As Alfred lay dying, Betsy Bloomingdale learned of his monthly $10,000 payments to Vicki and the letters promising future support.
Betsy stopped the payments in June 1982, and she cancelled the Showbiz Pizza deal that would have benefited the mistress.
Vicki visited Marvin Mitchelson, California's famous palimony attorney, and on July 8, 1982, she filed a $5 million breach-of-contract suit against Alfred.
Had Bloomingdale been a mere fat cat, the scandal might have been confined to the tabloid gossip columns in New York and Los Angeles. But his new status as a First Friend propelled the story to the news pages of the nation's most buttoned-down publications.
A New York Times headline was typical: "Friend of Reagans Is Named In $5 Million Suit for Support." Added Time magazine, "The tawdry tale has proved a minor embarrassment for the White House."
The story was made even sexier by a 234-page deposition by Vicki Morgan that included details of Bloomingdale's S&M issues.
Betsy Bloomingdale admitted the affair but characterized Vicki Morgan as a well-compensated prostitute who was due no future support.
On Aug. 23, Alfred Bloomingdale died at age 66, leaving his wife and children to clean up the mess he left behind.
And what a mess it was.
A few days after the funeral, Vicki — apparently inspired by narcotics — telephoned a Los Angeles newspaper to disparage Bloomingdale's widow.
"She buried him... like a dog," Vicki Morgan said. "This woman only thinks of one person... Betsy, Betsy, Betsy."