Palisadian Julia Louis-Dreyfus: Queen of “Green”

Palisadian Julia Louis-Dreyfus was a headliner at last week’s “Bring Back the Beach” dinner, Heal the Bay’s annual fundraiser held this year at the Santa Monica Airport. The actress has been on the board of the nonprofit environmental organization for 10 years. Photo: Adam Almeida for Heal the Bay

The paparazzi lined up to photograph Julia Louis-Dreyfus walking down the red carpet at last week’s “Bring Back the Beach” dinner, Heal the Bay’s annual fundraiser held this year at the Santa Monica Airport. The actress definitely stood out. Maybe it was the bright green shirt she was wearing or the color of all the money she has helped raise in her 10 years on the board of the environmental nonprofit. Whatever it is, her presence helped fill the Barker Hangar which was decorated with flying kites. The centerpiece at each table featured a sand castle which turned out to be the dessert (chocolate mousse cake). More than 1,000 guests paid $500 each for the privilege of dancing to the Beach Boys, bidding on one of Brian Wilson’s guitars (which went for $10,000 during the live auction) and to hear Louis-Dreyfus speak. “I just love the ocean,” she told the crowd. “A decade ago our beaches were so polluted they weren’t safe to swim in. While they are better now, we still have a way to go. Today, the State of California, National Geographic, Heal the Bay and other partners are working together to educate schoolchildren from K through 12 in our public schools. That’s six million kids in California schools learning about the environment. That’s huge,” Louis-Dreyfus said to applause. Asked later why she supports Heal the Bay, one of the largest environmental organizations in L.A. County with over 10,000 members, she said “because it’s local and I believe in supporting local, grassroots organizations. It affects me in my back yard, although the issues this organization deals with have national and international implications.” Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her husband, television producer Brad Hall (“The Single Guy”), have lived in the Palisades for 13 years. While they could live anywhere in the world, they choose to live here because “it feels like a small town in a big city and I like that,” Louis-Dreyfus said. “And the proximity to the ocean is divine.” Her favorite place to shop? Elyse Walker and Gelson’s. To eat: Cafe Vida. To play with her children: Palisades Recreation Center and Will Rogers State Beach. Louis-Dreyfus, who has a privileged background and is wealthy in her own right (from ongoing “Seinfeld” residuals), lives a “green” lifestyle. She and her husband both drive hybrid cars and “we’re about to buy a diesel truck,” she said. The couple, who married in 1987, often spend weekends at their “green” house in Montecito with their sons, Henry,14, and Charlie, 9. The family’s vacation home is near Santa Barbara, where Hall was raised. Louis-Dreyfus said their house there is “all-green” because having a second home “is a huge luxury. It’ s solar-paneled, and made of recycled materials and sustainable woods.” Architect David Hertz transformed the couple’s oceanfront bungalow into a high-tech, energy-efficient home that features wall-to-wall windows to maximize the natural light and bring the outdoors inside. Part of the roof is retractable, allowing for a view of the sky. Syndecrete, a lightweight concrete material Hertz makes out of recycled ash and carpet fiber, was used in parts of the kitchen, bathrooms and outdoor terraces. Julia Louis-Dreyfus was born in New York in 1961. Her parents (French billionaire Gerard Louis-Dreyfus and Judith Bowles, a writer) divorced when she was one. The actress spent her childhood dividing her time between her parents’ homes in New York and Washington, D.C. The actress met Hall while both were attending Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He invited her to join his theater group, the Practical Theatre Company. The couple also performed improv with Chicago’s Second City and were then asked to join the cast of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”– the only husband-and-wife team to do so in the history of the show. After a three-year stint on SNL (1982 to 1985) Louis-Dreyfus appeared in several films, including Woody Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986), before returning to NBC in 1990 to star in the then low-rated sitcom starring comedian Jerry Seinfeld. How did she get the gig as Elaine Benes, Seinfeld’s neurotic ex-girlfriend? While on SNL, she met writer Larry David, who later co-created “Seinfeld.” David’s wife Laurie and Louis-Dreyfus became fast friends. “When we met, we immediately bonded,” recalled Laurie David. “Since Larry’s married to me and he wrote the dialogue and the character, a lot of me rubbed off on her, and her on me.” Larry David is also the creator and star of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” In 1998, the year “Seinfeld” ended, Louis-Dreyfus was chosen by People magazine as one of “the 50 most beautiful people in the world,” and was the voice of Princess Atta in the hit Pixar-animated film, “A Bug’s Life,” that same year, After nine seasons, during which time she won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for “Seinfeld,” Louis-Dreyfus took a break before going on to star in three of her own sitcoms: the short-lived “22 Minutes with Eleanor Riggs,” created for her by Hall; “Watching Ellie,” which was canceled after one season; and “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” which CBS renewed last month. While in New York promoting her show, in which she plays a divorced mom, Louis-Dreyfus hosted SNL–the only former female cast member to ever return as host. She appeared with former “Seinfeld” cast members Jason Alexander and Jerry Seinfeld in the opening monologue. Back in L.A. last week, Louis-Dreyfus, 45, said that of all the roles she’s played, it’s her real-life role as “wife and mother,” that she enjoys the most, followed by her work as an “actress and activist.” As a Palisades resident, she worked with her neighbors to get speed humps on Alma Real, “which was purely a safety issue. Drivers were using our street and other streets in the Huntington to avoid the traffic on Chautauqua. And because our streets are wide, these drivers had the false impression that the speed limit was something like 40 to 45 m.p.h., which it’s not. So we as a community worked really hard to get these humps in as we felt it was the only way to get people to slow down, short of putting lights in or having cops at every corner.” Louis-Dreyfus, who is also involved with Laurie David’s National Defense Research Council, feels the best way to make a difference “is to start by making a difference in your own life. I’m drawn to the water and ocean, which are so basic and fundamental that when they are taken advantage of, it bothers me to the core.” Her favorite thing to do at the beach? “Walk, and then watch my children and husband surf.”