Cabot later used Jaclyn Smith's name without permission to coax appliances out of Whirlpool Corp. and a car out of Chrysler Corp. for a charity ranch, police say. The charity is called CHARM. Cabot said his goal is to set up a retreat for victims of child abuse. So far, however, there is no land for the ranch, and police say Cabot's mother is driving the Chrysler. Authorities are expected to launch an investigation of CHARM.
Cabot denies using Smith's name in a promotion.
"He's the best con artist I have ever personally seen at work," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Phil Rabichow, who prosecuted Cabot in 1982.
Police say his techniques are legendary. A client who pressed for an explanation of nearly $8,000 in expenditures of his money received a telegram from a Cabot associate saying that Cabot had been in a plane crash "while supervising the filming of opening sequences for his new ABC television series," according to a source close to the investigation of the Carl case. Cabot was the only survivor and was in the hospital, the telegram said. "I trust you will continue to exercise patience and understanding," the note concluded.
Authorities say there is no evidence of such a plane crash.
Pop Record Produced
But there is substance to some of Cabot's contentions. For instance, he was involved in the distribution of a pop music record called "Love (Can Make You Happy)," by a group called Mercy in 1969.
Jack Sigler, the one-time Tampa high school student who wrote the song, said the record was put out on Cabot's tiny Sundi label but that Cabot did not produce it, as he claimed. Further, he said, Cabot later formed a band with his wife and called it Mercy, sparking a 3-year-long lawsuit over rights to the name.
But what confounds some of his critics is that he has been able to deliver on other occasions. An author who was trying to market an AIDS book was impressed with Cabot's ability to place him on a morning talk show in Los Angeles, even before the book was in stores.
"Gil Cabot has never given me a reason to doubt him," said Jenny Sherman, Cabot's partner in a company that markets television movies of the week. So far, none has been produced.
Cabot said he makes ends meet by living off the royalties of his recordings.
Planned Talk Show
Cabot wanted to use Carl as host for an interview show to be called "Up Close and Personal," for which he said he had lined up Whirlpool as a sponsor (which Whirlpool denies). But he said he was shown a videotape that was making the rounds of bachelor parties in Los Angeles. The star performer appeared to be Jann Carl, fresh out of a hot tub, cavorting in front of hidden cameras, Cabot said.
"I saw the jaw and I saw the mole," he recalled. "I hit my machine with my fist and threw" the videotape.
Cabot was angry, he said, because he knew his project was doomed. Nobody would want an interviewer who had starred in a stag film, even unknowingly.
He said he discussed with Carl ways to get rid of the tape and of pictures that were taken from it for publication in a magazine, only as a favor to a distressed woman.
Carl, however, was not thankful. "This is the first time in my life someone has committed such a severe wrong against me personally. It's my nature to stand firm."
The daughter of a farm-equipment executive, Carl decided on journalism as a career at Moline Senior High School. But when she went for advice to the University of Missouri, a teacher discouraged her.
"That made me so mad that I knew that was what I wanted to do," she said. "I was determined at that point."
Has Iron Will
According to friends, that attitude is typical of a woman who presents a deceptively innocent face to the world. She excuses herself when she says "damn," chooses restaurants for their onion rings, and counts as her favorite actors Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart. Behind all this, these people say, is an iron will.
At age 23, she became a street reporter for WLS-TV in Chicago, one of the nation's most competitive news towns. A year later, she was wooed away by KABC-TV in Los Angeles, where she went to work on "Eye on L.A.," the fast-paced "infotainment" show that specializes in stories about haunted houses and bikini-clad bathers.
"We joked that we would eventually do haunted bikinis," Carl said.
She took the anchor chair next to Hal Fishman at KTLA two years later.
In April, 1988, a man calling himself Terry called her news director, Jeff Wald, about the sexually explicit video. Over the next few weeks, there was a series of calls that led from Terry to a man identified as Christopher Wright to Gil Cabot. When tapes of all three were played in court, witnesses said they sounded alike.
Carl said she never considered quietly paying off, just to ensure her privacy and safeguard her career from scandal. She never thought about telling the caller to lay off.
"I knew he would go on to someone else," Carl said. "The next woman may not have a supportive boss, and she might pay it. It would be my fault."