Reg Grundy Money bat­tle

Mr Tele­vi­sion’s es­tranged t daugh­ter ht is fight­ing the step­mother she hated af­ter be­ing largely cut from his will

Woman’s Day (Australia) - - Contents -

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.

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