The third segment of my series (Interview) featured actress Kathi Carey in the role of Marilyn Howell-Becker, reputedly the richest madame in the world with maisons closes
in Beverly Hills, New York, Paris and London. The houses earned her substantial amounts of money which she re-invested under the tutelage of her husband Jeffrey Becker, a principal in a successful investment brokerage. The title of her book, "Circle of Influence", pointed to the fact that she attracted political and industry leaders as clients and friends creating a protective bubble around her and her enterprise in addition to providing a resource pool for inside information in aid of her stock trading.
The story tracked Marilyn's rise to prominence and wealth which suddenly halted when the son of a British Member of Parliament committed suicide in her London establishment--an event that brought public focus on Marilyn and her enterprise in a way that law enforcement could no longer ignore. The upshot of the young man's tragic end was that Marilyn spent two years in Her Majesty's prison system. During her incarceration, Lisa Thompkins, Marilyn's right-hand and long-time friend, took over the running of the enterprise but lacked Marilyn's skill and finesse. Ultimately, Lisa absconded with five million dollars of Marilyn's money.
The segment produced a great many phone calls and inquiries as it was a sensational story with some intriguing, on-going loose ends and Kathi's performance, which offered a mix of cool arrogance and troubled underlying regret, was as compelling as it was credible. One of the phone calls I received was from an individual who introduced himself to me by saying, "I am an old friend of Ms Howell-Becker and would like to get back in touch with her." Since MH-B was a fictional character, I found his introduction intriguing. He had not seen or understood why there was an actor's credit "Marilyn Howell-Becker was played by Kathi Carey" at the end of the program before my phone number appeared and, like many others, assumed he had been watching a real interview. Whenever a viewer made this mistake, I always spoke up quickly to point out that the interview was fictional. However, since the gentleman's first words to me alleged a personal friendship with Marilyn, I stood silent on the occasion.
I gave the caller an address and told him that if he were to write a letter to Ms Howell-Becker, I would pass it on to her. I didn't think it would go any further. It did. Within a few days, the letter arrived and its content explained the writer's motive for making contact. The framed letter has hung on the wall of Kathi's office since that day as one of many mementos of our long association and a scan is presented here below. Though we never followed up with the gentlemen, many have advised us, perhaps not so tongue-in-cheek, that we should have put him on the job in the hope that he might have recovered the five million dollars. Would that he could...
The relevant portions of the interview can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUaTAtxq5os