For sixty years, whenever the name “Mrs Simpson” was mentioned, it belonged, irrevocably, to Wallis Warfield Simpson, the lady from Baltimore for whom King Edward VIII gave up his throne in 1936 and shook the British monarchy to its roots.
No longer. Now the name belongs, irrevocably, to the tragic and beautiful Nicole Brown Simpson of Brentwood, California, whose dreadful death on the night of Sunday, June 12, 1994, along with that of her friend Ron Goldman, has riveted this country for nine months. The nastiness of how she died and where she fell is the reason that gaze of the country is focused on a courtroom in downtown Los Angeles.
O.J. and Nicole Simpson were constantly photographed in happy poses, belying the truth of their real relationship. Has there ever been a murder case where there are more photographs and videotapes of the victim and the alleged killer?
New images appear almost daily in tabloids and magazines. In them, their lives look so enviable, so glamorous. They are always at wonderful parties in wonderful clothes, smiling and waving, or on wonderful trips, or at wonderful beaches, or gazing into each other’s eyes, or kissing each other, exuding sexuality. How perfect it looked. How rotten it was.
When he gets this crazed, I get scared… He gets a very animalistic look in him. All his veins pop out. His eyes are black, just black, I mean cold, like an animal.
Nicole Simpson to police who responded to her 911 call after O.J. Simpson kicked in her door.
Cici Shahian has two great friends, who were also great friends of Nicole’s, Robin Greer and the famous Faye Resnick, who wrote Nicole Brown Simpson: The Private Diary of a Life Interrupted, the memoir that became a best-seller, although the Brown family has steadfastly withheld its endorsement of it.
One night Shahian invited me to have dinner with the three of them at her new apartment in a building in Beverly Hills where I lived in the ’70s. It was a strange feeling to look across the courtyard into my old apartment.
It was Shahian’s first dinner party in the new apartment, and she had hostess jitters, because she didn’t think her new stove was working properly. It worked fine. The lasagna was great. There was a fire in the fireplace, candles on the table, and candles on the mantel. We had a wonderful time.
All three ladies really loved Nicole. She was their friend, and they miss her. They laughed talking about her. They cried talking about her. They said that she always felt that she was unimportant, that she lived in O.J.’s shadow. He was always the star, the center of the universe.
Sometimes they forgot I was there and just talked among themselves, all speaking at the same time in louder and louder voices, understanding one another in the way that friends do.
Nicole, who had seemed elusive to me – a beautiful face with wary eyes in a vast array of photographs – began to emerge as a person.
They said she used to say “Hi, guys” every time she would meet up with them. All of them mimicked the sound of her voice and the wave of her hand as she said that.
They all said that Nicole knew that O.J. was going to kill her. She had told each one of them. It is a fact that haunts them all.
Dominick Dunne JUSTICE Crimes, Trials and Punishments (New York: Crown Publishers 2001)
Nicole Brown Simpson’s youngest sister Tanya Brown is planning a big birthday party for Nicole! “I know this is what Nicole would have wanted,” Tanya told the Enquirer.
In a exclusive interview Tanya revealed the bittersweet details of how the family will celebrate Nicole’s 36th birthday to keep her memory alive for her children who are living with their grandparents.
Tanya also provided a rare glimpse into the youngsters’ lives without “Mommy” – and she shared their fond recollections of Nicole, along with the touching photos on these pages…
“Nicole is still alive in our house and there are countless pictures around – even a four foot high oil portrait above the fireplace.
“I’ll never forget her last birthday, when she had pneumonia. My mother went to Nicole’s house to help get Sydney and Justin ready for school the following morning. but when my mother got up that morning to help them, Nicole dragged herself out of bed to make the school lunches.
“She was a very caring and thoughtful mother who always put her children first. They were the two most important people in her life.”
To Nicole Brown Simpson, Mother’s Day was always the most joyful day of the year. Nicole’s love of motherhood radiates from every picture in her touching Mother’s Day photo album obtained by The ENQUIRER.
It’s filled with the devoted mom’s most cherished photos of herself and her beloved children.
“Being a good mother was the most important accomplishment in Nicole’s life. It was the thing that mattered most to her,” declared her youngest sister Tanya Brown in an exclusive ENQUIRER interview.
The heart warming photos of Nicole with her youngsters Sydney and Justin as adorable tots clearly show the pride she took in motherhood. “These pictures capture the moments that made Nicole the happiest,” revealed Tanya…
“Every Mother’s Day, Nicole, O.J. and the kids came to my parents’ house in Dana Point, for a big family barbecue. There they were surrounded by my sisters and their kids. “It was a wonderful day, a family event filled with love and joy…
The doting mom loved taking photos of her beautiful, bright-eyed children, said Tanya.
“Nicole once told me, ‘The reason I take so many pictures of Sydney and Justin is because kids grow up so fast and I want to remember them how they were when they were little.'”
Ironically, it is Sydney and Justin, now 9 and 6, who will remember Nicole from photos. “Through these pictures, her memory will always be alive,” said Tanya.
The National Enquirer (May 16 1995)
‘A Loving Mother’ Remembering Nicole Brown Simpson
But Nicole’s older sister was worried. On Feb. 3, a weeping, distraught Denise Brown testified in court that one evening in the early ’80s she had been with Nicole and O.J. at their home after dinner at a Mexican restaurant.
When Denise accused O.J. of taking Nicole for granted, “he got extremely upset,” she recounted. “He started yelling at me, ‘I give her everything.’ A whole fight broke out… He threw her against a wall, picked her up, threw her out of the house.”
Denise stayed up all night with Nicole, trying to persuade her to leave O.J. Nicole promised she would. But when Nicole returned to pick up her clothes, Denise later told Sheila Weller, “of course, he schmoozed her back in.”
Today the Brown family believes that O.J. not only beat Nicole, he murdered her. But in the weeks just after O.J.’s arrest, they contended that Nicole was not a battered woman.
Richard Gelles, director of the Family Violence Research Program at the University of Rhode Island, attributes this apparent blind spot to what he calls “The Burning Bed phenomenon” – named for a 1984 TV movie about a battered wife. “To be recognized as a battered woman at risk,” he says, “you have to look the way Farrah Fawcett looked in that movie. You have to be covered with black-and-blue marks and be ferociously beaten. Nicole’s family and friends very seldom – and most of them never – saw strong physical evidence, as she apparently hid it very well with makeup.”
Her extraordinary physical presence may, in a tragic paradox, have been among Nicole’s fatal weaknesses.
“She was very tough, very powerful,” says her friend Candace Garvey, wife of former baseball star Steve Garvey. “When she walked into a room, every head would turn.”
One neighbor recalls a scorching day when Nicole was wearing a heavy shawl. “The shawl slipped, and I saw faint bruises on her right arm,” he says. “She said she’d been knocking around with the kids and things got a little rough.”
The neighbor was aware of O.J.’s jealous rages, but he immediately dismissed the notion of physical abuse. “She was a ballsy woman,” he says. “You couldn’t imagine that she’d take that stuff.”
Why Nobody Helped Nicole People Weekly (February 1995)
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
Hello again! As this blog post begins with two apologies, my first apology is that even though January is well and truly upon us and the month of February is now beckoning; I would still like to wish you all a very ‘Happy New Year’!
And secondly, I apologise for the lack of recent updates about Nicole and to my chagrin having realised that I had posted my last story about her in September!
In my defence, I can only say that I have been very busy with other projects and as some of which were and are about Nicole; I had by no means forgotten about her…
Already 20015 promises to be interesting year with the release of the much anticipated ‘American Crime Story: The People v. O.J Simpson’ which will share the tales of the trial that begin an incredible twenty years ago this month!
The mini-series has been inspired by the fabulous book The Run of His Life by Jeffrey Toobin and will feature John Travolta and David Schwimmer as the two ‘Bobs’, the former as Robert Shapiro, Simpson’s swathe and duplicitous defence lawyer and the latter as Robert Kardashian, Simpson’s mysteriously conflicted friend, former spouse of Kris and the lawyer whose jaw-dropping expression as the ‘Not Guilty’ verdict was delivered remains burned in the image of that unforgettable day.
A statement from the television channel FX, the producers of the ‘American Crime Story’ revealed that ‘The People v. O.J. Simpson’ will share the tales of the “the chaotic behind-the-scenes dealings and manoeuvring on both sides of the court, and how a combination of prosecution overconfidence, defence shrewdness, and the LAPD’s history with the city’s African-American community gave the jury what it needed: reasonable doubt.”
Personally speaking, I have never had any doubts, reasonable or otherwise as to the question of Simpson’s guilt!
As the ‘People v. O.J. Simpson’ is certain to shine the spotlight upon Simpson who is currently languishing inside the notorious Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada for anything from nine to thirty three years for his part in an armed confrontation in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2007; I was disappointed to learn of the statement from Denise Brown that she had withdrawn her support for the Heart & Soul Food, a film that would focus on the life and the memories of her younger sister.
Denise had personally launched the idea for Heart & Soul Food through Kickstarter, the crowd funding website with Jimi James, Message Mon in 2014 to raise $360,000 in a campaign that would last 55 days; Nicole’s age.
Having taken a look at the campaign on Kickstarter today and even though 14 backers have pledged at total of $403, the message board simply reads Funding Canceled: Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on January 5.
The statement by Denise on her decision remains unequivocal: “The minute people said you have to market this with Simpson’s name I said no,” she says. “I won’t do anything to acknowledge the acquittal this year. So many are jumping on the bandwagon and doing the same old stuff, and I thought this could be different because the story is different. But I won’t go there.”
As Denise is apparently ‘brainstorming other ways to honor her sister’s life.’; I still wonder about the publication of her book that never was.
Duefor publication in October 1998 by Harpercollins, Nicole’s Story promised to offer ‘a compelling portrait of her late sister which serves a two-fold purpose: to introduce readers to the smart, beautiful, and nurturing woman whom she loved; and to warn other women of the dangers of staying in an abusive relationship.’
With the promise of sixteen pages of colour photographs, this is the book I would love to read and I can’t imagine that I would be alone in thinking this!
Surely a balanced and realistic portrayal by those who actually knew and loved Nicole could begin the long process of shifting the spotlight away from the man who took her life and that of Ron Goldman one Sunday evening in June over twenty years ago.
Alas, until that time comes, I shall continue to do all that I can to keep the memory of Nicole alive…
Thank you for Remembering Nicole!
As I’ve been doing a little New Year dusting and cleaning (metaphorically of course!) with some of my blogs; the links below will transport you to the only sites that I now publish…
In the wake of the disappointing but not entirely unexpected verdict in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius, I came across this small snippet of an article written by the journalist Amanda Platell for the Daily Mail and as she managed to capture my feelings in such a succinct and poignant way, I reproduce here in full.
For what’s worth, I believe that to pump four or five bullets into an unarmed individual in a bathroom and with no means of escape justifies the charge of murder in my opinion.
Holding a good thought for the family and loved ones of Reeva Steenkamp…
I have long been a fan of the outspoken and controversial writing of Andrea Dworkin, the noted campaigner for civil rights legislation and a well-worn copy of her book Life and Death published in 1997 with a chapter devoted to the memory of Nicole, has pride of place on my bookshelf.
What follows is an article by Dworkin and published in the New York Times in January 1995 and reproduced in full…
Thank you for Remembering Nicole!
In Nicole Brown Simpson’s Words. Words Matter.
O.J. Simpson’s defense team asked Judge Lance A. Ito to order the prosecution to say domestic discord rather than domestic violence or even spousal abuse–already euphemisms for wife-beating–and to disallow the words battered wife and stalker. Ito refused to alter reality by altering language but some media complied–for example, “Rivera Live,” where domestic discord became a new term of art. The lawyer who successfully defended William Kennedy Smith on a rape charge also used that term systematically.
Where is the victim’s voice? Where are her words?
“I’m scared,” Nicole Brown told her mother a few months before she was killed. “I go to the gas station, he’s there. I go to the Payless Shoe Store, and he’s there. I’m driving, and he’s behind me.”
Nicole’s ordinary words of fear, despair and terror told to friends, and concrete descriptions of physical attacks recorded in her diary, are being kept from the jury. Insignificant when she was alive–because they didn’t save her–the victim’s words remain insignificant in death: excluded from the trial of her accused murderer, called “hearsay” and not admissible in a legal system that has consistently protected or ignored the beating and sexual abuse of women by men, especially by husbands.
Nicole called a battered women’s shelter five days before her death. The jury will not have to listen–but we must. Evidence of the attacks on her by Simpson that were witnessed in public will be allowed at trial. But most of what a batterer does is in private. The worst beatings, the sustained acts of sadism, have no witnesses.
Only she knows.
To refuse to listen to Nicole Brown Simpson is to refuse to know.
The law, including the FBI, and social scientists used to maintain that wife-beating did not exist in the United States. But in recent years, the FBI acknowledged that wife-beating is this country’s most commonly committed violent crime.
Such a change happens this way. First, there is a terrible and intimidating silence–it can last centuries. Inside that silence, men have a legal or a tacit right to beat their wives. Then, with the support of a strong political movement, victims of the abuse speak out about what has been done to them and by whom. They break the silence. One day, enough victims have spoken–sometimes in words, sometimes by running away or seeking refuge or striking back or killing in self-defense–that they can be counted and studied: Social scientists find a pattern of injury and experts describe it.
The words of experts matter. They are listened to respectfully, are often paid to give evidence in legal cases. Meanwhile, the voice of the victim still has no social standing or legal significance. She still has no credibility such that each of us–and the law–is compelled to help her.
We blame her, as the batterer did. We ask why she stayed, though we, of course, were not prepared to stand between her and the batterer so that she could leave. And if, after she is dead, we tell the police that we heard the accused murderer beat her in 1977, and saw her with black eyes–as Nicole’s neighbors did–we will not be allowed to testify, which may be the only justice in this, since it has taken us 17 years to bother to speak at all.
I was a battered wife; I had such neighbors.
Every battered woman learns early on not to expect help. A battered woman confides in someone, when she does, to leave a trail. She overcomes her fear of triggering violence in the batterer if he finds out that she has spoken in order to leave a verbal marker somewhere, with someone. She thinks the other person’s word will be believed later.
Every battered woman faces death more than once, and each time the chance is real: The batterer decides. Eventually, she’s fractured inside by the continuing degradation and her emotional world is a landscape of desperation.
Of course, she smiles in public and is a good wife. He insists–and so do we.
The desperation is part fear–fear of pain, fear of dying–and part isolation, a brutal aloneness, because everything has failed–every call for help to anyone, every assumption about love, every hope for self-respect and even a shred of dignity.
What dignity is there, after all, in confessing, as Nicole did in her diary, that O.J. started beating her on a street in New York and, in their hotel room, “continued to beat me for hours as I kept crawling for the door.”
He kept hitting her while sexually using her, which is rape–because no meaningful consent is possible or plausible in the context of this violence.
Every battered woman’s life has in it many rapes like this one. Sometimes, one complies without the overt violence but in fear of it. Or sometimes, one initiates sex to try to stop or head off a beating.
Of course, there are also the so-called good times–when romance overcomes the memory of violence. Both the violation and the complicity make one deeply ashamed. The shame is corrosive. Whatever the batterer left, it attacks. Why would one tell? How can one face it?
Those of us who are not jurors have a moral obligation to listen to Nicole Simpson’s words: to how O.J. Simpson locked her in a wine closet after beating her and watched TV while she begged him to let her out; to how, in a different hotel room, “O.J. threw me against the walls . . . and on the floor. Put bruises on my arm and back. The window scared me. Thought he’d throw me out.”
We need to hear how he “threw a fit,chased me, grabbed me, threw me into walls. Threw all my clothes out of the window into the street three floors below. Bruised me.”
We need to hear how he stalked her after their divorce. “Everywhere I go,” she told a friend, “he shows up. I really think he is going to kill me.”
We need, especially, to hear her call to a battered women’s shelter five days before her murder. In ruling that call inadmissible, Ito said: “To the man or woman on the street, the relevance and probative value of such evidence is both obvious and compelling . . . . However, the laws and appellate-court decisions that must be applied . . . held otherwise.” The man and woman on the street need to hear what was obvious to her: The foreknowledge that death was stalking her.
We need to believe Nicole’s words to know the meaning of terror–it isn’t a movie of the week–and to face the treason we committed against her life by abandoning her.
When I was being beaten by a shrewd and dangerous man 25 years ago, I was buried alive in silence. I didn’t know that such horror had ever happened to anyone else. The silence was unbreachable and unbearable. Imagine Nicole being buried alive, then dead, in noise–our pro-woman, pro-equality noise; or our pro-family, pro-law-and-order noise. For what it’s worth–to Nicole nothing–the shame of battery is all ours.