Building Blocks (Death becomes the written word…)



Time molds vivid memories from one’s past into the building blocks of one’s writing…


Previously, I mentioned that events of our lives, from the almost overlooked, to life altering, can become the seeds of our writings.  While I have not used the following chance occurrence, I believe it is a good example of the almost overlooked.

In 1971, I spent a few days in Rome, staying at Papa Germano’s.  One of the other young travelers staying at Papa Germano’s, David, seemed to have unlimited funds and a ‘who cares’ attitude about life.  He told me, “My father is vice president of Pan Am(erican Airlines) and I fly for free…I’m making eastward and westward trips around the world for the fun of it.”  ‘Must be nice,’ I thought (the abundance of money and free travel, not his attitude).

Sadly, two years later David would be dead; and forty years later the cause of his death is still questionable in the minds of some writers.

In February 1973, David Whiting was found dead in the Gila Bend, Arizona motel room of actress Sara Miles, who was filming The Man Who Loves Cat Dancing with Burt Reynolds.  The county medical examiner ruled Whiting’s death a suicide from a drug overdose.  “(W)hy  the body was found with a severe cut and scratches has never been explained,”  writes John Stark, for example, in a November 23, 1987 People magazine article.  What is known, is that David — sometimes mentioned as her ‘business associate’, her ‘business manager’, or her ‘neurotic agent/paramour’  — and Sara Miles, who was married, had been recently involved.  Burt Reynolds was her alibi for the time of David’s death, around 3:00 AM.

The ‘unanswered questions’ about David Whiting’s death continue to be the underpinning for writings.  Here are some examples:

Book (1972): The Secret Parts of Fortune: Three Decades of Intense Investigations and Edgy Enthusiasms, by Ron Rosenbaum.

Book (1992): The Tales of Hollywood the Bizarre, by John Austin.

Book (2011): The Gatsby Game, by Anne R. Allen.  In a 2012 article, The Real Hollywood Mystery That Inspired The Gatsby Game, Anne R. Allen says, “When I was in college, I dated a man named David Whiting — an odd duck who seemed to live in an F. Scott Fitzgerald fantasy world.  A couple of years later, he was found dead in actress Sarah Miles’ motel room during the filming of a Burt Reynolds movie.”


Coincidentally, the movie is about Jay (Burt Reynolds), a man of the West, and his offbeat relationship with Catherine (Sarah Miles), a woman from the East who is fleeing an unhappy marriage.







Think about your ‘building blocks’; we can not write without them.

4 thoughts on “Building Blocks (Death becomes the written word…)

  1. there is always this pause after i read your thoughts…
    taking more in I guess….Debbie is right…
    as there is always a door to be opened and a picture to painted with words when
    we step through it…
    Take Care…

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