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Huguette Clark — the Movie?

Author of Empty Mansions In Talks About Feature Film


There’s talk that the mysterious life of eccentric copper heiress Huguette Clark might be turned into a movie.

Bill Dedman, co-author of Empty Mansions, who made three appearances at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum on Sunday and today, told The Santa Barbara Independent that he’s been having conversations about making a feature film of Clark’s life story. Nothing definite has been agreed on, he said.

Clark, daughter of copper baron W.A. Clark, lived in opulence in New York society as a girl, married once but fled home during her honeymoon, visited her Santa Barbara summer home on occasion until the early 1950s, later became a recluse in a New York hospital room, and died at the age of 104 in 2011 worth $300 million.

Then the battle over her estate began, with 19 distant relatives suing to overturn her last will, in which she cut them out entirely. They charged fraud and that she was mentally incapable of signing a valid will. Just before a jury trial was about to begin recently, heated negotiations resulted in $34.5 million going to the relatives and Clark’s Santa Barbara hilltop property, Bellosguardo, being preserved as a nonprofit arts foundation, operated by a board of directors.

And let’s not forget the noble French boyfriend and the nurse to whom she gave $30 million. Is there enough drama and intrigue there for a movie? So who would portray Huguette? How about Meryl Streep, who gets Hollywood’s nod for just about everything?

Dedman, a NBC News investigative reporter who broke the Huguette Clark story, and Paul Clark Newell Jr., Clark’s distant cousin, made three sold-out appearances here that featured her life story, Empty Mansions, and rarely seen photos of the interior of Bellosguardo, a mansion virtually frozen in time from Clark’s last visit.

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