Girl Friday tells all on philanthropist's harem

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THERE will probably always be two versions of the life and times of the late Henry T Mudd, a Californian multi-millionaire and minerals company executive. One will recall his many works of charity, and the college which he co- founded and named after his father. The other will focus on his women.

For the last few days, election- weary Californians have been transfixed by a court case in which Mr Mudd's other life has come tumbling out in elaborate detail. It has emerged that this business high-flier kept seven mistresses, one for each of day of the week, on whom he lavished gifts and money.

Details of how Mr Mudd managed this harem were supplied to the court by Betty Sue Olend, a former prostitute and a former mistress, who gave up being his lover after becoming a born-again Christian, and turned her talents to the task of helping him manage his complicated household. She was, she told the court, his 'Girl Friday'.

She told the court that she would help Mr Mudd prepare for dates with each of his women by setting out each one's personal set of china on the breakfast table, and putting out her favourite brand of perfume. He saw each for one afternoon and one evening a week, she said. Each was supplied with a home.

She was also in charge of purchasing the gifts - china, linen, handbag and jewellery - which he lavished on them. 'We had a room called Fort Knox. Each girl had a section where the gifts were kept.' Her job included reminding the multi-millionaire of his mistresses' birthdays and anniversaries of their first dates with him. The women would be asked to initial a gift catalogue alongside the present they desired.

The case has been brought by another former mistress, Eleanor Oliver, who, among other things, is suing his estate for control of a dollars 600,000 ( pounds 353,000) house in Los Angeles which she claims Mr Mudd promised she could have rent-free until she died. But she claims he reneged on the contract after marrying one of his mistresses shortly before his death. She was later evicted.

Earlier testimony has included details of how Mr Mudd's mistresses took turns sleeping with him on holidays - he was a frequent traveller to London - and bumped into one another as they came and went from his mansion.

The philanthropist showered them with presents, setting up trust funds for some of them to provide a comfortable income after he died in 1990 of leukaemia, aged 77. They were - as yet another mistress told the hearing - provided with furs, jewels and cars - 'all the nice things a lady could want'.