Bizarre Brainwashing Cult Cons Top Stars Into Backing Its Drug Program
Date: April 21, 1981
Some of Hollywood's biggest stars have been duped into endorsing a controversial drug rehabilitation program called Narconon, which is actually operated by the bizarre brainwashing cult, the Church of Scientology.
More than 170 celebrities' names have been used as "Friends of Narconon." Although a few are Scientologists - such as Cathy Lee Crosby, Priscilla Presley and Karen Black - others were shocked to learn Narconon was an offshoot of the weird cult.
Many of the stars were listed as Friends of Narconon after they agreed to attend or participate in athletic events where the proceeds went to Narconon, which runs 15 treatment centers in the U.S. and 30 worldwide. Other celebrities on the list have no idea how their names got there.
Catherine Bach of "Dukes of Hazzard," John Davidson, Phyllis Diller, Gregory Harrison of "Trapper John, M.D.," Hal "Barney Miller" Linden, former heavyweight champ Ken Norton, Susan Richardson of "Eight Is Enough," Elvis Presley's former girlfriend Linda Thompson, writer-actor Mickey Spillane, Tanya Tucker, Fran Tarkenton, Charlene Tilton of "Dallas," Herve "Tattoo" Villehaize, Ralph Waite of "The Waltons," Henry "The Fonz" Winkler, Greg Evigan of "BJ and the Bear," Ron Howard, former star of "Happy Days," Lou "The Incredible Hulk" Ferrigno and Rob Reiner, who played the role of Archie Bunker's son-in-law on "All in the Family."
"It's true that Narconon's connection to Scientology is not specifically pointed out to every celebrity," admitted Mario Davis, a Scientologist who is executive vice president of Friends of Narconon in Beverly Hills.
Hubbard is the founder of Scientology, although he is not identified that way in the pamphlets.
"It's disgraceful trickery because most people, including celebrities, would have nothing to do with Narconon if they knew of the Scientology connection," declared a former member of Scientology's top secret militant group called the Guardian's Office.
Recently, top leaders of the Scientology cult, including the wife of founder Hubbard, were convicted on federal charges in a massive conspiracy to infiltrate and burglarize government agencies, and thwart investigations of the controversial cult.
A spokesman for Henry Winkler said he "did not know that the Church of Scientology was involved . . . absolutely not!
"Had we known, we would not have given permission for his name to be used."
A spokesman for Hal Linden said Linden "had no idea whatsoever" that Scientology was behind the drug program.
Phyllis Diller's spokesman said she wasn't even aware her name had been used as a Friend of Narconon.
"She wants her name removed from it," the spokesman said. "She doesn't want any part of It."
Similarly, spokesmen for Rob Reiner and Lou Ferrigno said those stars do not want their names to be associated with Scientology.
"How many druggies can pay those kinds of prices?" the ex-Scientologist asked.
His probe concluded the program not only made "unsubstantiated" claims about its cure rate, it was also "very dangerous."
"Scientology tells (drug addicts) they can detoxify them with vitamins - and they could die because they are not getting the proper treatment," he warned.