Michael Matson Fessier
Michael Matson Fessier, Southern California writer, died on Sunday, June 8, 2014. The cause of death was metastatic prostate cancer. He was 75. Mike, as he was known to his family, grew up exposed to the magic of the movie world in Hollywood (His father Michael Fessier, had written and produced movies during the 1930s and 40s and then Television in the 50’s and 60’s.) He began writing as a youth and never stopped. Mike was never afraid of an adventure, he believed you had to experience life in the example of one his heroes, Ernest Hemingway. In high school Mike would sign onto freighters during his summer vacations, in search of adventure. In the 50’s he left college to work his way around the pacific on a Norwegian freighter signing off in Australia where, while working for different Australian publications, he met his wife Patricia. Later, he worked as a taxi driver in LA, exercised horses at race tracks, and tracked down violent criminals for his research. Mike had a reporter’s knowledge of Los Angeles and the world of horse racing. With his passing goes a lifetime of insights and experience that most of us could only wish for.
Mike wrote for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Weekend Magazine in Australia, an MGM studio in London, Variety in Hollywood, West magazine (Sunday magazine for the Los Angeles Times), California magazine, Islands magazine, the Santa Barbara Independent and TV Guide. He interviewed many of today’s iconic stars, before they were famous. Mike also wrote about the part of horse racing outside of the public view, and investigated pieces on murders, polygamy and other topics of interest.
His articles on different areas of Los Angeles brought alive the multicultural and geographic differences of the many and varied parts of that sprawling city. One of his articles published in West magazine, formed the basis for his TV movie, Child Bride of Short Creek, a fictionalized story based upon the experiences of married women in a polygamous society and how they were affected when a police raid changed the social structure of their community. At the time of his death he was working on a book, rich in the lore of the Hollywood years as experienced by his father and stepmother, British actress Lillian Bond.
His love of horse racing and interest in the life stories of jockeys and trainers, helped sustain him during the end stages of his illness. It seemed fitting that he was able to watch the Belmont Stakes race, on the eve of his death. Although he was disappointed in California Chrome’s failure to win the triple crown, he had handicapped the race accurately.
Michael is survived by his sons Timothy and Peter Fessier; his previous wife Patricia Ruja; his sister Josephine Deering; his granddaughter Madeleine Fessier; his nieces Brigitta Blackburn and Jennifer Newkirk and last but not least, his beloved granddog, Queensland Heeler, Bohdi, who remains perplexed that Mike is not appearing with an orange ball for her to chase and retrieve.