How the Father of Glenn Close Became Mobutu's Personal Doctor: Tells the Story of How Dr William T. Close, the Father of the Hollywood Actress Glenn Close, Became the Doctor of the Congolese President, Mobutu Sese Seko, and How Mobutu's Largesse Rubbed off in Paying for the Wedding of Dr Close's Now Famous Actress Daughter

By Abraham, Curtis | New African, October 2012 | Go to article overview

How the Father of Glenn Close Became Mobutu's Personal Doctor: Tells the Story of How Dr William T. Close, the Father of the Hollywood Actress Glenn Close, Became the Doctor of the Congolese President, Mobutu Sese Seko, and How Mobutu's Largesse Rubbed off in Paying for the Wedding of Dr Close's Now Famous Actress Daughter


Abraham, Curtis, New African


IN 1969 THE FAMED HOLLYWOOD actress and six-time Academy Award nominee, Glenn Close, had set her sights on holy matrimony. But the budding actress, who had spent much of her childhood in the political cauldron of the newly independent Belgian Congo and later touring the world with the Moral ReArmament singing group "Up with People", was unable to afford the Greenwich, Connecticut, wedding befitting her pedigree.

Her father was a descendant of the prominent Taliaferros family who settled in Virginia in the 17th century, and her maternal grandfather was Charles Arthur Moore, part of the well-known American manufacturers, Manning, Maxwell and Moore. So, in stepped Joseph Desire Mobutu Sese Seko.

By the late 196os Close's father, the American surgeon Dr William Taliaferros Close (or Bill Close for short) had already spent close to a decade in the employ of Mobutu as the president's personal physician. More importantly, Dr Close and Mobutu had become intimate friends; drinking pink champagne and vintage cognac together in the presidential palace in Kinshasa and taking cruises together on Mobutu's boat that sailed the vast and meandering River Congo. Mobutu watched as Bill Close provided medical care to impoverished Congolese villagers.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

So, when Close and his wife, Bettine Moore, found it difficult to pay for the wedding of their actress daughter, Mobutu stepped in and offered to pay Bill Close an astonishing (at that time) $40,000 for his decade of service to him and the people of Congo, as well as an annual $20,000 retainer fee for his medical services.

Not only was Glenn Close's wedding to Cabot Wade well catered for, but Bill Close was also able to make a down payment on a ranch in the US state of Wyoming, where he would spend the remainder of his life until his death in 2009 from a heart attack.

Dr Peter Piot, the Belgian former undersecretary general of the United Nations and ex-executive director of UNAIDS, confirms in his new book, No Time to Lose that, when he worked in Congo trying to save the country from the deadly Ebola virus in 1976, he became very close to Dr Bill Close. Piot writes in his memoir, published this year:

"Bill Close ... had come to Congo just before Independence as a missionary worker, though he was a trained physician. Somehow he became President Mobutu's personal physician as well as director of the biggest hospital in the country, Mama Yemo Hospital in Kinshasa (it was named for Mobutu's mother).

"But this didn't fully explain the extent of his power and influence in Zaire. He was a mysterious man, thoroughly likable, with an unmatched knowledge of Zaire and connections at all levels in society. A year later, he left Zaire, disillusioned by the Mobutu regime. We stayed in touch until his death in Wyoming in 2009."

Moral Re-Armament

In 1950s America, and in the climate of the post-World War II optimism, Bill and Bettine Close became part of the Moral Re-Armament (MRA) religious movement that was started by Frank Buchman, the American Lutheran minister whose preaching centered on personal change through the application of what he believed to be the four absolute moral standards: honesty, purity, unselfishness and love. Buchanan believed these would create a "force: of men and women capable of changing the world." Years later however, the MRA shifted its focus from personal change to what Dr Close said was "a highly vocal anti-Communist lobby".

At the time of his MRA activities, Bill Close had only six months left to complete his surgical residency at the Roosevelt Hospital in New York. And against the advice of his professors (and some MRA leaders) who implored him to at least finish the residency, he remained steadfast and left.

"The prospect of a 'world mission' that would change people and nations impelled me to resign from my surgical residency at Roosevelt six months early and commit to MRA full time", he explained in his 2007 book, Beyond the Storm: Treating the Powerless and the Powerful in Mobutu 's Congo/Zaire. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

How the Father of Glenn Close Became Mobutu's Personal Doctor: Tells the Story of How Dr William T. Close, the Father of the Hollywood Actress Glenn Close, Became the Doctor of the Congolese President, Mobutu Sese Seko, and How Mobutu's Largesse Rubbed off in Paying for the Wedding of Dr Close's Now Famous Actress Daughter
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.