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Spector murder trial: Playwright says actress was not suicidal

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Editor's Note: As part of's new Crime section, we are archiving some of the most interesting content from This story was first published in 2007.

(Court TV) -- A playwright who worked with Lana Clarkson a month before her death said the actress never displayed suicidal tendencies, but did voice disappointment about the trajectory of her career and worry about her future as an aging actress in Hollywood.

"She thought she would have made it a little further in her career by now," John Barons told jurors at Phil Spector's murder trial. "The most important thing to her was her career and becoming famous. That was everything."

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He said that, during one late-night rehearsal, the 40-year-old Clarkson complained that "all the good roles" went to younger actresses.

"If you don't make it by the time you are 40 in this business, you might as well give up," he quoted her.

Spector's defense contends that Clarkson shot herself Feb. 3, 2003, in the music legend's mansion either by accident or because she was depressed over the state of her career.

Under questioning by a defense attorney, Barons insisted he never heard Clarkson speak of suicide, but he acknowledged she once said that an over-40 actress had no chance for success and "might as well find a bridge."

Barons hastily added, "I am sure she was kidding."

"But she made that statement," defense lawyer Roger Rosen asked.

"Yes," Barons said.

He also testified that Clarkson once asked him for Vicodin, the prescription painkiller he was taking for complications due to AIDS. Barons said Clarkson claimed computer use had aggravated her wrist injuries.

"I recognized that she was in pain, so I gave her two," he said.

Clarkson had Vicodin in her purse the night she was shot, and the defense has suggested she was addicted to the medication.

Barons' portrayal of Clarkson, drawn from their four-week friendship, was largely negative. He painted her as a pushy, demanding woman with meager talent. He said that he cast her in his play "Brentwood Blondes" not because of her performing ability, but because she knew cult movie director Roger Corman, and he hoped Corman would come see the play.

"It was shallow of me," he admitted.

He conceded he considered her "not really a great talent" and more obsessed with celebrity than acting skill.

"Her main motivation was to be known. It wasn't like she wanted to be in Dostoevsky or Shakespeare or even Tennessee Williams. The passion was to be a famous actress," he said.

Barons ticked off a litany of offenses by Clarkson, from snapping her fingers at a waiter when she wanted more grapefruit juice to demanding costumes from a specific designer to leaving seven-minute messages on his answering machine.

He said he ultimately fired Clarkson after she informed the cast that she and he had rewritten the entire play. Barons said he was incensed that she was insinuating herself in his authorship of the play and immediately decided to fire her.

Spector, 67, faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted of murder. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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