NOTE:   This event happened many, many years ago from the date (December 2018) that I am now recording them and so my memory may not be totally accu-rate on certain details. 


PART ONE:       I first met Werner Erhard, born John Rosenberg in 1982, while in a Gallo owned limo in route from San Francisco to the Gallo Winery in Modesto, California.  Ernest Gallo had asked my good friend and Los Angeles Times synd-icated food and wine critic Robert Lawrence Balzer to attend a dinner at Ernest’s home which dinner would introduce some new, premium wines that would re-present a new division and new marketing concept to the E & J Gallo Wine Co. 


Thanks to Robert Lawrence Balzer, I had made a number of TV commercials for Gallo, together with one of its subsidiary labels, back in 1977, Ernest had lost my address and phone number but knew that I was a friend of Balzer.  So he asked Balzer to please bring me along, together with four or five others with whom Balzer felt had sufficient palates to adequately evaluate the new wines we would taste at dinner. 


The E & J Gallo Wine Co. made all the arrangements and paid all of the bills.  Those of us traveling from Los Angeles boarded a United Airlines flight from LAX to SFO at 11 am on a Friday.  A limo picked us up at the San Francisco airport and transferred us to the Fairmont Hotel atop Hob Hill; where we were checked into separate suites located in the 23 story tower, which tower was added to the famous hotel in 1961.  I ended up with a corner suite on the 17th floor.  On the top floor of the Tower was the Crown Room, one of the most prestigious restaurants in the City by the Bay. 


The hotel’s concierge informed us that the Gallo super-stretch limousine was scheduled to pick us up at 10:00 am for the trip to Modesto, concluding that were on our own for the rest of the day.  It was now approximately 2 pm on Friday. 


In addition to syndicated food and wine writer and critic, Robert Lawrence Balzer (1912-2011) and me, the entourage now included actors Larry Hagman (1931-2012), Burgess Meredith (1907-1997), and my former travel companion and lover, Beverly Amphlett, the only woman invited.  Beverly and I had separate suites and she went out of her way to give the appearance that no improprieties took place.  The actor Carroll O’Conner was invited by Balzer, but because of the three day schedule, instead of two days, had to decline at the last minute – thus the invite of Beverly. 


In some past reviews on the trip and my interviews, because I was married at the time, I had left Beverly’s name out.  This review will correct that purpose over-sight.  


Although we had our choice of how to individually spend the remainder of the afternoon, the unanimous choice was to spend it together.  We spent it shopping at Ghirardelli Square and the Cannery.  It was amazing to watch the public as they got a look at the “Penguin” and “J.R.” strolling along together.  I was impressed by how respectful the San Francisco fans were.  It was obvious that they did not wish to invade the actors’ space but at the same time wanted to express their delight at having seen in person their TV legends. 


We knew that Gallo was picking up the tab for the hotel suites, but were not aware that the good will extended to meals taken at the hotel and charged to the room, whether or not ordered through room service.  That night when we were all having dinner at the Crown Room, we naturally assumed that we would be paying for our own meals and drinks. 


I invited Beverly to join me for dinner.  Now, I’m one of those who prefer to pay my own check.  That’s because I can thus feel free to order whatever I like.  When someone else is picking up the tab, as a courtesy I tend to order the least expensive item on the menu and forgo the wine of my choice.  However, I still insist that Jack Daniels, George Dickel or Wild Turkey be the basic ingredient in my Manhattans. 


That night in the Crown Room, to Beverly’s delight, I went all out and ordered the full five course meal, ending with the New York strip steak smothered in onions and mushrooms.  We worked our way through the first three courses with a bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne and one of a Le Montrochet; tacking the steak with a bottle of Chateau Haut Brion.  We ended the evening with a Hen-nessy (blended) Paradis (of which no blend is less than 100 years old) Cognac brandy.  Improprieties aside, we took the Cognac to my room, together with the proper glasses. 


My rational for the expense was that if Ernest Gallo were picking up my two nights rental in the tower suite at $500 plus per night, then I was more or less breaking even with one of the most sensational meals I had ever experienced. 


When presented with the check, I was about to hand over my credit card when Beverly grabbed and signed the check, charging the whole tab to her suite. 


“What was that all about,” I later asked?  “You always pick up the check.  Didn’t you get the memo?  Women have been liberated,” was her retort. 


The next morning, at 10 am sharp, the Gallo limousine was waiting for us in front of the Fairmont.  Already seated in the back was Werner Erhard, who lived in San Francisco.  We climbed in and headed for Modesto. 


I had heard a lot about Werner Erhard, not all of it good.  I knew he had founded EST (Erhard Seminars Training) in 1971.  I also knew people who had taken the seminars and sang his praises.  From what I had heard, however, the self-help group was not for me. 


Erhard promised to “rewrite” his followers’ consciousness and “blow their minds.”  To me Erhard’s methods were abusive, profane and demeaning.  His fundamental premise is that people are not successful because their minds have been programmed improperly.  The goal is to “blow the mind in order to bring about a higher consciousness. 


According to Robert Lawrence Balzer, “Erhard developed EST (Latin for “it is”) from a mixture of Socratic rhetoric and westernized Zen Buddhism he had latched onto in San Francisco.  Balzer should know, like his friend Richard Gere, Robert Lawrence is a practicing Buddhist.  In fact, the resemblance between Erhard and Gere was striking, although I believe Erhard is taller. 


The EST credo states, “The purpose of EST is to transform your ability to exper-ience living, so that the situations(s) you have been putting up with or trying to change clear up with the process of life itself.”  Erhard’s basic belief’s seem, to be that if you allow him to rewrite your mind, your life will finally be worth living. 


Some well-known celebrities have embraced the teachings of EST.  Valerie Harper, Yoko Ono, Cher and John Denver have all spoken of the benefits of Erhard’s teachings.  In 1980, there were more than one million EST graduates worldwide. 


As our limousine crossed the Bay Bridge and headed eastward towards Liver-more and Modesto, the journalist in me came out and I started interviewing Erhard.  I was surprised at how forthcoming he was with his answers. 


For instance, he admitted that in 1959 he was John (Jack) Rosenberg, a twenty-four year old married man with four children, living in Philadelphia.  Dissatisfied with his life, and with no large group awareness training available to him, he did what many unhappy men have done:  he had an affair with June Bryde and abandoned his family. 


He and Bryde left Philadelphia and went to St Lewis where he changed his name and sold high-end cars (Porches, BMWs, etc.).  In order to evade his wife, Pat, Jack Rosenberg became Werner Hans Erhard and when they later moved to San Francisco and married, June Bryde became Ellen Erhard. 


As an aside, I found it interesting that a Christianized Jew (his parents had him baptized in the Episcopal Church) would come to identify himself with a German name; I never did get a satisfactory answer to this question. 


Like me, Erhard possessed to having an insatiable appetite for reading.  I couldn’t help but ask what books most influenced his life.  Somehow I wasn’t surprised by his answer. 


Erhard admitted to having read Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich.”  Hill’s three basic principals are:  every achievement begins with an idea; plans call for their implementation and; what you think is what you do.  Think positive, you will do positive deeds. 


Hill also advised visualizing objectives and selecting similar-minded friends.  Hill gives good advice, but it is very vague and is not very systematic.  It doesn’t offer much to people who haven’t got a clue what their objectives are or should be.  Some of his ideas can be harmful, if not properly applied.  For example, some people are taught that they should always talk positive, even if this means lying.  Even if you haven’t made a sale in two years, you must put on a positive front and tell everyone that business couldn’t be better.  Even if you know nothing about the product you are selling, you must praise it beyond belief.  Even if you are experiencing one failure after another, you must lie to yourself and tell yourself that you are doing great.  You must never blame the product for not selling.  You must try harder, have more faith, and be more positive.  Maybe you need to take advanced courses to help you succeed.  By the time you wake up, you are bankrupt and those who were cheering you on (your “sponsors”) are nowhere to be found.  


Another significant influence on Erhard was Maxwell Maltz’s “Psychocyberne-tics.”  As a young man, Erhard apparently had a lot of negatives in his self-image and was deeply affected by Maltz who emphasized among other things, self-hypnosis.  Erhard put his new ideas and new self to work as a traveling salesman for a correspondence school.  His interest in hypnotism had been stimulated by Maltz, but Erhard’s focus would be on “programming” and “reprogramming.”  The basic idea he came to espouse is that bad habits are programmed into us, we have been “hypnotized” during normal consciousness and that’s where our prob-lems arise.  Unconsciously, we’ve developed debilitating habits and beliefs.  The point is to get rid of them by replacing them with positive and life-enhancing be-liefs and habits.  


Erhard also admitted to having been influenced by the works of Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers.  I admitted to having been a fan of Maslow myself.  Maslow and Rogers were unique in psychology at the time.  They emphasized not the disturb-ed or ill person, but the healthy, happy, satisfied, accomplished person.  The Human Potential Movement was just getting started and Erhard would be in on the ground floor. 


I felt guilty about having dominated the conversation and stated as much to the others riding in the limousine.  To a person they all insisted that I continue the interview.  They were completely absorbed by Werner Erhard and what he had to say. 


I was surprised to learn that Erhard had raced sports cars in the same west coast circuit in which I had raced, ten years earlier.  Erhard seemed fascinated to learn that the Kingston Trio’s manager, Frank Werber, and race car legend Dan Gurney sometimes crewed for me during these amateur races.  He wanted to talk more with me about racing but didn’t want to bore the others with a lot of technical talk, so we ended the interview with the understanding that we would pick it up later, when we could be alone. 


Most people would be surprised to learn that a good portion of the E. & J. Gallo Winery in Livingston (next to Modesto) is underground.  Only the administration buildings, warehouse, bottle making plant, bottling facilities, laboratory, wine shop and giant stainless steel champagne tanks (with their cooling jackets( are above ground.  The vast cellars are all underground. 


We boarded the propane powered, open van for a tour.  The cellar, built below ten acres of land, is like an underground city.   Barrels filled with cabernet, chardonnay, and merlot are stacked to the ceiling of the 30 foot high facility.  The new Gallo Technology Center sits atop the cellar.  The lines on the concrete floor are color coded, otherwise the driver of our gas powered cart could easily get lost in the maze of the huge underground rooms. 


In the bottle making plant, which is in the same building as the bottling facility, we are told that trucks hauling wine down Interstate 5 to Southern California return via the Mojave Desert where they bring back the special sand used to make the glass bottles. 


In the laboratory, we meet winemaker Marcello Marcelli and his protégé, an attractive 15 year old granddaughter of Julio Gallo, Gina Gallo.  Gina, together with her 18 year old brother, Matt, will one day operate Gallo Sonoma, as winemaker and head of operations, respectively. 


After touring the winery, we climbed into the limousine and headed for the large, low-key Modesto ranch house of Ernest Gallo, the “E” of the R & J Gallo Winery. 


The 5-foot-4-inch terror of his industry for more than six decades welcomes each of us individually, shaking hands with Robert, Beverly, Werner, Larry, Burgess and me. 


Champagne is poured as we gaze on the Italian art that fills the house.  Joining our group for dinner are Ernest’s wife, Amelia, Marcello Marcelli and his protégé, Gina Gallo (15) and Gina’s brother Matt (18).  On the menu:  bruschetta, pasta with arugula, veal scaloppini, mixed salad, chunks of parmesan cheese, a premium Estate chardonnay, not on the market; and finally raspberries floating in a Gallo cabernet Sauvignon, also not on the market. 


It didn’t take long for the man who built the winery from nothing in 1933 into a behemoth that sells 60 million cases a year, to get to the point of the gathering.  Simply put, Ernest Gallo wanted to upgrade both his product and image and was eliciting our reaction on just how he intended to accomplish this.  He made it known that he was particularly seeking the advice of Robert Lawrence Balzer … and me. 


Ernest rose from the table and went to an easel where a map of Sonoma County was on display.  Picking up a pointer, the man whose company consumes 30% of the annual California Grape Harvest, pointed to a location on Dry Creek Road, where the map indicated the location of several small wineries, including the Frei ranch. 


We were to learn that the Frei ranch vineyards held a special place in the hearts of the Gallos.  Julio, the “J” in E & J Gallo, began buying fruit from the property back in 1934, and in 1977, purchased the ranch, the first Gallo owned estate in Sonoma. 


So what gives? 


To attain the elevated status Ernest aspires to, Gallo Company needed to over-come two image problems.  One was its lingering association with cheap jug wines.  The other was its past reputation for being tough with its distributors, growers and workers.  The company’s early success with brands like Thunder-bird and Ripple, which became skid row favorites, is a liability today.  Wine retailing for less than $4 a bottle accounted for more than 70% of Gallo sales.  Other image problems include the standoff with the United Farm Workers Union in the 1870s.  Everyone paneled at the table agreed that it will be an uphill battle for Gallo to get over its negative past. 


 But Ernest had a plan. 


Ernest informed us that he and Julio intended to plant the first vines on the lovely rolling sweep of Dry Creek countryside, dotted with lakes and patches of natural forest.  As he talked on, it became clear that Ernest and Julio wanted to create wines that fully expressed these beautiful vineyard sites. 


For the environmentalists among us (Meredith and Balzer), Ernest and Julio proposed to initiate what Ernest refered to as the “50-50 giveback.”  This would be where 50% of any land the Gallos held in Sonoma would not be farmed, but left or returned to natural habitat.  In the Frei case, this would include the formation of Lake Eileen, which today looks as if it has been there forever, 


Flipping to the next page of the map, Ernest points to the 285 acres that he is in the process of purchasing from actor Fred MacMurray – where he intends to plant his cabernet Sauvignon and chardonnay.  “This will just be the beginning,” he states.  “As we speak construction is underway for a 50,000 barrel cellar on the Frei ranch property,” he added. 


“How many acres do you anticipate you will eventually end up with,” asked Robert Lawrence Balzer. 


The answer stunned me. 


“Enough to require more than twenty presses,” said Ernest, smiling. 


Twenty presses, I thought.  WOW!  I only knew of a few wineries that had more than one press.  The largest had two or three. 


“Who’s going to run your Sonoma operations,” asked Robert? 


By the grin on Ernest’s face, we all knew Balzer asked a key question, one that was anticipated. 


On the easel, Ernest flipped over to the third page. 


“You’re right, expansion requires management,” Ernest continues.  “We’re a family business.  Our third generation is now eight to ten years from entering management positions, as did their fathers before them.  Tonight you’ve met a part of that third generation, which we call the G-3 … Gina and Matt, Julio’s granddaughter and grandson, who are being groomed to eventually enter the business; Gina will be the winemaker and her brother Matt the operations head.  Whether they succeed or not is up to them.  How much do they want it; how hard are they prepared to work for it?  …It’s up to them. 


“When Julio and I started out 50 years ago, I made the wine and Julio sold it.  I tried to make more wine than Julio could sell and Julio tried to sell more wine than I could make.  It has proven to be a great combination.  However, if they end up working together, the competition between Gina and Matt will be a little different.  She will demand that Matt give her better grapes and he will bug her to make better wines.  Neither will have to worry about sales, which will be handled by a separate entity. 


“Although it will be in the 1990s before the Sonoma County operations produces its first release, I’m hopeful that Gina and Matt will produce that release.  If it happens, the results should be something to watch.” 


All eyes turn to Gina and Matt and hands come together in applause for the two teenagers seated at the table. 


How prophetic.  It would indeed be the two teenagers seated at the dining table that evening which produced the award winning wines that would eventually change the Gallo image. 


So maybe wine does make you live longer.  Ernest Gallo drinks from two to four glasses a day and is indefatigable. 


Later in the evening, as Ernst was pouring his winery’s version of a Chateau Yquem, a late harvest chardonnay, not on the market, I approached him. 


“Enjoying life” I asked?  A boyish smile transformed his face.  “More than ever,” he said, not missing a chance to plug the wines he’s served.  “With great wines like these to drink every night, who wouldn’t. 


“You know what happened to my parents,” Gallo asked me?  “No, I do not,” I answered.  Ernest gives me a despairing wave of the hand and continues. 


“The year was 1933; the stock market crash had wiped out much of my father’s savings, and Giuseppe Gallo faced the bankruptcy of his California grape-growing business.  One day he shot my mother, Assunta, in the back of the head as she fed pigs in the barn, killing her.  Back in the house Giuseppe (Joe) turned the gun on himself. 


“My brother Julio and I started the winery later that year, paid off Giuseppe’s debts and turned our first profit in the middle of the Depression.” 


That night, many years ago, during my impromptu interview, Ernest Gallo had no idea of the tragedy’s that were later to befall him. 


Ernest and Julio became hopelessly estranged from their younger brother Jo-seph in 1986 when he challenged them in court for a share of the winery.  (Such feuds are not unknown in the wine country.  The famous Mondavi family suffered a similar schism).  The Gallos also have lost a son of Julio’s to suicide and one of his grandsons to illness.  And in 1993 Julio Gallo was killed in a truck accident (granddaughter Gina survived the wreck), followed a few months later by the death of Ernest Gallo’s wife of 62 years, Amelia.  Four years later Gallo’s son David died suddenly from a seizer. 


Julio Gallo’s death brought an end to the often tense brotherly partnership that built the winery into America’s post-Prohibition giant.  It erased the strict division between the making and selling of wine, sparking more innovation throughout the company.  Two years later Ernest Gallo stepped up the total $70 million capital infusion into Sonoma. 


In October, 1999 for the first time, Ernest Gallo traveled to Italy’s Piedmont region with two of his grandsons to seek out his father’s last known residence before he emigrated.  By the time he and his grandsons reached the town of Fossano at 9:00 pm, one evening, the sight of his father’s humble apartment was under-whelming.  But, standing on the pavement his father once trod, the son had one thought:  “I wish he were here with me.” 


This, for the father who beat his sons mercilessly, drove them like slaves in the vineyards and murdered their mother.  Perhaps it’s no surprise.  Joe Gallo also gave them an intimate knowledge of vineyards.  And his pitiful failure motivated his sons to work like fiends to avoid a similar fate. 


For Ernest Gallo, that may be the definition of success.  Among the generation that will succeed him, the mantra seems not to have been lost. 


Ernest Gallo died in 2007 at his home in Modesto.  Born in 1909, in Jackson, California, he was 98 years-old – a testament to the virtues of drinking from two to four glasses of wine per day.  


PART TWO:      After a fabulous dinner as the guest of Ernest Gallo, at his Modesto ranch home, and tasting many of as yet to be released Gallo wines, it was after 11 pm when we all piled into the limousine that would return us to the Fairmont Hotel, in San Francisco.  


Seated next to each other, Werner and I were able to conduct a hushed conver-sation without disturbing the others, which others were mostly dozing off.  The conversation mainly centered on sports car racing.  We discussed the pro and cons of the various speedways, mutual acquaintances within the amateur racing scene, and notable San Francisco citizens, past and present. 


In addition to Robert Lawrence Balzer, we were both friends of San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen and attorney Jake Ehrlich, the latter the inspira-tion for the Sam Benedict television series starring Edmond O’Brien (1962).  Also, we were both friendly with Enrico Banduchi, owner of the Hungry “i,” Enrico’s Sidewalk Café, and onetime owner of the Purple Onion, all in San Francisco’s North Beach.  For most of the ride back to San Francisco, the conversation centered on Enrico Banduchi and the fate of the Hungry “i,” the “i” of which stood for intellectual. 


If it wasn’t for Enrico Banduchi, who knows where the careers of performers such as Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen, Mort Sahl, Dick Cavett, Jonathan Winters, Bill Cosby and even Barbara Streisand would be today.  As owner of the beatnik-era Hungry “i,” Enrico was a top impresario who, because of his kindness and gener-osity, became beloved by all who came in contact with him. 


He was also one of the principal financiers of Frederick Walter Kuh’s popular North Beach cabaret restaurant known as Ye Old Spaghetti Factory, located at 478 Green Street – between Stockton and Grant; which had nothing to do with the Portland Oregon based chain which usurped the name and later formed a family restaurant chain. 


Among the people who performed there were: The Kingston Trio, Arlo Guthrie, Robin Williams, Donald Pippin and his Pocket Opera, and flamenco dancers Cruz Luna and José Greco; the latter who often appeared in movies and on the Ed Sullivan Show. 


In the heyday of the Beatnik period (from the mid-'50s until the early '60s), the Spaghetti Factory was renowned not only for serving bargain-priced pastas but was an incubator and magnet for local talent.  It was the first of many imitators to combine sawdust floors with free shelled peanuts.  You simply dropped the peanut shells onto the floor. 


It was my go-to place for both lunch and dinner where I washed down my angel hair pasta with the exclusive and highly popular Anchor Steam beer; which was absolutely sensational.  Today the former pasta factory is home to Bocce Cafe which retains much of the ambience of its historic predecessor and offers live music on weekends. 


The tryout venue for the Hungry “i” was the Purple Onion, located on Broadway near the famous triangular intersection of Columbus and Broadway, and thus virtually across the street from the Hungry “i,” 


When I was appearing as the warm-up comedian at the Purple Onion, the cellar nightclub was managed by Barry Drew, a relative of the Barrymore clan.  Head-liners included:  The Smothers Brothers, Phyllis Diller, Ronnie Schell (Duke Slater on the Gomer Pyle USMC television series) “Professor” Irwin Cory, Jonathan Winters, Pat Paulsen, Woody Allen, and occasionally Lenny Bruce (when he was still funny and before adding obscenity to his act). 


My good friend and agent, Frank Werber, was the press agent for the Hungry “i.”  He discovered the Kingston Trio, gave them voice and harmony lessons, and then booked a tryout at the Purple Onion.  As they say, the rest is history. 


Enrico Banduchi used to invite me out on his twin mast yacht for the weekend.   Herb Caen and Jake Ehrlich were often guests.  It was a sad day when tax liens finally caught up with Banduchi and he was forced to close his North Beach operations. 


Years later, Herb Caen died on February 3rd of 1997.  I flew to San Francisco on the 6th in order to attend the memorial service at Grace Cathedral on the 7th.  I went to the services half expecting Werner Erhard to show up.  He did not. 


After the memorial service there was an invitation only luncheon at the Fair-mont’s Venetian Room to which I was able to wrangle an invitation.  The guest list, like a Caen column, was a roll call of the rich, famous and just plain char-acters.  The menu was also a spicy mix – Mexican, Chinese and Italian. 


Caen’s cronies at the lunch were also a mix:  politicians – three former mayors and Willy Brown; socialites – a Getty or two; restaurateurs – Joe Betz and Tommy Toy; writers – Paul Erdman and Herb Gold; and a few millionaires. 


One person, who many readers thought existed only in Caen’s columns, Strange de Jim, was also there, in the flesh.  Curious about Strange’s real name, I asked him, “What name is on your driver’s license?”  “What driver’s license?” he replied, heading off toward the Peking duck. 


Enrico Banduchi, then living in Richmond, VA, flew in for the memorial. 


Caen’s widow, Ann Moller Caen, wore a black silk evening hat that he had brought for himself in Paris.  “You know Herb never went to funerals or memo-rials,” she said.  “But about a month ago, I asked him if he wanted a memorial, and he said, ‘Is that the kind of thing where everyone says nice things about you?  Yeah, I think I’d like that.’” 


Caen got the best, with beautiful music and wonderful eulogies by the Chronicle


Editor Bill German and actor Robin Williams.  The eulogies substituted laughter for tears, but they did what they were supposed to do – make people think about wit, wisdom and the humor of Herb Caen. 


PART THREE:    Arriving in San Francisco, the Gallo limousine first dropped off Werner Erhard at his home on Van Ness Boulevard and then headed for Nob Hill. 


As we pulled into the hotel entrance, Burgess Meredith thought he saw actor Chevy Chase coming out of the Fairmont.  “Hey Chevy,” he called out!  It took me a moment to put it together.  Burgess had costarred with Chevy in “Foul Play” (1978) and the cast had stayed at the Fairmont.  The person Burgess was calling out to did look a little like Chevy Chase, but more likely the Penguin was having a flashback.  


It was approaching 1 am when we got to our suites.  The bar in the Crown Room was open for at least another hour so Beverly and I went up for a nightcap and late night look at the city below. 


We were not surprised to find Larry Hagman at the bar.  He asked us to join him for a bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne, an offer we couldn’t refuse.  Larry thought my “grilling” of Werner Erhard was masterful.  I confessed to being surprised about how open he was. 


Having worked my way through high school as both a projectionist (for the local theater and drive-in) and a photojournalist for the local newspaper, in my role as a journalist I was used to having to resort to the ambush in order to “read” the interviewee’s reaction and throw him or her off balance in order to get at the truth.  With Erhard, none of that was necessary.  I confessed to being highly impressed by the man. 


As an aside, I later had a chance to spend addition time with Werner and wife “Ellen” at Balzer’s 70th birthday bash – held at the Beverly Hills Hilton.  Ellen surprised me.  She was tall, trim, with an attractive if not beautiful face.  After spending time with her, I could see her allure.  She had a terrific personality.  


In the Crown Room, the conversation soon turned to Hagman’s costar on his old “I Dream of Jeannie” (1965-1970) television series, Emmaline Henry.  Emmaline played Mrs. Amanda Bellows in the series.  She also starred in “Harrad Summer” (1974), the sequel to the highly successful “The Harrad Experiment” (1973), which I produced.  Emmaline had never been married and we dated on and off from 1974 – 1977.  Our favorite getaway was San Francisco and Sausalito, the latter a small city just across the Golden Gate Bridge, in Marin County.  Emmaline Henry died on 8 October, 1979, of a brain disease. 


Hagman and Emmaline had remained in close contact over the years and sitting in the bar of the Crown Room, I learned for the first time how deep Emmaline’s feelings were for me.  That night, the Mad Monk of Malibu, as Larry was known to his friends, told me that Emmaline would frequently call him to report on this person she felt might be the one.  Hagman was laying it out for me, not realizing that the person seated next to me, Beverly Amphlett, had dated me during this same period.  How could Hagman have known – Beverly was being so discreet with the separate room subterfuge and all.      


Fortunately, Beverly knew from the get-go that I was a hopeless womanizer and had no illusions with respect to her participation in our relationship.  But Hagman was letting me have it.  Married to the same woman all his life (Maj Axelsson, a Swede), Larry could not identify with my attitude towards women.  In the case of Emmaline, I felt that he was holding me responsible for her death.  The thought was sobering.  As an aside, both Emmaline and Beverly were ten years my senior.  


When the bar closed and the tab for the Roederer Cristal Champagne (and three glasses of Hennessy, Paradis brandy) was presented, Larry automatically added a 15% gratuity and signed the bill – charging it to his room.  The rule-of-thumb at the time was 10% for adult beverages and 15% for food. 


When we checked out the next morning, there were no charges against the rooms.  Ernest Gallo had picked up the entire tab; meals, drinks and all.  Only Larry Hagman insisted that the hotel manager break out his personal expenses, which charges were for other than the basic room rate.  These additional expenses he put on his Platinum American Express card. 


When I learned what Larry had done, I felt guilty and even thought about going back and adjusting Beverly’s room charges – putting the same on my American Express card.  But the limousine was already heading for the San Francisco International Airport for our first class flight back to Los Angeles.  I told Beverly that when I got home, I would phone the hotel and adjust the allocation of expenses charged to her room.  She merely shrugged – and I never did make the call. 


I found it of interest that during this period, Burgess Meredith and Larry Hagman were next door neighbors in the famous Malibu Colony – on the same block as Johnny Carson.  Hagman later moved to Ojai, where he owned a ranch called Heaven.  Hagman’s Malibu house was sold to rock musician Sting.  


In 1995, Larry Hagman’s love of adult beverages finally caught up with him in the form of cirrhosis of the liver.  He received a transplant in 1996 and although he didn’t need the money, was still seeking acting assignments.  He succumbed to complications from throat cancer treatments on 23 November, 2012, in Dallas, Texas. 


In 1991, Werner Erhard, AKA John Paul “Jack” Rosenburg, left the country in wake of tax troubles and allegations of wife and child abuse.  The charges, ac-cording to News Week, were that he was running not so much an enlightenment program as an authoritarian cult. 


The most damaging blow of all against Erhard was a March 3rd, 1991, “60 Min-utes” television report that detailed testimony from three of his daughters, sev-eral former EST leaders, and a housekeeper.  Together they accused Erhard of being a tyrant and cult leader who declared himself to be God at staff meetings, administered a savage beating to his son, ordered his ex-wife nearly strangled to death during a two-day beating, and sexually molested one of his daughters and raped another. 


I would have loved to have had the opportunity to interview Werner on these charges but, unfortunately, the last time I saw Erhard was at the Beverly Wilshire bash held in honor of Robert Lawrence Balzer’s 70th birthday, only a few months after the Ernest Gallo dinner.  We chatted on and off during the evening and it was my impression that Werner adored his wife, Ellen, and that the feeling was mutual. 


During that evening, Werner quizzed me about my experiences as a Reuter’s photojournalist in South Africa and Zimbabwe.  I recall telling him that in Cape Town, on the Atlantic beach, just down from the President Hotel, I nearly pur-chased a 3,890 square foot beach house for approximately R400,000, which at the time amounted to slightly less than US$ 80,000. 


I recall really getting Werner’s attention when I described the beach house itself.  It was on the ocean side of the highway that passed by the President Hotel, which hotel was located within walking distance of the beach, up the hill to the east of the highway.  The house was divided into three stories on the side of the cliff that was the access to the ocean. 


The roof of the cliff house was flush with the highway, and large enough to park six cars, parked two deep.  “Did the parking area have overhead cover,” he asked?  “No, but one could easily be build,” I replied. 


Continuing, I described a staircase and elevator that transported visitors and residents from the roof parking to the three floors below.  The first floor, directly below the roof parking, housed the three bedrooms, each bedroom, while not overly large, had its own bathroom, which bathrooms included both: shower, tub and bidot. 


The second floor down from the roof, housed the kitchen, dining, and living room.  The kitchen and dining room were huge in comparison to the living room, the latter of which was obviously designed more as a meeting or media screening room. 


The third, or bottom floor, housed the laundry room, the boathouse, large storage rooms (designed to be converted into spare bedrooms, if necessary), and two beach shower and dressing rooms, his and hers. 


Facing west, I told Werner that each room on the first two floors had windows and opening glass panels that enhanced the enjoyment of the sun settling over the Atlantic. 


Werner next asked about the food and wine of South Africa’s Cape Town provi-dence.  I correctly pointed out that the food was heavily influenced by the French, not the Dutch or British, therefore it was sensational.  Having personal knowledge, I also pointed out that the local wines were of world class quality.  


I particular remember Erhard’s next question.  “How difficult is it for a foreigner to purchase property in South Africa?”  “Not difficult at all,” I responded. 


In July of 1992, the daughter of Werner Erhard filed a $2 million lawsuit against the San Jose Mercury News and staff writer John Hubner, charging that she (Celeste Erhard) was defrauded and her privacy invaded during interviews for two articles in the paper’s West Magazine.   


Hubner wrote two investigative articles about Erhard that were published in No-vember 1990.  The suit filled, in San Francisco Superior Court, charges that Hub-ner promised Celeste Erhard that they would co-author a book on her life that would bring her $2 million. 


Because of that promise, Celeste Erhard contends she was tricked into exag-gerating spicy details about her father’s life for the two magazine articles, which were the basis for the “60 Minutes” profile.  She claimed that the articles and her appearance on CBS Television’s “60 Minutes” were to get publicity for a book, and that none of the accusations in the CBS program were true.  Celeste Erhard also charged that Hubner took advantage of the fact that she was taking pre-scription medications and under the care of mental health professionals. 


Both the Mercury News and CBS News have a track record of running with stories that have no credibility.  The Mercury News erroneously reported that members of the CIA-directed force of Nicaraguan rebels helped launch the crack cocaine trade in the United States for the purpose of keeping “blacks” addicted and therefore of little consequence in the political arena.  CBS News anchor Dan Rather reported false stories on George W. Bushes six years of Nation Guard duty; and paid the price. 


Supporters of Werner Erhard accuse Scientology of being behind the attempts to discredit Erhard, including hounding by the IRS and accusations of incest by his children. 


It was widely reported that Werner Erhard was hiding out in Costa Rica.  If you were to ask me where he is … well I’m not so sure.  But then, my guess is just that … a mere guess. 


POSTSCRIPT:       Without disclosing where he had spent the past few years, Werner Erhard eventually showed up to file a lawsuit against the IRS, which he won, and was also able to get a settlement on the incest accusations; which the court ruled may have been based on false memories induced in therapy. 


Erhard claimed that Scientologists had hired men to kill him.  Later, former members of Scientology came forward and admitted to having received such orders.