My Interview with Artist/Paige Young Friend Richard Sample. 1960-1969. Malibu. Venice. Celebrity Connections. PART 1. Updated 10/30/2021

UPDATE: Richard L. Sample passed away on August 10, 2021

Recently, I interviewed Richard Sample, Paige’s ex-boyfriend, painter, sculptor and assemblage artist.

He now lives in the Coachella Valley area of California.

Richard Sample was still living in Sun Valley, Idaho when he was interviewed by Daily Mail reporter Ryan Parry in 2014. He says he doesn’t know where Parry heard his name in association with Paige Young.

I am so appreciative to Richard Sample for inviting me to interview him in person and taking the time and effort to talk about Paige Young. It was not always easy for him (or me).

Thanks also to his niece Ellen Sample.

At the appointed time, I pulled up in my rental car and parked next to Richard’s house. There was a chainlink fence and gate that had a big padlock on it and the house was about 10 yards beyond it; I called out his name several times and did not get a response.

Luckily, Richard’s niece Ellie pulled up in her car, got out and told me Richard’s neighbor had called and told her that some woman in a red car was in front of her Uncle Richard’s house.

Ellie said that she was aware of the interview, but “didn’t ask him any questions so that he feels he has his own life.” Ellie lives one street over and has been very involved with caring for Richard after he moved to the area.

Ellie unlocked the gate and as we walked toward the house, she told me that Richard doesn’t hear very well now.

Richard warmly greeted me with a hug as did his dog Tolly. Ellie left us to the interview.

After we sat down to talk, Sample told me:

“In 2001 I got throat cancer. I got radiation that burned the lining of my throat and my whole body. I also had a surgery and they cut my throat, it left me hard to talk, hard to drink, hard to eat, I am dying.”

Richard Sample is now 84 years old and obviously does not hear well or speak easily. I strained to hear his whisper of a raspy voice to understand what he was saying, and I didn’t always understand right away. I got better at it as our time together progressed.

I would say Richard and I didn’t have a have a normal flowing conversation, but more of a question and answer session, and mostly the answers Richard gave took him a long time to say. I also got to know him as a person and shared about my journey with this story about Paige.

This chapter and the next will be a mixture of exact quotes from my tape recorder as well as transcribed hand notes. I will make a few personal observations and I will write more of my thoughts at a later date. I might make short videos.

Richard Sample gave me permission to publish what he said during our interview.

Background: Richard and Paige got together after the end of his relationship with Sylvia Nicolosi, daughter of famed LA based sculptor Joseph Nicolosi. She was one of three sisters.

Richard was in the military but he “Never made it to Vietnam, just Ft. Bragg North Carolina”.

Richard’s father was Charlie/Charles Sample, a well known artist, an eccentric Los Angeles character and talented goldsmith/jeweler to the “Stars.” ( Charlie in more detail later.)

Richard Sample met Paige Young in the art world of Malibu in the 1960s.

He had several memories of Paige he wanted to tell me right away.

“Paige lived in a converted chicken coop on the edge of Malibu.”

Richard doesn’t remember which edge.

For a dinner party, Paige had a different chair for each guest to use, not a matching (dining) set. She would only eat salad if it was a day old.

“I never saw Paige with shoes on.” see chapter 1970 Warhol, Paige appears with her date at the Warhol opening in Pasadena. She is photographed wearing a long Rudi Gernreich dress and is barefoot.

“She is the only person I’ve ever known who ate ice cream with a fork,”

I asked about Hamish the horse and Richard says she did not keep a horse in Malibu.

Paige would often strip down to her underwear and “run around topless or even nude.” Confirmed. Westwood neighbor Melanie told me that Paige often walked around nude in the shared backyard and it got on her nerves.

How Richard met Paige:

Paige was “going with a man named Harry Gessner. He was an architect who designed the Cooper house in Malibu. The house was on the cover of Life magazine. Harry Gesner was a client of my landlord. My landlord was Edward Ravick; he was involved with the Malibu Colony and maybe lived there at times.”

LAT July 19, 1964 the famous Cooper house by architect Harry Gessner

He sent Gessner and Paige to my studio in Malibu, “to see my art.”

(I found one mention of an Edward Ravick in a Malibu paper connected to real estate in the 1960s.)

Richard and Paige “immediately hit it off” and began dating.

Jonathan Winters:

Richard asks me why I asked him about Jonathan Winters, in one of my letters to him.

I told him about the archival newspaper interviews with Paige from 1969, while promoting Playboy around the country. Some of the articles mention that Paige has appeared as an extra or “in many skits,” on The Jonathan Winters Show. (1967-1969 CBS) (See my chapter on Paige’s Most Public Year 1969).

I then asked Richard why he called Jonathan Winters an “asshole” in his letter back to me. His answer:

“Dennis, (does not remember his last name) was the owner of the Golden O Gallery, in Los Alamos, he told me that Jonathan Winters used to come and sit on the sidewalk at Dennis’ gallery and talk about Paige, and he had nothing good to say, it was always nasty or negative. I never met the man (Winters) but Dennis could tell you all about it. Dennis never met Paige, but he did know about her.”

Presumably because of Jonathan Winters.

Paige did not tell Richard anything about Jonathan Winters when they were together. He said he wasn’t aware of her appearing on the show during its run from 1967-1969. He said it is a possibility that she did and he didn’t know about it.

Bill Cosby: Richard said he would occasionally pick up Paige at the Sunset Strip Playboy Club, after her shift. She worked at the club “for about 3 months,” he said.

A frequent visitor and performer at many Playboy Clubs was Bill Cosby.

“Bill Cosby was always trying to put the make on Paige. She didn’t want anything to do with him, she ignored him.”

Richard said one time when he was picking Paige up from the club, he saw Bill Cosby get angry at Paige after she rebuffed another one of his advances.

Playboy building on the right. It had the club, offices and a suite on the top for Hugh Hefner while he was in LA.
Back of postcard. Club was opened on New Year’s Eve 1964

Richard then asked me if I was sure that Paige committed suicide and was not murdered. I said I have a copy of her death certificate with the suicide by gun typed into the “cause of death” box. I brought it out and showed it to him.

“I wouldn’t ever think she would do that.” (suicide) he said shaking his head at the document.

I decided not to tell Richard that there is more proof of a suicide besides the death certificate: witnesses like neighbor Melanie, the man DeWitt listed as a “2nd witness” on the police report, the police at Paige’s house and coroner’s office. Celeste Huston to me in a facebook exchange.

Melanie is the only one of these people to have spoken out publicly about the day of Paige’s suicide.

“She was a good person. I really miss her.” Richard said about Paige a few times that afternoon.

Richard moved to Venice Beach, around 1966-67 motivated by its’ thriving art scene. Paige joined Richard not too long after he moved.

Like many artists, his house doubled as his art studio.

He said about famous “Light and Space” artists, “De Wain Valentine had a studio next door to Paige and me.” “He was a friend of mine. Another friend, Larry Bell, lived across the street from us, on Market.”

“We (Paige and I) all used to hang out a lot, with all these (Venice artists) at Barney’s Beanery.”

After I returned from my trip, I did some research and I found a quote from both Larry Bell and DeWain Valentine in an art magazine.

There were a lot of actors and writers. We all used to hang out at a place called Barney’s Beanery, which was in West Hollywood. It was a local bar, a funky little place right at the end of La Cienega Boulevard where all the galleries were. So after the Tuesday or Thursday night openings, everyone would go up to Barney’s and hang around—there was The Raincheck Room on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood as well.

Larry Bell

Dec. 2019 by Desiree Milton in Whitewall: Beyond the Walls.

The Brooklyn Rail May 2019 Interview with DeWain Valentine

Richard Sample
Detail of photo with artists Richard Sample, left, Paige Young and Rodney Rowland King. mid to late 1960s.

Cars: Paige owned a yellow Mustang, a recent model and Richard owned a Corvette.

“A guy named Rex Ramsey stole our cars, but Paige got them back.”

I already knew about Rex Ramsey; he’s connected to Mark F. Segal through renting Segal’s (where Paige lived as his wife) house at 4144 Crisp Canyon in Sherman Oaks. Both men spent a career heavily involved with cars: sales, importing cars, car parts and race cars, and Ramsey designed a successful race car once. He did some stunt driving in Hollywood.

(Rex Ramsey told me Mark’s family had a series of car dealerships and a towing service business. “They were quite well off,” Ramsey said. Otherwise he said he did not remember Paige Young but maybe he would later. I haven’t been able to reach him since.)

“My father (Charlie Sample) was a famous gold and silver smith. He made silver spurs for $8000 and made belt buckles and horse saddles for Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, John Wayne, Mae West, Tim Holt.

Richard shows me a recent catalog for a company producing high-end western gear using Charlie Sample designs: horse saddles and bridles, spurs, belt buckles, bolo ties, rings, bracelets etc.

“Paige liked my father, he made some jewelry for her.”

Richard shows me a picture of himself decked out head to toe in animal fur, looking like mountain man Jedidiah Smith.

Richard and his father were both quite handsome.

He say that “unfortunately” he has no photos of Paige or paintings by her; he has lost a lot of his possessions and paintings over the years but he is hoping to retrieve some of Paige’s paintings in Santa Maria.

“I never knew Paige to be involved with drugs, except an occasional use of grass.” Richard said that she did sometimes drink alcohol and occasionally went to clubs in the Marina.

And presumably the Raincheck Room, to be determined, per Larry Bell’s quote.

After I asked about something else and not hearing my question, Richard said “Paige was basically a very good person, until she got mixed up with Hefner. She went downhill then.”

“Lewis Beach Marvin the 3rd parents’ owned Green Stamps. He was a friend of Paige’s and mine. He introduced me to Robert Carl Cohen who put a lot of my sculptures in his movie Mondo Hollywood.

Lewis Beach Marvin and the amazing dwelling he put together in the hills of Malibu, is featured in Mondo Hollywood. The movie is a cult film known as an important document of counterculture LA/1960s history.

I did some research and one story says that Lewis Beach Marvin is the young man who gives Jim Morrison a lamb on stage in Miami on May 1st 1969. This can be seen on a film.

Lewis Beach Marvin was an vegan activist WAY before it was a “thing.”

He does appear in a Miami article with a lamb around the time of the Doors concert. I also read it was a local Miami man who gave Morrison the lamb, this is the same concert where Morrison allegedly exposed his penis on stage and was arrested..

This was one reason Morrison left for Paris. (Supposedly)

Shortly after I returned from California, I rented Mondo Hollywood on Amazon. I was unable to spot Richard’s sculptures in the film–a sculptress named Valerie Porter is one of the “main characters” and the movie is heavy on a variety of her sculptures and many other sculptures and structures.

I did see his ending credit as:

Moonshadow sculpture: Richard Lauren Sample

..

Famous pin-up and 50s, 60s Playboy photographer Peter Gowland:

Peter Gowland called Richard (in 1974) looking for Paige because she hadn’t been seen for a while. He called Richard back some time later to tell him that Paige had committed suicide. Peter did not tell Richard the method that Paige used to kill herself.

According to Richard: Peter Gowland is the one who suggested and encouraged Paige to try out for Playboy. The two had met a few years previous, Paige had already modeled for Gowland several times.

Richard opened Eros Gallery in Westwood in the late 60s. He can’t remember the location beyond that.

The next several photos are all from Playboy magazine November 1968, taken by Peter Gowland.

Richard said this photo below shows him helping Paige carry one of her paintings into his Eros Gallery.

Richard says the seated woman on the left is “Mrs. Burke, my partner in Eros Gallery.” Mrs. Burke was a local patroness of the Arts. He said that Peter Gowland is the man in between Mrs. Burke and Paige.

TiRi

If it is Gowland, I don’t know who took the shot; Richard said Peter’s wife and co-owner of their photography business, Alice Gowland, was not there that day and he never met her.

According to Richard, this photo of Paige running with her dog Joshua was taken at the Malibu Colony.

Richard has no idea who any of these people are at the cookout or in the room with Paige painting what looks like the start of a self-portrait. He doesn’t recognize the location.

Richard said that when he was living with Paige he “never questioned where she was going, what she was doing” or with whom she was doing it. “And she never questioned me. That is just the way the relationship was.”

Malibu fire: “Me and Harry Gesner went to Paige’s house during the Malibu fire (he’s not sure which year in the 1960s) and hosed everything down. Paige’s house didn’t burn but everything around it did.”

I then asked a couple of my questions about Paige’s family.

Was there ever an indication that Paige had grown up with a grandmother (Virginia Young LaRocca) who was a Christian Science practitioner and a 1st Reader in the Church for decades? Richard answered, “Nope, nope, not at all.”

Richard said that Paige never talked about her childhood in the SFV, her family, that her birth name was Diana Cotterell, or her marriage to Mark F. Segal. She never said she used Marvin Mitchelson as her lawyer, Richard had never heard of Marvin Mitchelson anyway.

Richard said he met Paige’s sister (Constance/Connie) one time only, when Paige drove him to a visit with her. He said he doesn’t “feel “that they had a close relationship.

Richard looked quite exhausted so I ended the interview for the day. I felt bad about telling him too much of Paige’s background that he never knew.

He said it didn’t bother him.

He remembered and shared one last thing:

“I introduced Paige to Tony Dow, a good friend of mine. He drove a Porsche. He liked my Vette. He lived in the Valley. “

Tony Dow purchased some of Richard’s art .

Part 2 of the interview is posted.

What happened to Paige’s family, ex Husband Mark F. Segal, Desmond Guinness, Lawyer Marvin Mitchelson.

From the LAT Aug. 29, 1976

Paige’s grandmother Virginia Young LaRocca died in August of 1976 in the Studio City Convalescent Hospital located at 11429 Ventura Blvd.  

It’s difficult to read, but I think Virginia died from complications of a stroke.

 She was a 1st Reader for the Church of Christ Science for 35 years according to her death certificate.

Virginia was cremated and her ashes were scattered in the ocean near the Santa Monica shoreline, as were her granddaughter’s ashes.

Her sister and former vaudeville partner, Josephine Young Harker, Paige Young’s great aunt, died in June of 1979 in the Jacksonville, Florida area.

Mary Jane Harker Lanier died in 1986 in Florida.

Donna Virginia LaRocca Holroyd, had moved with mother Virginia and husband Jack, to the Simi Valley around the mid to late 1960s.

By 1970, Donna was the head supervisor for the Ocean View Children’s Center  (5201 Squires Dr.) in Port Hueneme  “for low income and welfare families…. so that the mothers (of the Valley Village neighborhood) could work or go to school.” (from the Oxford News)

According to an Oxford newspaper article, Donna received a degree from UCLA in Early Childhood Education.

Donna and John “Jack” Holroyd divorced in the early 1970s, she and Virginia were back in Sherman Oaks and living at the historic Chase Knolls Apartment Community by 1974. (Per Paige Young’s death certificate listed as  next-of-kin.) 

1980- Donna dies of a “hypertensive arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease,” in her Chase Knolls apartment at age 59 years. 

Donna outlives her mother by 4 years, and her daughter by 6.

Oldest daughter Constance Smashey is listed on the death certificate as next of kin. She has an address in Simi Valley. Constance would move to the Palm Desert area in the late 1980s and now lives in Banning, California. She turned me down when I called her and asked if I could ask a few questions about Paige and Donna.

Chase Knolls Apartments Sherman Oaks. Not Donna’s apartment which is located behind the locked gate.

Paige’s father Robert Morgan Cotterell and his wife Pat, moved to Oregon in the 1970s after he retired. They lived there until their deaths around 2010.

Bob Cotterell’s obituary is no longer online. When it was, there was no mention of his daughters by Donna LaRocca: Diana/Paige and Constance.

Paige’s ex-husband Mark Frederick Segal married a woman named Denise in 1974 and a few years later they had a son: Ivan Mark Segal. 

1985/86 Mark F. Segal stayed in the car business:

Segal sold his home on Crisp Canyon Ave. to a friend and later bought it back. He sold it again and moved to Portland in the late 80? He died there on October 16, 2012.

4133 Crisp Canyon Ave. was razed and replaced with a McMansion.

His son Ivan Segal lives in Portland and Scottsdale.

Scroll WAY down for more.

Desmond Guinness married Penelope Cuthbertson in 1984. According to “international set”gossip writer Suzy Knickerbocker in 1973, Penny and Desmond are cousins.

He continued his work on Irish architecture preservation and fundraising for several decades and died on August 20, 2020. There are numerous obituaries online for Hon. Desmond Guinness.

Desmond’s niece is fashion icon and socialite Daphne Guinness. His granddaughter is popular fashion model Jasmine Guinness.

How and where he became acquainted with Paige Young is still a mystery, could have possibly been through John and CiCi Huston in Ireland. Desmond was well connected in Los Angeles too.

Paige’s divorce lawyer Marvin Mitchelson went from “Beverly Hills and LA famous” (due to the Mason case and others) to internationally famous, when he represented Michelle Triola Marvin in her lawsuit against live-in lover of 6 years, actor Lee Marvin.

 Mitchelson introduced the term and concept of “palimony” into the courts.

Commonly known as “Marvin vs. Marvin,” the case received major publicity in the mass-media of the time. It’s something I personally remember as a young teenager.

Michelle Triola Marvin felt she was owed part of Lee Marvin’s $3.2 million fortune, as she had given up her own career (per his demand she says) as a lounge singer, to become his live-in lover, helpmate, career advisor, and even part-time mother to his 4 children from first wife Betty.

Triola said Lee Marvin had promised her life-long financial support. Triola-Marvin was abruptly dumped when Lee Marvin suddenly married his high school sweetheart Pamela Feeney in 1970. Marvin kicked Triola-Marvin out of their Malibu home and cut her off financially.

 Because Michelle Triola Marvin was not legally married to Lee Marvin, she had no legal standing to demand any financial compensation.

Mitchelson saw an opportunity in California’s newly enacted “no-fault” divorce laws.

 Mitchelson filed a breach-of-contract suit against Lee Marvin in February of 1972 asking for 50% of his estate.

After being rejected by two lower courts, Mitchelson pushed the case to the California Supreme Court, where he won.

The Marvin vs. Marvin case finally reached trial in January of 1979 and it quickly became a mass-media celebrity event.

The judge in the case,  Judge Marshall, awarded about $100,000 to Triola-Marvin, for the salary she potentially lost giving up her career as a singer.

Lee Marvin’s attorneys appealed, and the decision was reversed, leaving Triola with nothing and Mitchelson with nothing.

 Mitchelson didn’t care though, because the fame the case brought him was worth millions of dollars in representing “wronged spouses,” mainly women.

The fact that in the end, Triola got nothing was not publicized in the many media reports. It happened after the initial hoopala had died down.

Some of the women Marvin represented were celebrities like Bianca Jagger,  Zsa Zsa Gabor and Joan Collins. Mostly he took cases of non-celebrity live-in girlfriends or mistresses of rich celebrities: Sara Dylan (Bob), Anna Kashfi (Marlon Brando) Nancy Lee Andrews (Ringo Starr), Veronica Buss and Puppi Buss (girlfriends of Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss) Soraya Khashoggi, Kayatana Harrison (Flip Wilson.)

He also represented a few men: Mark Christian, ex-lover of Rock Hudson, in his widely publicized case against Hudson’s estate after the actor died of AIDS, Mel Torme, Carl Sagan and Sonny Bono.

Mitchelson was disbarred in 1988 for grossly overcharging clients and went to prison in 1993 for tax evasion.

Marvin Mitchelson was released from prison in 1998 and died in 2004.

Lee Marvin died in 1987 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Michelle Triola went on to have a long live-in relationship with actor- comedian Dick Van Dyke. She died of lung cancer in 2009.

For the only biography of Marvin Mitchelson, please read: Ladies’ Man: The Life & Trials of Marvin Mitchelson, by John A. Jenks. It’ a fascinating look at an LA character at one time in history. This book provided me with a great deal of context of the era.

1964 & 65: Segal-Young Divorce Makes Headlines. Divorce Details. M.M.M. James and Pamela Mason: Divorce Beverly Hills Style.

The divorce filing is a bit out-of-the-ordinary and was picked up by a wire service and appears in a few newspapers across the country.

Some examples below:

August 28, 1964 The Desert Sun-Palm Springs
Los Angeles Evening-Citizen News Aug. 28, 1964 Only article I have found that mentions lawyer Marvin M. Mitchelson and the couple’s home address.
Dayton Daily News. Here Paige is an “Artist’s Model” This may have added interest for local newspapers, when reading their wire service stories.

We might call these headlines “click-bait” today.

There is a high probability that Marvin Mitchelson was behind the above stories.

Apparently, early in his career, he looked for ways to garner publicity for himself:

“..In the early days, when his client list was still thin, he could gin up publicity by filing an oddball lawsuit himself…this was 1964 and he had to work with what material was sent him.” From the book “Ladies Man, The Life and Trials of Marvin Mitchelson” by John A. Jenkins.

 This is likely the reason Mitchelson took Paige’s case despite, her lack of ability to pay him any money upfront.  The case was unusual or “oddball” enough.

 Hollywood History/Celebrity Connections: Only a few days after Paige files for divorce,  news breaks that Beverly Hills society matron and LA talk show host, Pamela Mason, has won the unprecedented amount of 1 million dollars, for her divorce settlement from husband of 20 years: actor James Mason.

Her lawyer is Marvin Mitchelson.

dated Sept.1, 1964 Pasadena Independent, Pasadena, California.

Jenkins details the Mason case:

“Afterward in the courthouse corridor, “James (Mason) called the settlement ‘a flea bite.’ After all, he was getting off the hook without giving her any alimony at all. But Pamela was ecstatic. Her settlement was one of the first to break the magic million-dollar mark, and Mitchelson had gotten her, and himself, a ton of publicity about it.” “Pamela was so grateful she did everything she could to make Marvin Mitchelson a household name. Pamela introduced Mitchelson to her divorcing friends…she became his entrée to those rarefied upper brackets of Beverly Hills and Hollywood.”

The Mason case was a first as far as Hollywood divorces go, and a breakthrough for Marvin Mitchelson’s career.

 Mark’s attorney is Bernard Echt from Sherman Oaks. Echt, A few years down the road, Echt would represent the milkman who was being sued by Vincent Bugliosi for suspected impregnation of his wife. Strange yet true.

Bernard Echt is Mark Segal’s attorney

 An initial agreement is reached pretty quickly: Sept. 18,1964 . Mark is required to pay Paige alimony, but only for six months.

This would be about $1000 in 2017, so the equivalent of $6000 total in today’s money.

1964 November 24:  Paige and her grandmother Virginia LaRocca are sworn-in for testimony in a Los Angeles courthouse, probably 111 Hill Street, for the divorce trial; Mark is a no-show. Virginia LaRocca testifies for the plaintiff, her granddaughter Paige. An interlocutory decree of divorce is granted to Paige on grounds of extreme cruelty.

 Paige waives her right to any further alimony payments beyond the six months.  Mark is also ordered to pay Marvin Mitchelson $300 (about $2072 in 2017 dollars) and $15.00 in court costs around $100 today.   Paige is awarded a 1953 MG Roadster; Mark is ordered to sign the title over to her.  Paige gets to keep certain antiques and wedding gifts.  Mark gets to keep his home at 4133 Crisp Canyon in Sherman Oaks.

Both parties are ordered to not annoy, molest or harass the other.

1965

This year shows Mark has not been making his required alimony and lawyer’s fees since 1964.

Defendant Mark F. Segal is delinquent in alimony payments 64-65
Order to show cause that Mark is in contempt; alimony unpaid up to middle of 1965