Birthday: November 6, 1953
Died At Age: 33
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Also Known As: Althea Leasure
Born in: Marietta, Ohio, United States
Famous as: Larry Flynt's Wife
Spouse/Ex-: Larry Flynt (m. 1976–1987)
father: Richard Leasure
mother: June Leasure
siblings: Debbie Leasure, Marsha Leasure, Richard Leasure, Sherry Leasure
Died on: June 27, 1987
place of death: Los Angeles
U.S. State: Ohio
Cause of Death: Drowning
Althea Flynt, née Leasure, was an American magazine publisher and wife of pornography publisher, Larry Flynt. She and Larry were the co-publishers of the pornographic magazine ‘Hustler.’ An Ohio native, she grew up in an abusive home. When she was eight years old, her father shot and killed three people, including her mother and maternal grandfather, before killing himself. She was subsequently raised at the Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Orphanage (OSSO Home) in Xenia. However, she repeatedly ran away after being sexually molested at the homes of the prospective adopters. She met Larry at the age of 17 and was hired by him as a go-go dancer at his Hustler club in Columbus, Ohio. Althea went on to become the ‘Hustler’ magazine’s first life-size centrefold and later served as its publisher and editor. In the early 1980s, she became addicted to drugs and later was diagnosed with AIDS. She passed away at the age of 33 due to accidental drowning.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on November 6, 1953, in Marietta, Ohio, Althea Leasure was one of the five children of June and Richard Leasure. She had one brother, Richard, and three sisters, Debbie, Sherry, and Marsha. Althea had a turbulent childhood. Her father fatally shot her mother, her maternal grandfather, and one of June’s friends before committing suicide himself. Her grandmother, who was in the house as well, saved herself by escaping to a nearby creek.
Althea, alongside three of her siblings, was sent to live at the OSSO Home. She would later reveal that she ran away from the centre several times after being sexually molested at the homes of possible adopters.
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Althea met Larry in 1971 when he interviewed her for the job of a go-go dancer in his Hustler club in Columbus, Ohio. She was 17 and he was 29. They married about five years later, on August 21, 1976.
Larry named his new pornographic magazine ‘Hustler’ after his club. In its inaugural edition, Althea was the model on the life-size centrefold. She gradually became the magazine’s publisher and editor, running the development, management, and publication departments simultaneously.
In 1977, Larry began to refer to himself as a born-again Christian and claimed that he had a vision from God during a flight in his private jet with evangelist Ruth Carter Stapleton, President Jimmy Carter’s sister, who performed the “conversion” ceremony. During this period, Althea single-handedly kept the magazine going and helped it to maintain its incredible popularity.
On March 6, 1978, while walking towards the Gwinnett County courthouse in Georgia, where he was fighting an obscenity lawsuit, Larry, who was accompanied by his lawyer, was shot by a sniper from across the street. The shooting permanently damaged his spinal cord, rendering him partially paralysed. After this, Althea not only ran the ever-growing Flynt empire effortlessly, but also took care of him at home.
Larry was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which later prompted him to run in the 1984 United States Presidential election. At that time, Althea had been planning to launch a new magazine. Called ‘The Rage,’ it was supposed to focus exclusively on the punk subculture. But Larry’s political ambition was given more importance and the plan for a new magazine was eventually scrapped.
Since his shooting, Larry had been in constant excruciating pain and had to eventually undergo multiple surgeries to deaden his affected nerves. However, between the accident and the surgeries, he was prescribed several painkillers.
In 1982, Althea started using those drugs as well and by the mid-1980s they were both addicted to them. A year later, she found out that she had AIDS. According to Larry, Althea got the disease from a blood transfusion during a hysterectomy as she had never used an infected needle for her drug use.
Final Years & Death
Following her diagnosis, Althea’s health began to gradually deteriorate. Despite being wheelchair-bound himself, Larry took care of his wife during her last years. She passed away on June 27, 1987, after drowning in the bathtub at the couple's Bel-Air home in Los Angeles, California. According to reports, she overdosed on drugs and passed out in the tub, accidentally drowning herself. Larry later stated that she was completely bedridden in the months leading up to her death and would have died within a year even if the fatal accident had not occurred.
In the 1996 biographical drama film ‘The People vs. Larry Flynt’ (in which Woody Harrelson played Larry), Althea was portrayed by Courtney Love.