Reg Grundy Money battle
Mr Television’s estranged t daughter ht is fighting the stepmother she hated after being largely cut from his will
When media mogul Reg Grundy passed away at the ripe old age of 92 in May 2016, he was a man who seemed to have had it all – a wife of 45 years he adored so much he married her five times, a career that eclipsed anything he could have dreamed of and palatial homes around the world.
But for all the trappings of his incredibly successful career as an international TV producer, Australian-born Reg lived with the heartache that his only child, daughter Viola La Valette, had disowned him.
They didn’t speak at all for 22 years, even though Reg and his second wife Joy, 70, had lavished Viola with millions of dollars worth of gifts, including a $320,000-a-year trust fund and homes in Sydney and Los Angeles.
According to Joy, who became Reg’s second wife in 1971, the Wheel Of Fortune creator was so disappointed that Viola – formerly known as Kim Grundy and now aged 61 – would never accept their marriage, he cut
her h out of f hi his will, ill denying her any further payments other than the yearly trust fund they’d already agreed to.
However, in an attempt to secure a much larger share of his $750 million fortune, Viola last week launched a court battle contesting her father’s will, something that has made normally reclusive Joy go public with her husband’s dying wishes.
“She [Viola] was 56 when he wrote his last will, and his decision was to leave her what he believed was an appropriate and just amount, which he had been giving her for decades, and which enabled her never to work in her life, to fly first class and live in five-star hotels,” Joy told a Sydney newspaper.
“His daughter had rejected him and denied him contact,” she explained. “Reg was a very private gentleman. The great sadness he carried was the loss of his daughter. I must respect Reg’s wishes.”
Viola, who was born during Reg’s brief marriage to Lola Powell in the 1950s, is claiming that the $320,000-a-year she has inherited for life is inadequate, and is seeking tens of millions of dollars more to support her extravagant lifestyle.
Joy has revealed the last phone conversation between Reg and his daughter was in 1994, when Viola insisted her father disembark a cruise in Alaska and fly to New York to discuss their relationship.
Reg did as she asked, arriving the following day only to discover Viola had checked out of her hotel without any explanation, leaving her father distraught and devastated. It was the event that made him change his will.
Joy also revealed Reg had bought his daughter apartments in Sydney’s Bellevue Hill and Lavender Bay, and in Beverly Hills in Los Angeles. He also transferred her the deeds to his mother’s Double Bay apartment when she died in 1995. In a move that shocked the man known as Mr Television, Viola gave the property to her milliner.
“There was never any tension over money,” Joy says. “Whatever she desired, we gave her. I think Reg loved her, always. But perhaps in the last 10 years he was numb. He accepted she had irretrievably destroyed the relationship. He was heartbroken.”
Viola declined to speak to Woman’s Day about the fight over Reg’s millions, saying she respects the processes of the court, and won’t make any statement while the matter is being heard.
Reg started his career at the bottom, becoming a sports commentator on radio soon after an early stint in the army, having been conscripted in 1941.
He soon transferred to TV, first as a game show host before moving on to produce hit programs such as Family Feud, The Price Is Right, Blankety Blanks and Perfect Match.
His production company, the Reg Grundy Organisation, also gave life to much-loved soapies The Restless Years, Sons And Daughters, The Young Doctors, Neighbours and Prisoner.
‘His daughter had rejected him and denied him contact’
Viola believes $320,000 a year is not enough to support her lifestyle.
The magnificent waterfront home in the Bahamas where he spent his final years. The Bermuda mansion
The yacht Reg’s 76m yacht Boadicea, one of the biggest in the world, sold for $120 million.
He created and hosted game show Wheel Of Fortune in 1959. Reg was married to actress and author Joy Chambers from 1971 until his death last year.