Fred Otash

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Fred Otash (January 6, 1922 – October 5, 1992) was a Los Angeles police officer, private investigator, author, and a WWII Marine veteran, who became known as a Hollywood fixer, while operating as its "most infamous" private detective; he is most remembered as "the inspiration for Jack Nicholson's character Jake Gittes in the film, Chinatown."[1] He has been interviewed numerous times in the media, including, in 1957, by Mike Wallace, which can be viewed online via the University of Texas.[2]

Early life and family[edit]

Fred Otash was the youngest of six children born to Lebanese immigrants Habib Otash and Marian Jabour; his siblings were: Evelyn Abisalih, Grace Steiner, Selma Otash, Lila Merhige, and one brother, Mitchell.[3]

Career[edit]

Otash worked for Hollywood Research Incorporated, which did business with the tabloid magazine Confidential.[4] He is also known for being hired by Peter Lawford to investigate Marilyn Monroe.[4] An FBI file released as part of the JFK Assassination Records suggest that Otash was investigating Lawford and John F. Kennedy, and attempted to talk a call girl into arranging a meeting with Kennedy in which she would wear a wire to record incriminating statements.[5]

Otash also was involved in the investigation of the "Wrong Door Raid" involving Frank Sinatra.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

On January 6, 1950, Otash married film actress Doris Houck, at the Beverly Hills courthouse. They were divorced twice: the first order was vacated following a November 1950 reconciliation,[6] and their final divorce was granted June 19, 1952.[7] He maintained residences at the Jockey Club, in Miami, Florida, and in Cannes, France. Otash suffered from emphysema and high blood pressure.

Death[edit]

Otash died at the age of 70, on October 5, 1992, at his West Hollywood home. He was survived by his daughter, Colleen Gabrielle Otash.[6]

Legacy[edit]

Otash wrote about his life in his memoir, Investigation Hollywood: Memoirs Of Hollywood's Top Private Detective.*Otash, Fred, Investigation Hollywood: Memoirs Of Hollywood's Top Private Detective, Henry Regnery Company 1976, ISBN 0809280132

Author James Ellroy has used a fictionalized version of Fred Otash in two of the novels in his Underworld USA Trilogy;[8] Otash appears in The Cold Six Thousand and Blood's a Rover.[8] Otash is also the main character in the sordid, fictional Ellroy story, Shakedown, which Ellroy was in development with for HBO, in 2013.[9] The 1974 film Chinatown's main character, played by Jack Nicholson, was also based in part on Fred Otash.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The real-life Ray Donovans: Fixers behind Tinseltown's dark secrets", by Tim Walker, Independent, July 14, 2013.
  2. ^ "Mike Wallace Television Interview". 1957-08-25. Retrieved 2013-06-16.
  3. ^ Oliver, Myrna (1992-10-08). "Fred Otash; Colorful Hollywood Private Eye and Author". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  4. ^ a b Galloway, Stephen (2013-06-06). "Rock Hudson's Wife Secretly Recorded His Gay Confession". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  5. ^ Jones, M.A. "US Government Memorandum" (PDF). National Archives. NARA. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Divorced Star Rejoins Her Cop a Week Later". Daily News. New York, New York City. November 5, 1950. p. B 10. Retrieved January 25, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ "Vice Squad Officer's Wife Given Divorce". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. June 19, 1952. p. Part II - 10. Retrieved November 17, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access publication – free to read
  8. ^ a b Galloway, Stephen (2013-06-06). "Rock Hudson's Wife Secretly Recorded His Gay Confession". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  9. ^ "FX, James Ellroy Developing Drama Based on Famed Detective Fred Otash", by Lesley Goldberg, April 22, 2013.
  10. ^ Morales, Eric (2013-06-10). "Private Investigator: 'I listened to Marilyn Monroe die'". Digital Journal. Retrieved 2013-06-16.

External links[edit]