NEW YORK – An actress who was the 1940s radio voice of Lois Lane, the reporter with a crush on Superman, has accused her financial adviser of losing and stealing tens of millions of dollars of her money.
Joan A. Stanton, 90, claims in court papers that Kenneth Ira Starr, "accountant and financial adviser to the rich and famous," ingratiated himself with her to take control of her fortune, then shielded her from the advice of others, including that of her children.
Stanton's late husband, Arthur Stanton, was a businessman who left her $70 million when he died in 1987, the lawsuit says.
The court papers claim that Starr used Stanton's money as "his own unrestricted endowment," putting millions in speculative pet projects that he or his friends controlled instead of the conservative investments she wanted.
Starr and other defendants ran a scheme in which they would solicit investors, direct the money to their own undisclosed uses and then declare the investments as failures, the court papers say.
Starr failed to reveal adequately the nature of these "self-interested" deals and "at times left her (Stanton) so cash strapped that he had to take out a line of credit on her behalf to satisfy her tax obligations," court papers say.
"And for these services, Mr. Starr charged hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in fees to Mrs. Stanton," says the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in state Supreme Court in Manhattan.
The lawsuit names as defendants Starr, financial adviser Keith Barish and several companies the two control. It accuses them of fraud, breach of contract, professional malpractice, unjust enrichment and other misconduct.
Stanton's lawyer, David E. Mills, said he does not know how much Starr and others took, because, as court papers say, they "continue to deny full access to the books and records" of investments or the $6.3 million in expenses they claimed.
Starr's lawyer, Peter Parcher, said the woman's lawsuit was without merit and will be vigorously defended. During the 20 years that Starr was Stanton's adviser, he said, "her assets grew considerably. It will become clear during the course of this litigation that Mrs. Stanton was well advised."
Barish's lawyer, Dan Katz, said Stanton's "allegations are without merit, and we will vigorously defend against them in court."
Stanton, who acted under the name Joan Alexander, was best known as the voice of Lois Lane in the 1940s radio show "The Adventures of Superman." She also was the first actress to play Della Street, Perry Mason's Girl Friday, on the radio version of the "Perry Mason" detective series.
Stanton later reprised her role as the voice of Lois Lane in the 1966 animated series "The New Adventures of Superman."
She is the mother of novelist Jane Stanton Hitchcock.