Hot-tempered and prone to fisticuffs, Wald told me he once cold-cocked Rod Stewart in a hotel lobby in Hawaii because Stewart had trashed the room that Wald was waiting to occupy.In 1980, Wald was arrested after brandishing a shotgun in front of picketing hotel employees in Tahoe.In Wald's heyday, drug abuse was an accepted and arguably essential lubricant to doing business in Hollywood, where the boundary between work and play often blurs.But Wald stood out in the crowd for his staggering cocaine habit.
I remember in Orange County having to surrender him to the police. And they made both of us walk out into the parking lot with no shoes, no shirt, with our hands up and stuff. We had hired a company that would go to Marseilles, pick up cocaine -- now remember, there was a huge crew, I think we had 42 people on the road, so we'd get 100 grams of cocaine at a time. (Wald had been president of the Guber-Peters Co., so obviously he knew our subjects well.) Short, barrel-chested and with a gravelly, Bronx-accented voice, Wald regaled us with outrageous stories of his life in the '70s and '80s as the manager of an array of huge stars including Donna Summer, George Carlin, Sylvester Stallone and Crosby, Stills and Nash.Wald was well known in his own right and as the husband and manager of Helen Reddy, whose anthem "I Am Woman" helped define the era.He wound up at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., and he's been clean ever since. Mo Ostin sent Tiny Tim over to us, sort of as a joke.(He's also been happily married to wife Deborah for more than 20 years.) At 67, he is now CEO of Aria Multimedia Entertainment, which has produced outsized coffee-table books on Michael Jackson and hip-hop. We sent him over to [producer] George Schlatter, George put him on and they got thousands of pieces of mail. Just about anybody else -- senators, governors -- it didn't matter.