The name Althea Flynt may not immediately strike a chord even though she had a career as a magazine publisher. However, when it is linked to the pornography publisher, Larry Flynt, the lines immediately fall into place. She was one of Larry’s wives and co-publisher of his magazine, Hustler where she also served as editor.
Althea had to face a lot of challenges during her lifetime including growing up in an abusive home, molestation by prospective adopters, drug addiction, and battle with AIDS. Unfortunately, she died at the age of 33 on the 27th of June in 1987 due to accidental drowning.
Who Was Althea Flynt? The Life and Times of Larry Flynt’s Wife
She was born in Marietta, Ohio on the 6th day of November 1953. Named Althea Leasure, she was one of the five children of Richard and June; her siblings include Sherry, Debbie, Marsha, and Richard. Her childhood home was described as abusive and one embroiled in murder issues. When she was 8, her father shot and killed her mother, her grandfather, and her mother’s best friend, before putting the gun to his head and fatally shot himself.
Thereafter, Althea, along with three of her siblings, were sent to Xenia, Ohio where they were put into the OSSO Home (Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Orphanage). Far from the relief and safe haven she must have anticipated when she was being taken to the home, her seeming contract with unhappiness and abuse only changed address. As if losing her parents and being raised far away from home wasn’t enough, she was sexually molested in the homes of prospective adopters and repeatedly ran away.
To escape from her horrors, Althea, in 1971, then aged 17, applied for a job as a go-go dancer at Hustler club in Columbus, Ohio. This was where she met Larry Flynt who happened to be the owner of the club. Five years later, the duo was married on August 21, 1976, and she, in turn, became Larry’s fourth wife. Now, Althea Flynt, she became co-publisher, with Larry, of the pornographic magazine Hustler and went on to become the magazine’s first life-sized centerfold. She later served as its publisher, as well as editor and until her death, she ran the magazine’s development, management, and publication.
Also, during her husband’s ride with his born again experience in 1977, she managed to keep the media house afloat and maintained its popularity. During other crucial episodes in Larry’s life such as his near-fatal shooting in Georgia in 1978 which rendered him paralyzed from the waist down and multiple bouts with bipolar disorder, Althea Flynt not only took care of the Flynt empire but of her husband as well.
In 1984, prompted by his bipolar diagnosis, Larry ran for the President of the United States. His attempt to run the country cut deep into their fortune and subsequently put an end to Althea’s already blossoming plan to launch a new non-pornographic magazine, The Rage which was supposed to focus on the punk subculture.
Althea Flynt – Later Years and Death
Larry’s shooting and subsequent surgeries subjected him to so much pain that he had to pop a number of prescribed painkillers. However, while he was fighting for a pain-free life via the drugs, Althea took to them in 1982 and eventually got addicted to the substances. That marked the beginning of her downward spiral. The following year, she found out she had AIDS which came from a blood transfusion during a hysterectomy as she had always used clean needles for her drugs.
Althea Flynt died on June 27, 1987; her demise occurred at the couple’s Bel-Air mansion in LA. Aged 33 at the time of her death, the cause of death was listed as drowning. She reportedly passed out from a drug overdose and drowned in a bathtub. However, her husband stated that if Althea had not drowned, she would have still died within the year as she was already in the advanced stages of AIDS at the time of her death. Althea was interred in the Flynt family cemetery plot, located on Lakeville in Salyersville, Kentucky.
Flynt remarried in 1988 to Elizabeth Berrios, his former nurse. Althea Flynt was portrayed by Courtney Love in the 1996 film, The People vs. Larry Flynt while Woody Harrelson played Larry. While Love was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance, her counterpart earned an Academy Award for Best Actor for his.