If you’ve never called Los Angeles home — or have never seen the 1997 disaster porn flick Volcano — you may have no clue about Angelyne. To put it most simply, she’s widely regarded as the first person on Earth who can brag that she’s famous for … well, for being famous. Now The Hollywood Reporter has done what none of us thought possible — the publication has revealed Angelyne’s true identity.
Long before the “Kardashian klan” came to our TV sets, there was Angelyne. In the ’80s she was known as “that chick on the billboards,” or “that chick in the custom-painted pink Corvette.” Since then she’s become a symbol of L.A. itself — particularly its fake, plastic parts. Everyone who calls this city home has a story or two about running into the notoriously shy-but-not star. (She consistently hides her face when you pay to take a photo with her, and yes, we said pay.)
But a recent story by Gary Baum attempts to strip the varnish from Angelyne’s self-told history. Baum was approached by a man claiming to be a “hobbyist genealogist” who had taken it upon himself to crack the Angelyne case, using material “he’d enterprisingly pulled and synthesized from a global network of public databases.” Sounds official, no?
This anonymous sleuth claims to have even found Angelyne’s 1967 sophomore year high school photo (pictured below left, next to a more recent pic of Angelyne), which would make her 66 years old today. Her alleged real name: Renee Tami Goldberg (originally Ronia Tamar Goldberg).
And there’s more! Baum’s story claims the billboard bombshell is the daughter of Polish Holocaust survivors who first emigrated to Israel before making a home in Los Angeles. That’s quite different than the story Angelyne tells, in which she’s an only child from Louisville, Kentucky, who was born in 1962.
Baum’s piece dives pretty heavily into the storied past of the pink sports car-driving persona, eventually chatting with Angelyne’s ex-husband. (He claims we was hung-up on by Angelyne’s sister and step-sister.)
And it wouldn’t be a great piece of journalism had Baum not reached out to Angelyne herself, which he does. She denies the uncovered info as rumors, noting that plenty of people in the past have claimed to have discovered her true identity.
Oh, and then this happened:
“I know you want it to be true because you’re Jewish — and that’s adorable!” This last word was enunciated with her breathy falsetto inflection, a stagey girlishness that Paris Hilton appropriated. I told her, without success, why my interest was justifiable on journalistic terms. She nodded, unbowed: “Is your editor Jewish?”
She bid me goodbye with a hug — “I know you love me and don’t want to hurt me” — and a promise that I’d hear from her lawyer. Angelyne also stated that it’s her inalienable right alone to share her story as she sees fit — or not. (Earlier, regarding the details of her past, she’d told me, “I want to save it for my memoirs; that’s my right for my own financial interest.”) Later, when I left, I saw her on the sidewalk beside her Corvette under a translucent pink umbrella, huddled in what appeared to be an intense conversation with [Angelyne’s close friend and assistant, Scott] Hennig.
Will the memoirs of this cult icon ever see the light day? It’s probably unlikely, but even if they do, where in the bookstore will we need to search: autobiography or fiction?
Featured image of Angelyne via Ebay