By Darnell Washington, Newsophile Staff Writer
LONDON, U.K. -- In an apparent bid to make sure the final issue of its scandal-plagued "News of the World" tabloid was memorable, Rupert Murdock's News Corp. decided to post steamy sex films of former First Lady Betty Ford on its Web site, just one day before memorial services are scheduled for Tuesday, July 12 in Palm Desert, California.
Ford, who died Friday, July 8 at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, was most famous for her candor and discussion of her personal battles with breast cancer, addiction to prescription pills and alcoholism. Since the recovery center bearing her name was opened in 1982, it has welcomed over 75,000 patients.
What was less known about the former First Lady was her life prior to meeting and marrying the future President Gerald Ford in 1948. While studying dance with Martha Graham and other choreographers in the late 1930s, Ford also modeled part-time with a local agency while living in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. It is thought that the adult films in question were made as the aspiring model was attempting to make a career transition from a life as a traditional dancer.
The film reels, stored on several reels of 8-millimeter stock found in a Grand Rapids, Michigan storage unit in 2003 but kept in hiding until after her death, were sold to News of the World, which was the highest bidder under the terms of a secret auction.
According to editor Sebastian Colson- now under fire for his role in a wire-tapping scandal that brought down the storied paper - the Ford films were extremely vulgar by the standards of the time, and even today would be considered rather distasteful.
"These celebrity sex tapes you see today might have better technology," said Colson, "but Betty really knew how to keep an audience enraptured with an amazing body, a very dirty mind and a copious amount of liquids. What kind of liquids? You'll have to log on to find out!"
Since the Web site for the paper has also shut down, parent company News Corp. has set up a separate Internet address at www.bettyfordhotstuff.com and also converted the films for viewing on the site YouTube.com.
According to family spokesperson and daughter Susan Ford Bayless, the Ford family is not amused by the timing of the release of these films and has asked the online versions to be removed. Complains Bayless, "Sure, I know my mother was photogenic, but can't you people just show photos of her in the White House?"