Studio veteran crafts a fire story with a happy ending

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

For nearly two decades, everyone knew him as the high-powered entertainment executive who helped run Warner Bros. Studios and more recently the Dodgers.

But this week, Bob Daly became known by his friends as "Noah."

Daly, who retired from show business eight years ago, earned the nickname when the Malibu fires forced him to evacuate the menagerie of animals from his 25-acre ranch on the Malibu-Calabasas border.

At 6 a.m. Sunday, after being warned that the area had to be cleared, Daly rang up his daughter in Brentwood to give him a hand loading the "ark." Three hours later, the animals were safely encamped at Daly's five-acre mansion in Bel-Air across the street from the country club.

"I brought 50 chickens, 10 ducks, 150 pigeons, 10 sheep, 10 goats, plus another one who just had two babies, two donkeys and one miniature horse," Daly said.

After arriving at the Bel-Air home, Daly herded the animals into a large, fenced-off asphalt ring at the back of the property, which he had built years ago as a place for his stepson to practice hockey, soccer and rollerblading.

So how did his Bel-Air neighbors react?

The kids were thrilled. Four of them, grandchildren of former Universal Studios Inc. Chief Frank Biondi Jr., came over Tuesday to pet the animals.

But the petting zoo closed Wednesday morning when Daly packed up his barnyard friends for their return trip home after the Malibu roads reopened.

"Noah is back at the ranch," Daly joked, before turning serious.

"We have relatives and friends in San Diego whose homes are in real jeopardy," he said. "We are the luckiest people alive."

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