“I don’t consider myself an actor. I’m a personality, ” Simpson told Sports Illustrated in 1992. He clung to the fact that, as he put it, “I’m O.J. which means I’m somebody today and the highlight of my career isn’t behind me.”
He was, at that moment, losing his proudest possession, his wife. Fed up with O.J.’s abuse and his womanizing, she left Simpson in March of 1992.
His jealous ranting showed up on another 911 tape on October 25 1993. Nicole had called the police after Simpson had kicked in the french doors at the back of the house. On the tape, Simpson’s careful diction is gone. He taunts Nicole for calling the “po-lice” and screams profanities at her. “He’s going to beat the s–t out of me,” Nicole pleads with the operator.
But she never pressed charges.
A year earlier Nicole had called on psychologist Susan Forward, author of “Men Who Hate Women & the Women Who Love Them.” She complained that O.J. would “show up everywhere.” She would look out the window and he would be there in the bushes, sit down at a restaurant and see him staring across the room.
Haltingly and tearfully, she curled up on Forward’s couch as if she were “reliving” Simpson’s blows. Forward advised her to cut off all contact with Simpson. But she couldn’t. “It’s the Stockholm syndrome,” says Forward.
In December of last year, Nicole stopped Cynthia Garvey, the ex-wife of Los Angeles Dodger first baseman Steve Garvey, at a shopping mall.
“I admire how you’ve raised your children,” Nicole said. She grabbed Garvey’s sleeve and wouldn’t let go. Garvey had written a book about being abused, and Nicole clearly wanted to talk. Nicole had a “deer caught in the headlights” look, Garvey says, and started to cry.
Then she caught herself and her eyes darted around to see if anyone was watching her. She told Garvey that no one would believe her if she accused O.J. of beating her.
Nicole was trying to put together her own life. She danced at discos and drove a Ferrari with the license plate L84AD8 – “Late for a Date.” But her friends say that she was really a homebody who took care of her own children rather than rely on nannies like other Beverly Hills matrons.
She was relieved to keep a messier house after O.J., who had been fastidious.
Simpson continued to see other women, and even found a steady girlfriend in Paula Barbieri, a Victoria’s Secret model… But he never stopped wanting Nicole back.
At times over the past year, they briefly reconciled, but in May they broke off again. Nicole apparently meant it this time; she returned a sapphire-and-diamond bracelet, and vowed to stop taking gifts from Simpson.
She was building a new life – jogging up to 25 miles a week and enjoying being noticed as Nicole, not Mrs. O.J. Simpson, said Cora Fischman.
Nicole scaled back her shopping, joked about her “budget” and dated other men. Though the tabloids have screamed about “handsome hunks” since her death, those were passing flings.
“It was a testing of the waters, ” said Ron Hardy. “She was looking forward to being Nicole.”
She never got the chance.
The Double Life of O.J. Simpson for Newsweek Magazine (August 29 1994)