The Bill Belichick Scandal: A $1.7 Million Fraud?
Will Oursler, who died in 1985, was a funny, low-key guy with a muffin face and a nasal, lispy voice. The author of 45 books, he was a frequent guest on late-night talk radio shows. I knew him in the 1960s when he and his wife, Adelaide, lived in a posh Sutton Place apartment on the East Side of Manhattan where they threw wonderful parties.
Will had a lot of friends—the great, the good, the not-so-good and the positively seedy. One of his seediest acquaintances was Robert Harrison, the notorious muckraking editor of Confidential (“Tells the facts, names the names!”), precursor to the current crop of supermarket gossip tabloids. I remember meeting Harrison at one of the Ourslers’ parties. He sported a silver cigarette holder, was rail thin with gray hair, a gray suit with gray shirt, gray tie and gray complexion. He frequently glanced at himself in the mirror over the mantelpiece and sucked his teeth. I asked him if all the stories about the monkey business of celebrities were true. “Look kid,” he snapped, “if I wasn’t true, we always had something worse on the guy.”
“Come up with an idea for Confidential and I’ll publish it,” Harrison used to say to Oursler all the time. “You can make a lot of money.”
Will, whose beat was religion and inspirational topics, felt appearing in a sleaze magazine that dealt with the sexual exploits of the rich and famous would be ruinous to his career. But Harrison, the second most powerful press lord in the United States (Henry Luce was No. 1), kept badgering Oursler. In desperation Will came up with an idea that would get Harrison off his back and made an appointment to see him.
“How about a story on signal stealing in major league baseball?” Will suggested brightly. “That could be a big story.”