The Bonny Lee Bakley Story: Stranger Than Fiction

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Long before slaying victim Bonny Lee Bakley married actor Robert Blake, she married a Montana widower who answered one of her personal ads. But moments after the “I do’s” were exchanged in Elko, Nev., DeMart C. Besly handed his bride a roll of quarters. He never saw her again.

His heartbreak hardened into obsession, and Besly spent his final years pounding out Bakley’s story on a manual typewriter. When he died last December at age 93, he left behind a 400-page manuscript, titled “Ubiquitous Bonny: Mistress of Sham!” On the cover sheet he had scrawled a note saying to save it in case it was ever needed.

“He was very intuitive,” said Besly’s niece, Dawn Dupre, of Santa Monica, who inherited the manuscript and is looking for a publisher. “All these years, my uncle kept telling me about this ‘Bonny Lee’ and this book he was writing. And I was saying, ‘Who cares?”’ Besly, a retired handwriting analyst, explained that he was uncontrollably drawn to Bakley. “He knew it was all wrong, but he couldn’t help it.”


Dupre has retained lawyer Jonathan Kirsch to sort out the legal issues and cut a publishing deal. Kirsch said he has turned over a copy to police and prosecutors. Blake’s lawyer, Harland Braun, also has a copy. “I think this manuscript reveals in vivid detail the peril in which Bonny Lee Bakley placed herself by the way she interacted with many different men--some famous and some obscure,” Kirsch said. “She recognized that she could come to harm, or even death, because of what she was doing.”

The LAPD and prosecutors, said Kirsch, “have agreed to keep the manuscript in confidence and use it only for purposes of their criminal investigation.”

Although they hadn’t seen each other since their wedding day, Besly and Bakley kept in touch through letters and phone calls, so the manuscript is well documented. Besly, according to Kirsch, was “a man with a broken heart, and he writes like one.” The lawyer teased us with this excerpt:

“‘Bonny’ and I were married in Elko, Nev., on Dec. 7, 1988. She had been my unblushing bride for less than an hour when she suddenly vanished

Bakley, 45, was shot to death May 4 as she sat in Blake’s car a block from a Studio City restaurant where they’d just had dinner. Officially, there are no suspects.

According to Dupre, her uncle “wasn’t happy that she dumped him like that” and believed “somebody was going to get her with all this stuff she was pulling on all these poor men. He did mention that she would be murdered. He just knew it .... He wanted her to be careful and to shape up. He was absolutely obsessed with her, poor little guy.”


Earth to Anne

After she was found wandering the fields of Fresno in her undies last summer, Anne Heche, freshly split from Ellen DeGeneres, blamed her altered state on sunstroke. But Heche, who married camera operator Coley Laffoon in L.A. on Saturday, comes clean to Barbara Walters in a much-hyped interview on ABC tonight.

Heche tells Walters that she was under the influence of the rave drug Ecstasy and that her dazed and confused walkabout culminated 31 years of insanity. (Heche, 32, insists she’s sane now. She says her mental illness was triggered by sexual abuse by her father, a Baptist minister who died of AIDS and isn’t around to defend himself.)

Heche says she had another personality, “Celestia,” who was from another planet and believed God spoke directly to her. Heche says God himself ordered her to meet a spacecraft in Fresno that would take her to heaven. “I was told to go to a place where I would meet a spaceship. I was told in order to get on the spaceship, that I would have to take a hit of Ecstasy. Again, a voice. All of this, justification for the end of the journey. I did go to a house. I did ask people to join me ... I did go to the hospital.”

Heche’s autobiography, “Call Me Crazy,” details her troubled childhood, her relationship with DeGeneres and her battle with her demons. It’s due in bookstores just in time to upstage DeGeneres’ turn hosting the Emmy Awards and the premiere of her new CBS comedy show. Heche tells Walters that the former lovers don’t speak.


“Titanic” star Kate Winslet has separated from her film director husband, Jim Threapleton, after less than three years of marriage.

A spokesman for the British actress said the split was amicable. “Their daughter, Mia, will remain the first priority for both of them,” he added.


In an interview in September’s issue of InStyle magazine, Winslet, 25, hinted that married life with a baby isn’t easy: “There are highs and lows, and at times it’s tough.”


Actress Rosanna Arquette, who’s been spinning records at all the right parties, is engaged to David Codikow, president of Immortal Entertainment. We’re told that Codikow popped the question during a Mediterranean vacation, then made it official with an impressive sparkler. The couple, who were L.A. neighbors 14 years ago, have been dating since they attended a Radiohead concert together last year. They plan a “destination wedding” sometime next year.

Politically Incorrect

On the same day Peter Bart was reinstated as editor in chief at Daily Variety on the condition he undergo diversity training, we bumped into him at a Beverly Hills cocktail party for writer Judy Bachrach and her dishy book on Tina Brown and Harry Evans. Ensconced in a corner with Bill Maher, host of “Politically Incorrect,” Bart was talking about how much he looked forward to returning to work when Maher interjected, “It was all my fault. I’m a bad influence.”


Times staff writers Louise Roug and Gina Piccalo contributed to this column. City of Angles runs Tuesday-Friday. Email: