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Jim Brown's Tale of Sex, Football, Sex, Life and Sex

September 15, 1989|MEGAN ROSENFELD | The Washington Post

On the other hand, he is against government programs that increase dependence and thinks the only way blacks will alleviate the "symptoms"--substance abuse, black-on-black crime, poverty--is to solve the problem of economic impotence.

And guess what. He had an affair with Gloria Steinem! Or so he says in the book.

Of course that was back in 1968, and the only reason he wrote about it was in connection with the Eva Bohn-Chin affair. She was the woman, half-German, half-Jamaican, whom he met in London while filming "The Dirty Dozen" and whom police later said he threw off a balcony in Los Angeles.

What really happened, Brown says in the book, is that Bohn-Chin was jealous over his fling with Steinem, whom he met while she was doing a magazine profile of him while he was filming in Arizona. Bohn-Chin left his apartment--with Brown's car--and went to stay with a girlfriend. He talked Bohn-Chin into returning home; they planned a playful evening with three other women.

Unfortunately, while Bohn-Chin was on the phone with this girlfriend, Brown started getting jealous. And they started fighting. And the neighbors called the police. While Brown was trying to persuade the police, at one point with his forearm, that it was just a minor domestic dispute, Eva Bohn-Chin "kind of freaked" and tried to vamoose over a rear balcony, but fell and rolled under it.

Never Charged

The police, meanwhile, handcuffed Brown and took him to the station, and despite the lack of any allegations from Bohn-Chin, threatened to charge him with attempted murder. The police leaked the incident to the press but didn't charge him with striking her. "And the toughest thing I did to Eva was slap her."

And he knows that was wrong. "I have also slapped other women," he wrote. "And I never should have, and I never should have slapped Eva, no matter how crazy we were at the time. I don't think any man should slap a woman. In a perfect world, I don't think any man should slap anyone. . . . I don't start fights, but sometimes I don't walk away from them. It hasn't happened in a long time, but it's happened, and I regret those times. I should have been more in control of myself, stronger, more adult."

He knows how to defuse potentially explosive situations better now, he said, and for this knowledge he credits Vital Issues, a self-improvement program for which he is executive director. The program now operates in 18 California prisons, he said, helping people in a "practical, holistic way." He gives an example:

"Recently I ordered some food delivered to my house. I gave the guy a $100 bill. He comes back at me with this 'I don't have change' thing, you know, with a real attitude. So I could see that this could easily develop into a bad scene. Instead I said, 'OK, you have three options: You can go find change. You can take a personal check. Or you can take the food back.'

"So he thinks about it. Then he said, 'Can I use your phone?' And he came back and took a check. . . . The main thing is to avoid the negative at all costs. That's the monkey. The next is to find the bottom line, the 'it.' The fact is not personal. The third thing is to evaluate the options and pick the best. In that situation, the negative could have led us in all kinds of directions. . . . Now I keep my goals in mind."

New Set of Goals

Those goals now include a low-budget film company, Ocean Productions, and the knowledge that more negative press is not good for business. Ocean Productions is about to release its first film--intended primarily for overseas distribution--a $300,000 action adventure starring Brenda Vaccaro and Frank Stallone (Sylvester's brother).

At the same time, Brown believes that he is a special target of the police, and that the FBI and the CIA have followed his activities because of his associations with black militants. While he admits to having done some bad things, "none of the stuff they charged me with I did." He thinks his activism was the primary reason his acting career derailed as well.

Brown was almost a film company president once before, and that was with Richard Pryor, who was once his friend.

He writes movingly of how he urged Pryor, subtly, to stop using drugs (Brown says he has never touched cocaine, heroin or LSD, although he has on occasion used marijuana in the bedroom). When Pryor set himself on fire, it was Brown he called for, and it was Brown who spent weeks by his side in the hospital, who was given his power of attorney, who helped him to the bathroom and with his physical therapy.

Brown also screened visitors (a great one, he writes, was Marlon Brando, who arranged for a cable hookup so that the three could watch a closed-circuit fight one night). He screened out most of Pryor's family because to him all they seemed to be interested in was money, and they didn't like that. Ultimately they sneaked into the hospital before Brown arrived and convinced Pryor--or so he said to Brown--that Brown should butt out. He was abruptly sent away.

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