Brown was born in San Francisco and grew up on Long Beach, Calif. before briefly moving to Hawaii where he began making films and worked with submarines for the U.S. Navy. Brown became a documentary filmmaker and released his first film “Slippery When Wet” in 1958. He was Oscar nominated for the 1971 motorcycle racing film “On Any Sunday,” on which Steve McQueen was a producer.
The 1966 “Endless Summer” was narrated by Brown and starring surfers and board shapers Mike Hynson and Robert August.
Coming out at the height of the Beach Boys’ popularity, “The Endless Summer,” with its distinctive pink and orange pop art poster, turned surf culture into a sun-kissed dream lifestyle that swept the world.
In 1994, Brown made “The Endless Summer II,” retracing the footsteps of the original surfers and looking at how the coastline had changed from California to South Africa. His surf films were staples
“At the time, surfers were considered losers. You didn’t want to tell anyone you were a surfer,” Brown, a life-long surfer himself, said in an interview with the Orange County Register. “It showed the general public we were good guys.”
In 2009, Brown was inducted into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame and was awarded the first Surfing Heritage and Cultural Center Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014. In 2015, the Smithsonian Institute held an exhibit called “Wave of Innovation: Surfing and the Endless Summer.”
“I think he helped shape our culture. He gave us all that idealized lifestyle,” Barry Haun, creative director for the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center, told the Los Angeles Daily News. “It’s always summer. You go, ‘That’s what I want. I want it to always be warm and sunny and fun.’ I think that was the main thing, he made it look really fun.”