Wife Of Hustler Publisher Found Dead In Bathtub, Cause Investigated
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Althea Flynt, the wife of Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, was found dead in a bathtub at the couple’s mansion, and the cause of her death was under investigation, coroner’s officials said Sunday.
Mrs. Flynt’s death was reported Saturday evening. She was 33, coroner’s officials said.
An autopsy was scheduled for Monday, said Bill Gold, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Coroner, indicating that initial reports that she had drowned were premature.
″We’re going to have to investigate,″ said Juan Jimenez, a coroner’s supervisor. ″We’ll have to await the pathologist’s report.″
Alan Isaacman, an attorney for the Flynts, said he understood ″it was an accidental death that occurred while she was in the bathtub.″
″She’s been ill for quite a long time,″ he added, but declined to elaborate.
Flynt was home at the time, coroner’s investigator Joseph Gruber said Saturday.
The former Althea Leasure was married for 11 years to Flynt, founder of the sexually explicit Hustler magazine, where held the title of co-publisher. Born in poverty in a Kentucky mining town, she became his fourth wife.
″She was a very bright lady, and she had a very close relationship to Larry,″ Isaacman said. ″She worked at the company and so their relationship extended beyond husband and wife.″
Isaacman said Flynt was quite upset over his wife’s death but was ″handling it as well as anybody can handle the loss in that situation.″
The Flynts met when he hired her, at age 17, as a go-go dancer in his Columbus, Ohio, nightclub. She had been orphaned at the age of 8 when her father killed her mother, her mother’s best friend and her grandfather before turning the gun on himself.
Mrs. Flynt made no attempt to hide her bisexuality, and Flynt once boasted that he made love to 15 women a week, most of them chosen by his wife.
Later, while Flynt suffered constant pain after a would-be assassin’s bullets left him paralyzed and impotent, he began using Dilaudid, a morphine- like painkiller. His wife joined him and together they became addicted.
Together they also ran the skin-magazine empire that made them rich.
In 1977, Flynt announced his conversion as a born-again Christian by then- President Jimmy Carter’s sister, Ruth Carter Stapleton.
When it appeared he might give up on Hustler, Mrs. Flynt was reported to have said, ″God may have walked into your life, but $20 million a year just walked out.″
Flynt abandoned his religious fervor in 1978, after he was shot during a break while he was on trial on obscenity charges in Lawrenceville, Ga. A mistrial was declared and the case was dropped.
The couple moved to Los Angeles in 1979, purchased a 20-room mansion and disappeared behind fortified walls and armed guards into a drugged seclusion.
″We were committing suicide together, the slow and terrible way,″ Mrs. Flynt told People magazine in 1981.
Flynt was arrested for screaming obscenities while attending arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in a libel case, and spent five months in prison. He also was arrested during the Los Angeles drug trial of John Z. DeLorean for wearing a Purple Heart and a U.S. flag as diaper in a federal court.
When Mrs. Flynt accompanied her husband to court appearances, she wore outrageous outfits with her hair dyed green or purple.
Mrs. Flynt was once arrested in Los Angeles for kicking and biting a federal marshal at the courthouse.
She became embroiled in a fight at the federal medical detention facility in Springfield, Mo., where Flynt was serving a contempt of court sentence and damaged a metal detector.