Leon Uris: Life of a Best Seller

By Ira B. Nadel | Go to book overview
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7
LOVE AND LITIGATION

I like my Jews mean and fighting.

—URIS, 22 DECEMBER 1964

JUST BEFORE THE PUBLICATION of Armageddon in the spring of 1964, Uris needed a safe haven. Not because of the novel, but because of the publicity and pressure of a London libel trial instituted by a Polish-born British citizen who claimed that Uris had defamed him in a passage from Exodus. The trial generated international headlines, which Uris sought to escape. Mexico was the answer.

Settling in Acapulco to write a screenplay for Paramount in February 1964, Uris joined a cadre of other writers who found the locale conducive to a relaxed style of work: Tennessee Williams, Budd Schulberg, Robert Roark, and Ernest Gann all enjoyed the sun and sea. By June 1964, after his victory in London, he told his father that he had more or less settled in Acapulco after a long motor trip through the country with Betty, and was now sitting down to write a screenplay to be titled “The Gringo,” set in Mexico during the Porfirio Díaz era.1 The screenplay of Armageddon would follow, which he would coproduce. He was also trying to make a deal for the film rights to Mila 18.

Acapulco was a respite from the tensions of publishing, and he told his father that there was “every possibility” that he would “build a part-time home in Acapulco: my health is wonderful. I water ski every day and find life on the sea generally very healthy.”2 Betty came and went, going first to Aspen to assist with plans for a new house—Uris had bought a parcel of land on Red Mountain in February for seven thousand dollars—before coming down to the Las Brisas Hilton in Acapulco. She then went back to Malibu for Karen’s high school graduation, which Uris missed. She and the family returned to Mexico in July after closing up their Malibu beach house in anticipation of the move to Aspen.

London was a battle, however. A libel action for damages caused by defamation had been brought against him by a sixty-one-year-old surgeon, Dr. Wladislaw

-169-

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