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Remembering Clifford Irving

Clifford Irving in Zihuatanejo

By Beldon Butterfield

Clifford Irving, a long-time resident of San Miguel, passed away yesterday of pancreatic cancer. While he will mostly be remembered for his book, The Hoax, which dealt with the notorious recluse Howard Hughes and eventually was made into a movie starring Richard Gere as Clifford Irving, we tend to forget his other accomplishments.

He wrote twenty books. Two of his books, Trial and Final Argument, were made into miniseries, and Daddy’s Girl was turned into a television docudrama. He reminded people, “Hello, I’m Clifford Irving, and I have had an eventful-filled life. Once, I was on the cover of Time magazine and later [was] thrown into federal prison for writing The Hoax, an autobiography of Howard Hughes.”

He once told me, “I don’t want to be around people who don’t have some larceny in their DNA.” In his home, he had a collection of Modigliani paintings. As he told me, “They look so authentic, the forger signed the back of these paintings, making them quite valuable, though, of course, not as much as the originals.”

Cliff was a good friend. We spent many vacations together in Zihuatanejo, and I visited him and Julie in Aspen, Colorado. He once saved my life, for which I’m eternally grateful. He was also instrumental encouraging me in the writing of Mexico Behind The Mask.

Regardless of where you could find Cliff, whether on the beaches of Zihua or in his backyard, he could never be interrupted as a true practitioner of Tai Chi. He also became a dedicated gardener. He will be sorely missed.


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