Millionaire prankster dumped Alka Seltzer into swimming pool

Oct. 8, 1983
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SAO PAULO, Brazil -- An eccentric millionaire who liked to dump Alka Seltzer from a helicopter into other peoples' swimming pools was buried Saturday by friends who will not miss his jetset high jinks.

Oswaldo Lara Vidigal, 58, died Friday of heart disease.

A typical black tie and evening gown affair at the Vidigal mansion a few years ago saw guests led down stairs to the bottom of an empty pool where they were served champagne and caviar. When his guests were sufficiently drunk, Vidigal would remove the sets of wooden steps and turn on the water.

Vidigal's antics earned him the hatred of the city's high society, which is serious about its debutant balls, gossip columns and black tie dinners at posh private clubs.

Even so, Vidigal was a mainstay of Brazil's society columns and was invited to all the important parties.

Old social columns reported that at one dinner Vidigal arrived late, trailing a dozen squaking hens in his wake. At another private club he once brought along a hundred rats in a basket, releasing them to the horror of his fellow guests.

Night club owner Ricardo Amaral once accused the eccentric millionaire of trying to burn down his exclusive Hippotomus Club. Police arrived at the Vidigal mansion to arrest him but were greeted by a full fire department brigade, called out by Vidigal.

Police inspector Sergio Fleury had to chop his way through padlocked doors and search the mansion for Vidigal, finally finding him in a closet. The millionaire emerged and said,' Oh, Dr. Fleury, how nice. To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?'

On another occasion Vidigal was refused entry to a garden party at one of Sao Paulo's most exclusive night clubs, the Harmonia. He returned later -- in a helicopter, dumping several sacks of Alka Seltzer into the packed main swimming pool.

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