Monday, September 19, 2011

Part 5 - LOIS, PRINCESS RADZIWILL - Final chapter

Addicted to drugs, Lois began to pawn her jewels (including a sapphire and diamond-studded makeup compact that was a wedding gift from England's Queen Elizabeth.) In order to retrieve her jewels, she started calling and begging Alex to send her more money, often threatening him with a palimony suit. When he did, she would go to the Ace Pawnshop in Santa Monica and buy back the jewels. When the money Alex sent was no longer sufficient to support her growing drug habit, Lois began to sell the pawnshop receipts. Eventually the money and jewels were gone.

After numerous drug arrests in Los Angles, and internments in a drug rehabilitation center in Lexington, Kentucky, alone she returned to New York and turned to prostitution. Desperate for money and drugs Lois was selling herself on the streets of Harlem.

The last time I saw the Princess Radziwill was after a drug bust in Los Angeles. She was in a courtroom where she was being sentenced for possession and dealing. Poor, broken, her arms covered with needle marks, she was a bloated shadow of her past. Wearing a faded and out-of-date Dior suit, she turned to me as the police led her away. With a wan smile, she repeated her favorite adage about the moon and stars, but added "don't ever get involved again with people like me Larry. Look what I did with my gift."

I never saw her again, but heard a rumor she'd died of cancer in prison.


Prior to her arrival in Southern California I'd heard and read all sorts of bizarre rumors about Lois' marriage, her pending divorce, and her free lifestyle. One rumor suggested Lois was romantically involved with a former Miss New Orleans, Betty Doss, who was reputedly the mistress of actor George Raft. Another suggested a Russian princess, Zina Rachevsky, a waterskiing pal of Lois' from her Monte Carlo days, was supplying Lois with hash, marijuana and amphetamines.

Actually, most of the rumors proved to be true. Lois was in California to be near her family, who had since moved to the town of Venice and to reconsider her relationship with Alex. However, Lois seemed to be a bit naive about her relationships with friends and, with an underlying insecurity, relished the attention paid to her by the transient beach crowd, who had now become her "subjects and admirers."

As the years went by the Princess became more involved with drugs.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


It was in Monte Carlo at the Monte Carlo Yacht Club, after winning the waterski championship of 1950, that Lois began to take up with a younger international crowd, many of whom engaged in a freer lifestyle than she had experience with Alex. Alex strongly disapproved of her association with these "unsavory characters" and admonished her often.

Their frequent battles regarding her behavior eventually severed their relationship. The final blow being Berglas had returned home to Colmar from a business trip to find his Eliza Doolittle in bed with another woman and in a rage cut off Lois' beautiful blond hair. The effect on Lois was a nervous breakdown resulting in an extended stay at the famed Bircher-Benner sanatorium in Switzerland.

Alone, bewildered and vulnerable, Lois turned to Berglas' closest friend, the 70 year old Polish Prince Wladislaw Jerszy Radziwill, heir to the defunct Polish throne, whom, out of spite to Alex, she married.

The marriage to Prince Radziwill was short-lived. "The reason for the divorce was because he used warm water when he brushed his teeth and I use cold," is how the national magazine Cue reported Lois' break up with the Prince.

Lois realized it was Alex Berglas she really loved, after all, and repeatedly attempted to reconcile.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Lois Olson of Bismark North Dakota was the daughter of poor Norwegian-American parents. In 1947 at age 17, 6 feet tall, blond and beautiful, she ran off from home to marry a sailor named Evans. Unhappy in her marriage she left him after a short while and moved to New York to join her sister, who was appearing as a showgirl at the fabled Copacabana nightclub. She tried modeling dresses, but because of her height, the only job she could find was modeling fingernail polish for magazine advertisements.

It was in New York in 1949 when Lois' life changed dramatically. While waiting for a stoplight to change at the corner of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue, a handsome, well-dressed European gentleman commented to his friend the girl next to them was the most attractive woman he'd seen in New York. Overhearing the conversation, Lois thanked the stranger and jokingly said that he was the handsomest man she'd seen in that city. After a brief conversation and introductions, Alex Berglas, a French textile magnate invited Lois to dine that evening.

Over the next few weeks, Alex began to lavish Lois with gifts of jewelry and clothes. Charmed by her Mid-Western naivite' yet chagrined by her lack of social acumen, he convinced her to return with him to Colmar, France, where she could learn French and German, and polish her social graces. In retrospect, Berglas might have been recreating a French version of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, thereby commencing to turn an ingenuous farm girl into a poised, charming, "great beauty" adept in language, makeup and wardrobe. Christian Dior, a friend and client of Berglas', personally designed her clothes.

At age 20, Lois wasn't happy being secluded in a small textile town in the Eastern part of France. She begged Alex to take her to Paris or the Cote d'Azur where she could meet other young people. Reluctantly, the world-wise Berglas, 20 years her senior, agreed and taking her to Monte Carlo he introduced his protege to his jet-set world, which included the rich, jaded "beautiful people" of La Dolce Vita. Lois became a willing participant.

Friday, April 8, 2011


"Lois, Princess Radzivill is my correctly used title" she said.

I met Lois in the summer of 1951 at a fascinating bar, The Tropical Village, on Crystal beach in Ocean Park California. In addition to its gay clientele, the bar appealed to both the movie colony (Vivian Leigh, Lawrence Olivier, Rita Hayworth, the Aly Khan, etc.) and members of the international "jet-set". The TV, as it was called by regulars, was presided over by George Ball, a short, jovial proprietor who made it his business to introduce bar patrons to one another and keep the mood upbeat at all times.

Although there were several gay bars in the neighborhood, the "TV" offered patrons the pleasure of dancing to the music of a lesbian band, and a cabaret decadence reminiscent of Berlin in the 1920's, which was its primary attraction.

It was George who introduced the Princess and me, and within a short period of time we became intimate friends.

The following is an abbreviated story of a fairy tale princess:

Tall, blond and beautiful, each time the American born Lois Olson of Bismark, North Dakota entered a restaurant anywhere in the world, every male jumped to his feet to honor the internationally admired and now named - Lois, Princess Radzivill.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I cannot believe nothing has been written on this page since December! So much has been happening. All exciting. I won't bore you with a day to day account are some highlights.

RANCHO MIRAGE: The renovation of house and grounds look better than I ever imagined. The property has been designated a 1957 Historical Designation - Architects Wexler-Harrison. We were presented with a bronze plaque which is now attached to a huge boulder roadside. Just found out the road is a Private Road. That means we have to maintain it. I called the city of RM and suggested they acquire it as a public street. The answer was: "No Thanks".

WEXLER: Donald Wexler, the architect who designed the house is 84 years old and living in Palm Springs. As I previously mentioned a long while ago, our paths were destined to cross. 1/ His designs were our ideal while we were searching for a desert weekend house. 2/ Turns out he and I are from the same town, Minneapolis, and discovered we went to three of the same schools and lived in the same neighborhood. Not at the same time if you don't mind. 3/At his recommendation we hired the architect, Lance O'Donnell, to restore the house. 4/ His younger brother, Jerry, dated my sister Sandy in junior high school. The Palm Springs Museum of Art is exhibiting a 4 month retrospective of his past work.

NEW YEARS EVE: Eight of us celebrated in the RM house. Rather than cook I served big chicken pot pies from Dupars restaurant. With champagne bubbling, palm trees swaying and the pool sparkling, the evening was a success. New Years day began with a minor catastrophe. Seems unbeknownst to us the house is not on a city sewer (although the contracts state it is), it is on Septic. What with our 2 guests showering, dishwasher dishing, and the washing machine washing, everything backed up into the guest room shower basin. I helluva way to begin the New Year. Who do I sue?

MEDICAL: Seems each year there is one medical crisis in my life. As a former assistant of mine, Rosa Corral, used to say: "Age my dear age". One year a broken foot, another year something else, and on and on. This year I had an operation on my right hand pinkie. The operation is called a Mose. Yes, a few years ago I had one on my nose. Mose on da Nose. Not to go into the gory details, for a good couple of months I cannot use my right hand to play the piano. However it shouldn't be a total loss......I discovered there is an enormous amount of piano music written exclusively for the left hand and I am learning a beautiful Scriabin Prelude.

ADDENDUM: Basically, life is interesting what with frequent exciting and/or upsetting episodes. I look at the crazy world around me and realize how fortunate I am to be happy, healthy and calm most of the time. I can't complain. Celebrated M's birthday the other evening with a small group of friends. Drank good wine and ate good food. Who could ask for anything more? My two angels always watch over me (yes, there are two. One on each shoulder). Change, whether good or bad is constant. You can't let the negative overtake you. Even though I still do scream at Sarah Palin's image on television.

Monday, December 6, 2010


The past couple of weeks have been hectic what with our finally moving into the Rancho Mirage house. Number one, the house, grounds and pool are fantastically beautiful (If I may say so myself). M stuck tooth and nail to his vision - prodding me to not compromise. He worked diligently with the Pool designer and the Landscape architect, searched online for the optimum design of appliances, faucets, toilets and you-name-it. I am sure I might have settled for less but he persisted and our compromise (which I never believed I could do) turned out very well. Although the carpeting for the bedrooms is still somewhere at sea on it's way to us, over the Thanksgiving holiday we had our first guests: M's sister and bro-law. Stressed as I was with the move and prematurely having guests I made an attempt to behave and not get snarly. Thanksgiving dinner was at the Palm Springs restaurant Le Vallauris with J & C from San Fran, D & C who live in Palm Springs, the relatives visiting from Denver, M et moi. We had a great time and it was terrific to go home to our own house and not have to bother friends hosting us or check into another Gdamned hotel. I must admit moving out of Paris and into Rancho Mirage were not exactly dissimilar. Stress Stress Stress, but on many different levels. I vow to never do it again. Said he.
Now about the title of this blog: I wear what I call "Audio Enhancers", very commonly known as "Hearing Aids". Last evening, dining here at home, I took one of them out of my ear and placed it next to my plate. M had put almonds on the plate and without looking I mistakenly thought the Aid was an almond that had fallen off the plate (I wasn't wearing my glasses) and popped it into my mouth. One loud crunch made me realize I'd tried to eat my Hearing Aid. As I said: "I have been very stressed out"!