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Its Magic, People and History

William Sanford White’s comprehensive and abundantly illustrated historical account of Santa Catalina Island tells of the island’s early peoples, ownership and development by the Wrigley Family, how the Magic Island became a celebrity playground and many other fascinating details.

One-of-a-kind oral histories told to Mr. White over the decades as he grew up and lived on the Island enrich this volume. His close relationship to the Wrigley Family gave him a unique view of their leadership on Catalina.

A whole chapter of the book is devoted to the rich and famous who visited the Island in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s – all illustrated with candid photos of Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Winston Churchill, author Zane Grey, James Cagney, Bing Crosby, Tony Curtis, Mickey Rooney and many others.

Mr. White and his younger brother “Buzz” grew up and went to school on Catalina until he was 14. After that, Mr. White spent winters in Pasadena with his mother and summers on Catalina with his father, who lived in a house called “Bachelors’ Hall.” The home got its name from its six bachelor residents. Mr. White spent hours listening to tales of their adventures and exploits.

The last history of Catalina was published in 1931. In the 1980s, Mr. White began toying with the idea of writing a book, drawing upon stories he told at popular public talks illustrated with a slide show. When word spread that he was setting his stories down on paper, friends and total strangers alike rushed to cooperate and he was inundated with anecdotes and photographs from privately held collections, including that of the Wrigley family.

Mr. White hired family friend and Los Angeles Times researcher Steven Tice to work on the book. Tice spent many summers as a boy vacationing on the Island and felt especially connected to Mr. White’s effort to share these fascinating stories.

The result is 200 pages packed with more than 400 priceless photographs and unforgettable memories that any Catalina lover will surely cherish.

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