Linda Marie Fox-Dangaard
December 2, 1954 - July 12, 2017
Successful business woman, television producer, paralegal, horsewoman, loving wife and Malibu resident for 39 years, Linda Marie Fox-Dangaard succumbed July 12 at her home after a decade-long battle with dementia. At her bedside was her husband Colin, and close friends came and went during a day of prayer and dancing to Elvis Presley in her bedroom. Her dog Jake was by the door.
Linda was born in St Louis, Missouri, December 2, 1954, and moved with her family to California at age 11. Graduating with honors in 1973 from Culver City High, she became a paralegal and was hired by attorney Mike Leighton, where she successfully settled small claims on commission. In May of 1977 she divorced her first husband Steve Fox, a marine, after a short marriage. They had no children.
In 1978 she met Colin Dangaard, then Rupert Murdoch’s first Hollywood Editor for The National STAR, Murdoch’s first American business venture. Colin with Linda’s help went on to produce a syndicated television show, ON VIEW WITH COLIN DANGAARD, and other television specials, including BONDS ARE FOREVER and PLAYBOY’S GUIDE TO AUSTRALIA.
Recalls Colin: “Not only was Linda one of the most beautiful women I had ever met, she was also one of the smartest. We became a great team, I with the crazy visions and Linda with her extraordinary ability to work figures. She inspired me with her overwhelming enthusiasm. When we produced the PLAYBOY show her financial ledger was sent to Hugh Hefner with spare change taped to the inside. Meanwhile, she filled our house with animals. There was not a living creature Linda didn’t love, which sure created domestic space problems!”
Linda and Colin easily fit into the A-list of Hollywood. Says Colin: “Linda would walk into a party and light up the room so much the chandeliers looked dull.”
While interviewing Kirk Douglas, Tom Burlinson and Sigrid Thornton in Australia for THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER, Colin saw in the dailies a close up of an Australian stock saddle and he was surprised to learn it was going to be in the film. “We want to show how Australians really ride,” explained Director George Miller. “They ride horses differently than anybody else in the world.”
“I know,” replied Colin, explaining he was brought up in the Outback and spent a great deal of his teenage life in an Australian stock saddle chasing cattle on his parents 500 square-mile “station,” 300 miles from a town. Figuring the movie was going to be a hit, Colin purchased six Australian stock saddles, took them back home to Malibu and put them in the closet with Linda’s Academy gowns. “Linda thought I had lost my mind,” he remembers. “But I knew fate had handed me a ticket to ride. With me headed in a completely different career direction, Linda worried she would never again wear her Academy gown!”
The gamble was an instant success, following on the blockbuster release of the movie in 1982. Linda and Colin formed The Australian Stock Saddle Company and, as partners, introduced the first new successful saddle to America in 200 years. Within a year they were the largest such company in the world, inspiring a flood of competition. Their ad campaign blared “Ride like the Man From Snowy River.”
Says Colin: “We had a fantastic time, making so much money in such a rush. Together we created the American dream. Soon we were employing ten people, most of them directly related to Linda -- a fact that would create future challenges.”
All went upward, until at age 49 Linda started showing symptoms of dementia. “She forgot stuff and this shocked me, because here was a lady who could give you the number of all her credit cards – and she had a lot of them! Soon, she couldn’t work a calculator. She grew frustrated, confused.
“I fell into shock, and this morphed into a prolonged state of denial.”
Linda Fox-Dangaard would be officially diagnosed eight years later, in March of 2011. Recalls Colin :“Our business failed in lock-step with Linda’s cognizant decline, as I lost my inspiration and, finally, the time needed to work, as I moved into a 24/7 role of caregiver. With no family help, I did it myself because to care for somebody with this disease takes $15,000 a month. Our insurance covered only a small part of that, and Linda was too young for any State or Federal support. But it was all worth it because I got to be there for the lady I loved, when she needed me most. That was a huge honor and privilege. The other big reward was that she died in her own bed, in her own home, with me holding her hand as I promised I would 39 years ago, with Elvis music and people dancing.
“When her breaths became shorter and more soft I knew she was about to go. I leant forward and talked in her ear, told her I loved her and thanked her for all she did for me in my life and told her the angels were coming now and God was waiting and asked her to save me a chair up there, and find me a fast horse. When she took her last breath, she smiled, and the smile froze there as she passed on. ”
Linda is survived by her father Fredrick, now resident in Idaho, mother Joanne, sisters Dawn and Vicky and brother Rick, all resident in Los Angeles County. Linda and Colin had no children. A memorial celebration of her life attended by many friends was held at the Dangaard Malibu ranch July 29, 2017.
Jay Todd writes that this is one of the last photos he took of the late Linda Fox. "She started getting early onset dementia at the age of 49. For the next decade, I watched as her husband Colin Dangaard relentlessly did everything physically and mentally possible to keep her safe and happy out at their ranch in Malibu, CA. She had full blown dementia when I took this. I would catch her from time to time just looking at me. I was always waiting for her to just say, "I'm still here and this disease is bullshit!” She was truly an amazing soul."