Moonfire Lewis Beach Marvin III

Moonfire Lewis Beach Marvin III

Moonfire Lewis Beach Marvin III

Love Your Animal Friends…
Don’t Eat Them

Limited photos

I had only loaded the borrowed 35mm camera with one roll of Kodachrome, so I had to carefully measure my picture-taking at Woodstock.

During that weekend, I saw someone walking around with a lamb and a sign. The sign read:  Love Your Animal Friends, Don’t Eat Them.

Keep in mind that it was 1969 and meat and potatoes dominated the United States diet. Salad was an option and a meatless meal verboten.

To see such an interesting-looking guy expressing such (to me) an odd view merited using one of my valuable pictures. He was distant from me,  but close enough to give it a try.

Moonfire Lewis Beach Marvin III


After my tours at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Museum, I stick around to show any interested guests those several pictures I took. When I get to the “vegetarian guy” I try to explain how unusual it was to me to see someone like that.

Nowadays, when people have a dinner party they will typically ask if anyone has any dietary preferences. Some are simply that: preferences. Others are prescribed medical requirements.

Times have changed.

Lewis Marvin

It was only recently that I found out who the “vegetarian guy” was: Lewis Marvin. And not only did I find out his name, it also surprised me that he was an heir to the S & H Green Stamp fortune because his father had been that company’s chairman.

Being a vegetarian at that time was one thing and to express such fondness for animals in general could bring outrage and ridicule.  In 1966 Joe Pyne ridiculed and demeaned Marvin on Pyne’s show and the audience seemed to enjoy the way Pyne excoriates Marvin as well. [a clip from the show seems no longer available].

Moonfire Lewis Beach Marvin III

Moon Fire Ranch

Marvin’s story was more than just a respect for animals and tolerance of ridicule.  According to a 2012 article by Adrain Glick Kudler (who also used information from a Wall Street Journal article) in Curbed,  Marvin bought property in Topanga Canyon (CA) “in 1957 for $15,000….”

His wife, Barbara,  and he raised their three children there.

“Over the next two decades, Mr. Marvin’s estate became part-salon, part-muse for his motley crew of artistic friends.” Those friends included, naturally, George Harrison…and Jim Morrison, as well as the Manson Family, supposedly.”

Apparently Jim Morrison was wearing Marvin’s hat (with skull and crossbones on it) on March 1, 1969 in Miami when police accused Morrison of lewd behavior.

Off the grid

While the idea of living off the grid may seem like a recent lifestyle, the Moon Fire Ranch was so isolated that Marvin used solar panels and a generator for power and collected rainwater.

Marvin also built the Moon Fire Temple there, “for the 1966 Paul Newman film, Harper, and is featured prominently as The Temple in the Clouds. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and The Doors performed at the Moon Fire Temple regularly during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Artists who have featured their work include; Andy Warhol, David Nelson Rose, Bon Jovi, Mastodon, Thrill Kill Cult, 80’s hairband Dokken’s music video “Walk Away”, Tommy Chong in Far Out Man and numerous Playboy shoots.”

Moonfire Lewis Beach Marvin III

Mondo Hollywood

Moonfire Lewis Beach Marvin III

Mondo Hollywood is a 1967 documentary that depicts the social/political/cultural scene in Los Angeles, and especially Hollywood, in the mid to late ’60s.

alfiehitchie writes in their IMDB review of Mondo, “Long considered a cult classic, “Mondo Hollywood” captures the underside of Hollywood by documenting a moment in time (1965-67), when an inquisitive trust in the unknown was paramount, hope for the future was tangible and life was worth living on the fringe. An interior monologue narrative approach is used throughout the film, where each principal person shown not only decided on what they wanted to be filmed doing, but also narrated their own scenes. The film opens with Gypsy Boots (the original hippie vegan – desert hopping blender salesman), and stripper Jennie Lee, working out ‘Watusi-style’ beneath the ‘Hollywood’ sign — leading into the ‘sustainable community’ insight of Lewis Beach Marvin III, the S&H Green Stamp heir, who lived in a $10 a month garage while owning a mountain retreat in Malibu.”

The IMDB entry on the movie does not indicate, as the Kudler article does, that Lewis and the Ranch were part of the movie.

The Family

Ed Sanders (of Fug fame) wrote of Moonfire in his well-respected book on Charles Manson, The Family: “the place had been constructed for a 1966 movie called Harper, starring Paul Newman and Lauren Bacall … In the film, the structure on the high hill above the Pacific belonged to a “religious fanatic” to serve as a “Temple in the clouds.” and that “occult ceremonies had occurred” and that Manson had visited.

According to Kudler’s article, Marvin died in 2005, I cannot find much more about his death other than in a second internet article by  Moonbattery that states, “He died in 2005 at a monkey refuge in Panama.”

I cannot find any additional corroboration.

Moonfire Lewis Beach Marvin III

Moonfire today

Today the ranch has become “…a premiere Los Angeles venue.” At least that what its site claims. It also states that, “Moonfire Ranch is now available for bookings. Welcoming all motion pictures, movie shoots, photo shoots, music video productions, and artistic events.”

One might say that Joe Pyne won.

Moonfire Lewis Beach Marvin III

Post Script

photo taken by Richard Strell with a Kodak Instamatic camera

This site, however much it is just a little hobby, has generated some interesting conversations both face-to-face or virtually. In June 2020, I received an email from a Richie Strell in which he mentioned he had a Moonfire story.

It follows:

This photo was taken by me with a simple Kodak Instamatic camera on July 28, 1969 at Griffith Park in Los Angeles at the Jefferson Airplane concert/love in. I was visiting the West Coast for the summer from New York and that particular day I walked around with my camera just taking various photographs of the California hippie scene. It was more than 40 years later that I went through my album considering a photo for an eBay auction when I noticed that this perhaps was a an important photograph.I have other photos from that day But I did auction off the photo of Gracie Slick singing in a Girl Scout uniform. In this photo we see crazy Louis Moonfire on the left but his black hat hides his face. There is a yellow sunflower on the hat. His pet sheep is beside him. On the other side of him I believe is Manson family member Patricia Krenwinkle and next to her is Charles Manson wearing bell bottom red shirt and holding a partially eaten watermelon rind and spitting out the pits into his hand. On the other side of Manson is Leslie van Houten. Basically they are all eating watermelon and having a family picnic. Less than two weeks later they would murder Sharon Tate and others.I may be wrong about which women I have identified. Someone told me it is Barbara Hoyt with the eyeglasses. Also I have been told that Susan Atkins is one of the women in the photo. I guess I am glad Manson did not see me take this photo. Who knows how he may have reacted. For 40 years I never knew I was so close to such a dangerous man.

I told you it was interesting.

Moonfire Lewis Beach Marvin III