Jacques Barzaghi, a Former Fixture Beside Jerry Brown, Dies at 82


Jacques Georges Barzaghi was born on July 26, 1938 in the small town of Beausoleil in the south of France near Monaco. His father, René Barzaghi, a member of the French resistance during World War II, was an officer in the French merchant navy. He and Jacques’ mother, Marie Louise (Denoix) Barzaghi, separated when Jacques was 6 years old. In fact, Jacques was abandoned by his parents and raised by his paternal grandmother.

At 16, he went to Paris before graduating from high school. He fell in love with theater and film people, found work as an actor and took the stage name Lorenzo Poldi. He joined the French Army at the age of 18 and served briefly until he was injured and returned to Paris. There, in love with New Wave film directors like François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, he tried to direct.

After the student riots in Paris in 1968, Mr. Barzaghi moved to West Hollywood and worked briefly in the film industry. One night at a party in Laurel Canyon he got into conversation with a man about movies, relationships, and the Navajo, and only later learned that the stranger was California Secretary of State, Mr. Brown. His lack of reverence, he told the New York Times, was “the key to connecting” with him.

Some found Mr. Barzaghi a little way out. “When asked a question, he stares at a long moment when the words you just spoke seem like stupidity,” wrote the Los Angeles Times. “Then he’ll make a cryptic remark like, ‘Don’t sell the bear’s skin before you shoot the bear.'”

Others found that he had a grounding influence on “Governor Moonbeam,” as Mr. Brown was called in more derisive circles, an indication of his sometimes eccentric New Age tendencies. “I came to the conclusion that Barzaghi was the ballast for Jerry Brown’s ship,” a Brown employee told the Washington Post in 1992. “He gave stability. He was the calm in the center of the storm. “

There was little peace in Mr. Barzaghi’s private life: in the course of six marriages and six divorces he fathered eight children. In addition to Tatiana Barzaghi, he leaves behind two other daughters, Jessica Doherty and Edwina Barzaghi; five sons, Ky, Rashad, Akira, Hassan, and Salam Barzaghi; 11 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.