February 13, 2021 – Bodyguards for porn king and celebrated free-speech advocate Larry Flynt killed a New York film financier over a beef related to Academy Award-winning Hollywood producer and former studio chief Robert Evans and a glitzy, big-budget movie he was looking to get off the ground with shady money. The film did get off the ground and to the screen and Evans never faced any charges in the homicide.
Flynt died of a heart attack this week at 78. He founded Hustler Magazine in Ohio in the summer of 1974 and built the Hustler brand name into a juggernaut in the world of adult entertainment. Actor Woody Harrelson portrayed Flynt on the silver screen in 1996’s The People Vs. Larry Flynt, collecting an Oscar nominee for Best Actor for his performance. Flynt was famously paralyzed in an assassination attempt outside a Georgia courthouse in 1978 by a deranged white supremacist upset by Hustler’s interracial photo spreads.
Evans, known for producing iconic films like Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, The Godfather Pt. II, Love Story and Chinatown, passed in 2019. He headed Paramount Pictures in the late 1960s and first half of the 1970s. It was Evans’ attempt to recreate his Godfather magic in the 1980s with the film The Cotton Club starring Richard Gere, that led to the murder of potential angel investor Roy Radin, a New York music and variety show promoter with connections on Broadway and the wholesale cocaine scene.
Raidin was shot to death by Larry Flynt’s bodyguards Billy Mentzer and Alex Marti on May 13, 1983. Mentzer and his girlfriend, Karen “Lanie Jacobs” Greenberger, a female drug kingpin, kidnapped Radin from a Beverly Hills hotel and murdered him for the belief that he was trying to edge Jacobs out of a finder’s fee for introducing him to hot shot Hollywood producer Evans, who she was dating at the time as well.
Evans met Radin in 1982 through Jacobs with the knowledge that Radin was looking to get into the movie business and knew how to raise capital. Jacobs supplied Radin drugs in bulk for the musicians at his rock concerts. Radin and Evans were co-financing The Cotton Club and had gotten a commitment from Sylvester Stallone to star in the film. Stallone was eventually replaced by Richard Gere as the movie’s protagonist, “Dixie Dwyer,” a trumpet player-turned-tough-guy-actor.
At some point in early 1983, Jacobs and Radin had a falling out. Jacobs thought Radin was angling to edge her out of the deal with Evans and suspected him of orchestrating a robbery of her Beverly Hills mansion in which millions of dollars of cash, drugs, diamonds and furs were taken out of a walk-in safe in her basement.
According to court documents, Evans tried to mediate the dispute at an April 1983 dinner meeting he hosted at his townhouse in Manhattan, however, the meal quickly degenerating into a screaming match between Jacobs and Radin and resulted in Jacobs running out of Evans’ townhouse in tears. Less than three weeks later, Radin was rubbed out gangland style.
On the evening of May 13, 1983, Jacobs, Mentzer, Marti and another Flynt bodyguard named Bobby Lowe, picked up the 33-year old Radin from the Hollywood Regency Hotel in Jacob’s signature black-colored Cadillac stretch limo, drove him an hour north of L.A. to Gorman, California and executed him. Menzter and Marti shot him 13 times and dumped his body in a desolate canyon where it would not be found for weeks. After he was shot, Mentzer exploded a stick of dynamite in his mouth. Lowe drove the limo and Jacobs called shots from the backseat.
Then, in 1987, Larry Flynt’s brother-in-law and head of security, Billy Rider, came forward and told LAPD detectives that he heard Mentzer and Marti bragging about murdering Radin during a late-night poker game at Flynt’s Hustler Mansion. He agreed to wear a wire. That was all she wrote.
In October 1988, Lanie Jacobs, Mentzer, Marti and Lowe were arrested for the Radin homicide. They were all convicted at trial in 1991.
Evans skated in the case and pleaded the Fifth Amendment when called to testify at a pretrial hearing. He had pleaded guilty to a cocaine conspiracy in 1980.
Testifying in her own defense at her trial, Jacobs absolved Evans of having any knowledge of the murder conspiracy. Bobby Lowe, on the other hand, directly implicated Evans in being aware of the murder plot beforehand and detectives found a record of a call placed from Jacobs to Evans in the hours after Radin was slain.
Jacobs, 73 today, ran in some pretty major doper circles back in the 1970s and 1980s. She married Florida “kilo dealer” Larry Greenberger, one of Colombian narco baron Carlos Lehder’s top smuggling lieutenants in the United States. Greenberger popped up dead under suspicious circumstances on September 14, 1988, a month before Jacobs was indicted in the Radin case.
Radin’s murder spooked Evans, according to court documents, leading him to believe that he would be killed next. He sought protection from the well-known Hollywood attorney and mob fixer Sidney Korshsk. In turn, Korshak put him in touch with Eddie and Freddie Doumani, two brothers with alleged ties to mob figures in Chicago and Kansas City.
The Doumani brothers owned the K.C. mafia-controlled Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas as well as other properties on the Strip. Evans got the Doumanis’ to shell out $50 million dollars of The Cotton Club’s $60-million dollar budget.
Chicago mobster Tony (The Ant) Spilotro is alleged to have bought a piece of the production and was present on set. Spilotro watched the Chicago Outfit’s interests on the West Coast and headquartered out of Las Vegas. Per FBI records, Spilotro, a man federal authorities believed was responsible for dozens of mob-related murders, got into a physical altercation on the set with one of Coppola’s assistant directors.
Tony the Ant met a gruesome end, beaten and strangled to death inside a south suburban Chicago basement in June 1986. Martin Scorsese dramatized Spilotro’s rise and fall in the 1995 film Casino with Oscar winner Joe Pesci playing a character inspired by Tony the Ant to perfection.
The Cotton Club was finally released to theatres on Christmas Eve 1984 to positive reviews, but disappointing profits. The gangster movie-musical hybrid brought in roughly $25 million in box-office receipts, less than half it’s estimated budget. Evans and Coppola never worked with each other again.