Las Vegas property designer Merv Adelson is shown with his other half, tv newscaster Barbara Walters, in November 1986.
Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015|10:15 p.m.
. In 2013, Merv Adelson was pragmatic about the loss of the $300 million fortune he had generated as a major Las Vegas property designer in the 1950s and ’60s and as a Hollywood producer of top-rated TELEVISION shows like “The Waltons” and “Dallas” in the 1970s and ’80s.
“I made my first million at age 24, since then I have actually always had individuals do things for me,” Adelson informed Vanity Fair magazine in 2013. At the time, he was residing in a little rented apartment near the Santa Monica pier, resting on a run-down futon next to his animal, a flatulent canine. “Now I pay my own bills,” he stated.
Adelson, who developed Dawn Health center, Nathan Adelson Hospice (named for his dad), grocery stores and high-end housing projects throughout his years in Las Vegas and later was married to celebrity newswoman Barbara Walters, died Tuesday night of problems from cancer in a Los Angeles medical facility. He was 85.
Services are pending.
“He lived an amazing storybook life,” Adelson’s longtime company partner and good friend Irwin Molasky stated.
After leaving Las Vegas, Adelson enhanced what currently was a sizable fortune when he ended up being chairman of Lorimar Photo and among the creators of the classy La Costa country club in Carlsbad, north of San Diego.
Adelson likewise long acted as chairman of both Sunup Hospital and Nathan Adelson Hospice, which he had actually constructed with Molasky with financing from Las Vegas pc gaming legend Moe Dalitz, long time operator of the Desert Inn and Stardust hotels.
Adelson’s other hit reveals at Lorimar consisted of “8 is Enough,” “Knots Landing” and “Falcon Crest” and the movie “An Officer and a Gentleman.”
Adelson’s life was a Horatio Alger story that had a terrible twist to it when he invested his fortune in a number of movies that flopped and in the ill-fated dot-com boom of the late 1990s. His rise and fall could best be described as a rags-to-riches-to-rags story.
“If you asked me in the past, ‘Exactly what do you miss the most?,’ my answer would have been ‘I miss my jet,'” Adelson said in the Vanity Fair story. “You know, there was a time I might get the phone right here, call my pilot, and I might be in Paris the next early morning. But not any longer.”
It is estimated that Adelson lost more than 90 percent of his wealth when his Web start-ups stock dipped from a high of $58 a share to a low of $7 in the early 2000s. Adelson figured the stock would rebound. It didn’t.
By 2013 Adelson found himself in court being demanded back kid assistance payments to his 4th spouse, Thea. Adelson, once one of the richest and most effective figures in Hollywood, asked the court to minimize his month-to-month child assistance payments to a quantity he could pay for working as a specialist for Time Warner, the business that bought Lorimar– from $20,000 to $2,137.
In the 2003 divorce decree, Thea got the couple’s beach house in Malibu while Adelson moved into the 500-square-foot studio apartment and kitchenette in Santa Monica.
Asked by a press reporter just how much money he had left, Adelson would say just that it was well under a million. He told Vanity Fair that exactly what he had was “not much, I know, but it’s all I actually require. … In the end, I releaseded enough money to live.”
Born Oct. 23, 1929, Adelson grew up in L.a listening to his daddy, Nathan, discuss how much he liked Las Vegas. One of Nathan’s cousins was Beldon Katleman, who owned the renowned El Rancho resort on the north end of exactly what is now the Strip.
As a teen, Merv delivered groceries from his dad’s Beverly Hills supermarket to such major Hollywood stars as Gary Cooper and Bette Davis, who each Christmas welcomed Merv into their opulent homes for cookies and punch.
In the early 1950s, Adelson went to Las Vegas and chose to invest $10,000 he had actually borrowed from his daddy to build something he felt Las Vegas needed– the town’s very first 24-hour grocery store. The project made Merv Adelson his first million dollars. Shortly after that, he coordinated with another real estate investor, Molasky, and they constructed numerous high-end homes around the Desert Inn golf course in the late 1950s.
It was throughout this duration that Adelson wed his high school sweetie, Lori Kaufman.
It was likewise around that time that Adelson met Moe Dalitz, throughout a class in ballroom dancing that they went to with their better halves. Adelson stated in the Vanity Fair post that he steered clear of asking Dalitz about how he ran his gambling establishments and Dalitz’s alleged ties to underworld figures.
“All I can state is, in all the years I understood Moe, we never went over anything criminal or illegal,” Adelson informed the publication. “I never asked him about (anything prohibited). I didn’t need to know the answer. There was a line that I never ever wanted to cross, and I didn’t.”
But that did not protect Adelson from released claims that he made his fortune with assistance from mob partners.
While Adelson was miserable with that characterization, he admitted in the magazine short article that being connected with dubious figures delighted him. He was unapologetic for the buddies he made and hung out with, consisting of Dalitz.
“I didn’t even understand who the real owners of the Desert Inn were,” Adelson informed the magazine. “I met a lot of them, sure, guys from back East. And I’ll tell you something: I kind of enjoyed it.
“It was amazing. That credibility I got, for socializing with Moe. The bow-downs you would get when I strolled into a location with Moe. You started to enjoy that example– a minimum of I did. It’s the method Vegas was. … If you were anywhere else, it would be a terrible, awful thing. However not in Vegas– not then.”
Adelson could not shake the mob tie rumors even after he settled in California.
There, Adelson helped construct the La Costa Resort and Health club, a 6,000-acre advancement and greens in Carlsbad, Calif., in 1965. It was constructed with money he and his partners borrowed from the Teamsters’ Pension Fund, which later on was stated to be controlled by organized crime.
In the early 1970s, Adelson turned his focus on Hollywood and pitched to CBS a film idea for what would end up being “The Waltons.” Despite concern by some network executives, the 1973 motion picture “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story” was a hit and “The Waltons” was put into the Thursday night CBS lineup against the then-No. 2 ranked TELEVISION program, “The Flip Wilson Show.”
So effective was “The Waltons” that it not only soared into the Top 10, however within a year it forced the cancellation of Flip Wilson’s range program on the competing network.
After that, the hit reveals poured out of Adelson’s Lorimar studios. (The name Lorimar was created by incorporating the first name of Adelson’s then-wife with the initials of his buddies Irwin Molasky and television producer Lee Rich.)
In 1980, the Who Shot J.R.? episode of “Dallas” broke ratings records.
After separating Kaufman, he was married for a brief time in the early 1980s to Gail Bertoya, and at the zenith of his success, Adelson wed Barbara Walters in 1986, a year after they went on an arranged date.
(Walters’ daddy, Lou Walters, a nightclub business owner, also had strong ties to Las Vegas. He assisted bring “Les Folies Bergere” from Paris to the Tropicana in 1959 and his Latin Quarter Revue to the Riviera.)
However, complications of living on opposite coastlines doomed Merv and Barbara’s marital relationship, which ended in divorce in 1992.
Adelson then married has fourth wife, Thea, who was more than 30 years below him. They had 2 daughters.
Adelson offered Lorimar to exactly what was then referred to as Warner Communications in 1989 for $1.2 billion in stock. He lost an approximated $141 million in money viewing the bubble burst on the Web dot-com craze from 2000 to 2003.
Adelson stated he sold Lorimar, which was producing about $700 million in incomes, since he had ended up being doubtful after purchasing or producing movies such as “Who is Eliminating the Fantastic Chefs of Europe?” which was a huge flop. Likewise, at the time, a variety of his TV reveals started to lose steam and dealt with cancellation.
Merv Adelson was the recipient of numerous awards for humanitarian and charitable deeds in Las Vegas and Southern California.
Ed Koch is a previous long time Las Vegas Sun press reporter. Las Vegas Sun librarian Rebecca Clifford-Cruz contributed research to this report.