Max Ciampoli’s Bio

Born in Paris in 1922 and baptized at the Vatican, Max was not yet three years old when he and his parents moved to Monaco, where his father owned famous nightclubs at which many of the era’s most prominent entertainers performed. Glamorous as this world appeared, much of Max’s childhood was tragic.

When Max was three, his father hired a personal, live-in tutor, a retired Austrian cavalry colonel. By the time he was seven, Max was not only fluent in German and Italian, but was already an accomplished skier, horseman, and marksman. It was with his tutor that Max often visited his godfather in Cap d’Antibes, where he sometimes encountered his godfather’s vacationing neighbor, Winston Churchill, often painting at his easel in front of a friend’s villa.

At the age of seven, Max was sent to a Jesuit boarding school in Nice where he completed his high-school education at fourteen and entered university to become a dentist. But when it became evident that war was breaking out in Europe, Max quit the university to serve his country. Through influential contacts from childhood, he was able to join the elite Alpine Ski Troop of the French army as an officer even though he was underage.

Soon after, his beloved France was defeated. Refusing to accept defeat, he asked his godfather what he could do to rid France of the Nazis. His godfather called Mr. Churchill and told him that “little Max” had grown into a responsible, resourceful and determined young man who was not only a lieutenant in the elite French Alpine Ski Troop at age seventeen, but was a well-trained horseman and marksman and was fluent in German and Italian. Once he interviewed Max, Churchill decided to have him trained as a secret agent. When between missions in England, Max often stayed at Churchill’s country home where the two would sometimes go horseback riding and hunting together.

Wounded at the end of the war, Max was hospitalized for well over a year. When released, he took a trip to the United States and decided to immigrate. Max was a man of tremendous range, talent, energy and adaptability. In the years that followed, he was executive chef at prestigious hotels while simultaneously becoming a horse-breeder, owner of several fashionable hair salons and a classic car collector. Years later, he opened exclusive classic car dealerships in New York and Beverly Hills. Max became a United States citizen in 1956.

In the 1970s, tragedy struck. As the result of a brutal assault while on a car-buying trip, Max was hospitalized with amnesia for nine months. During this absence, his manager absconded with everything he owned. He returned almost penniless to Beverly Hills.

With the help of a friend, Max started over—this time in the yacht business. Eventually, he became successful, but the bottom dropped out of the market in the mid-1980s. During these years, he successfully fought cancer and came through a serious experimental heart operation.

Max met Linda Rhodes, in Marina del Rey, California in 1986, and they were married five years later. Before their marriage, he had not shared his war experiences, but soon these recollections began to haunt both of them in the form of nightmares. He began writing down his memories, then recording them in his native French. Linda later translated his writings into English and transformed them into a book.

Max passed away on July 7, 2016 at the age of 93 at their home in Reno, Nevada.