If you’ve lived in Los Angeles for any period of time, you’ve seen her.
Maybe you spotted her tooling around Hollywood and environs in her custom pink Corvette, blonde beehive blowing in the breeze. Angelinos of a certain age will remember her bodacious, pinup-style billboards that seemed to serve no purpose beyond self-promotion.
She ran for California governor in the 2003 recall election, briefly launched a glossy fan-mag to herself in 2005, and still hawks merch out of her trunk. If you’ve taken her picture, you’ve probably been shamed into handing over $20.
She’s Angelyne Lyne, Angelyne Lynne or just simply Angelyne, the OG “famous-for-being-famous” person before Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, with a one key difference: No one’s ever been certain of her true identity. Until now.
On Wednesday, The Hollywood Reporter published a thoroughly researched and fairly convincing investigation by senior reporter Gary Baum, who suggests that Angelyne is in fact Renee Goldberg, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, now a 66-year-old Los Angeles institution who started out as just another kid from the Valley.
For all of her brand recognition in Hollywood, Angelyne never made much of a splash in the pictures — her most notable IMDB credit is a small role in the 1988 comedy Earth Girls Are Easy — but that never seemed to be the point.
Instead, she made her living off of curbside merchandise sales and appearance fees, which have clearly been lucrative enough to keep up appearances at least, upgrading the ‘Vette and keeping the billboards aloft — all the while maintaining a backstory that was every bit as manufactured as her fame. She would only cryptically say that she was from Idaho, and had lost her parents at an early age.
The real story is far more fascinating.
“I want to save it for my memoirs,” she told THR. “That’s my right.”
THR writes that the true story of Angelyne’s past came by way of a former federal employee and “hobby genealogist” who presented “an elaborate story of Angelyne’s past, based on material he contended he’d enterprisingly pulled and synthesized from a global network of public databases” and which the trade publication independently verified.
According to the report, Angelyne is the daughter of Polish Jews who just barely survived one harrowing ordeal after another during the Holocaust, including stints as prisoners and laborers in internment camps. She was born after the liberation, and her family eventually migrated to Southern California by way of Israel. The natural redhead — a far hue from her signature platinum look — went to school in the San Fernando Valley and was briefly married before re-inventing herself as Angelyne.
A longtime associate of Angelyne’s denied the accuracy of THR‘s reporting, which went as far as tracing name-change documents linked to an obscure business that advertised in her short-lived magazine. And Angelyne herself told Baum at one point that it’s her right to share her story as she sees fit. “I want to save it for my memoirs,” she said. “That’s my right for my own financial interest.” Not exactly a denial.
Angelyne has no listed representation and no verified social-media accounts; though she did briefly join Twitter not long after it launched, she de-activated the account weeks later. But the next time we run into her, we’ll be sure to ask.