Political Rise & Fall
As his mistress was trying to restore equilibrium to her life, Alfred Bloomingdale was enjoying a heady new role as a friend of Ronald Reagan.
The Bloomingdales, who had gone Republican in the mid-1960s, met the Reagans through mutual friends. Nancy Reagan and Betsy became best friends, and the Bloomingdales had supported Reagan's political ascendancy.
After Reagan was elected president, Bloomingdale joined a handful of other business magnates in his "kitchen cabinet," a circle of advisors who helped frame the early years of the neo-conservative era.
Reagan named Bloomingdale to the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and to the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. The Bloomingdales stayed at the White House often during Reagan's first months in office, and they accompanied Nancy to the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana in July 1981.
But Alfred Bloomingdale would have little time to enjoy his new status.
Days after Alfred's return from England, nagging discomfort in his throat was diagnosed as throat cancer. His prognosis was bleak.
Alfred resolved to maintain a relationship with Vicki. She visited him at the hospital, and the lovers managed occasional meetings between treatments.
He had renewed his support of his mistress at some point before the diagnosis, paying as much as $18,000 a month.
Out of guilt or love, he made an extraordinary decision on Feb. 12, 1982. He dictated two letters that spelled out continued support for Vicki "in the event of my incapacitation or absence."
One letter specified that Vicki should receive 50 percent of Alfred's interest in a Showbiz Pizza deal that was in the works. The other promised her monthly payments of $10,000 for two years.
It was a brave move in that the letters amounted to Bloomingdale's public acknowledgement of his long affair with Vicki.
But the letters would also further humiliate Betsy Bloomingdale. With this evidence, she couldn't deny that her husband had a lover.