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A Shining Knight no more
Gary Smith
September 12, 1983
In days of old he was Beautiful Harvey Martin of the Dallas Cowboys, but now the party's over.
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September 12, 1983

A Shining Knight No More

In days of old he was Beautiful Harvey Martin of the Dallas Cowboys, but now the party's over.

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The first time Harvey Martin threw a party, he was still Beautiful. That was back in '78, before that little ripple of bad luck when the IRS demanded a quarter of a million dollars in unpaid taxes and threatened to throw him in jail, and his nightclub and five restaurants collapsed and the 11 lawsuits were filed against him and he went nearly $612,000 in debt and he declared bankruptcy and he was fired from his sports casting job on Dallas' Channel 5 and lost his defensive captaincy of the Cowboys and his engagement to Sharon Bell was broken and he was accused in print of snorting cocaine.

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Weren't you at that first party, when he had waitresses serving hors d'oeuvres and alcohol gurgling everywhere and so many people in the Jacuzzi and swimming pool that there was hardly room left for the water and so many cars outside that two streets and a couple of neighbors' lawns became parking lots and somebody began swiping knickknacks and Harvey's chess set for souvenirs and somebody else kicked open the front door to make a grand entrance and shattered the full-length mirror on the back of the door? God, it was so much easier being Beautiful back then....

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Now it is midnight on a Friday in early May of 1983, and Harvey Martin is throwing his first party since the universe chose his head to cave in on. No, not throwing it—just a nice little underhand lob this time, only 60 people or so. It's a party for the people involved in the production of Damn Yankees, the play at Granny's Dinner Playhouse in Dallas, in which Martin is performing the role of Applegate, the Devil.

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People are walking around his house in little gaping groups, like Japanese at Disney World. Some are watching a videotape of the old Damn Yankees movie on the four-foot living-room TV screen and some are watching it in Harvey's massive bedroom and some are running their fingers over his new brass chess set and some are admiring his statuette of The Thinker and some are oohing over the suit of armor in the garage and some are aahing over the waterfall cascading over the rocks from his Jacuzzi into his indoor pool and some are tapping their toes to the rhythm pumping from the waist-high stereo speakers and some are studying the 17 pictures of Martin in his bedroom and some are plunging their fists into the ice buckets of champagne and the plastic crater of fresh shrimp.

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Mostly, though, everybody is rooting for the six piranhas to eat the 25 goldfish.

The piranhas are assembled in a sullen squadron on the right side of the aquarium set into the stone wall in Martin's living room. The goldfish are in the opposite corner, working at inconspicuous-ness. Misty Rowe, the blonde dumpling who took time off from Hee Haw to star as Lola in Damn Yankees, watches the face-off and feels an analogy coming on. "The piranhas remind me of the Hollywood producers, and the goldfish on the other side are all us starlets," she says. "No wonder Harvey went bankrupt, feeding them all those goldfish. You know, I just can't imagine my Harvey, with that big grin of his and so gentle, having piranhas in his house."

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