Bruce Brown

December 13, 2017

All Posts, Obituaries

Bruce Brown

Bruce Brown, a film maker who was briefly famous for two landmark documentaries about a now vanished America and world, died Sunday in Santa Barbara.

The films, were The Endless Summer about the joy of riding surfboards and On Any Sunday which was about the joy of riding motorcycles.

He grew up in Long Beach where, as the writer Drew Kampion once put it, he “majored in not going to school.” He did a hitch in the Navy and was working as a lifeguard when he started making 16 mm films.

Brown shot The Endless Summer in 1963 and 1964, It is about a couple of guys named Robert August and Mike Hynson who surf their way around the world. Brown couldn’t find a distributor for the movie so he “four walled” it. He rented out movie theaters and showed the film there. It became a hit in Wichita, Kansas and eventually grossed $30 million – which was a more significant sum in 1964 than it is today.

He made On Any Sunday in 1971 at the urging of and with the financial backing of the actor Steve McQueen. It was nominated for an Oscar.

For the rest of his life, Brown was mostly content to surf, shoot and play motorcycles. He told the Los Angeles Times “I don’t want to go to Hollywood. I’d rather live in a trailer on a perfect surf break than live in Beverly Hills in a mansion with 50 servants and Rolls-Royces.”

Working with his son Dana Brown, he released The Endless Summer 2 in 1994 and a sequel to On Any Sunday in 2014.

He is also survived by his son Wade Brown and daughter Nancie Brown, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Bruce Brown was 80. He lived his life his way.

Requiscat In Pace


20 Responses to “Bruce Brown”

  1. SharkRib Says:

    Got a red Sportster because of Bronson, and became a surfer because of Bruce Brown. RIP

  2. Hillbilly Says:

    RIP Mr.Brown. Easyrider and On Any Sunday are two of the main reasons that I am the dirty old biker that I am today.

  3. softailgarage Says:

    Such a huge influence on my life, I think I saw On Any Sunday 12-14 times when it came out. RIP Mr. Brown

  4. usedtobe Says:

    I have the On Any Sunday movies. Just watched them again a couple weeks ago. Those guys were the heroes of my younger days.

  5. Dutchboy Says:

    Fair winds and Following Seas Sir. I hope they have surf and Cycles in heaven.

  6. Stevo Says:

    My life has been touched personally by Bruce. He ‘made’ a tiny village in South Africa into the surfing mecca I live in sometimes and love all the time. We have a break there called Bruce’s Beauties, co-named for Mr Brown and a local surf hippy called Bruce Gold who featured in Endless Summer and is a very good friend of mine. Not many of us can say we left a legacy, ride free my china, and thanks.


  7. Drifter Says:

    Godspeed Mr.Brown….I was trying to get a chance a few years ago to interview and work with him, unfortunately it never came through.

    He brought bikes and surfing to thousands that had no idea about the sports. I have interviewed several people who were in the film, simply because I was a fan and idolized these guys in my youth.

    These are two of the best documentaries ever made about surfing and moto, Mr. Brown you definitely will never be forgotten…..

    On Any Sunday;

  8. TX_Biker Says:

    One of the very first surfboards I bought was shaped by Robert August. I bought it at a shop he ran in either Huntington or Newport beach. At one point I built a Trailer to attempt to pull my boards down to the beach behind my 77 Ironhead sportster. It ended badly…..

  9. James W Crawford Says:

    Re DirtyDingusMcGee
    “I’m even going to shoot your dog,” LOL

  10. Dirty Dingus McGee Says:

    Mr Brown probably did more to advance the sport of off road riding than anyone else. And I suspect that the flat track community also benefited from the exposure in the film.
    Kudos on a well lived life. RIP

  11. backsmith Says:

    My condolences To his Family and friends

  12. L-Frame S&W Says:

    I remember when On Any Sunday came out, all of us bikers made a group trip to the theater to see it.

  13. Va.Bob Says:

    RIP,Bruce Brown .You made a big difference.Y’all reckon they’ll be playing the tune by The Sandals at his service?

  14. Iron Rider Says:

    #RIP Bruce and condolences to those who knew him and his family

  15. racer x Says:

    I loved the movie “On any Sunday”..RIP Mr. Brown

    it came out during my “formative” still like heading out to play in the dirt to this day.

  16. stroker Says:

    R.I.P. Bruce.

    The film “On Any Sunday” had as much to do with my complete conversion to a biker as “Easyriders.” At the time it was released I was a burgeoning dirt bike rider, and was in the process of getting my first street bike (a 1953 Triumph Thunderbird) running. I was also a huge fan of Steve McQueen (weren’t we all?!) and loved that he was a 2-wheeled crazy as well. The clip above reminds me of Pismo Beach (maybe it is?)….rode there a lot. Great sand dunes, and a nice hard packed strip just at the water line where you could really let’er rip!
    Thanks Rebel for the memories, thank you Bruce for the films.

  17. Scott Says:

    R.I.P Mr. Brown,
    You did what we all want to do. You did it your way. Condolences to his family and friends.

  18. Gordo-UK Says:

    RIP Bruce, thanks for a great movie.

  19. Old & Jaded Says:

    Ah yes, The Endless Summer. Sure takes me back – really enjoyed that movie. RIP Mr. Brown.

  20. Paladin Says:

    Long May He Ride


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