We’ve spent the past few weeks on respectable citizens of the British Empire so this week I had an important question to ask myself. That question was, “Do I want to read a juicy story about sex, or do I want to read a juicy story about murder?” I decided I wanted to read both. Meet Vicki Morgan!
A “beautiful bad girl” according to Gordon Basichis, she was Alfred S. Bloomingdale’s mistress. To understand how big a deal that was, you probably need to know who Alfred Bloomingdale was.
No, he did not found New York’s department store Bloomingdale’s.
His grandfather did.
You know the saying that “the first generation makes it, the second generation saves it, and the third generation loses it?” Or, to amplify according to the poet-philosopher Jack Donaghy, “The first generation works their fingers to the bone making things, the next generation goes to college and innovates new ideas, the third generation . . . snowboards and takes improv classes.”
That was to be the fate of Alfred S. Bloomingdale.
But then something wonderful and amazing happened. Alfred realized that, while out on the town, he did not like carrying the large sums of cash often required for him to dine in style. So he started a system called “dine and sign” where you could present a card to a restaurant, they would keep it on file, and you would pay later. He went on to become a co-founder of Diner’s Club, the first universally accepted credit card.
The dude invented the credit card. (The improv classes really paid off.)
With this success, he and his second wife Betsy became close friends with Ronald and Nancy Reagan; when Reagan became President, Alfred served in his inner circle of advisers. Meanwhile, Betsy became one of Hollywood’s most famous hostesses.
The Wall Street Journal notes:
In Paris in the summer of 1996, Betsy Bloomingdale left the Valentino haute couture show without placing an order and strolled back to her hotel along the Avenue Montaigne. On a whim, she stepped into a boutique whose window displayed a Valentino ready-to-wear gown. “I thought, ‘I like that and that. And I can buy three of those for the price of one haute couture gown,’ ” recalled Mrs. Bloomingdale. “That’s when I started wearing ready-to-wear.”
That story is intended to show that Betsy Bloomingdale was down to earth. Really, not joking.
So, with all the money to buy Paris fashions for his wife, Alfred probably didn’t balk at handing an usher he met at Grauman’s Chinese Theater $6,000 to go on a date with him. That is how this middle aged man became acquainted with the teen-aged Vicki in 1968. He apparently gave her a check saying it was “a gift for a lovely girl who brightened his day” and she gave him her phone number.
I would make a joke about how he could get three lovely girls for the price of one Betsy, but that would not be fair, because women aren’t objects, and also, he could likely get 23 for the price of one Betsy. So that joke would be incorrect because of both morals and economics.