Monday, January 01, 2018

Blind Items Revealed #20

December 9, 2017

This story is almost a novel, and some of the people in it have been the subject of books.  It spans an era from the early 1960s all the way through the present day.  It is pure Hollywood, in every sense, and is very personal to me due to how I came to be told of it.

In the past few years, I received a phone call from an old family friend that someone I knew and loved dearly was not doing well.  She was up in age and had been having some health problems.  My friend said the lady was having periods of incoherence and dementia, but would surprise everyone with her memories of the past.  The old lady had asked to see me – if possible, for a private reason.  When this lady asked, you dropped everything for her.  So I did, and flew from Hollywood back East to see her.  Sad that it may be for the last time, but always thrilled to be in her presence.

The LADY was an actress, (A list/frequent game show guest) and I will call her LADY because she was one in every way, and was hard to classify.  Even I told you her name and showed you a photo most of you wouldn't know her right off.  But she was a legend in Hollywood, on Wall Street, in all Society Circles, and everywhere she went.  Not so much for her acting, but for her persona, her charm, her beauty, and her wealth.  Through her entire life she was never worth less than a billion dollars (in today's money), and after her parents died she inherited an estate over $6 billion.

I knew her through family, and she was always so wonderful to me.  It was almost maternal, though it was sweet at the same time, and she never condescended me.  Even as a kid, she treated me like an adult.  I thought she was the coolest, prettiest, royal lady I ever knew.  Like a Queen.  She always wrote to me (by hand on letters I still treasure), and sent me perfect gifts.  Later in life, after finding myself in trouble, she went to bat for me and got me work on a project she was working on as well.  We spent a lot of time together, and I fell in love with her in a platonic way.  She was a riot and loved to drink and curse.  But always a lady in public. She would go to bat for me many times in life, more than I could ever repay.  The least I could do was spend time with her now, even though it took me away from important work.  I'd have done anything for her.

Arriving at her home now, seeing her frail in her years, the tears flooded my eyes.  In true form, she told me to stop being a sissy – that everybody has to die sometime.  She gave me some items that belonged to my family members, including a photo of my mom and LADY together years ago.  She told me to stay and I did.  We had drinks like civilized people.  She said she really wanted to share something with me, because she couldn't trust many people.  First I thought about the warning that she was getting dementia.  Soon I realized there was no dementia in sight today.  This was a woman who wanted to un-burden her soul.  So I sat there and listened, and she told me a story I could not wrap my head around.  But I believe every word of it.

She took me mentally back to her early days in Hollywood.
As a young woman, she gave up debutante balls and society pages because she wanted to be an actress.  For the pure love of it, just to act.  She took a stage name to be anonymous, and never used her family to get a role or succeed.  She did that on her own terms.  She was born tough, and raised to be intelligent and strong in a family that had many problems with mental strength.  On Broadway or the screen she was no different.  She was also a natural-born goddess.
They called her a Hitchcock blonde for her cool, classy looks.  She was all natural and looking back at photos of her she was as beautiful as Grace Kelly, Liz Taylor, or her other cohorts from that era.  She landed roles on her own merits, but soon enough her real name caught up with her.  Her family name and relatives in Hollywood meant a lot of executives were afraid to piss off her family.  Back East establishment money was revered by immigrant studio heads.  So they treated her with kid gloves, and it angered her.  Most of all, she found herself propositioned by crude producers and directors – despite studio heads warnings.  1950s Hollywood was no picnic.  When one studio chief  heard a director proposition her, her had the director blackballed.  Still, by others she was told she had to lay to play, same as the other stars.  Many just wanted a shot at her due to her family.  It all got old very quick, as she never gave in to the couch.

The industry was changing in the 50s with television, and the decline of the studio system.  New ways of dealing and putting movies together were invented.  One of the pioneers of this new age was a cocksure talent agent named __________ working at MCA.  Here was a man who was slick, devious, and loved by many bosses.  A player and a scoundrel who played poker with studio chiefs and golf with guys like this permanent A list singer/actor and this alltime maybe A++ list mostly movie actor.  He'd been groomed by legends like famous studio head, ___________ and had acted as a mob bag man for payoffs between booking agents and mob-run theaters.  He lied all the time, saying he was an Ivy League man but was not.  He left the big agency to start a new one with another slick youngster named _______________.  Together they started a company and exists even today as one of the big three agencies in the biz.

The LADY actress was fed up with offers for sex, not her acting.  The roles she got were mostly window dressing, and her family beckoned her back home.  She got married to another ungodly wealthy man, an heir himself.  It was an unhappy marriage, but she did her duty, had children, and even found time to act now and then.  She grew restless and felt especially with television and new films of the 1960s she could make her real mark.  Her husband had his own distractions, and with governesses helping raise her kids she gave acting another try.

The key was a call she got from this hot new agent in Hollywood.
He and his partner would love to represent her, and could package her in the right projects.  They flattered her, and she took the bait.  However, once she arrived?  She found herself facing the casting couch once more.  But her agent did get her a good new role or two (famous black and white television show) and she felt she had a shot.  Still, other directors were leching on her and she complained to her new agents.  To make it up to her, her agent took her out to dinner that night at Romanoff's.  After eating, she made up her mind to return back East and give up acting.  The Agent gave her a lift home, and she felt sick and passed out.  She woke up sicker, in pain, and raped.  Still inside the car with him.  She started screaming and kicking.  He told her she loved it.  Sick, dizzy, and disgusted, she literally kicked him out of the car and managed to drive back down to her hotel in his car.

In her room, she said she contemplated suicide at the shame.  A wife.  A mother of kids.  And with her own family mocking her "childish" dreams of being a star, she'd gone ahead but failed.  How could she face her family? Her husband? She said it tore her to pieces.  After a visit from a confidential doctor there, she checked out and went home.  After that, she only came to Hollywood to see friends.  Sometimes her good friends would talk her into a bit role here or there, but she'd never audition again.

About this same time, her rapist-agent was spinning wheels.  He was repping hot young talent like these two permanent A list mostly movie actors who would have great movies together and many from the Actors' Studio now so popular in the industry.   But the LADY actress wasn't his only rape victim.  Turns out he'd raped another young actress, and she was a former contract girl starlet girlfriend of permanent A list studio head/titan of industry he enjoyed whenever he came to town.  And that man did not mess around.  She belonged to him for as far as anyone cared.  He gave the agent a choice, to pay the girl for damaging her (rape in 1960 was damage not rape!), or he would run the agent out of town.

So the agent began stealing to cover his extortion payoffs.  Not satisfied with that, the titan had a team of private eyes following the agent all through the 60's, and whenever he screwed up or hurt someone, the titan had people there to document it or capture it.  Even when the titan was living out of the country, the surveillance continued.  But the agent found ways to lie, cheat, steal and make his payoffs.

By the late 1960s, the agent found a new client and source of funds.  This permanent A list actress/singer with a permanent A list offspring who is an actress/singer hired him as her agent, and the agent began embezzling from her too.  She was so out of it most days and nights that pretty soon, the agent was able to capture her in blackmail positions herself.  He took these fake blackmail threats to her husband , and they gave the agent power over her funds.  He also pimped her out in her drugged out state.  He got paid for it. Soon, he'd stolen millions from the actress and used it to pay off his ongoing extortion from the titan and to fund his high lifestyle.

By this time, the LADY had seen her marriage crumble and she was a shell.  All due to the rape attack.  She still never told anyone.  However, she met a handsome young actor, a gentle man, and she fell in love.  She confided in him what happened but never told him who did it.  They got married, had a daughter, and made a nice life for themselves.

The agent, continued up the Hollywood food chain, first making pals with ____________ who bought MGM and other top honchos.  As part of the old guard, he was wheeling and dealing his way into a producer job, and eventually as a studio chief.

By the mid 70's he was still stealing and still paying off those old extortion claims.  Because even though the titan was long gone, he'd found himself having to pay off many others to keep them quiet for his damages.

The LADY's actor hubby was doing great in his career, and she was uneasy with his success.  They didn't need the money, but he enjoyed popularity.  Through a series of accidents, it became obvious that the agent had stolen money from no less than a dozen actors, including, the husband of the LADY.  When the Lady found out about it, she lost her ever loving mind with rage.  She said she felt she'd been raped a second time by the same bastard.  She went directly to the Board members at the studio, and told them she was going to expose him.  They tried to coddle her and thought she was bluffing.  She wasn't.

The LADY spent much more money on exposing the agent than he'd stolen from her hubby to begin with.  Didn't matter.  She wanted revenge.  She hired PR teams, law firms, and wanted him buried.  Finally, her family interceded at the request of several rich men who owned stock in the studio to get her to back off.  She did, but regretted not sending him to jail.  Still, the scandal was exposed and he was fired from his job and known as an embezzler.  Sadly, it all but collapsed her marriage.  Again, reminding her of her rape and shame.  She and her husband divorced, and he found himself blacklisted from the biz.

The agent, however, landed on his feet, like a con artist does.  He soon partnered with a rich investor.  Joined by another con man (a smuggler), they formed their own company.  In the 1980s, they set up Ponzi schemes of finance for their films – and as a way to continuing preying on young women.  One film which Enty has written about in the past for other reasons that they produced together may hold the record for most corrupt set of all time, including the very underage actress they all took turns "couching".

It didn't stop.  They continued lying, stealing, and fraud.  They got foreign banks involved, and investors, and soon got into very hot water with the FBI.  Indictments were imminent.  Even the French Legislature met to discuss how the company defrauded so many out of millions in their Ponzi scheme.  But they kept on making movies, stealing the whole time.

The LADY heard about this from another socialite one day at brunch, and was enraged that the agent was still in business.  She plotted her final revenge.  Her recent marriage had broken up, and she'd become a confident woman now making big business decisions, and met a young actor who worshiped her.  He was genuinely in love with her, and they wee best friends.  She not only told him of her experiences, but who it was.  He wanted to kill the agent on the spot.  She talked him out of it.

She told her hubby her therapist taught her to let go.  So they were happy, why bother?
Still the LADY watched the agent's moves with a close eye, even having him followed.  She had investigators who uncovered his web of lies.  She had it anonymously leaked to the FBI and it formed the basis of their indictments and court actions against the agent.  The LADY and her new hubby were enjoying life, had a good family, and a good business.  But she was still haunted. It was now the mid 1990s, and he knew time was up for him.  Yet, in the last months – thing seemed to look up for the crook.  Just when the agent thought he was ruined and bankrupted for good, a savior appeared.

A company, stepped up to agree to finance his new company.  It was not to be.  Because the LADY had seen to it, and told the company of his frauds.  She also had an attorney who hired some very nasty people to finally see to it "he'd never hurt anyone again".  All they had to do was wait for an opening, and she was working to provide one.  Mostly, with help from a woman once married to a singer.

At that point – this is hours later – I asked LADY if she remembered when the agent killed himself? She said "Hmmmph. Not hardly."  I thought she'd mis-remembered.  My mistake. She then told me that she'd made a deal with his mistress, the woman once married to a singer.  LADY would take care of her financially, for life – she'd just been evicted form her house – if she'd help her out.  The Mistress wrote "suicide letters" and mailed them, in the agent's name, to all his pals.  Concocted a cover story of being with him the day he died, and allowed a stranger to come into the hotel room in Century City.  The suicide shot to his temple was not his idea.
Stunned, I nodded to LADY in understanding.  "I don't blame you. You had him killed?".
She smiled a painful smile, looked straight at me, and said: "No, my precious boy – he killed himself.  When he raped me.  It just took 30 years for the bullet to catch up."
Wow.
The most epic mic drop I've ever heard before, or since. She then went silent., and I just nodded.  I got it, now.
I got what she was saying, and doing.  She was telling me she'd gotten her vengeance at last, without admitting to me anything complicit.  She wiped her eyes, and I told her I loved her.  She told me to get the hell out of there cause I'd made her cry.  With a smile, I kissed her cheek and thanked her…for everything she meant to me, and had done for me – and for herself.  She was my hero.  It was a long, quiet flight back to Hollywood that night.  I never saw her again, as she did indeed have dementia.  She died not long after, from old age.  Still as amazing as ever.  But I know she didn't have dementia that last day I saw her.  Clear as a bell.  And she found her vengeance – and her peace, at last.

Lady - Dina Merrill
Cocksure talent agent - David Begelman 
Permanent A list singer/actor and all time A++ list mostly movie actor - Bing Crosby/Cary Grant.
Other slick youngster: -Freddie Fields
Talent agency-  Creative Management Associates (CMA)
Permanent A list actress/singer with a permanent A list offspring who is an actress/singer - Judy Garland (husband Sid Luft)/Liza Minnelli
Repped two permanent A list mostly movie actors who would have great movies together - Paul Newman and Robert Redford
Pal who bought MGM -  Kirk Kerkorian
Corrupt movie- Blame It On Rio



28 comments:

rosie riveter said...

This was one of my all time favorite blinds

timebob said...

Great blind and love the CDANrs pieced it all together

Alexandria Anna said...

Wow, I made it to 20th blind! Awesome reveals Enty, learned a loooot of fascinating things today. It's better to read the blinds with answers, now I can picture it all.

Alexandria Anna said...

Nobody can tell stories like Himmmm does, that's certain.

sandybrook said...

Yep Dina Merrill was one classy lady.....and I rewatched Blame it on Rio because of this. Apparently they got special dispensation to let Michelle Johnson do that scene at 17. Wonder whatever happened to her?

Glue said...

Who was the young actor who was in love with her (towards the end of the story)?

Manger1 said...

David Begelman. No surprise. They can't control themselves just like Weinstein. Do their dad's teach them to do this when they hit 13?

Andi F said...

Cliff Robertson was Dina's 2nd husband. He went to FBI about Dave's embezzlement.

Sd Auntie said...

Now that's Real Justice!!!

Andi F said...

Looks like I will need to try to stream blame it on rio. all the reviews for it are horrible, don't know if I'll be able to sit through it.

Farmgirl said...

So great.
Thank you

roxy said...

And it was Tony Bennett's estranged wife who was the mistress who helped the Lady.

Violet said...

Did a little TV and some minor movies, but despite the big buildup they gave Michelle, it was Demi Moore, who played a smaller role in Rio, that went on to have the big career.

Goober said...

So, I guess that makes Himmmm Griffin Dunne?

chillip said...

She was as much of a blue blood American as one could be. Quite the blind and story. Thank you.

Don Kieballs said...

Goober - I don't know how you got to Griffin Dunne, but that would be amazing if he was part of himmmm. One of my favorite guilty pleasure movies is Who's That Girl and Madonna calling him Loudon Clear is a movie line that randomly pops in my head a lot.

Don Kieballs said...

I get the Griffin / Dominick Dunne reference now. Took a sec

Kimberly Davis said...

#1 fav blind !!! just like i pictured it xo

Jennerationb said...

OMG Don Kieballs- as soon as someone said Griffin Dunne my mind said "Louden Clear"!! Too funny!!! Always loved that ridiculous movie.

Appalachian Mothersauce said...

Ah Dina...
You are now one of my favorites for two reasons.

Boldblonde said...

“...he killed himself.... it took 30 years for the billet to catch up.” This gets me whenever I read it.

Bikey said...

@Don Kieballs & @Jennerationb: Thank GOD for you two!! I thought I was the only person in the world who actually likes that movie! In fact I should say "loves", since when I first saw it back in the 80s I was a huuuuge Madonna fan to boot:)

JoyceL32 said...

Ok, for those who aren't willing to ask, I will. Could someone please explain the Dunne reference/connection?

Scandi Sanskrit said...

It's SO satisfying.

Scandi Sanskrit said...

!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Best line ever.

Natasha said...

Someday I hope someone makes a movie based on this and that they use that exact tag line about the bullet!

Freckles said...

Great blind, love how it was written. I remember amusing Dina when I was very young, she seemed so classy and genuine and of course beautiful. Nice to know she was strong too. I don't care to figure out who Himmm is, just keep the stories coming

Dj Davidson said...

I just saw her on an episode of Roseanne, the Lady that is.

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