With a nod toward Valentine’s Day, we couldn’t resist asking the former host of The Dating Game, Jim Lange, and his wife, former Miss America Nancy Fleming Lange, married since October 14, 1978, about their life in Marin.
You could live anywhere. Why Marin?
JL: A no-brainer! Best country in the world to live in? USA. Best part of the U.S. to reside? Of course, California. And which part of California? The Bay Area. And finally, which county in the Bay Area has the best weather and the most beautiful natural surroundings? Marin. I moved here in 1958 and have never been sorry.
What makes you happy in Marin?
NL: The generally liberal mind-set of Marin neighbors, which is personified for me when I see the residents of the Redwoods retirement community out on the streets every Friday protesting the Iraq war. JL: Just driving across the Golden Gate Bridge and through the rainbow tunnel.
What gets on your nerves here?
NL: Drivers who talk on the phone and drink coffee, with their kids at risk in the backseat. JL: Too many large, gas-guzzling SUVs with only one phone-operating inattentive driver.
What’s your personal idea of luxury? NL: Sleeping on clean sheets dried in the sunshine and eating vine-ripe tomatoes from our garden. JL: Enough money to pay the bills. Oh, and a comfortable pair of shoes.
What do you value every day? NL: My family. This year brought the arrival of my first grandchild, Heath Larson Carbone, who is the light of my life. JL: Two things. The priceless view from our home and my wife, Nancy, to share it.
What person has influenced you the most?
NL: My husband, Jim Lange. After more than 30 years, he still makes me laugh harder than anybody else and he continues to teach me to “just get over it” when I take life too seriously. JL: Two people. Careerwise, it was Tennessee Ernie Ford. He gave me my first opportunity at network television. But more important and personally, it was and is my wife, Nancy. She keeps me grounded by pointing out that I am no “big deal” and makes sure that I eat properly to ensure my health. Without her, I’m not sure I would be alive.
What’s been the most fulfilling moment in your work?
NL: It was rewarding and a lot of fun to host AM San Francisco (with husband Jim) during the Carter administration and meet not only Jimmy and Rosalynn, but his extraordinary mother, Lillian, and various siblings, including the infamous Billy. JL: The moment that I realized I could make a lot of people feel better and smile a little by what I did on the radio. The feedback from listeners made it feel worthwhile.
What’s a Marin stereotype that fits?
NL: Tree-hugger—a population that values and strives to protect the natural beauty of the environment. JL: It’s expensive.
What stereotype doesn’t fit?
NL: It is no longer true that Marin is a haven for artists, musicians and other creative folk, as it has become too expensive for all but the hugely successful among them. JL: Is that hot-tub hippie wife-swapping stereotype still around? It just doesn’t fit.
What’s your desert-island favorite book or album?
NL: Novelle per un Anno (short novels for a year) by Luigi Pirandello. JL: A very fat family album. I would never tire of seeing all of our children and grandchildren grow up once again, adventures we have shared.
What do you like about yourself?
NL: The same thing that I hate: I will finish any task I take on or die trying. JL: That I am pretty much nonjudgmental (except for those SUV drivers and the current administration) and that I am very, very lucky. Also that I am still healthy.
How do you want to be remembered?
NL: That will be decided by those who remember me. JL: As a gentleman who did his best as a husband, father and performer, and enjoyed life all the way.
Mimi Towle has been the editor of Marin Magazine for over a decade. She lived with her family in Sycamore Park and Strawberry and thoroughly enjoyed raising two daughters in the mayhem of Marin’s youth sports; soccer, swim, volleyball, ballet, hip hop, gymnastics and many many hours spent at Miwok Stables. Her community involvements include volunteering at her daughter’s schools, coaching soccer and volleyball (glorified snack mom), being on the board of both Richardson Bay Audubon Center. Currently residing on a floating home in Sausalito, she enjoys all water activity, including learning how to steer a 6-person canoe for the Tamalpais Outrigger Canoe Club. Born and raised in Hawaii, her fondness for the islands has on occasion made its way into the pages of the magazine.