Patti to tell all about Reagan family

Liz Smith

April 08, 1991|By Liz Smith | Liz Smith,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

"I NEVER did give anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell!" said that free-thinker, Harry S Truman, 33rd president of the United States.

SPEAKING OF telling the truth and giving them hell. Now comes Patti Davis, daughter of the 40th president, Ronald Reagan, and his first lady, Nancy. Patti will not only soon be subscribing to the Truman doctrine, she will also give her own twist to the Paddy Chayefsky philosophy expressed by Peter Finch in the movie "Network" -- to wit, she's mad as hell and she's not going to take it any more!

IN THE Kitty Kelley unauthorized biography of her mother (out today), Patti discovered she has been listed as "a source." Patti tells me: "I was not a source for Kelley's book. I never talked to her, nor did I ever speak knowingly to anyone representing her. It is true that I am estranged from my family, but that doesn't mean I'm pleased with Kelley's book about my mother. I don't like it when I see anybody writing something mean and untrue about anybody."

Patti's revenge? She says: "I have decided to do what I said I would never do. I am going to tell the exact story about myself and my family. It won't be a mean book, but a truthful one. Somebody who knows might as well finally get around to the truth. So this is one 'never' I am going to throw out.

"I am working with my agent, Robert Schuster, here in California, to do a proposal for a non-fiction book about my family. In my family everybody kept secrets, and I grew up thinking I had to keep them too -- for all the Reagans and the Davises. But I believe now I have done enough work on forgiving myself and

my parents, and I think today I have the proper perspective. I hope I can do this book in an insightful way.

"Even just thinking of writing such a book lifts a huge weight off me. I always had kept my writing hidden from my family, ever since I first began writing when I was 13. But now I want to just say -- OK, here it is! The book will be a very sad story, but then readers can judge the truth of it for themselves and they can judge me. Kitty Kelley's book, and her assertion I was one of her sources, is simply the last straw!"

I ASKED Patti how she thought she could be listed as a "source" by author Kelley if she had not been one. (The rumor that Patti would talk about her mother has been floating around for the past two years.)

Patti says: "Oh, I know exactly how it happened. Two women who were researching for Kitty Kelley interviewed me during October of 1989. They did not ever in any way reveal they were working for her. One was Malissa Smalley. She said she was writing for the Washingtonian (magazine). I don't remember talking about my mother to her.

"Ostensibly she was interested in my second novel, 'Dead Fall.' And that was certainly what I wanted to talk about in 1989. She did not identify herself properly, either to me or to my publisher, Crown. The other woman is Pamela Warrick, a California free-lancer who said she had written for Self magazine and Knight-Ridder. She wanted to do a piece about my novel and my views on Nicaragua. She did not identify herself properly either. It's all in the records of my book-promotion tour."

BARBARA WALTERS laughed when I read her the current National Enquirer story to the effect she and her estranged producer-husband, Merv Adelson, are reconciling. Says ABC's queen of interviewers: "Merv and I have been separated a year now. We will continue to be separated. We are still very good friends and we did see each other recently when he was in New York for a Warner's board meeting. Merv and I will always be friends, but the Enquirer quotes are complete fiction."

Walters and Adelson remain involved with each other's children and the couple refuse to make any statement about an eventual divorce. They are not even legally separated and both parties seem unconcerned about their marital status, as they live on opposite coasts.

THEY HAD the William S. Paley apartment up for sale for $12 million. Most of the offers fell in the $6 million range. So here is what Lazard Freres chairman Michael David-Weill paid for it -- either $8 or $8.5 million.

A West Coast tycoon of mogulesque proportions would have given the owners the $12 million they wanted, but he didn't bother. He felt he probably couldn't get approval to buy from the building's board.

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