Security guru Gavin de Becker, protector of Hollywood stars

Chris Lefkow

Washington (AFP) - Hollywood stars looking for protection frequently turn to one man -- Gavin de Becker.

So does the world's richest person, Jeff Bezos, the founder of online retail giant Amazon.

Bezos hired Gavin de Becker & Associates to find out how his intimate text messages and photos made their way into the hands of the National Enquirer scandal sheet.

The 64-year-old de Becker has spent more than four decades protecting celebrities, corporate titans, government officials and others.

Publicly known clients have included Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, George Harrison, Cher, Madonna, Barbara Streisand and John Travolta.

Besides providing security and conducting investigations, de Becker operates his own members-only terminal at Los Angeles International Airport dubbed "The Private Suite."

"It typically takes 2,200 footsteps from car seat to plane seat," the website for "The Private Suite" says. "For members of The Private Suite, it's 70 footsteps. And they are all peaceful footsteps."

The remote terminal offers private suites, security screening, baggage handling and aircraft boarding "Head-of-State style."

An added bonus. Clients won't have to "deal with paparazzi."

On his website, de Becker notes that he is "widely regarded as the Nation's leading expert on the protection of public figures."

He is the author of a best-selling book "The Gift of Fear," which was published in 1997 and promotes itself as a tome that can "save your life."

- Childhood marked by violence -

In the book, de Becker relates the violence of his early years -- when he was 10 years old his unstable 33-year-old mother pulled a gun on his stepfather.

"Except for the rapid, shallow breaths he was taking, the man in the gun sights didn't move," de Becker writes. "His hands were held out stiffly in front of him as if they could stop bullets."

His mother ended up shooting his stepfather but he survived.

"Before I was thirteen, I saw a man shot, I saw another beaten and kicked to unconsciousness, I saw a friend struck near lethally in the face and head with a steel rod, I saw my mother become a heroin addict, I saw my sister beaten, and I was myself a veteran of beatings that had been going on for more than half my life," de Becker writes.

His mother committed suicide when de Becker was 16 years old.

De Becker attended Beverly Hills High School, where one of his best friends was Carrie Fisher, who would go on to achieve fame in "Star Wars."

De Becker became an assistant to Elizabeth Taylor while still a teenager and founded his own private security firm in 1978.

He has been involved in several high-profile cases including advising the prosecutors who tried American football star O.J. Simpson for murder.

He helped with security for former US president Ronald Reagan and was hired by Bill Cosby after the now-disgraced comedian's son was murdered in 1977.

De Becker's firm provided privacy when Beatles guitarist George Harrison was dying of cancer in Los Angeles in 2001.

De Becker helped develop a computer system called MOSAIC which is used to evaluate the level of threat facing individuals, and as appeared on numerous television shows to discuss domestic violence.

He gave the eulogy at the 2017 memorial service for his life-long friend Carrie Fisher.

De Becker also is the owner of a chilling collection of hundreds of thousands of missives sent to clients which are seen as threatening.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the communications are stored in a "sinister-looking windowless warehouse" in the city that has "no visible address."

Bezos, in announcing that he was hiring de Becker to investigate how the National Enquirer obtained his private texts and photos, lauded him with praise.

"I've known Mr. de Becker for twenty years, his expertise in this arena is excellent, and he's one of the smartest and most capable leaders I know," Bezos wrote in a blog post on Medium.

The billionaire made it clear that money is no object.

Bezos said he was providing de Becker with "whatever budget he needed to pursue the facts in this matter."