Candor or Pander?

updated 11/07/1994 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/07/1994 01:00AM

WHEN FAYE RESNICK'S TELL-ALL memoir, Nicole Brown Simpson: the Private Diary of a Life Interrupted hit the bookstores on Oct. 17, it did what many thought impossible: it brought the feuding parties at the O.J. Simpson trial into sudden agreement. Everyone hated the book. Simpson's friend and attorney Robert Kardashian claimed it was full of half-truths. Prosecutor Marcia Clark complained it would taint the jury pool. And an angry Judge Lance Ito suspended the jury selection for two days, warning potential jurors to avoid news reports on the book and its sensational claims.

As full of beautiful people, casual sex and recreational drugs as any Jackie Collins novel, Resnick's best-selling book reports that the author herself had a one-time lesbian encounter with Nicole and that Nicole had a fling with football great Marcus Allen, one of Simpson's best friends—who has adamantly denied any involvement. Resnick also says that during Nicole's marriage to O.J., beatings were constant." 'I can't begin to count the times,' " she recalls Nicole as saying. And when Nicole finally broke off with O.J. in mid-April, he allegedly called Resnick to tell her, "I can't take this...I'll kill that bitch."

Resnick, 37, who received a six-figure advance to write the book with National Enquirer columnist Mike Walker, insists that money wasn't her primary motive. "Nicole truly believed and told me on many occasions that O.J. would kill her and get away with it," says Resnick, who claims she is now in hiding because she fears violence at the hands of Simpson's friends. "I promised her that if that happened, I would tell everything I knew about their abusive relationship."

Resnick first met Nicole Brown Simpson in 1990, and the two soon bonded on the Brentwood, Calif., social scene, an endless round of aerobic workouts, nightclubbing and dinners at très chic restaurants, punctuated by the occasional beach vacation in Mexico. "A lot of things drew them together," says one close friend of Nicole's. "They both knew what it was like to have trouble in a marriage."

But Resnick, who has been married and divorced three times, had an additional problem: drugs. An admitted cocaine addict, she has been in and out of three rehabilitation programs in the past eight years. Although she maintains she is currently clean, her past drug use has led some to question her credibility. R.W. "Pete" Peterson, a private investigator hired by Nicole supporters, dismisses her as a "codependent hanger-on," willing to exploit the victim's memory for money. "Nicole wasn't a saint, but Resnick makes her sound like the floozy of the year," he says. "She was pretty mainstream by Brentwood standards."

Nicole proved quite a loyal friend by anyone's standards. Paul Resnick—Faye's third husband, with whom she is still friendly—says that a concerned Nicole called him in early June to report that "Faye was getting out of control" and abusing cocaine again. "Nicole recognized the symptoms of heavier and heavier drug use," says Resnick, 58. On June 9—just three days before the murders—Nicole and several other friends conducted an "intervention" and persuaded Faye to check into the Exodus Recovery Center in Marina Del Rey, Calif.

Though her book may be breathlessly candid in matters concerning Nicole, Resnick—who may be called as a prosecution witness at the upcoming trial—provides only the sketchiest details of her own background. Born Faye Hutchison, she grew up one of four children born to a father who abandoned the family and to a Jehovah's Witness mother who believed the world would end in 1975. As a child, Resnick claims, she was regularly beaten by her stepfather for wetting her bed. She also says that she was the director of a John Robert Powers finishing and modeling school, but the organization has no record of her employment.

In the early '80s, after a failed first marriage, Resnick moved to London to pursue a modeling career and married Fadi Halabi, whom she calls an eccentric heir, and they had a daughter, Francesca, now 10. She eventually divorced Halabi, and in 1986 she moved to Los Angeles and married Resnick, an entrepreneur, the following year. (They divorced in 1991.)

One of Nicole's closest friends says that for all its sordid details, Resnick's Diary is essentially accurate. "A lot of people can't comprehend what Faye's saying in the book, and they think it's too horrific to be true," she says. "But I believe it's true. At this point she has a vendetta—toward the person she feels abused and murdered her best friend."

DAVID ELLIS
JOHNNY DODD and LYNDON STAMBLER in Los Angeles and bureau reports

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