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In Memoriam: Linda Marie Fox-Dangaard
Linda Marie Fox-Dangaard, a successful business woman, television producer, paralegal, horsewoman, loving wife and Malibu resident for 39 years, died July 12 at her home after a decade-long battle with dementia.
At her bedside was her husband Colin, close friends who came and went during a day of prayer and dancing to Elvis Presley in her bedroom. Her dog Jake was by the door.
Linda was born in St. Louis, Missouri, Dec. 2, 1954, and moved with her family to California at age 11. She graduated with honors in 1973 from Culver City High, became a paralegal and was hired by attorney Mike Leighton, where she successfully settled small claims on commission. In May of 1977 she divorced her first husband Steve Fox, a Marine, after a short marriage. They had no children.
In 1978, she met Colin Dangaard, then Rupert Murdoch’s first Hollywood Editor for The National STAR, Murdoch’s first American business venture. Colin with Linda’s help also went on to produce a syndicated television show, “On View with Colin Dangaard,” and other television specials, including “Bonds are Forever” and “Playboy’s Guide to Australia.”
Recalled Colin: “Not only was Linda one of the most beautiful women I had ever met, she was also one of the smartest. We became a great team, I with the crazy visions and Linda with her extraordinary ability to work figures. She inspired me with her overwhelming enthusiasm. When we produced the Playboy show her financial ledger was sent to Hugh Hefner with spare change taped to the inside. Meanwhile, she filled our house with animals. There was not a living creature Linda didn’t love, which sure created domestic space problems!”
Linda and Colin easily fit into the A-list of Hollywood. Said Colin: “Linda would walk into a party and light up the room so much the chandeliers looked dull.”
While interviewing Kirk Douglas, Tom Burlinson and Sigrid Thornton in Australia for “The Man From Snowy River,” Colin saw in the dailies a close-up of an Australian stock saddle and he was surprised to learn it was going to be in the film.
“We want to show how Australians really ride,” explained Director George Miller. “They ride horses differently to anybody else in the world.”
“I know,” replied Colin, explaining he was brought up in the Outback and spent a great deal of his teenage life in an Australian Stock Saddle chasing cattle on his parents 500 square-mile “station,” 300 miles from a town. Figuring the movie was going to be a hit, Colin purchased six Australian stock saddles, took them back home to Malibu and put them in the closet with Linda’s Academy gowns.
“Linda thought I had lost my mind,” he remembered. “But I knew fate had handed me a ticket to ride. With me headed in a completely different career direction, Linda worried she would never again wear her Academy gown!”
The gamble was an instant success, following on the blockbuster release of the movie in 1982. Linda and Colin formed The Australian Stock Saddle Company and, as partners, introduced the first new successful saddle to America in 200 years. Within a year they were the largest such company in the world, inspiring a flood of competition. Their ad campaign blared “Ride like the Man From Snowy River.”
“We had a fantastic time, making so much money in such a rush,” Colin said. “Together we created the American dream. Soon we were employing 10 people, most of them directly related to Linda — a fact that would create future challenges.”
All went upward, until at age 49 Linda started showing symptoms of dementia.
Linda Fox Dangaard would be officially diagnosed eight years later, in March of 2011.
“Our business failed in lock-step with Linda’s cognizant decline, as I lost my inspiration and, finally, the time needed to work, as I moved into a 24/7 role of caregiver,” Colin said. “With no family help, I did it myself because to care for somebody with this disease takes $15,000 a month. Our insurance covered only a small part of that, and Linda was too young for any state or federal support. But it was all worth it because I got to be there for the lady I loved, when she needed me most. That was a huge honor and privilege. The other big reward was that she died in her own bed, in her own home, with me holding her hand as I promised I would 39 years ago, with Elvis music and people dancing. When she took her last breath, she smiled, and the smile froze there as she passed on. ”
Linda is survived by her father, Fredrick, now a resident of Idaho, mother, Joanne, sisters Dawn and Vicky, and brother, Rick, all residents in Los Angeles County. A memorial is scheduled at the Dangaard Malibu ranch Saturday, July 29. Linda and Colin had no children.
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