My Interview with Artist/Paige Young Friend Richard Sample. 1964-1969/70 Malibu. Venice. Celebrity Connections. Cult Characters. PART 1. Updated 3/8/2022

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

Recently, I interviewed Richard Sample, Paige’s ex-boyfriend and friend, 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 who gave his name to Parry in association with Paige Young.

I am thankful 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 who has been very helpful.

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 “there is 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 Sample gave me permission to publish what he said during our interview.

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 understanding pretty quickly as our conversation got going.

I will 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 my journey with researching Paige’s story.

This chapter and the next will be a mixture of exact quotes from my tape recorder as well as transcribed hand notes.

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. (confirmed independently)

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

Richard’s father was Charlie/Charles Sample, a well known artist, an eccentric Los Angeles and California character. Known as a talented goldsmith/jeweler to the “Stars.” Especially the Western ones. Charlie in more detail later. Many newspaper articles about him.

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 Gesner. 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 Gesner

He sent Gesner 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.

Gallery Program from ebay confirms Sample knew Ed Ravick, Harry Gesner (misspelled) and Elaine deKooning, Vincent Price, all of whom he mentioned knowing these years.

Jonathan Winters:

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

I told him about the newspaper interviews with Paige from 1969, for promoting Playboy around the country. Some of the articles mention that Paige has appeared “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.

I have since learned 2 thing about Jonathan Winters: He painted as a hobby and even published a book of his paintings entitled “Hang-Ups.”

And he had a residence in Santa Barbara which is quite close to the “artsy” town of Los Alamos.

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. As well as a close friend to Hugh Hefner.

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

Richard then told me of one time when he was picking Paige up from the club after her shift. He saw Bill Cosby get angry at Paige after she rebuffed another one of his advances.

Vintage Postcard. Playboy building on the right. It had the club, offices and a suite on the top floor 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 told him that I owned a copy of her death certificate with 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 D. DeWitt listed as a “2nd witness” on the police report, the police at Paige’s house on that day. (See chapter on LAPD report) Plus the coroner’s report.

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 the thriving art scene. His father artist Charlie Sample was already there. Paige joined Richard not too long after he moved.

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

I asked Richard if he encountered any of the many artists who became famous out of the Venice Beach art scene.

He said “De Wain Valentine had a studio next door to Paige and me.” (See chapter on Museum appearance with Warhol 1970)

“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 quotes from Bell and DeWain Valentine in art magazines.

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

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

The Brooklyn Rail May 2019 Interview with DeWain Valentine

Detail of photo with artists Richard Sample, left, Paige Young and Rodney Rowland King mid 1960s. Sample and King had been part of the the long forgotten Chino Prison Project in the early 1960s. Art was used to rehabilitate prisoners by giving them art supplies, studio time and having gallery showings in the prison. Elaine DeKooning bought some of Richard’s art at one of these gallery showings. DeKooning remained a friend through letters Richard told me. Thank you to Ellen Sample for use of this photo.

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. racing. 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 the second phone call when he was unable to talk with me.

“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 says 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 video. I haven’t checked lately. It’s the concert that resulted in Morrison’s arrest due to alledgedly exposing his penis on stage.

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.

The arrest is supposedly one reason Morrison left for Paris.

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 pinup 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.

Without mentioning his name, Paige said in a few 1969 interviews “my photographer friend” suggested the idea and submitted her photos to Playboy.

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. I went through them with Richard.

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.

Playboy magazine November 1968

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 said he has no idea who any of these people are at the cookout or in the room with Paige painting. He doesn’t recognize the location.

The painting looks like the start of a self portrait

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/ 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 “think 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.