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Companion files suit against Bishop’s lawyers

Woman who lived with Joey Bishop for almost a decade says the lawyers talked him into including them in his will.

May 13, 2008|By Alan Blank and Brianna Bailey

A long-time companion of the Rat Pack’s Joey Bishop, who died in October, is suing the lawyers responsible for Bishop’s will.

Nora Garibotti, who has lived in Bishop’s Lido Isle house for almost a decade, claims Bishop wanted to bequeath the home to her, but was unethically coaxed into signing over half of his estate to lawyers James “Kimo” McCormick, Ed Gregory Hookstratten and Myles Hymes.

“Ms. Garibotti was a close personal friend of Bishop for approximately 24 years prior to his death,” according to the suit. “For the first 16 years of their relationship, they golfed almost every day that Mr. Bishop was in Orange County.”

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Bishop’s wife died in 1999, at which point Garibotti moved into the house with him, according to the lawsuit. The latest form of Bishop’s will, drafted by the defendants in 2005, awards 50% of his estate to Garibotti, 40% to Hookstratten and 10% to Hymes. Bishop should have been advised he didn’t have to put the lawyers in his will, and could have paid them hourly instead, Garibotti claims. The estate is valued at more than $7 million, entitling the lawyers to more than $1 million, Garibotti alleges.

In his position as a will drafter, McCormick could not be stipulated directly as the recipient of a gift, so Bishop was instructed to give 40% of his estate to Hookstratten and hand-write a note saying half of Hookstratten’s share should be given to McCormick, according to a recently filed petition aimed at not allowing Hookstratten or Hymes to get their allotments.

McCormick declined to comment and efforts to reach Hookstratten were unsuccessful.

Bishop did not include his son, Larry, in his will and in order to avoid any challenges he included a clause saying that anyone who contested it would not be entitled to anything, Garibotti claims.

According to the suit, “in February 2002, Mr. Bishop asked Ms. Garibotti to marry him, and she declined in order to avoid the publicity that she believed would interrupt their peaceful life together.”


ALAN BLANK may be reached at (714) 966-4623 or at alan.blank@latimes.com.

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