920s. Despite her opposition that included a suit that went to the U.S. Supreme Court that was decided against her, the Roosevelt Highway (later named Pacific Coast Highway) went through in 1936. Bankruptcy cases ended in 1939 and she had to give up nearly all of the land which then led to its further development.
Learn more about the Rindge family and the the Malibu Rancho here: http://www.malibucomplete.com/mc_history_rindge.php and in the book The King and Queen of Malibu, reviewed here: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/31/books/review-the-king-and-queen-of-malibu-a-history-of-paradise.html .