'Cowboy house' casts its spell

In 1946, a journalist who was associated with Adolf Hitler and John F. Kennedy met an actor who was known for playing a cowboy in Hollywood films.

Tim McCoy, who was 55 at the time, was overcome by Inga Arvad’s beauty when he saw her at a dinner party in Hollywood. They quickly married and had two children together, Ronald and Terry.

At first, the family lived on an estate in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. But in 1956, they moved to La Cañada —- then an unincorporated area in Los Angeles County —where they resided for a few years.

They lived on Daleridge Road, in a home Janice Partyka and Randy Hall now own. The La Cañada Flintridge couple heard neighbors refer to the property as the “cowboy house” and began researching their home’s history.

It is apparent that they both enjoy having a connection to the historic figures. Portraits of both McCoy and Arvad adorn the couple’s living room.

“It’s so bizarre,” said Partyka, who writes for a technology trade publication. “Who would think that Hitler, JFK and this cowboy movie star would be connected? It’s really odd.”

Arvad would have turned 100 on Oct. 6. Partyka and Hall marked the day by remembering her life, including the time she spent in La Cañada.

Before McCoy, Arvad had several other famous admirers. Arvad was known to be described as “the perfect Nordic beauty” by Hitler. She interviewed him twice and accompanied him to the 1936 Olympics. The association followed her for the rest of her life and hindered her relationship with Kennedy.

Partyka and Hall have watched films that depict Kennedy’s relationship with Arvad and found archival letters Arvad wrote to the future president. Kennedy called her “Inga Binga.”

Hall, a professor of engineering and the vice president of research at USC, has visited the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. McCoy is featured in the museum’s Hall of Great Western Performers. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

McCoy began his Hollywood career in the 1920s, starring in western films such as “The Law of the Range.” He later hosted a program for KTLA in Los Angeles, “The Tim McCoy Show,” where he talked about American Indian and western history.

One of McCoy’s sons, Ronald McCoy, now lives in Oklahoma and is a history professor at Oklahoma State University.

He remembered his time in La Cañada fondly.

“It was a great place to grow up,” said Ronald McCoy. “We used to go hiking in a place behind the place called the flats and around Devil’s Gate Dam.”

One summer, McCoy and his brother toured with a circus as part of a new venture his father had started. The Los Angeles Times profiled the boys’ adventures in a 1958 story titled “Boys Grow Blase About Ideal Summer Jobs as Circus Clowns.”

Ronald McCoy said his mother joined them.

“She was very good at talking to people and getting people to talk about themselves,” he said. “She found it interesting. It was full of interesting characters. People were swallowing swords or eating fire.”

In 1962, the family moved to southern Arizona. Tim McCoy and Inga Arvad both passed away in the 1970s.

While the pair led fascinating lives, their son said they were more interested in other people.

“They were able to recognize that the most important things in their lives weren’t themselves, but the people they met along the way,” he said.


Follow Tiffany Kelly on Google+ and on Twitter: @LATiffanyKelly.


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