But Donna Estes, a friend of Nicole's, says that many of the couple's friends considered the '89 incident an aberration. If their closest friends had known, Estes says, "no one would have allowed it to go on. We would have helped him get help. We wouldn't have ostracized him or covered it up. If he had been forced to face this, maybe Nicole would be alive."
One of O.J.'s broadcasting colleagues describes Nicole this way: "She was a dramatic person. A person with physical electricity. A dramatic physical presence. If you ask me whether she was beautiful, I'd say no, she was not beautiful. If you ask me whether she was elegant, I'd say not necessarily. She had an electric physical presence. As for her personality, she had some vivacity, some spirit about her that was just there. If you were in a roomful of people, your eye turned to Nicole. There was something unusual about her. She was a willful, spirited person—a party animal. She loved to say, 'I want to go dance all night.' "
Nicole met O.J. shortly after she graduated from Dana Hills High School, in 1977. He was then winding down both his first marriage to Marquerite, whom he had met in high school, and his NFL career, and Nicole apparently eased the transition in both respects. The couple wed in February 1985, and when O.J. was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame six months later, he singled out Nicole in his induction speech for helping him through the athlete's inevitable decline and departure from sports.
By the time they married, O.J. had become a national spokesman for Hertz and several other companies. He not only could afford a lavish lifestyle but also had acquired the social confidence to thoroughly enjoy it. In her 1992 divorce petition, Nicole described the sort of life that two beautiful, popular and wealthy people in West Los Angeles ought to have.
"We moved into a $5 million residence in the exclusive area of Brentwood," she said in the court document. "We had a full staff to assist us. The house was extensively remodeled a few years ago, and no expense was spared.... We also spent our summers at a $1.9 million Laguna Beach house, which is situated on the sand. This house was never rented but only kept for our own enjoyment during the summer and at other times during the year. [O.J.] and I maintained a bicoastal lifestyle. We have an apartment in New York, which I used several times each year, sometimes for as long as one month at a time.... Whenever we traveled on commercial airlines, we flew first class. However, it was not unusual to travel by private jet, such as on trips to Las Vegas."
She described annual trips to Hawaii, Vail or Aspen, and Mexico. She spoke of receiving an allowance of $6,000 a month in "spending money" and owning "Ferrari automobiles and other vehicles." She said, "The lifestyle that [O.J.] and I shared was truly substantial."
The social whirl was pleasant as well. Acquaintances have described celebrity-filled parties at the Simpsons', where guests played pool and tennis and participated in scavenger hunts. The couple's two children completed this seemingly perfect tableau.
But behind locked gates it was another story. It has been widely reported that there were numerous calls to 911 that, as one source puts it, "were never converted to the police blotter." But the one that made it there was chilling enough. At 3:30 a.m. on Jan. 1, 1989, police were called to the Simpson home. According to the police report of that incident, Nicole rushed across the lawn, wearing a bra and sweatpants, and collapsed against the gate-release button. "He's going to kill me, he's going to kill me," she yelled, running to the police officers who responded to the call. "You never do anything about him; you talk to him and then leave."
According to the report, O.J. appeared from the house wearing a bathrobe and screamed at the police, "I don't want that woman sleeping in my bed anymore. I got two women, and I don't want that woman in my bed anymore."
Told he was going to be arrested, he yelled, "The police have been out here eight times before, and now you're going to arrest me for this? This is a family matter. Why do you want to make a big deal of it? We can handle it."