Born “on the wrong side of the blanket,” Gully was the first child of the second Viscount Selby and his paramour, Dorothy Grey. “The fact that I was a love child is a technicality,” he insisted. “My parents married as soon as my father’s divorce became final.
It’s almost midsummer. Therefore, time to poke through the Vanity Fair archives, looking for tales of Louche Angeles. The late Richard Gully was the perfect Louche Angeleno. I adore Brits in Hollywood.
Gully witnessed the most interesting moments in 20th Century History. As he told Amy Fine Collins, he saw the end of the Edwardian Empire, enjoyed Berlin before Hitler’s rise, hung out in Mexico City with European emigres, stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day, befriended West Coast gangsters like Bugsey Siegel, lived with Elsie DeWolfe, and became Jack Warner’s fixer. He saw it all. He remarked that until 1960 Los Angeles was a sinkhole of corruption: “Burton Fitts,” said Gully, “who was the D.A. during the same period, fixed everything. An example: in the early 30s, L. B. Mayer ran over a man and killed him.” Talent agent and “glorified companion” Frank Orsatti took the rap for L.B. They switched seats so it looked like it was Orsatti’s fault.” Orsatti, an ex-bootlegger, “stayed in jail for a year.”
At the end of Gully’s life, he spilled all the tea. He died at age 93, but failed to finish his memoirs. They would have been juicy reading. He knew the film colony’s every secret. “Danny Kaye was mean, a horror. He mistreated his wife, Sylvia Fine, who wrote his material. His love affair with Olivier, the coldest man I ever met, was so tacky,” he told Fine Collins.