Moonfire Lewis Beach Marvin III

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

19 thoughts on “Moonfire Lewis Beach Marvin III”

  1. So why and how did he end up bringing a lamb on a concert stage to Jim Morrison (and lend his hat to him) in Miami Fl. on june 1st 1969?

  2. Lewis was certainly different. Just extremely eccentric, which fit very comfortably in the Topanga Cyn hippy and artist community at that time. He drove an old jeep with a cage mounted on the back which housed his pet goat. He kept exotic animals on his Moonfire property, among which was a baby giraffe.

    It was rumored that his very wealthy father gave lewis a large monthly allowance under the condition that Lewis could go anywhere in the US except the state of New York, in which his father lived.

    1. I met him in the late 60s in San Francisco. He invited me to stay at his very modern cement house at the top of Los Angeles. I remember the down stairs bedroom window looked into the swimming pool. I think that is the home featured in “The Big Leboski”. Lewis was very sweet to me, we ate meals out at restaurants, I cannot remember if he was vegan. Sorry to hear of his passing.

  3. I have a photo I took in 1969 of Moonfire aka Lewis Beach Marvin III at The “Love In” at Griffith Park Los Angeles August 1969 with Charles Manson and the Family all sitting around in a circle eating watermelon. His sheep in photo also. Jefferson Airplane played that day. Come to think of it Moonfire must have just returned from Woodstock. Also the following month were the Manson murders. This photo just sat in my album for 40 years before I realized what I had!

    1. & Patricia Krenwinkle, for the 14th time is up for parole. That is a great picture that you discovered after 40 years. My husband & I used to venture up to Moonfire after we got our driving licenses. Loved going up there. Never ran into anyone when we were there. This was 1969 thru the early 70’s. Remember the Tate & La Bianca murders like it was yesterday. Coincidentally, one of our college professors lived next door on Cielo. Those murders really rocked LA. Enjoyed reading your article. Definitely a trip down memory lane.

      1. I dated Lewis in the 60’s. He was a vegetarian and did not wear any leather. His belt and shoes were vinyl. He lived in the garage while he was building Moonfire. I never saw the house. I remember that his bed was supposed to move up a floor to arrive in the kitchen. I do not know if that ever materialized. He was an interesting character.

  4. I was fortunate to attend a party at Moonfire in August of 1978. Louis and Barbara were proud parents of a new baby boy. I mentioned that his house looked like a water tower and Louis corrected me by saying it was a wine vat. Louis had purchased several marble sculptures from a cathedral in Lackawanna, New York. He liked to say they were created be 16th century monks and the shipping cost him more than the pieces. There was goats, sheep and peacocks just roaming around and a huge honey bee colony hanging from the ceiling of what was once a covered fire pit, the local fire department requested he didn’t use the fire pit, and wading pool. The attendees included musicians, models, and arrests. Louis had created a keyboard with animal and bird sounds in scale. The view from Moonfire is beyond spectacular, Looking over Los Angles and you could see Catalina island.

  5. In 1963, my best friend and I were sitting on the beach in Santa Monica. We had just graduated from SAMOHI. Lewie came up to us, introduced himself, asked if he could sit with us. He was with Gridley Wright and Froggy (Alan Carter, Jr.). Before they left, Lewie invited my friend and me to come up to his place in Tuna Canyon. From that time on a long, exciting, joyous, fun, loving friendship began and remained for years. And not too long after we first met, Lewie and I became a couple for a while. He also introduced my friend to the man who would become her husband. Life with Lewie was an amazing, unusual gift in countless ways! Thank you dear Lewis Beach Marvin III. You will always be in my heart ♥️

  6. I knew Louie and his lamb in 1969-70 when he came to Coconut Grove park in Miami. He didn’t have a sign, but would talk about not eating meat. He was very gentle and seeing his sweet lamb made me stop eating lamb. I was thrilled to see him in the Woodstock movie!

  7. I went to a HUGE party at Moonfire sometime around 66-67. I think The Seeds were playing. Hundreds of cars; it seems we had to walk a mile but perceptions were altered in those days! We would day trip up there often. It was one of the places, like Keith-a-go gos in SMC……

  8. I sailed with Cap’n Lew in 1998 from the Bahamas to Jamaica to Colombia and then through the Panama Canal. It was a crazy experience filled with touch and go moments. He told me about carrying a lamb through Woodstock and knowing Andy Warhol. I always laughed at his stories and told him he was making them up. Funny now when I google him and see he was telling the truth.

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