With all this controversy over governmental wiretapping and privacy issues, the Hollywood Reporter‘s recent coverage of former LAPD-turned-private investigator Fred Otash is strikingly apropos…
Otash was as notorious as they came, sans being a mobster. The private investigator insidiously terrorized Hollywood in the 1950s through the the mid ’60s, spying on the biggest politicians and celebrities—from The Kennedys to Marilyn Monroe, to Lana Turner to even Liberace.
“I’ll work for anybody but communists. I’ll do anything short of murder,” he was quoted as saying.
Disgusted by her father’s maligned reputation throughout the years, though, Otash’s daughter recently released her father’s secrets files to the Hollywood Reporter in order to counter the negative depictions of him and show his work simply as it was.
Of the high-profile characters Otash investigated, here are some of the sordid details and conversations he culled from wiretapping, along with his personal notes:
Rock Hudson and wife Phyllis
After Rock Hudson took a Rorschach test in 1958, his wife, Phyllis, grilled him about being gay.
Phyllis: “You told me you saw thousands of butterflies and also snakes,” she said. “[A therapist] told me in my analysis that butterflies mean femininity and snakes represent that male penis. I’m not condemning you, but it seems that as long as you recognize your problem, you would want to do something about it.”
She added: “Everyone knows that you were picking up boys off the street shortly after we were married and have continued to do so, thinking that being married would cover up for you.”
Although Hudson admitted to his wife that he had had sexual liasions with men, he denied her accusations of random creeping. “I have never picked up any boys on the street,” he insisted. “I have never picked up any boys in a bar, never. I have never picked up any boys, other than to give them a ride.”
Judy Garland and husband Sid
In 1963 Judy Garland requested Otash’s private-eye skills to protect her from her bitter divorce with third husband Sid Luft; and according to Otash, the tragic star needed it since she was constantly under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
“I gathered up all the bottles and locked them up. Then I began the search for pills,” he claimed. “You wouldn’t believe the cleverness of that woman in stashing her drugs so nobody could find them. And there were all kinds. Uppers, downers, and some I didn’t even recognize. They were stuffed into a hole she’d cut under the mattress and in rubber fingers tied at the top with the string tied again around the faucet of the washbasin. The pills were down in the crook of the pipe, and when she wanted them she just pulled them up by the almost invisible string. I dumped all that junk down the toilet and flushed it away.”
When Garland discovered what Otash had done, she demanded an explanation. He responded: “Narcotics and alcohol are the best evidence he [Luft] could ever produce in court. Believe me.”
Marilyn Monroe and The Kennedys
Otash claimed he had listened to Marilyn Monroe die after he had taped an argument she had with Robert Kennedy and Peter Lawford. “She said she was passed around like a piece of meat. It was a violent argument about their relationship and the commitment and promises he made to her,” Otash said. “She was really screaming and they were trying to quiet her down. She’s in the bedroom and Bobby gets the pillow, and he muffles her on the bed to keep the neighbors from hearing. She finally quieted down and then he was looking to get out of there.”
As for the famous wiretapping of Monroe and JFK having sex, Otash fessed up to Vanity Fair right before he died in 1992. “I would have kept it quiet all my life. But all of a sudden, I’m looking at FBI files and CIA files with quotes from my investigators telling them about the work they did on my behalf,” he said. “It’s stupid to sit here and deny that these things are true. Yes, we did have [Lawford's house] wired. Yes, I did hear a tape of Jack Kennedy f–ing Monroe. But I don’t want to get into the moans and groans of their relationship. They were having a sexual relationship—period.”