There's a Lot More to Paula Barbieri Than OJ Simpson
Paula Barbieri (born December 31, 1966) was a Victoria's Secret model in the 1980s who later became a film star - but in terms of fame, that was nothing. Paula Barbieri then went on to become really famous for completely different reasons.
Paula has enduring fame for any number of reasons, but has retreated from the limelight and now maintains a very low profile.
|Dolph Lundgren and Paula Barbieri with Russell Brunelli, who ran the Chicago Limelight nightspot, in 1988.|
For a while around 1988 - 1996, though, Paula lit up the tabloids. She still does from time to time, too.
Paula became successful as a model, and she was successful in parlaying that into a film career. She was Dolph Lundgren's girlfriend for a while in the 1980s, which may have encouraged her to pursue a film career, because he was an actor on the rise then. After appearing in Vogue and Victoria's Secret, Paula started filming some of the erotic thrillers that were in demand in the early 1990s. Among her films were "Red Shoe Diaries," "Double or Nothing," "The Misery Brothers, and "The Dangerous."
Paula Barbieri also appeared in the October 1994 issue of Playboy Magazine. Apparently, it remains quite a popular issue, with Paula on the cover.
|Paula Barbieri with Dolph Lundgren from a 1987 Ron Galella photoshoot.|
Let's get to the end of the story and then circle back. Married to Michael Overstreet, a Florida Judge, in April 2000, Paula became a born-again Christian and left Hollywood and its distractions far behind. Before that, though, Paula Barbieri rode the whirlwind.
|Paula Barbieri and Dolph Lundgren (Getty).|
Paula was tangentially involved in the O.J. Simpson murder case in the 1990s, and remained involved with Simpson in some capacity throughout the case. Reportedly, she broke up with OJ on the night that Nicole and Ronald Goldman were murdered - Paula testified that she sent him a break-up letter right before the murder incident itself - but you know how that goes, relationships seldom end on a dime just like that. This one certainly didn't.
Paula and OJ hooked up again shortly after they "broke up," while OJ was under suspicion of committing the double homicide. According to Paula:
In a way, you could say we’d revived our earliest bond, when we’d talk by phone [like we did] weeks before our first kiss. Except this was more intense, because now we had nothing else to distract us.It was probably more intense because OJ was in jail for murder, too. During this time, while OJ was fighting for his life, Paula and OJ began and ended every telephone conversation with “I love you.” She also would send him little love notes in jail in which she called him by his proper name, Orenthal James, and not by his initials like everyone else.
There were constant tabloid reports of Paula visiting OJ in prison, or the extent of their dealings together before he was imprisoned, what she might know about OJ, and so forth and so on ad infinitum. They most definitely were closely in touch during the trial, and Paula herself has said:
He’d call me at the lunch break and say, ‘Hey, make sure you watch this afternoon. Johnnie’s [Simpson defense attorney Johnnie Cochran] going to do something.Paula had so much going on during that time that she published a book "The Other Woman, My Years with O.J. Simpson: A Story of Love, Trust and Betrayal" in September 1997.
It became an issue during the trial just what was going on between them, and Paula gave a difficult deposition. She was never in any legal jeopardy, but getting involved in someone else's murder trial cannot be easy. Paula discussed legal strategy with OJ - among the other things they pondered was prosecutor Marcia Clark's menstrual cycles, which OJ and his legal team tried to use to their advantage by pressing her on what they considered to be her more difficult days. OJ asked Paula to pray for her the night before the verdict was to be rendered.
After OJ was acquitted, Paula Barbieri attempted to put the whole affair in the rear-view mirror. Paula and Simpson reportedly broke up for good not long after his murder trial, but all those facts are murky (well, it's not murky that they broke up at some point, that much is crystal clear). The only thing that is certain is that Paula Barbieri and OJ Simpson did not remain an item after he was cleared of double homicide. After the two broke up, Paula published her book about her relationship with Simpson, and then moved on - for a while.
Public interest in "the trial of the century" remains white-hot despite the passage of decades. In 2016, a cable network aired a very popular recreation of the O.J. Simpson case, "The People vs OJ Simpson." At that time, Paula Barbieri added more layers to her account of her years with Simpson, giving the affair more texture. Barbieri claimed at that time that Simpson was violent with her. For instance, he accused her of flirting with another man during a trip to Malibu and knocked a phone out of her hand. If this happened before the incident with Nicole Brown Simpson in 1994, it must have been an early cellphone, as they were not common in the US then. After the trial, Barbieri claims, OJ visited Paula at her home in Panama City and stormed about her apartment making her feel unsafe. Paula recounted other incidents of a similar nature, such as OJ getting very angry at some of her scantily clad modelling poses. His violent nature, according to Paula, ultimately ended the relationship due to his dark behavior towards her.
Paula was a staple of the tabloids for years following the case, and not always placed in the most flattering of lights. There were always "revelations" and "what did she know" and endless speculation. Ultimately it all didn't matter, since Simpson was acquitted and thus for all we know was completely innocent of everything alleged against him. However, the media circus apparently was a searing experience for Paula and took a fierce toll on her.
Today, it is difficult to learn much about Paula Barbieri. She lives quietly in Panama City, Florida, and apparently is a contented housewife. It is pretty clear that she wants to put certain well-known matters so far behind her that they become like anti-matter, wherein if they touched her again, there would be a huge explosion. It's terrific that she has found some kind of peace after her turbulent Hollywood period.
|Paula with Dolph Lundgren out on the town.|
Quite apart from OJ, Paula was quite popular on VCRs in the 1990’s. Some of her other hits include: "The Watcher," "Night Eyes 4: Fatal Passion," "Red Shoe Diaries 5: Weekend Pass," and many others. No, they weren't nominated, no Golden Globes, but they were fun little films that showed Paula off to her best advantage.
Apparently, Paula Barbieri does not have good memories of the circus she was dragged through during the OJ era. Let's remember Paula for herself, not for the unfortunate circumstances in which she found herself.
|Paula Barbieri appeared in "The Dangerous."|