Daud, his brother and a group of us went out as usual to the Belly Dancers cabaret, and then on to the Flamenco cafe. That night there would be gypsy guitar playing and a very famous dancer; I don’t remember his name, but at that time they were famous and even appeared in films. In the sixties, the Latin lover then was very popular.
We arrived around 2am on the morning and they were still going strong. Then, over in a dark corner, I noticed these big black eyes staring at me. His eyes would not leave me even to look at his coffee cup! He sent over a note that said he was drawing my face, and he begged to meet me later. To make a long story short, Tom and I moved into a hotel on Sunset Strip, where there were several top scriptwriters of the day; I think one of them was Larry Cohen…
One day I and my sister and Tom’s best friend went to Calabasas to get married by the civil judge. When we came back he jumped into the pool with me in his arms! Tom was a trying to be actor, but his very rich family did not approve of this, so he changed his last name from Priessman to Price. He was smoking pot with his buddies and selling it on the side; he was a soft, easy loving human being, but one day as a protest against cruelty to animals he climbed a tree in front of Hamburger Hamlet on Sunset Strip and stayed there for days. The papers called him “Tom the Tree Man.”His hunger strike ended when the police finally talked him down; he wasn’t even thrown in jail, and only received a fine.
One day a short while after our marriage, he rode off on his motorcycle with one of his friends, when a woman in a new Cadillac went through a red light and hit them. Tommy went flying against a light post, tearing his chest open. The friend was trapped under the bike, but he lived. Tommy died in the ambulance, tearing his hair out from the pain. They had to tied his hands down. The friend survived and collected a lot of money, but I did not sue anybody, either from ignorance or respect, honestly I can’t tell you which.
The worst part was to go and identify him as the next of kin. When they pulled the refrigerated box out, there he lay with a big smile! Coincidentally, we had been talking the night before about death, and I said to him that I was terrified of it. He said he could hardly wait for it to come!. I would not have been able to drive to the morgue to see the body, I was still in shock, so Bud had to drive me. The next day I called everybody I knew, because I just did not know how to cope with his death. Called Miami, Caracas, Spain, everywhere and everybody, even General Marcos Pérez Jiménez, the former dictator of Venezuela, who extended a kind invitation to come to the Fontainebleau Hotel, to stay as long as I needed to recover. There were no strings attached.
And recover I did, by drinking myself into a stupor. Although I did not have a valid drivers license, I had a rented car at my disposal and money at the desk, so after a nice day at the pool I decided to drive around Miami sightseeing. Well, a police car stopped me because I was going too fast, and driving totally drunk of course. They had me cold, so I looked at them and said. “I am the niece of General Marcos Pérez Jiménez and if you don’t believe me just please call him, he will verify it!”
What nerve I had! How would he know what to say to match my lie? But they did call him and he confirmed that I was with him. After the revolution had come, the great dictator had fled to Miami, with many millions of dollars he had stashed there. With all that money in American banks, the US government and police were aware of his presence and decided he was so important to the Florida economy that they should oblige him and all his friends and relatives.
He usually never answered the phone, but they had his personal security number and somehow he was there to respond. I only know that the police quickly changed their attitude and took me, not to a cell but to a room, where I heard a helicopter arrive and a man with a suitcase came in and talked to the officer in charge. The man was the General’s personal lawyer, and he signed some papers and soon I was out of jail, free!
I still don’t know how much my little visit cost him! That night, of course, I celebrated with even more drinking and dancing, and fell flat on my face, breaking my nose. The people at the hotel rushed me to the hospital. Ever since then, my nose has not been the same, my pretty classic nose was gone! I still don’t like the new one, and maybe one day I still may change it back, if that’s possible.
Needless to say, my friend the General was not too happy with me, and he called up and very politely suggested that I should go back home, so that my mama could take care of me. Looking at myself in the mirror, this made perfect sense, so I went back to LA to rest.