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THE LOVER

It's odd about the people you remember best.
I came into this business before Don Larsen pitched his perfect game for the New York Yankees and before John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas.

I have encountered an uncommon assortment of characters, but I don't stake any claim to fame over them. They were the kind of people anyone who worked on a big-city newspaper would encounter as a matter of course.

I took a trip on a train with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor when they were the hottest names in the film business.

I rode in the back seat of a federal judge's limousine with Jimmy Durante, in the back of a newspaper-delivery truck at two in the morning with Congresswoman Bella Abzug, and in a police paddy wagon with David Dellinger of the Chicago Seven.

Muhammad Ali slammed a door in my face when his name was still Cassius Clay. The Black Muslims searched me thoroughly for weapons before allowing me into the presence of their exalted leader, Elijah Muhammad, who promptly began expounding on his encounters with men from outer space.

I spent an extraordinary afternoon with Duke Ellington not long after one of his managers had run off with the profits from a European tour, and sat on the rear of a concert-hall stage to watch Segovia perform.

I listened to Maurice Chevalier complain how he felt obliged to keep supporting a brother who refused to hold a job, and drank vodka gimlets with Ray Bolger, who was trying to avoid his wife for a few hours.

In one memorable week, I did interviews with Casey Stengel and George Halas, Red Grange and Vince Lombardi.

I spent four days waiting outside mass murderer John Wayne Gacy's house in freezing weather while sheriff's deputies dug up the bodies of more than twenty boys he had strangled, then had buried in a crawlspace under his house.

I covered his initial court appearance. Gacy came into court wearing a black leather jacket with a dozen guards protecting him from the parents, fathers who would gladly have lynched him on the spot.

When the Beatles made their United States tour, I was astonished by the crowds that chased them everywhere. I covered a press conference for Elvis Presley when it was still necessary for Colonel Tom Parker, his manager, to drum up interest.

Shortly after his defeat in the California governor's campaign, I drank scotch with Richard Nixon in his hotel suite.

I stood stunned in a federal courtroom when former Illinois Governor Otto Kerner was sentenced to prison and broke down in tears. I covered the last rally ever held by Mayor Richard J. Daley in his home ward on Chicago's South Side when he too broke down, understanding it was his last run for office.

I covered Hank Aaron when he was making his final run at Babe Ruth's home-run record, and Pete Rose on the day that he pulled even with Ty Cobb for the most hits in a career. I was lucky enough to be covering the Cleveland Browns when Jim Brown was a rookie and the Chicago Bears when Walter Payton was a rookie.

I've known tough cops and crooked cops, heroic firefighters, down-on- their-luck actors, and politicians both on their way up and on their way down, as well as a variety of criminals, writers and musicians.

But there are no more than a handful of characters who truly stick out in my mind.

Giovanni Vigliotto is one of them. He made the Guinness Book of Records as the all-time champion bigamist, having wed 105 women without bothering to get a single divorce.

Some men go through life thinking it was a tragedy because the first woman they asked to marry them turned them down. That's not the way it went with Giovanni. Each time he met a woman he asked for her hand in marriage. Unfortunately for him, the woman always said yes.

In the end, it turned out that Giovanni Vigliotto had too much charisma.
So Giovanni married these women--all 105 of them.
And then, in short order, Giovanni left them. And when he did, he was always careful to take their money and their valuables.

Vigliotto spent the final eight years of his life in the Arizona State Prison at Florence before dying last week from a brain hemorrhage. He was 61 years old.

Giovanni had an overflowing belly and an oversize nose. He had a full head of jet-black hair and puffy lips. He looked more like a violinist in a symphony orchestra than a world-class gigolo.

I visited him in county jail a month before he went to trial.
He walked into the fourth-floor visiting room carrying a box full of papers that he would never allow to get out of his sight. It contained all the records he had compiled for his defense.

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Tom Fitzpatrick