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Challenge to Castaneda's Will Goes Up in Smoke

March 07, 1999|ANN W. O'NEILL

Fathers and sons . . . Oldies but goodies . . . .Defamation double whammy . . . Dogfight at 37,000 feet.

A Georgia man is not the son of the late mystic writer Carlos Castaneda and has no standing to contest his will, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ruled.

Judge Robert A. Letteau tossed out Adrian Vashon's challenge to Castaneda's will, which now can move toward probate.

The tall, blond Vashon, a.k.a. Adrian Gerritsen, a.k.a. Carlton J. Castaneda, had claimed to be the son of the author, who was slight and dark. Court papers show that when ordered to put his DNA on the line, Vashon backed down and admitted that the reclusive writer was not his biological father. Vashon's mother is the author's former wife.

Castaneda, whose 1968 book about drug-induced experiences with an Indian shaman made him a cultural icon, died last spring.

Attorneys Deborah Drooz, whom Castaneda named as his executor, and Eileen M. Cohn portrayed Vashon in court papers as someone who harassed the author with demands for money, to the point that the writer considered obtaining a restraining order against him.

At a book reading in 1984, court papers say, Vashon told Castaneda: "I want $18,000, and if you give me $20,000, I'll love you even more." Vashon even tried to have the writer declared legally dead, the papers say, "in an ultimate act of greed."

Vashon, who lives in the Atlanta area, could not be reached. His attorney declined comment.

Drooz, the executor, said the legal battle saddened her. "I was very close to Carlos. Even though we kind of anticipated some problems with [Vashon], I just didn't think it would get this nasty."

LOST MEMORIES: Dodd Darin, son of the late 1950s teen idol Bobby Darin, is suing the Hard Rock Cafe for return of his father's bow tie, acoustic guitar, music charts and photographs--mementos of a career cut short when the elder Darin died of heart failure at age 37.

Bobby Darin, best known for crooning the hits "Splish Splash," "Dream Lover" and "Beyond the Sea," once was the highest paid entertainer in Las Vegas, says his son's Beverly Hills attorney, Cyrus V. Godfrey. So Dodd Darin gladly lent the items to the Hard Rock Cafe's Las Vegas hotel-casino in 1996.

In his lawsuit filed in Superior Court in Santa Monica, Darin claims he agreed to loan the items for as along as they were publicly shown. But after the property changed hands, he learned that the mementos no longer were on display. For a year, he has been trying to get them back, but neither the former owners nor the current ones seem to know where they are, Godfrey said.

"I can't believe they've treated Dodd this way," he added.

Dodd Darin, who wrote about his father's marriage to his mother, actress Sandra Dee, in the 1994 book "Dream Lover," seeks payment of $200 for each day the items remain lost, as well as punitive damages. Meanwhile, Dodd and co-producer Dick Clark, of "American Bandstand" fame, have announced plans to make a movie of Bobby Darin's life.

IS THAT ALL THERE IS? Singer Peggy Lee, who along with Darin will be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in June, has settled her royalties dispute with Capitol Records, attorney Godfrey reports. But three other cases, involving bandleader Les Brown and the heirs of entertainers Dinah Shore and Benny Goodman, continue.

Details of Lee's settlement were confidential. She's best known for the songs "Fever" and "Is That All There Is?" Lee and the others claimed that Capitol shortchanged them for years. No comment from Capitol.

MOORE, MOORE, MOORE: Just when you thought we'd heard enough about the ill-fated union of Dudley and Nicole Rothschild Moore comes his official biographer's lawsuit against the former Mrs. Moore.

Writer Barbara Paskin claims in her Santa Monica Superior Court lawsuit that Rothschild falsely accused her of having an affair with Moore while she was compiling his memoirs. Paskin also contends Rothschild threatened at various times to kill her, throw her off a balcony and "send her to hell in a box."

Paskin alleges that Rothschild threatened to ruin her financially, stated that she'd "never make a [bleep] dime from the book" and maliciously filed a defamation suit to block publication.

According to court papers, Rothschild eventually withdrew her suit--but not before Paskin's publisher pulled the plug on the book. Paskin seeks $250,000 in damages. Rothschild could not be reached for comment. She and Moore divorced after she dropped a suit she had filed against him that alleged, among other things, that he would make her dance for hours in her underwear.

WATCH THE BIRDIE: Carrie Leigh, once Hugh Hefner's personal Playmate, has sued Hefner and his Playboy publishing empire for calling her "a crazy wounded bird" in the book "Inside the Playboy Mansion." The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, also contends that a nude photo of her in Hef's boudoir was used in the book without her permission.

Leigh, now married and a suburban mom, seeks unspecified damages on counts of breach of contract, invasion of privacy and defamation.

QUOTABLE: "I'm not Rodney King. Why are you doing this to me?"

--Beverly Hills widow Marcelle Becker, testifying about what she screamed during a scuffle in first class with an American Airlines flight crew after her Maltese, Dom Perignon, got loose at 37,000 feet. Becker's suit, claiming that the pilot and crew assaulted her and restrained her with the dog's leash, is being tried in Superior Court in Santa Monica. She faces criminal charges in U.S. District Court.

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