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Thrown Out of Party, Man Sues for Damaged 'Image'

September 27, 1985|BETTY CUNIBERTI | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Michael O'Harro admits it's unusual to sue a hotel for $50,000 because of his claim that Barbara Sinatra threw him out of the inaugural party she was hosting there.

But then, O'Harro is an unusual fellow, who tells an unusual story. Here it is:

Before attending the ultra-exclusive Sinatra party last January, O'Harro--a Los Angeles native and owner of a Georgetown singles bar--had thought of everything. He ordered a tuxedo jacket made of black and white horsehair, with cowboy fringe that would flutter in the breeze.

He told his girlfriend, aspiring model Carol Pilares, that "it was the most important night of her life" and plunked down $1,600 for an aqua-colored blue fox fur for her to wear.

Calling All Media

To record the moment, "I had informed my close friends in the media," O'Harro said, "that I would be going."

O'Harro even tucked into his furry jacket pocket a written agreement stating that he could attend the party, because, according to him, that had been the arrangement made with the Madison Hotel for borrowing $2,200 worth of his sports paraphernalia to decorate the room being used for the affair.

Upon their arrival at the Madison, "the cameras were rolling," O'Harro said. But the couple were made to wait 45 minutes "while the VIPs enter," a baffling development. And then, as O'Harro and Pilares made their long-awaited entrance, Barbara Sinatra took one look at O'Harro and said, "Do I know you?" And even as he was pulling his agreement out of his pocket, he and Pilares were pushed out the door by security guards.

(A Sinatra spokesman, Lee Solters, said, "Whenever there is a Sinatra function, there is the inevitable entourage of crashers. It's all routine with us. In this particular case, the Sinatras are not aware of the situation.")

Eight months later, the fur is still flying.

Wheels of Justice . . .

O'Harro is suing the Madison Hotel for fraud, breach of contract and humiliation, asking $50,000 in damages. The suit is now in the discovery process and sworn depositions are being taken. Allen G. Siegel, the attorney for the Madison Hotel in the case, said he did not want to comment on matters of ongoing litigation.

O'Harro's attorney, Jerry Roscoe, indicated that he may fly to Palm Springs to take a deposition from Barbara Sinatra, adding, "My client takes this case seriously."

That certainly seems so.

"This event changed my life, possibly," O'Harro fretted. A few weeks after the incident, Pilares "dumped me," he said. "And I don't blame her.

"Three or four weeks after it happened, she stopped seeing me--with no explanation."

O'Harro claims in his suit that the incident caused him "to suffer much humiliation" and damaged his "public image" as a Washington celebrity. But attorneys for the Madison Hotel seem to be saying, " What public image?" Among other things, the hotel attorneys have asked in the discovery process for O'Harro to prove he's a celebrity.

Documentary Evidence

O'Harro says he'll prove just that, armed with 35 scrapbooks of clippings about himself, with photographs of himself with celebrities, and more.

"I may not be a movie star or a rock star," O'Harro said. "But I'm a bar star."

One does not become a bar star overnight. Born and reared in Los Angeles and having partied his way through four colleges, including USC and Los Angeles Valley College, O'Harro went on to become, as he tells it, "the founder of the singles industry in America." After college, he served in the military, took a crack at modeling and acting in Los Angeles ("I was a decent model but not a great actor") and became a "disco consultant."

He eventually moved to Washington and became part owner of a popular Washington disco named Tramps, which he said was chosen as the "Official Olympic Disco" of the 1980 Winter Olympics. His current business, a bar named Champions, specializes in "not young but youthful, hip celebrities," especially sports enthusiasts. Los Angeles Laker Mitch Kupchak and former Los Angeles Ram Lance Rentzel had just been in the night before, he said. "This is the L.A. connection."

'Most Eligible Bachelor'

During an interview at Champions recently, O'Harro made his case for his celebrityhood, volunteering that the National Enquirer once named him on a "most eligible bachelor" list alongside Jerry Brown and that Billboard magazine once named him "Disco Person of the Year."

O'Harro calls the party incident the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to him, but says that filing the suit, thus bringing even more attention to it, is not embarrassing at all. "I'm not in the least bit embarrassed about this," he said. "I think it's fun. I'm enjoying it. And it's good gossip."

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