About 15 years ago, someone told me that a man who was Billie Holiday’s alter ego, and had ghostwritten her classic memoir turned movie, “Lady Sings the Blues,” was living in a little blue house in the Detroit area. That sounded interesting, so I went to see him.
His name was Bill Dufty, and I found out that not only was all that true, he also turned out to be the last husband of Gloria Swanson, the silent film star. What’s more, virtually nobody in the media knew about him. The Dalai Lama knew him, and so did Yoko Ono. But the media did not. His life was worth a book of its own.
Why did nobody know this fascinating man was in Detroit? Well, it‘s largely because as hard as we try to pretend otherwise, the news media are, in large part, stenographers for society’s institutions. Unless you run for office, commit a crime, get dragged into court, put on a concert or do something to call attention to yourself, you may never end up being “covered” in the news media.
I’ve spent most of my life in the Detroit area, and know there are countless other fascinating people beneath the radar. That’s why I wasn’t shocked by the Oscar-winning movie, “Searching for Sugarman.”