Walters attended Sarah Lawrence College during a notably turbulent time in American politics, the era of communist witch hunts, the Hollywood 10 and the Army-McCarthy hearings. Although she wasn’t particularly political at the time, she knew enough to detest McCarthy’s henchman, the wily, cold-blooded Roy Cohn. A few years later, her father introduced her to Cohn, telling him his daughter always wanted to meet him. Walters shook his hand, but said to Cohn’s face that she never wanted to meet him.
And yet, they became and remained friends until the day Cohn died of AIDS in 1986. Many of Walters’ other friends were horrified that she would even talk to Cohn, but what Walters reveals for the first time in “Audition” is that Cohn somehow got a warrant for her father’s arrest dismissed. He had failed to show up for a New York court date because the family was in Las Vegas at the time.
Cohn liked to hint that they were more than friends “because I was his claim to heterosexuality,” Walters says. “He never said that he was gay, he never admitted to me that he had AIDS. He was a very complicated man. He died, alone, up to his ears in debt. He had been disbarred and he was hated. And I might have thought the same way, but he did something when my father was in trouble, [and] I never forgot that.”
Loyalty, she says, means everything to her. “I still have many of the same friends I had when I was younger,” she says.
Did Cohn have a secret “nice” side?
“I would not use the word nice,” she laughs. “He was very smart. And funny. And, at the time, seemed to know everyone in New York. He was very friendly with the cardinal, he was very friendly with the most famous columnist in New York, Walter Winchell, he had a lot of extremely powerful friends.”
The Truth is, as they say, somewhat different. Roy Cohn got the warrant dismissed against Lou Walters because he was Mafia lawyer, and The Latin Quarter was a Mafia-front night club. Judy Miller’s mother danced in the chorus.
As for Baba’s claim that she “never wanted to meet” Roy, read Citizen Cohn by Nicholas Von Hoffman. Baba wanted nothing more than to marry Roy. For years she went out with him on dates, blathering away long into the night about how “lonely” he was going to be all by himself, and how much he needed a woman like her in his life.
Knowing the score perfectly well Baba allowed Roy to take his fuck du jour along with them on these dates. The stud would sit there quietly eating his dinner while Baba droned on and Roy nodded politely. Then at evening’s end Roy would see her home and then take the stud back to his place to get fucked.
Yet for all of this hard work Baba had nothing to show for it. Roy declined her endless offers and a Triumph of the Will and Grace marriage was not to be hers.
She would have made a great widow.