dante’s inferno

Lana Turner’s eighth husband led an interesting life….

image found here

“Ronald Dante, or Ronald Pellar, or whatever his name really is, is not just any old guy, but a prolific con man with a history that is almost impossible to believe. 

In the 1970s, he was convicted of trying to murder a rival hypnotist.

A decade earlier he was actress Lana Turner’s eighth husband. She was one of his seven wives.

Lana Turner as a child found here

In the 1990s, he operated one of the greatest diploma-mill scams in U.S. history, although in his opinion it wasn’t a scam at all. The government disagreed.

Dr. Dante, a name he made up when he was a young man because he liked the way it sounded, said he was born in 1920. When he was 5, Dante claimed, he and his family were in Kuala Lumpur when Malaysian insurgents attacked. His mother, father and sister were killed, leaving only himself and his 10-year-old brother, who were sent to a Chicago orphanage.

image found here (click to read fine print)

At 11, Dante said, he walked away from the orphanage with his brother and hit the streets. His first “business venture” involved buying gold-plated watches for $2.99, packaging them in cases with a $150 price tag attached, and selling them to businessmen who assumed they were buying stolen merchandise for $25.

erotic watch found here

Dante, who still speaks in the deep baritone that made him a sensation as a hypnotist, said he attended several colleges as a young man, including the University of Wisconsin. It was there he met a hypnotist who taught him stage presence, he said.

In 1969 he met “sweater girl” actress Turner in a Los Angeles discotheque called The Candy Store. He soon would become her eighth and final husband.

Lana

He had a persuasive voice and strange, compelling eyes,” she wrote in her 1982 autobiography. “He claimed to have been brought up in Singapore and to have earned a doctorate in psychology there, but the press dug up something to debunk that. Shortly after our wedding he was shot at, or so he said, in an underground garage, by a gunman wearing an Australian bush hat. It got a lot of attention in the papers – maybe that was what he wanted.”

image found here

Six months after the marriage, she found Dante’s motorcycle and all his belongings gone and a note typed on blue stationery. “It’s obvious that you have your thing to do, and I have mine, and I have to keep on doing it,” the note said.

Dante continued to perform as a hypnotist, and in the early 1970s was working in a Tucson nightclub. In 1974 he was found guilty of attempting to contract for the murder of Michael Dean of San Diego, the widely known hypnotist and entertainer. 

image found here

After being released from prison, he created a permanent-makeup business in which he taught thousands of people how to tattoo eye liner and lip liner, using felt-tip pens and cantaloupes as demonstration tools. The Federal Trade Commission had problems with the company. For one thing, Dante said, he called his graduates “dermatologists,” which angered legitimate dermatologists, who are physicians. The government sued and eventually Dante settled the civil case.

image found here

From the mid-1980s until the late 1990s, according to court documents, Senate committee transcripts and official reports, Dante made somewhere between $10 million and $20 million selling advanced degrees to people in one of the great diploma-mill scams in U.S. history. 

Dante bristles when “diploma mill” or “scam” is mentioned in the same breath with Columbia State. “They all realized what they were getting,” he said. “I mean, come on, who’s kidding who? They were getting a Ph.D. in a month.”

image found here

After an ABC television news show featured him in a story about Columbia State University, he was kidnapped – he says by Mexican federal police – and taken to the United States, where a five-year prison sentence was enforced.

At the time of his kidnapping, Dante said, he had $26 million stashed on the yacht in cash, gold coins, cashier’s checks and American Express checks. While he was in prison, all the money disappeared.

 These days, Dante makes paper flowers, a skill he said he learned while married to Lana Turner. He also has put together a DVD he hopes to sell about how to make the flowers, as well as a DVD about being a hypnotist.

paper flowers found here

His website correctly says he has been listed in Guinness World Records for almost 20 years as having been paid the highest lecture fee: more than $3 million about hypnotherapy at a two-day course held in 1986 in Chicago.

 “That was a good weekend,” Dante said.

 He proudly produces a copy of “Marquis Who’s Who” from 1993, which lists Ronald Pellar as holding a doctorate from Columbia State University and of having been a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps.

 Is the Marine Corps reference true?

 Dante smiled slightly. “Of course not,” he said

image found here