Jamie Reno's profile on Mike Hynson ran in the July 2001 issue of San Diego magazine. This version has been slightly edited.

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When Del Mar Fair organizers agreed on the theme for this year’s run—“Endless Summer, Endless Fun”—they thought it would be cool to invite the stars of the 1960s surf epic The Endless Summer to Del Mar to greet fair-goers on opening day. After all, the film, a sunny documentary about two surfers who travel the globe in search of the mystical perfect wave, is an enduring classic and the definitive paean to surf culture.

But while director Bruce Brown and costar Robert August were asked to participate in the event, Endless Summer's top-billed star, San Diego’s Mike Hynson, was inexplicably left off the invite list. Why on earth would Hynson—the charismatic, blond trend-setter and Windansea surfing legend—not be invited to an affair in his own backyard honoring the film in which he starred? Says Allen Seymour, coordinator of the fair’s Endless Summer-themed events, “I didn’t know how to find him.”

San Diego Magazine found him—in about 15 minutes—by simply phoning a couple of local surf shops and tracking him down. When reached, the weathered waterman was surprised and seemed hurt to learn the fair was about to honor the movie without him. “They never bothered to call me,” he said, laughing self-consciously.

The real reason for Hynson’s non-invitation likely has something to do with the animosity that has built over the years between Hynson and filmmaker Brown. Hynson, 58, an obstinate iconoclast who even close friends say has burned bridges over the years, has battled drug and alcohol problems, been in and out of jail, and even spent some time living on the streets and out of dumpsters. And the longstanding acrimony between him and Brown is no secret. Brown told People magazine several years ago that he keeps his distance now from Hynson. “I don’t trust him,” Brown said.

Like most such disputes, this one involves money. Hynson, who says he turned down the $5,000 Brown once offered to pay him for his participation in the film—insisting it was an insult and that he deserved more—filed a lawsuit in 1995 charging Brown with breach of contract, among other things. The suit was eventually dismissed. “Bruce has made a lot of money on that film over the years,” says Hynson. “A lot. He’s basically a sailor, a kook who still doesn’t surf, and he’s made millions off surfers like me.”

From his home near Santa Barbara, Bruce Brown says he had nothing to do with leaving Hynson out of the fair. “It wasn’t my decision; I didn't know anything about it,” says Brown. “Allen [Seymour] has worked for me in the past, and I suspect he was just protecting me. Mike has upset me and my family over the years. But if he wants to show up, I’m okay with that. It might be a little awkward when we shake hands, but it would be fine. He’s always easy to talk to.

“With The Endless Summer, I gave him a great opportunity to capitalize on his notoriety, which he hasn’t done. He’s had his problems. He filed a stupid lawsuit against me filled with fabrications that was thrown out of court twice. The $5,000 I offered him was actually more than the guild scale actors were paid in those days. I’ve felt betrayed by Mike. He’s the only guy I’ve ever had a problem with in all my years making films. But if he wants to come, of course he can come.”

Says Hynson of his omission from the fair festivities, “I’m sure this is because of Bruce, not the people at the fair. It kind of sucks, though, because I’m the San Diego guy. Bruce and Robert [August] aren’t San Diegans. Robert never surfed Windansea in his life. This is my town, and they’re gonna come down here and greet people at the fair and talk about this movie, and I’m not a part of that? I’m not going to crash their party or anything. Those days are over."

Encyclopedia of Surfing

Hynson grew up in San Diego and Hawaii loving two things: golf and surfing. He was already a well-known surfer when Brown invited him to costar in the movie, which was filmed on location around the world for $50,000 in the winter of 1963. Hynson's charismatic style, in and out of the water, and his chiseled blond surfer-boy good looks are, along with Brown's folksy narration, among the most identifiable aspects of the film, which earned a reported $30 million when it was released nationally in 1966. Undeniably, the film's wide release made Hynson a star beyond the beach. After its hugely successful run, Hynson did the Austin Powers thing, attending the grooviest ’60s parties, hanging out with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Andy Warhol, and meeting and falling in love with a fashion model, Melinda Merryweather, who married Hynson in the early ’70s.

“Michael was the true golden boy, and everyone wanted to be like him,” says Merryweather, who still lives in La Jolla. She remains close to Hynson, though they divorced 20 years ago. “Michael was a genius; he was unbelievably creative.”

But Hynson consumed a boatload of drugs and alcohol in the ’60s and, sadly, was slow to grow out of party mode. The downward spiral began after a couple of failed business attempts with Merryweather. He’s spent the decades since living life in the salty netherworld between wayward beachcomber and surfing god.

Hynson still possesses much of the street-hewn charm and creativity he had when Brown stuck him in that movie nearly 40 years ago. He’s still loaded with opinions and ideas, too, and he still surfs—though not as often as he used to. And he's designing surfboards again, another of his many talents, for Sean Mattison at Surf Ride Board Shops in Oceanside, among others.

“Mike’s a unique individual, an artist in every sense of the word, and he’s a legend around here,” says Mattison, a former pro surfer. “Whatever mistakes he’s made in life, he should still be a part of any salute to The Endless Summer. That's a no-brainer.”

Hynson now lives in a one-room apartment on Grand Avenue, just a few blocks from Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach. He’s a pathological packrat, and his claustrophobically cluttered apartment looks like a kind of trippy, glorified storage locker from The Twilight Zone. He roams the beach and loves to get lost in talk of the glory days when he and such fellow surfriders as Skip Frye would comb the SoCal coast from Rincon to Tourmaline in search of the best waves and best times. But he insists he’s clean and sober now and that his life has never been better.

“I'm doing great. Things in my life are really good,” says Hynson, who regrets that he’s no longer on good terms with Brown. “Bruce and I were close friends once, and l’m sorry for all the stuff that’s happened.”

But Hynson was to have his new day in the sun after all. After receiving a call from San Diego Magazine, fair planners decided to honor the local surfing hero. Just a week before the fair's opening day, they asked Hynson to join Brown and August on June 15 to sign autographs and share memories of the making of the film. The meet-and-greet event was to be the first joint public appearance by Hynson and Brown in many, many years. Their Endless Summer continues.