Olivia Newton John has a new boyfriend. Caroline Graham reports that the songbird is falling hopelessly in love with a multimillionaire movie investor named Michael Klein. Graham reports that “the pair spent last week together at Donald Trump's Florida estate, where Newton-John was due to perform at a private charity yesterday.” We hope she had a good view of the ocean, because an ocean is where her alleged longtime lover Patrick McDermott went missing eight months ago while Livvie skipped nary a beat.
It appears that Olivia Newton-John’s team has successfully put this scandal behind her.
But what happened to Patrick McDermott? And why doesn’t anyone care?
Patrick McDermott was a cameraman and supposedly Newton-John’s lover of nine years when he disappeared from a fishing charter boat off San Pedro, California, on June 30. He was missing more than seven weeks before an eagle-eyed reporter made the connection, and let police and the Coast Guard know the missing man was the boyfriend of an international superstar. In those seven weeks, Olivia Newton-John neither reported McDermott missing nor made any public appeal to find him, in case he was in a hospital or wandering with amnesia. Newton-John had been back and forth between Malibu and Australia, where she’d made public appearances and went about business preparing an album release and tour.
On that Sunday morning in August when the story broke, the Coast Guard told us they didn’t know if Patrick McDermott was dead or alive--and that they suspected he’d taken a runner-- faked his death because of money troubles! First question: How could Olivia Newton-John’s live-in lover have money troubles?
It was McDermott’s ex-wife, and mother of his 13-year-old son, who reported McDermott missing, a week after his disappearance. He’d been divorced from Yvette Nipar for a dozen years, yet she was still part of his life, and had recently taken him to court for child support. Investigative reporter Doug Bruckner found out in short order that McDermott had filed for bankruptcy, and lived not in Newton-John’s Malibu pleasuredome, but in a small house in Van Nuys, the low-rent porn capital in the Valley. He also found Nipar, who wouldn’t talk (and still hasn’t).
As soon as we got on the story, Newton-John released a statement urging help in finding her “treasured friend” and went into mournful “seclusion.” But within days, she brought in Hollywood security expert Gavin de Becker, and the spin campaign began. Friends and a nephew calling himself “Emerson Newton-John” (actually Jeff Conaway’s kid) told stories that painted Newton-John as leader of the search effort, explained away her seven weeks of public bliss, and revealed the slow fade of the relationship because of McDermott’s drinking.
For Newton-John, the mourning period was about as swift as Pat O’Brien’s rehabilitation from sex and drug addiction. Despite earlier indications, she carried on with her album promotion, as a deal was made for a softball, no-hard-questions interview segment on Good Morning America and with other news outlets. She returned to the stage, carried on with her tour, and in November even made tabloid headlines with an alleged $9,000 lunch at a New York City eatery with her longtime friend, the “asexual” Brit singer Cliff Richard.
Patrick McDermott quickly became old news, another tragic episode in the brave Livvie saga.
So what gives? What happened to Patrick McDermott? At last word, police and Coast Guard have no clues and are leaning toward suicide, allowing them to close the book on this latest chapter of Hollywood Babylon.
So McDermott committed suicide, ran away because of his debts, or simply slipped off the boat.
Why did Olivia Newton-John act as she did? Tabloid Baby theory: Either Olivia Newton-John didn’t know he was missing—or she helped him abscond to a place like Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Because Patrick McDermott was a beard. An employee. A big, strong, handsome man whose job it was to be at her side at premieres, in articles, and Hollywood myth, for a number of reasons that go beyond what she does in her private life. Patrick McDermott played his part, and then drove home to Van Nuys.
Olivia Newton-John has been rumoured to be a lesbian, even before she camped it up with Travolta in Grease. She’s blamed the rumours on a Tonight Show appearance back in the 1970s, when her innocent comment about having “girlfriends” caused Johnny to arch an eyebrow.
But her real troubles started in 1980, when a stalker named Ralph Nau came into her life. Convinced she loved him, Ralph started following the star. Four years later, he tried to join her onstage in Los Angeles and followed to Australia. Then he beat his autistic brother to death. He remains in a mental institution.
She first hired hired Gavin de Becker and his security team in 1983, when another stalker, Michael Perry, was found near her home. De Becker’s people convinced Perry to get out of town and out of state. Perry went home to Louisiana, slaughtered five members of his own family and left a note suggesting Newton-John might be next. De Becker whisked her into hiding; Perry was caught, and remains on Death Row.
Late in 1984, she married a young actor named Matt Lattanzi. Latanzi, eleven years her junior, had been discovered by director George Cukor for the movie Rich & Famous. They had a daughter and lived a mostly private life, until 1995, when after a bout with breast cancer and bankruptcy, Newton-John and Lattanzi divorced. Soon, Patrick McDermott became the man at her side. A tough guy you wouldn’t want to mess with.
Patrick McDermott played his role for the Hollywood machine. He provided perfect cover for Olivia-Newton John, from People magazine to the Enquirer to Entertainment Tonight. But after he disappeared, and the elements of a textbook Hollywood scandal and cover-up began taking shape in plain sight on three continents, few made the effort to follow up. There are albums to promote, and awards to give out. Now Olivia Newton-John's moved on, with a rich new boyfriend to be seen with in public, and an unpleasant episode is pushed aside.
Remember Patrick McDermott. His story’s not over yet.
Is Patrick McDermott alive? Report sightings here.