Is the Santa Barbara area really at the center of the universe? | Credit: Rick Doehring

Everyone loves a good summer read filled with famous names, Byzantine plots, mystery and romance — and so here’s my contribution.

My premise is that Santa Barbara is at the center of the universe — there always seems to be a connection between people in the news and the Santa Barbara area — the most famous Prince in the entire world abdicates his royal lineage and chooses to live in … okay, not quite next door to us but, metaphorically, just down the street.

In fact, I believe that the famous people who live among us simply highlight how connected we are to everything. If you follow the threads of their stories you can connect anybody who lives here to almost anyone you can think of in culture and history. To test my theory, I selected a celebrated resident in the area and then chose a well-known name from history or popular culture and tried to connect the dots between the two names. Here are my results:

Gwyneth Paltrow – connected to Mary Poppins?

Gwyneth Paltrow calls her house her “forever home” and has wanted to live in the area since she attended UC Santa Barbara. One of her most famous roles was in Shakespeare in Love which also starred Judi Dench who, despite having won dozens of acting awards, was never honored for her complex portrayal of “M” in the James Bond movies — perhaps because her character was never given a full name. At any rate, she was named a Dame by the Queen, as was the acclaimed actress Emma Thompson. One of Thompson’s best roles was in Saving Mr. Banks in which she portrayed P. L. Travers, the woman who created — Mary Poppins

Julia Louise Dreyfus – connected to Mahatma Gandhi?

Julia Louise-Dreyfus lives around the corner from (redacted beach name) where her long-time husband grew up. Her success, spanning from Seinfeld to Veep, began in her days studying at Northwestern University, which is also where Stephen Colbert went to college. Though known for his clever interviews, Colbert himself was more cleverly interviewed by Trevor Noah, the host of The Daily Show, who was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, where, for 21 years, lived — Mahatma Gandhi.

Jimmy Connors – connected to Nelson Mandela?

Jimmy Connors not only lives here but he was also arrested here — while attending a UCSB basketball game. Connors dated fellow tennis star Chris Evert who was interviewed in the TV series A Century of Women along with other women who changed the course of history, including activist/singer Joan Baez. Baez dated Steve Jobs who dated Diane Keaton who dated Jack Nicolson who co-starred in the Bucket List with Morgan Freeman who once portrayed — Nelson Mandela.

Jeff Bridges – connected to The Dude?

Jeff Bridges has lived in the area for years even though his different homes have been destroyed by earthquakes, fires, and mudslides. But this dude abides because he is — The Dude.

Ellen DeGeneres – connected to Superman?

Ellen Degeneres has bought, sold, and lived on real estate here for a long time. Her first — and last — guest on Ellen was Jennifer Aniston who was once married to Brad Pitt who was born in Shawnee, OK, where Joe Frank Lobb, the original “fat boy” (the show’s designation) on “Our Gang” was also born, and whose last movie, in 1929, was Boxing Gloves which was also the first movie for Jackie Cooper, who, near the end of his long career, played Perry White, the editor of the Daily Planet, who had a reporter named Clark Kent whose alter-ego identity could not be recognized because of his ingenious disguise: he wore glasses.

Don’t tell anyone, but Clark was — Superman.

Kevin Costner – connected to Paul Revere?

Kevin Costner’s house overlooks the ocean on (redacted street). He starred in JFK with Kevin Bacon, who is forever linked to the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon — which inspired me, in part, to write this. Gary Oldman also starred in JFK, in which he played Lee Harvey Oswald; he later played George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, adapted from the book by John le Carré whose real name was David John Moore Cornwall. The most well-known part of Cornwall is Land’s End, a name co-opted by the retailer Lands’ End (its founder mistakenly moved the possessive apostrophe); the founder was Gary Campbell Comer who

grew up in South Side Chicago where he attended an elementary school (which, obviously, did not teach punctuation) named after — Paul Revere.

Katy Perry – connected to Santa Claus?

Katy Perry was born here and, apparently, she is smarter than most people born here — because she never left. Her fiancé is Orlando Bloom, most famous for his role of Legolas in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Though a Sindar Elf from Middle-Earth, he is most certainly related to the Northern Pole Elves who, of course, work for — Santa Claus.

Kenny Loggins – connected to Jesus Christ?

Kenny Loggins has lived in the area for years and has been extremely generous in his support of the community but it is his second cousin, Dave Loggins (famous for writing “Please Come to Boston”), who continues this connecting thread: Dave also wrote “Augusta,” the theme for The Masters golf tournament, which was co-founded by the brilliant golfer Bobby Jones who was portrayed in the movie Strokes of Genius by James Caviezel Jr., who also had the star role in a movie entitled The Passion of the Christ. Of course that means that he was — Jesus Christ.

Now it’s your turn to play connect the dots:

Oprah Winfrey – connected to… Just About Anyone.

Note: For the purposes of this humorous piece, I am broadly referring to residences in the Santa Barbara area, not within the precise borders of the city itself.


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