That Was Just Nicole!

The high school field trip was California all the way: a psychology class spending a weekend on Santa Catalina island, that balmy resort 23 miles off the Pacific coast, with no apparent goal except, perhaps, to study the stress-reducing effects of sunning and swimming.

But two of the students had other ideas. A few hours after the class and teacher were dropped off at some cabins on the far side of the island, the boat that had brought them made a return trip, circling back to pick up two girls who seemed to have prearranged their departure.

With no explanation, off went a junior named Nicole Brown, who with her sun-drenched blond hair and tan could have been the prototype of the California girl, and her equally stunning, dark-haired sister Denise, a senior.

The girls went to the island’s main town of Avalon, where they spent the weekend on their own instead of with their classmates.

“They just wanted to go into town for the weekend and have a good time,” says Ron Kosmala, a classmate who recently recalled the trip. No one seemed to mind that they were gone. “That’s just the way they were,” he says. “That was just Nicole and Denise.”

Once upon a time in her two-short life, Nicole Brown was able to come and go as she pleased. A beautiful young woman, she had freedom, she had control. But that Catalina weekend may have been one of the last times Nicole called the shots.

Only two years later she would meet O.J. Simpson at a nightclub in Beverly Hills, and from that moment on – until she died on her front walk, with her children sleeping inside – her life was dominated by the overpowering personality of her husband.

Escape preoccupied her during her last few years, and certainly her last few weeks. Although her beauty, wealth and social status inspired more than a little envy, what she desired more than anything, by the end, was a simple life away from the cameras, the hype, the glitz, away from the real egos and fake smiles.

“Everybody looks at you and thinks, ‘Wow, would I ever like to be her,'” Nicole’s friend Jean McKenna, who was once married to a professional athlete, told Dateline NBC. “And yet, people like Nicole and myself, we really would have liked to have been the people who were looking at us. We would rather be the normal wife who had a husband who came home every night. It’s just not that wonderful a life.”

Nicole Brown Simpson learned that celebrity marriages can be dark and lonely and more confining than they look. Marriage to a wealthy, well-known man can be “a trap, and that’s the truth,” says Nicole’s long-time friend Robin Greer, an actress who was once wed to such a man herself.

“When you first walk into the house, it’s impressive. But once you’re behind closed doors, if the relationship isn’t healthy, the house doesn’t matter anymore. Everybody else is only seeing the outside of the house. No woman, unless she’s really materialistic or very weak, would enjoy that.”

As it turns out, Nicole Simpson wasn’t just trapped in life – in the role of living, breathing success symbol and blond elbow-adornment – she is also trapped in death. She has been remembered not as herself, but as the wife that the athlete/sportscaster/pitchman would sometimes beat and is now accused of brutally murdering.

In press reports, Ronald Goldman, the other victim, has suffered the humiliation of being a double possessive – O.J.’s ex-wife’s friend – but the woman he died with spent half a lifetime stalled in similar anonymity.

“You’re always So-and So’s wife, Mrs. So-an-So; you get reduced to your last name,” says Greer.

Friends claim she was on the verge of reclaiming the “Brown” in her name, and all that it stood for: the warm, giving, free person who had gotten last 17 years earlier.

Nicole Brown Simpson Her Story ~ Jeannie Ralston Glamour Magazine (October 1994)

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One Secret Eerie Premonition?

Nicole Simpson had an eerie premonition of her death – just five weeks before she was murdered she scrambled to make out a will to ensure her children would be taken care of if anything happened to her.

Friends have told STAR that Nicole was terrified of how ex-husband O.J. Simpson would react to her decision to leave him for good, and they feared the blonde beauty may have known that she could never escape him.

Here is a 35-year-old beautiful, vibrant woman – and she’s even working out which relative gets which piece of her jewelry!

She really must have had this astonishing premonition of her own death.

I don’t know a single one of Nicole’s girlfriends who has made a will. This is very strange. Surely, the time to have done it would have been after her divorce, two years earlier.

Sometimes people are driven by something from deep within – and maybe her fears drove her to do this.

The mystery surrounding the will deepened when Nicole’s dad, Louis Brown, won court permission to have it sealed so no outsiders would ever see it.

Her dad has seen Nicole’s name dragged through the mud since the murder… and he was determined that the world wouldn’t know her final secrets.”

The will, dated May 8, left an estate of at least $700,000 – $500,000 in property and $200,000 in other, unspecified assets. Most of the money went into a trust fund for her children. She also parceled out various pieces of her jewelry collection to her sisters and other members of her family.

But nothing went to O.J. Simpson – the man who had bought her many of the expensive baubles.

He was obsessed. Did she foresee something dreadful happening to her? We’ll never know – but she was wracked with fear in the weeks leading up to her death.

We’re all wondering now – was it just a bizarre coincidence that she drew up the will so close to leaving O.J. for good?

She started to put her life in order and the will was part of that. It shows how she was trying to clear the deck of O.J.

Shortly before her murder on June 12, she called real estate agent Jean McKenna and told her she wanted to sell her Bundy Drive condo and move out of West Los Angeles – and away from the bad memories of O.J.

The will was a straightforward do-it-yourself type of form document. It was 11 pages long – surprisingly simple for a woman whose personal life seemed so complex.

Experts, however, say it appears she had some legal help in filling it out.

Her dad who was named executor of the will, got a Superior Court judge to grant his request that details of the document be sealed to protect the privacy of the beneficiaries.

STAR has learned that Brown made his plea last week, begging Judge David Rothman:

The matters relating to my daughter’s death have reached a level of extreme notoriety – and it’s in the best interests of those named in her will that it be sealed.

However, STAR has learned that many of her relatives were left lavish gifts in the will.

Star Magazine (October 18 1994)

An Incredible Coincidence or One Masterful Effort…

A bizarre link has been found between the brutal murder of Nicole Simpson and a young nightclub owner – a connection that defense lawyers hope will help prove O.J.’s innocence.

STAR has learned that Nicole and her friend Ronald Goldman were both regulars at a club owned by murder victim Brett Cantor, whose death was eerily similar to the Simpson slayings.

In fact, there are so many chilling similarities in the vicious killings of all three that Judge Lance Ito has given Simpson defense attorney Robert Shapiro permission to review the original police reports into Cantor’s death.

The 24-year-old businessman who was killed last year, owned the Dragonfly Club, in the heart of Hollywood.

For the past three years, it has been a popular meeting spot for struggling artists, models and out-of-work actors. The dimly-lit club is decorated with black art-deco tables and a ceiling draped with harem-style fabric and small wall sconces.

The VIP room is covered with lush red mattresses, kaftans and pillows. Deafening techno and hip-hop music pounds away until the wee hours.

Cantor ran the club until his murder on July 30, 1993. It was a savage slashing attack that defense investigators believe was too similar to the Nicole-Goldman murders to be coincidence.

One of O.J.’s top investigators tells STAR:

This information was brought to our attention, not by our masterful efforts, but because Mr. Cantor’s friends approached us and said they believed there was a strong similarity between his death and the killings of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

Cantor, who was also a party promoter at various clubs in L.A. – a role Goldman was trying to develop at the time of his death – was killed inside his apartment with no visible signs of forced entry.

And ironically, the detective who was investigating Cantor’s homicide is also actively probing the deaths of Nicole and Goldman. “He is part of the LAPD Homicide and Robbery Division and is assigned to the Simpson case,” says the investigator.

“That is either an incredible coincidence or there’s far more to this than meets the eye.”

Another member of the Simpson defense team tells STAR:

Judge Ito has reviewed the two volumes of the Cantor murder case and has directed that information should be released that could be of relevance to the defense of O.J. Simpson.

“That speaks for itself. He examined the Cantor ‘Murder Book’ in exactly the same way as he reviewed the personnel file and military records of detective Mark Fuhrman. He decided that there was nothing of further relevance for us in the Fuhrman papers, but he clearly believes there is material that can be of considerable assistance to O.J.’s defense within the Cantor case.

Star Magazine (October 11 1994)

Further Reading:

A Conspiracy of Dunces. Brett Cantor’s Murder. Hold the Juice.

Murder on the Orenthal Express

There is no precedent in the annals of American crime for the pile of excrement in which football hero OJ Simpson has landed himself.

Despite our own rich heritage of mass murderers and celebrity villains, British criminal history also has nothing to compare. This is no Lester Piggott tax evasion scandal. A bona fide American sports legend may be on a one-way trip to the gas chamber.

It could only happen in America…

OJ Simpson is the winner of the 1968 Heisman trophy for the most valuable college football player, holder of the record for most yards rushed in a single season, member of the football Hall of Fame, spokesman for Hertz rental cars, respected TV sports commentator, and sometime actor with a regular role as Detective Nordberg in the Naked Gun films.

He is accused of the vicious laying of his ex-wife, Nicole, and her friend, waiter-cum-model Ron Goldman.

The murder weapon, still not recovered, is thought to be a “substantial knife.” So substantial, in fact, that Nicole’s beautiful blonde head was almost severed from her perfect body, her neck sliced through to expose her spinal cord.

The OJ Murders as The National Enquirer calls them, combine some favourite American national pastimes: football, murder and soul-searching. The allegation of a double murder by a genuine American hero and celebrity has truly shocked and unnerved a public fed a daily diet of murder and mayhem.

This American tragedy involves “one of the world’s best-known and best-loved athletes,” according the US media reports. Although a snap survey by the Los Angeles Times of sportswriters in town to cover the World Cup revealed that hardly any of them know who OJ Simpson is, it is a tragedy for the kids and adults who have grown up with Simpson.

He was never known as a prima donna, never charged for his autograph (a despicable custom among American sports figures) transcended the colour barrier and was one of the few football players in the sport’s history capable of turning a game around with his electrifying runs up the field.

Many Americans are having a tough time reconciling the man’s supposed “gentle giant” image with the brutality of his alleged actions. Real life has come and slapped America in the face.

This is not, repeat, NOT a movie.

Before the bizarre events transpired, a scriptwriter pitching the story that unfolded between 12 and 20 June would have been laughed out of every movie studio in the city. No one would touch this far-fetched fantasy with a beloved sports legend as the villain.

It has all the elements, and more, of a classic adventure mystery: murder, escape, wife-beating, the fall from grace of a respected figure, and extramarital affairs, with the buddy angle tossed in for good measure. The problem is, they’re not usually all in the same story.

The real tragedy reads like a comedy of errors. A previous violent act perpetrated by OJ against his wife was almost buried by a judge overly impressed with Simpson’s celebrity and the same media folk now camped outside his house in Brentwood, a posh area on L.A’s West side.

Fallout from the case is widespread. The LAPD, treading carefully after the Rodney King debacle, was accused of going too easy on Simpson because of his celebrity, than for being racist for their subsequent dogged pursuit of him.

The papers are full of agonizing analyses of the fall of yet another black hero and role model, following the ignominious demise of Magic Johnson, Mike Tyson and Michael Jackson. Time magazine has been accused of darkening their cover photo of OJ Simpson’s mugshot, and is denying charges of racism in trying to make him look “blacker”.

At a Ford car dealership in Gainesville, Georgia, some bright spark put a white Bronco on a ramp with a large sign reading “As seen on TV”.

Jane Garcia for Loaded Magazine (August 1994)

A Terrifying Independence Day!

O.J. Simpson battered his ex-wife Nicole for the last time just a few weeks before she was savagely murdered, STAR has learned.

It was the latest in a series of assaults that occurred throughout their stormy relationship – which friends now say was constantly filled with terror for blonde Nicole.

Over the years, Nicole often lied to her family and friends about being hit by Simpson.

One pal says: “I remember once, in the summer of 1990, when Nicole and O.J. attended a party and she was wearing a turtleneck sweater in what was probably 75-degree weather. When friends asked her why she was wearing a sweater in the middle of summer, she replied that her doctor told her she had a thyroid problem.

“That’s the reason I’m cold all the time,’ she said.”

But the pal says that just a few days later, she saw Nicole at the gym wearing a T-shirt.

“On her neck, I saw the faint out-line of a large bruise that she had attempted to mask with makeup. She was constantly covering up for O.J., protecting his image while she suffered immensely.”

The friends say that O.J. constantly tried to rule Nicole’s life – and flew into a rage anytime she did anything he didn’t like.

“She would tell me that she hit herself with a barbell in the gym by mistake, or that her body just bruised easily.

She told me things were perfect between her and O.J. and that she’d never felt happier.”

But close friends were aware that Nicole was lying and that things were less than perfect.

“They were doomed from the start,” an insider reveals. “They were like oil and water. They just didn’t mix. From the get-go, O.J. made it clear who was boss and demanded that Nicole be the perfect house-wife and mother.”

“He didn’t want to hear any of her opinions, dreams, goals or aspirations. Being the wife of a superstar had to be enough, and if she wanted more, she would have to pay with harsh words and a beating.”

Almost from the time they met, O.J. ruled her life in every aspect – even to the point of telling her what clothes she could wear and what friends she could have.

“If O.J. didn’t like what she was wearing, she would change clothes to please him,” says one pal. “And she was never free to have friends or be herself.”

Nicole was so controlled by Simpson that she once confessed:

“I’ve always told O.J. what she wants to hear.”

Tragically, the pattern of abuse continued after the marriage and Nicole became increasingly dominated by O.J.

Nicole was a teenaged waitress when she met the legendary football star. Within months, she dropped out of college because O.J. insisted she be with him.

“I only attended junior college for a very short time, because O.J. wanted me to be available to travel with him whenever his career required him to go to a new location,” she said in an affidavit filed during their divorce in 1992.

Despite O.J.’s efforts to rekindle the romance, Nicole eventually decided that they couldn’t get back together. She held her own personal Independence Day celebration at Mezzaluna, one of her favorite Brentwood restaurants, just hours before she was killed.

“She wanted to be free of him, she wanted to live her life with the children and raise them away from all this fiasco of the marriage,” says her cousin Rolf Baur.

“She wanted to have a happier, more peaceful life.”

Tragically, her new-found independence would last just a few hours.

Star Magazine (July 19 1994)

Outrageous and Unfair!

Orenthal James Simpson rose in dramatic fashion from the vicious streets of San Francisco’s predominately Black Potrero Hill to become one of America’s most enduring and beloved sports figures, pulling in millions of dollars annually.

Now charged with the double murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson, 35, and her friend Ronald Goldman, 25, O.J., as the world calls him, has been quickly and shockingly reduced from adored legend to prisoner Number 4013970 in the Los Angeles County Jail under suicide watch.

O.J. Simpson gained international fame as the zig-zagging, Heisman Trophy-winning running back at the University of Southern California and the almost-impossible-to-bring-down halfback with the Buffalo Bills. He singlehandedly put the franchise on the football map…

And to top it all off, he had good looks and charisma. For Hollywood and the advertising industry, he was a dream come true.

Many remember him as the long-time spokesman for Hertz Rent-A-Car, the man who sprinted through airports to get his car as observers cheered.

Unlike many sports figures who fade into oblivion after their careers are over, Simpson was every bit as popular if not more so after he left football in 1979.

The fact that he was a family man also endeared the Juice to fans, especially the female variety. While at USC in 1967, he married his childhood friend, Marguerite Whitley, who had dated Cowlings.

Soon after Simpson turned pro, there emerged reports of marital trouble. During some of his early Buffalo years, Marguerite and their children stayed in L.A.

“Being on the road is a strain. I mean, you know how your lady is – she wants you there. But after I make the transition from football to whatever else I’ll be doing, things will be different…”

In a 1978 JET cover story, Simpson said teenage girls had cornered him for autographs. He was named in a paternity suit. Stewardesses conveniently sat on his lap and he had to deal with rumors of affairs with such women as Liz Taylor and Sophia Loren.

“Well, I’m healthy and I’m a man. I wear clothes to accentuate. I like European clothes and I’m like any other guy or lady who likes to put his best foot forward.”

He said he couldn’t worry about the wild rumors.

“I can’t go out and protect from what people say about me. I try to have a good time…”

Simpson and Marguerite divorced in 1979, the year their third child, daughter Aaren, drowned in their L.A. pool… An emotional Simpson told reporters in 1979 that football helped ease the pain of Aaren’s death.

Despite the divorce, it was that carmel-brown face and his talent for talk that enabled him to become his own best promoter and led him to Hollywood. His boyish face and charms paved the way for a career in films.

Simpson, for some reason, received some immediate and heavy criticism when he made a television movie about an interracial romance with Elizabeth Montgomery titled A Killing Affair.

He also was criticized when pictures of him with another White woman, Nicole Brown, surfaced in 1979. He met her in 1977 when she was an 18-year-old waitress in L.A., and had her move in with him two years later.

The two by many accounts, lived a lavish life-traveling around the world in style, living in beautiful homes on Los Angeles’ posh West Side and an elegant New York apartment. Nicole, a blonde model, tooled around L.A. in a beautiful Ferrari.

After a stormy, seven-year marriage, Simpson and Nicole divorced.

And now, it is over. Hertz dropped Simpson as its spokesman after he was charged with murder and the media, the organ that showered him with compliments for the last 25 years, has attacked him non-stop since his name emerged as a suspect.

The Los Angeles District Attorney, Gil Garcetti, has said the case is about domestic violence and the subject has appeared on numerous talk shows and news programs.

Fans and many media observers have expressed outrage at the number of unsubstantiated rumors newspapers and television programs have run with. There had been much reporting of a ski mask being found at Simpson’s estate. During a hearing, the district attorney’s office was forced to admit that it does not exist.

Fans interviewed by JET said they were gathering at his home not just because they feel he is innocent, they also said they felt the Juice was the victim of racism and an unfair media witch hunt.

There was also widespread shock and numbness that such a truly beloved individual could ever end up behind bars for any reason.

Jet Magazine (July 11 1994)

Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking?

O.J. Simpson made a last, desperate attempt to woo his ex-wife back on a sun-splashed trip to Mexico just two weeks before she was murdered.

Insiders tell STAR that O.J. and Nicole secretly flew to romantic Baja, where he hope the tropical breezes and warm, intimate nights would help mend their ruined relationship.

Simpson didn’t give up easily. He thought it was only a matter of time before his ex would agree to give him another chance. But Nicole couldn’t forgive him for the beatings she had suffered during the marriage, and told him she was through with the relationship.

“I’ve had enough,” she said to him. “It’s over”.

Nicole’s refusal to reconcile was grounded in the years of pain and anguish that comprised her hellish marriage. But it hadn’t started out that way.

Nicole led a seemingly storybook life that was the envy of all her friends – until her marriage began falling apart.

Friends say the blonde beauty was one of the best-liked and most popular girls in her hometown of Laguna Beach, and seemed to be realizing all her childhood dreams with her jet-set lifestyle.

“She was one of Dana Hills’ real beauties, popular not just because of her looks, but because of her sweet personality,” says friend Valerie Rigg.

But despite all the expensive toys and dream vacations, Nicole’s life was becoming a nightmare.

“I’m still friends with Nicole’s family, so I heard it first, but soon the stories were all over town – how O.J. was insanely jealous and had a brutal, violent temper,” Rigg says.

“Every few weeks it seemed there was another story about how O.J. had lost it and slapped Nicole around or pulled her hair or threw up up against a wall.

“Laguna’s very small and word gets around. Before too long, the whole town knew about it. All her old friends couldn’t figure out why Nicole, a woman so beautiful, with so much on the ball, stayed in a relationship that was so unhappy and abusive.”

Another friend of Nicole’s says that she rejoiced when she heard Nicole was divorcing O.J. that she had “finally found the strength to cut herself off from this dangerous man.

“When we heard they were getting a divorce, we were happy that Nicole had finally found the strength to end it, to get out,” says the pal. “I know her mom and sisters were pushing her to call it quits. Nicole had feared for her life for years.”

“It took a long time, but she finally got slapped around one too many times. But she still had a soft spot for him, despite all the years of physical abuse

“And lately there have been rumors that they’ve been trying to patch up their relationship, that O.J. has become some kind of super-Christian fundamentalist and changed his life.

“But the minute I heard on the news that Nicole had been murdered, I called up a friend and said, ‘Did you hear the news?’

David LaFontaine Star Magazine (July 5 1994)