This has been called one of Hollywood's Most Notorious Scandals of all time, Here is what writer Phil Nugent said about it in his article in Nerve.com. Note he says David Whiting committed suicide, which was probably not the case.
#7: The STARS: Sarah Miles and Burt Reynolds
THE SCANDAL: In 1972, Miles and Reynolds, both of whose careers were just taking off, co-starred in the Western romance The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing. In the movie, the rough outlaw played by Reynolds abducts and eventually wins the heart of the flinty English beauty played by Miles, in the course of a story that requires her to suffer at the hands of crueler, less photogenic men. Midway through filming, Miles herself was physically attacked by her business manager, David Whiting, and sought sanctuary by fleeing to Reynolds' quarters; the next morning, Whiting was found to have committed suicide.
THE FALLOUT: At first, the creepy synchronicity between the movie's plot and what happened on the set inspired a certain amount of interest and rumor-mongering, and Esquire ran a purplish article by Ron Rosenbaum titled "The Corpse as Big as he Ritz."...[Miles'] failure to become a star probably had little to do with the unhappy fate of David Whiting. As for Burt Reynolds, Cat Dancing was a blip in his career, sandwiched between his first big hits Deliverance and White Lightning, and was almost instantaneously forgotten."
In spite of what Nugent says above, the scandal did have a terrible impact on Sarah Miles. It destroyed her marriage (although she and Sir Robert Bolt did eventually re-marry) and her career came to a screeching halt. She's detailed these events in her fascinating memoirs, Serves Me Right and Bolt from the Blue.
I've never met Miss Miles, but I have great sympathy for her. I think she was only guilty of too much compassion for David, who was a brilliant, tragic, and sometimes comically self-deluded man/child.
I have made the nanny the protagonist of the novel, giving her the name Nicky Conway, echoing the detached narrator of The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway. Although there was a real nanny suspected in David's case, I know nothing about her, and Nicky is not meant to represent her in any way.
I changed the setting of the story from the small town of Gila Bend, Arizona to the small California oil town of Taft, for no particular reason except I've always wanted to set a story in Taft, which has a tragi-comic history of its own (it was originally named Moron) and it's closer to me than Gila Bend.
THE GATSBY GAME (with a forward by Saffina Desforges) is available as an ebook at at amazon.com and at amazon.co.uk, and will soon be up at B&N and iTunes, and will be available in paper in 4-6 weeks.
This book would never have been published if it weren't for my blog, so I'll be talking a little about the rumored "death of the blog" in my Sunday post, and I'd love to have readers weigh in on whether they think blogging (or not blogging) has impacted their writing careers.