He was a abhorrent mouthed old man if I met and I anticipate he had been that way for a continued time. But he aswell was affectionate to me in means that helped ascertain a aeon of my activity that led into owning and architecture Celebrity Books. Harold Robbins was my aboriginal big celebrity to do a book signing at my abundance and the aboriginal columnist who let get a ample bulk of books autographed, over and over.
See, it wasn’t consistently generosity that collection Harold to assurance books for us. It was added that he was perpetually abaft on his New York Times bill. My Dad had the home supply of the New York Times in the 1980’s and 1990’s and like a lot of humans of acclaim in the desert, Harold had a subscription. But he was belled for not paying his bill. So one time, in about 1991 if my Dad and I were just starting our book affiliation together, my Dad said to Harold, “Why don’t you just autograph a agglomeration of books for us and we’ll alarm it even?”
Harold jumped at the idea. My Dad and I spent the next ages or so scouring acclimated book food and austerity food searching for copies of his books for him to sign. In those days, you could acquisition acclimated hardback copies of Harold’s books all over town. We must’ve aggregate about 50 of them and already accessible my Dad alleged Harold aback for the arrangement and it was agreed that, ‘We’d forward the kid over with the books.’ I was ‘the kid,’ even admitting I was about 30 at the time.
I went to his house, which was a nice mid-century avant-garde home on a approved artery in the adorned Las Palmas adjacency of old Palm Springs. It was one of those aggregate is corrective white on the alfresco homes with little amplitude but impeccably apple-pie and elegant. There wasn’t even a top aboideau or big bristling fence as so abounding estates in that breadth were like. I artlessly slung my assistant box abounding of books assimilate my accept and strode up the aisle to ring the doorbell.
His wife Jan answered the door. She was a adult twenty years his adolescent and appear to acquisition out over my visits, not his aboriginal wife. I’m not abiding how abounding wives he’d had over his life, but it seemed to be added than two. She absolved me into their active room, the white affair agitated from alfresco to the interior. The walls were white, the asphalt was white, and the carpeting and rugs were white. The home had a bank fabricated of ample paned bottle windows that continued beyond its absolute backside. I stood absolution my eyes yield in aggregate at once. The home was abounding with paintings and books and big-ticket searching knick knacks on every shelf. The aback backyard was beautifully landscaped and it an agreeable basin which I noticed had a continued access extending into it. I heard a man alarm to me from off to the side. He said something loud in a booming voice, like, “Hello boy, the son of the aimless book banker returns.”
Obviously, my dad and Harold had talked about me accepting afresh confused aback to the arid from the beach. I angry to the man who’d announced and begin him sitting in a caster chair, actual angled of aback and overweight, with a big animated smile and a ample clear bottle in his duke abounding with what I took to be alcohol, as he was amid in bar breadth evocative of a bottle menagerie: abundantly cut glasses and aciculate angled decanters abounding with bright liquids abiding on bottle shelves set adjoin mirrored walls. He formed out to accost me and we befuddled hands. He asked me about myself and I told him.
Then he regaled me with belief of his own making. His aboriginal book had been accounting on a bet. He’d been a adolescent biographer in Hollywood at the time, alive for one of the studios, if he and a adolescent biographer had gotten into an altercation over how difficult it was to address a bestselling book. The added man had challenged him and he’d accepted. The way Harold told it, he’d anon abdicate his job and started to plan on his novel: Never Love a Stranger (1948).
After that book, aggregate he wrote became a best seller: The Dream Merchants, A Stone for Danny fisher – which became a cine starring Elvis Presley renamed King Creole – and a few books after his a lot of acclaimed atypical The carpetbaggers, which was about based on the activity of Howard Hughes. All of his books were as abominable as his aperture and his daringness for the abusive helped accomplish him acclaimed and categorical him assuredly in my mind.
On one of the trips to appointment him, because he’d collapsed abaft afresh in his bi-weekly bill, he told me a adventure about himself and Sidney Sheldon. This adventure occurred in the 1960’s, he said. He and Sidney had already been accompany for a continued time and both had fabricated a lot of money already with their writing. Sidney owns a home in Palm Springs also; two homes actually. Well, in this tale, they were affair in the French Riviera on some yacht that Harold had acquired. The adversity was that Sidney had brought forth his wife, a actual ethical lady, and Harold had two adolescent women for them both to enjoy. As Sidney and his wife came walking up to the yacht, Harold leaned over the balustrade with both the women beneath anniversary arm and affective a breast of anniversary gal and said something like, “Hey Sid, you didn’t accept to accompany your own, we’ve affluence actuality to go around.” Sidney and his wife never batten to Harold again.
It came to canyon that Harold had Piranha, his aboriginal book in a continued time, getting appear and my Dad and I asked Harold to do a book signing at our store. Now accumulate in mind, that our book abundance at the time was annihilation fancy. It was 1,000 sq. ft. of asperous carpets and hand-made axle shelving – a lot of of which wasn’t even decrepit and varnished. Our bookstore was primarily acclimated books and we had no history of book signings to barometer whether or not it would be a success. Harold Robbins was to be our analysis case, our aboriginal columnist event. If he accustomed we put him aboveboard in the average of the store, appropriate in foreground so anyone who came by could see him and we had an appetizer table on a ample folding table with a white table cloth. He came in a limo and was Jan wheeled him to his perch. We awash a fair amount of books. I wish to say 50 or 60 and asked him to assurance the hundred or so we had larboard over, which he did.
Funny thing, on my next appointment to see Harold, he confided in me that the signing for us had been a analysis case for him too. It had been so continued back he’d done annihilation like that he’d been a little abashed no one would appearance up or that he’d be too anemic to accomplish a appearance of it. As it was, he’d advised the book signing a success for him as able-bodied as us. A few weeks later, I apprehend in the New York Times that Harold Robbins was accepting his aboriginal book signing in about twenty years. It was to be at the flagship Barnes & Noble in New York.
I apperceive I’ve mentioned about Harold’s abridgement of paying his New York Times bills in this commodity several times. Let me be clear: He did not do this for abridgement of finances. Harold was actual able-bodied off. His home was impeccable. His accouterment was consistently fine. And his wife appeared to wish for naught. As a amount of fact, on one of the aboriginal visits to this behemothic of literature’s home I noticed a painting on affectation in the active room. Now I’m no art critic, but I apperceive a Picasso if I see it. So, I asked Harold about it. “That’s a Picasso isn’t it,” I asked. “Yes,” he said and grinned slyly. “And is that a account of you?” I asked. The getting in the painting had a accustomed casting to it, abnormally the appearance of the glasses. “Of, course,” Harold beamed. “Pablo and I were friends. If I lived in Paris I acclimated to canyon by him a lot of every morning if I would yield my dog for a walk, and we would talk. One day he said, ‘I’m traveling to acrylic you a picture,’ and he gave me that. He did it for all his friends.” Harold Robbins is the alone getting I anytime met who had a account of himself by Picasso in his active room.
I knew Harold about 7 or 8 years at that point in our lives. He about amid 500 and a thousand books for my Dad and I in that time. He active so abounding that sometimes if I am at austerity food I acquisition myself blockage the Harold Robbins books on the shelves to see if they are one that he active for us. Abounding times I acquisition they are.
Once he died, I saw that a book was getting awash with his name bound on it; a declared absent arrangement of his. That could be, I figured. Who knows how abounding started and amateurish belief a man like Harold could accept set abreast in his lifetime. After about the sixth such atypical came out I refigured that this was just a way for Jan and the Publisher to abide to accomplish money off his name. But who could accusation them, Harold’s name would abide to advertise books for a continued time to come, and still would.