Bruce Brown, ‘The Endless Summer’ Director, Dies at 80

Documentarian is best known for 1966 hit about surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August

The Endless Summer Poster
Bruce Brown Films

Bruce Brown, the documentary filmmaker best known for changing the public perception of surfing with his 1966 film “Endless Summer,” died on Sunday of natural causes. He was 80.

“Today our friend, partner, mentor, filmmaker, and father peacefully passed away in Santa Barbara, California,” said a statement posted to Brown’s official website.

“With Bruce Bruce and his inspiring movies an era comes to an end! His legacy lives on with all of us that continue to carry his torch! Thank you Bruce for all you did for this and future generations. Rest In Peace.”

A California native born in San Francisco and raised in greater Los Angeles, Brown’s film career began in 1958 with the documentary “Slippery When Wet.” Brown was a lifelong surfer who turned his camera to documenting the sport. This culminated in “The Endless Summer,” which was released worldwide in 1966 following a small release in 1964.

The documentary, narrated by Brown and featuring contemporary surf rock music, follows surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August as they travel to exotic locales around the world seeking ideal (summertime) conditions for surfing. Surfing was still seen as a fringe activity at that time, but “The Endless Summer” presented it as an almost spiritual lifestyle choice, which resonated sharply with larger cultural trends.

It was followed 30 years later with “The Endless Summer II,” which showcased the changes the sport had undergone since the original film.

Brown was later nominated for an Oscar for his 1971 film “On Any Sunday,” which chronicles dirt bike racing and was co-produced by Steve McQueen.