Interview with B. James Gladstone, author of The Man Who Seduced Hollywood



I've had the pleasure of interviewing author B. James Gladstone, the author of The Man Who Seduced Hollywood: The Life and Loves of Greg Bautzer, Tinseltown’s Most Powerful Lawyer. Gladstone’s book is not only fascinating and informative, it’s also endlessly entertaining. Who needs fiction when there are stories to tell about people like Greg Bautzer!

Let me say a few things about the author B. James Gladstone. He is enthusiastic about his book and always willing to talk about Greg Bautzer. He has been so kind and patient with me and was willing to share with me some details of his research. Gladstone was very gracious and willing to spend some time answering my questions. This quickly turned into one of my favorite interviews.

Gladstone's books i one all of you must read. Here are some places where you can buy the book: Barnes and Noble IndieBound Powell's and here is my full reviewHere is Gladstone's website for the book.

Now on to the interview!

Raquel: For those of us who are not familiar with Greg Bautzer, why do you think it’s important for us to know who he is?

Photo Source: Chicago Review Press
B. James Gladstone: In addition to leading one of the most glamorous lives of the twentieth century, Bautzer played a major role in the history of the motion pictures. He was much more than a lawyer; he was an industry leader who made things happen. His client list included the cream of Hollywood: Ingrid Bergman, Rock Hudson, Joan Crawford, Kirk Douglas, Gene Kelly, Katharine Hepburn, Merle Oberon, Mario Lanza, Judy Garland not to mention the richest man in the world – Howard Hughes. Bautzer was virtually on the same level as people who ran Hollywood like Zanuck, Mayer, Goldwyn, and Schenck. He played cards with them several times a week and used his friendship with them to influence other people’s careers. He pulled an unknown Marilyn Monroe out of buffet line and hooked her up with the Chairman of Twentieth Century Fox. He took Robert Wagner under his wing and promoted his career by introducing him to the studio heads and producers. He convinced Charles Bluhdorn to hire Robert Evans to run Paramount. When Las Vegas magnate, Kirk Kerkorian, wanted to own MGM, Bautzer got it for him.

Raquel: How did you decide to write your book and how did you do your research?

Gladstone: When I started practicing law in Los Angeles, I heard many stories about Bautzer from lawyers who had known him. He had only been gone 6 years, and his exploits were legendary. Every lawyer and studio executive had a Bautzer story. After a while I decided to see if perhaps there was enough material for a book. As it turned out, I had enough material for several books. He was at the epicenter of many of the film industry’s biggest scandals and business moves. In addition to researching archives and the written record in the media, I interviewed people who knew him such as Robert Wagner, Bob Newhart, Arlene Dahl, Ingrid Bergman’s daughter Pia Lindstrom, his wife Dana Wynter, Wolfgang Puck, producer Al Ruddy, and many L.A. lawyers.

Raquel: Do you have a personal connection with Greg Bautzer?

Gladstone: I didn’t know him while he was living, but I know dozens of lawyers who got their start working for him. Many of today’s most powerful lawyers in Los Angeles, started their careers with him.

Raquel: In your Acknowledgments section, you credit Bautzer’s third wife actress Dana Wynter as being an important resource of information. How did she help you with writing your book?

Gladstone: She was wonderful to me. I e-mailed or spoke to her on almost a daily basis in the three months before her death. She told me many behind-the-scenes stories that she witnessed personally, such as Sinatra bringing mobster Sam Giancana to their vacation home in Mexico.

Raquel: What was it about Bautzer that made him such a sought after lawyer?

Gladstone: He had incredible charisma and confidence. In real life, lawyers are not like they are in movies. They’re actually pretty boring. He was dashing, bold, intelligent, funny and incredibly tough. After he stood up to Bugsy Siegel on behalf of the publisher of the Hollywood Reporter, Billy Wilkerson, everyone in Hollywood knew he was the toughest lawyer you could hire. The most common thing said about him was: “If you were in a fight, he was the lawyer you needed by your side”.

Raquel: Bautzer sure had a way with women. He romanced glamorous actresses like Lana Turner, Joan Crawford and Ginger Rogers. What was it about him that made him irresistible to women?

Gladstone: You left off Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Paulette Goddard, Jane Wyman, Dorothy Lamour, Peggy Lee, Ann Sothern, Greer Garson, and a few dozen more. His third wife, Dana Wynter, told me that the secret to his success with women was the way he lavished attention on them. He knew how to make a woman feel like she was the most beautiful and interesting person in the world. Casanova and Don Juan had nothing on Bautzer. In fact, his love life was probably more prolific.

Raquel: Bautzer had many clients in Hollywood. Who was his most difficult client and why? Or Who was his most interesting client and why?

Gladstone: The answer to both is Howard Hughes. He represented Hughes from about 1950 until Hughes’ death in 1976. Hughes was demanding and eccentric, but Bautzer thought he was the most brilliant businessman he had ever known. Hughes required that Bautzer be available around the clock, which he was. When Bautzer went on vacations, Hughes sent detectives to follow Bautzer so that Hughes knew where to reach him. Hughes was a very tough negotiator and often stalled negotiations in order to gain an advantage. Sometimes it was difficult getting an answer out of Hughes because he was trying to find other angles. Hughes sent Bautzer on all kinds of bizarre missions, from trying to buy Elizabeth Taylor’s hand in marriage from her mother to bribing Random House to keep it from publishing a tell-all biography. Most notably, Bautzer was the man who signed the checks for Hughes’ harem of kept women.

Raquel: Are there still lawyers like Greg Bautzer working (and romancing) today?

Gladstone: No, lawyers today are no longer celebrities. In his day, Bautzer was as famous has his clients. He was constantly in the newspapers and magazines. In the 20th Century, there were quite a few lawyers who had celebrity status: Melvin Beli, F. Lee Bailey, Roy Cohn, Edward Bennett Williams, Jerry Giesler, Louis Nizer, among others. After Johnny Cochran, the concept of a lawyer as a celebrity somehow died.

Raquel: Is there a story about Greg Bautzer that you’d like to share that wasn’t in the book?

Gladstone: There are many stories about famous actresses jumping out of his bedroom window to avoid being caught by their husbands who were knocking on the front door, but these stories are somewhat suspect. One of the stories I wanted to include concerned Walter Wanger shooting Jennings Lang in the groin over the affair with Wanger’s wife, actress Joan Bennett. It’s one of the most famous scandals in Hollywood history and Bautzer played a role. Producer Walter Wanger suspected that Joan was having an affair with talent agent Jennings Lang. Wanger saw her car in the parking lot of the agency, and he surmised they were having an afternoon liaison; so he waited for them to return. When she arrived with Jennings Lang in his car, Wanger pulled a gun and shot Lang in the groin. Wanger was arrested, and Lang immediately became a laughing stock in Hollywood. As a result, he was afraid to go out in public because people would be pointing at him and gossiping behind his back. Bautzer heard that Lang was afraid to go out in public and invited him to go to dinner at Romanoff’s when the restaurant would be filled with Hollywood’s elite. Lang demurred, but Bautzer insisted. “You have to face them some time,” said Bautzer. “When people see that I’m behind you, they’ll stop laughing.” Bautzer and Lang went to dinner and starred everyone down and that was that. By the way, Wanger was one of Bautzer’s clients and would remain so after Wanger got out of prison, right through Wanger’s production of Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor. Lang went on to have a successful career as a producer also, producing some of Clint Eastwood’s movies. Oh, and Lang fathered a child, so the damage was not permanent.

Raquel: Can you tell us a little about what you do for a living?

Gladstone: I’m Executive Vice President for Lionsgate Entertainment. Unfortunately, most of what I do is confidential. But I’ve worked on few scandals and major corporate transactions, somewhat similar to the things Bautzer did. But that’s where the comparison ends.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks Raquel for this interview and especially thank you Mr Gladstone for writing this biography. In my research, Greg Bautzer's name cropped up over and over, but I was never able to get a good sense for who this man was. I always thought that, because of the life he lived, he deserved a biography and now he has one. Big thumbs up!

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  2. I've been considering buying this book, I love a good bio/autobio on the classic film greats and it seems his name pops up a lot. After this interview I think Im going to head on over to Amazon. Thanks for helping me make up my mind :)

    Also Im new to your blog and looking forward to going through the archives. There just are not enough classic blogs out there, though there are a few excellent ones. My husband, myself and even our ten year old daughter are huge old movies buffs so this will be a great resource!!

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  3. Indeed, that man really has influenced a lot of people. Needless to prove that he does fit to his own creation "The man who seduced Hollywood".

    Kelly
    KZ Audio Video

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