“Barbara Kaye” (a pseudonym for Barbara Klowden Snader) was a pretty blonde 20-year-old in 1950 when she became L. Ron Hubbard’s PR assistant and, before long, his lover. For the next year she was in a unique position to see the changes in Hubbard during his meteoric rise and fall from 1950-51. In 1986, she was interviewed by the British writer and journalist Russell Miller for his biography of Hubbard, “Bare-Faced Messiah.”
I was trying to get into PR and was sent by a employment agency to Dianetics and [Ron] was looking for a PR assistant – someone primarily to answer the scurrilous attacks the press was making on Dianetics. I was hired. He was in the big old governor’s mansion at Adams and Hoover – it used to be the governor of California’s mansion.
This was during the peak of his success with Dianetics in 1950. This all took place in 1950-51. I started doing a lot of administrative things, arranging things. We had lots of conversations, he’d ask me for advice about this and that. Sometimes I worked late and he took me home – I was living with my parents at the time – and one thing led to another. I was also hiring people, I hired a secretary for him.
He interviewed me for the job. I had read about him, had read about Dianetics. At that time I had been through university with a major in psychology – he bounced ideas off me because he had no background whatsoever in psychology. He told me that before he wrote Dianetics, because he had no background in psychology, he went to the University of Chicago library and asked for the latest book on psychology and read this book – that was the only thing he had ever read on the subject. . . Most of my time was spent answering [press attacks] – he had a clippings service and every time Dianetics was mentioned I would write to the reporter and reply and defend it. I was writing to columnists and magazines all the time. No one had anything good to say about it. . .
I was very young at the time and was not as concerned with other peoples wives. I just didn’t think about it. On a New Years Eve he spent with me he was supposed to have been at a party with his wife and he didn’t go home and he said she made a suicide attempt. Then there was the kidnapping of Alexis [Hubbard] and so on.
After he took Alexis …I knew Miles [Hollister] very well, it was really surprising to me when he later took up with Sara.
I lost track of Ron when everything went into a shambles and there was this bad publicity in newspaper about Alexis when he took off. He had gone home and found Miles in bed with his wife and that’s when he took Alexis; he thought he was perfectly justified to do this. He said they were going to try and put him into a mental institution, he was afraid they were going to commit him. . .
When he took off I only knew what I read in the newspaper. The next time I heard from him was Wichita when he was living with this oil baron [Don Purcell]. He started writing me and wanted me to come there. I went there and he was like Howard Hughes’ last days, really in a bad depression. His fingernails were long and curved, his hair was stringy. He met at the hotel and was in such bad shape, he was trembling, like someone who should be in a mental institution. I knew then… he wanted me to marry him, he’d bought me a ring but I knew then he was such a deeply disturbed man it could never be and I left the very next day.
Scattered in the interviews are some real gems of history. This is not the history that his followers give credence to, but nonetheless, she was there.
He said he always wanted to found a religion like Moses or Jesus.
I think he probably made up a lot of the case histories in the first Dianetics book. He was not academic and never did any research.
He was a character, it was like watching a fascinating character on stage playing a role. I was never bored when I was with him. He was a colourful personality and acted out all the unusual things that were in his mind, that’s what made him so fascinating. People who are manic have this enormous energy – it fueled talking and thoughts. He was charismatic, communicated an energy.
The two interviews with her, and the notes that she made at the time in her journal can be found here: http://www.scs.cmu.edu/~dst/Library/Shelf/miller/interviews/barbkaye.htm