MovieChat Forums > Roots Discussion > Alex Haley was MESSY

Alex Haley was MESSY


https://www.lipstickalley.com/threads/alex-haley-was-messy.3256326/

From the DailyMail article:
Haley's deepest secrets only became apparent to his family when he died suddenly of a heart attack, aged just 70, in 1992.

Mya Lewis (Haley's widow) received a phone call in the middle of the night from a mystery woman, who coldly informed her: 'Your husband died in my arms. When I managed to dig myself out from under him, I dialed 911.'

Five days later the woman - dressed in a flouncy purple ensemble - turned up at Haley's funeral, made a beeline for Lewis and announced: 'It's just you and me now.'

Lewis, who's now based in Las Vegas, didn't have the heart to tell her she'd discovered four other woman at the service also claiming the title of mistress.

Nor did she reveal that Haley's first wife, Nannie Branch, was hinting at bigamy and claiming to be the only legitimate widow.

There were more shocks when Haley's will was read. He'd left generous cash bequests for all three of his wives and numerous other women but there wasn't actually any money.

Yet Haley's own family members had no way of unraveling his highly complicated life - simply because he kept every aspect under wraps.

'He gave new meaning to the word secretive,' says Lewis, now 68 and a successful author in her own right.

'Alex was not all that big on family or things that he promoted in his own life.

'After Roots, he would turn up to total strangers' family reunions but he would not have one of his own.'

The Ohio State University communications graduate Lewis was 26 years old - 26 years younger than 52-year-old Haley - when they met in 1974.

After hearing him speak at her Ohio university, she wrote letters begging him to give her a job. She turned down a high-paying position at Harvard University to work for him for no money at all.

'I felt it was destiny to help this man,' she says. 'He was under so much pressure. He had missed many deadlines with his publisher. The TV rights had been sold and the air time booked. The scriptwriters were waiting for him.

'I flew to Montego Bay, in Jamaica, where he had a beautiful beach house. It was idyllic but when he took me into his office there was yellow paper everywhere stacked up against the walls. That was his research - the stacks were as tall as me.

'He had got the first third of the book done when we got together, we worked like crazy and within 18 months I walked the manuscript into Doubleday, his publisher.'

Perhaps inevitably, their working relationship turned romantic and they discussed marriage.

But everything changed when Roots was published - Haley ordered her to stay in the background and employed a glamorous secretary to accompany him to events.

Lewis wasn't even allowed to attend the Pulitzer Prize ceremony, despite the work she had put in on the book.

'I was so young and naïve,' she says. 'Alex told me there was going to be one star, him, so it was my duty and obligation to support him. I could tell no one about the work I had done on the book.'

Their September 1977 marriage was also kept a secret from everyone but Haley's lawyer, who provided his Los Angeles garden for the hurried ceremony.

The newlyweds returned to their nearby home at 2pm, tumbled into bed for an hour, then Haley packed a suitcase and announced he was leaving for a three-day speaking engagement.

Lewis found out later he had actually gone off with another woman. It was the first of numerous affairs he had during their time together.

'One day there was a ring on the doorbell, a pleasant looking woman, with a couple of kids, was standing there,' says Lewis.

'She said, 'Let me tell you about the last five years of your life.' Apparently, when Alex left me at 3pm on our wedding day, he had gone to her.

'Her kids weren't Alex's but he had paid to put them through private school. It's odd, but we sat in my kitchen talking like old friends.

'She said she didn't want to like me but she did. She gave me her name and phone number and said to call if ever I needed to.'

Lewis's family and friends constantly urged her to leave Haley but she refused, despite the constant humiliations.

While he traveled the world lecturing, she continued to work on three new book projects on his behalf.

'He told me early on that he did not want any more children, that our future books would be our babies,' she explains.

Lewis would often work through the night, taking phone calls from far flung researchers digging into the 'white' side of Haley's family for a Roots follow-up.

But when her husband returned from his travels, he point blank refused to start writing. When Lewis challenged him, he'd threaten divorce and disappear for weeks on end.

Haley occasionally mentioned his two ex-wives - claiming he had remained friends with them for the sake of the children. But he forbade Lewis from having contact with them.

reply

So not only was this guy a fraud and a plagiarist, he was a scumbag who lied and screwed his way around. What a lovely human being. He should have run on the blue jack-ass ticket. He'd fit right in with the rest of them.

reply