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Roy Walford's Obit
"Eccentric UCLA Scientist Touted Food Restriction," says the headline of Roy's obit in the LA Times. But here's the best part:

Roy L. Walford was born in San Diego in 1924. Exceptionally gifted, he was not only the top student in his high school class, but also a talented gymnast and wrestler and a jitterbug dancer.

He matriculated at Caltech, where he met his lifelong friend Al Hibbs, a NASA space scientist who died last year.

After graduating, they went to the University of Chicago, Hibbs to study math and Walford to work on a medical degree. Walford developed an interest in theater and wrote a farcical adaptation of Christopher Marlowe's "Dr. Faustus." He also supplemented his income by performing a balancing act in which he was held aloft by a weight-lifter.

Upon graduation, what he later described as his periodic craziness took over, and he and Hibbs decided they wanted to sail around the world. Lacking money, a boat or the desire to earn the money working, they decided to try gambling.

Analyzing roulette wheels, they found that each had its own idiosyncrasy, with certain numbers appearing more often than others. Armed with their observations and a borrowed $200, they tackled Las Vegas and Reno.

They came away with $42,000, which allowed them to purchase the yacht of their dreams.

A cover story in Life magazine, as well as articles in Time and The Times, alerted the casinos, which began randomly moving roulette wheels around in the casinos to prevent others from following their example.

Walford and Hibbs sailed the Caribbean for 18 months until their money ran out, at which point they resumed their professional careers.

In addition to being a gifted scientist, Walford was also what one friend called a "cultural provocateur." Although he was on the clinical faculty at UCLA, he traveled with the Living Theater, writing reviews for the now-defunct Los Angeles Free Press. He wrote about the underground drug scene in Amsterdam before it became well known.

His tastes were eclectic. He was close friends with members of the pop group Manhattan Transfer and "was into punk rock before the rest of us knew what it was about," UCLA's Cochran said. His adventures in India, Africa and Biosphere 2 got him elected to the Explorers Club.

He met and married Martha Sylvia Schwalb while he was in Chicago and they had three children, but the couple divorced after 20 years. After that, he gained notoriety for his large number of relationships with women. Friends joked that he wanted to extend his life span only because "there were too many women and too little time."

Posted by aalkon at May 1, 2004 8:11 AM