EXCLUSIVE (ONLY ON CVP): Hailed as a visionary and blasted as a quack, a 76-year-old former vascular surgeon from Englewood spent last night in the Bergen County Jail – and could remain there awhile – after falling behind in support payments to his Tenafly ex-wife by a staggering $1.2 million, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.
Irving Dardik is far and away Bergen County’s biggest deadbeat dad in history – and could be nationwide, as well. It makes him at once one of the facility’s most famous and notorious inmates.
Dardik has been in the Hackensack lockup before, back in 1996, when his alimony and child-support arrears reached $850,000. While on work release, he paid back tens of thousands of dollars and was let go.
Yesterday, a Family Court judge sent him back. Records show a current outstanding debt of $1,205,300.03.
A Long Branch native and former world-class sprinter, Irving Israel Dardik has had a career that has been just as astounding and bizarre as his current circumstance.
While teaching at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, he founded the Sports Medicine Council of the US Olympic Committee. In 1979, he convinced the committee to include a chiropractor at all future Olympic games; the following year, he helped direct the first Olympic Sports Medicine Conference, held in Boston.
Together with his brother, Herbert, Dardik later pioneered the use of umbilical veins as a source of graft tissue for bypass surgeries.
Dardik veered off in a New Age direction in the late 1980s when he came up with a different form of exercise and diet that he said could cure all types of ailments – from brain cancer to MS — by stimulating body chemicals.
The basic idea: Our bodies, like everything else, are made up of waves. Stifling them through our go-go lifestyles causes illness. However, by mixing short bursts of exertion with rest, and carefully choosing the best times of day to eat, we can stimulate a natural “wave-like” cycling effect on the heart, making it healthier and rendering the body better able to fight disease.
Trashing the theories of aerobic exercise, Dardik said the secret was to alternately raise and lower heart rates dramatically.
His “superesonant wavenergy” treatments didn’t come cheap: At one point, he was charging patients $100,000 a pop.
Some credited Dardik with curing their diabetes and Parkinson’s, as well as Lou Gehrig’s disease and chronic fatigue syndrome, among other illnesses. He said it also worked for AIDS, phobias, alcoholism, asthma and depression.
In 1991, Dardik was the subject of a 9-page cover story in NEW YORK magazine: “Can Dr. Irv Dardik’s Radical Exercise Therapy Really Work Miracles?” Amid the testimonials was a suggestion that he was “possibly a bright but facile man gone slightly mad with his own cosmic musings.”
Then the worm turned.
After a multiple scleroris patient sued him and won, Dardik saw both his New Jersey and New York licenses suspended amid complaints from, among others, TV consumer reporter Ellen Burstein MacFarlane, who accused him of selling “false hopes and phony cures.”
There were no controlled trials of his “discovery,” no medical journal publications, critics noted.
Dardik pressed on.
“Many other great scientists have been vilified in their own time,” he told a reporter.
“Look at Galileo. He was under house arrest for the last 8 years of his life,” Dardik explained. “Look at somebody like Semmelweis, who discovered the importance of washing your hands before you do medical surgery, you know. We do that routinely today, but Semmelweis was ridiculed.
“Revolutions are tough to come by,” he said.
In 2004, Dardik claimed “startling results” using his wave-energy theory to produce cold fusion. He also appeared last year in the film “The Believers,” explaining his theories and using them to treat a patient with Parkinson’s.
A filmmaker is producing a documentary on Dardik — who has co-authored a book on his SuperWave principle and had another written about him. In the film, “The Wave Maker,” Dardik claims that science is founded on principles that he believes are backward.
“Instead of doing like Galileo and Newton did, which is to straighten the wave out, I went in the opposite direction,” Dardik says in the feature. “I took the wave and waved the wave.”
“Without him, I wouldn’t be in a wheelchair now — you wouldn’t even be interviewing me,” a purported Parkinson”s patient says.
The film also features flying pig statuettes that Dardik’s current wife says people send him from all over the world – a metaphor for his alternative cure.
“I genuinely appreciate Dardik’s vision of the universe,” said the filmmaker, Kiira Benzing, “and as much as I recognize he hasn’t convinced the scientific establishment to adopt his theory, I firmly believe that his ideas are reason enough to produce this film.”
The documentary is now in post-production, thanks to funds Benzing raised in part through this clip:
Records show that Sheila Dardik, 74, from whom he was divorced in 1984, still lives in Tenafly. Together they had four children.
Dardik, meanwhile, lives on a 50-acre farm in Great Meadows in Warren County with wife Allison, 58, public records show.
Under the terms of their divorce, he was to pay Sheila Dardik $150,000 per year in child support and alimony. The amount was reduced to $90,000 in 1995 after he lost his license.
A year later, he was behind bars.
It couldn’t immediately be determined this morning how much Dardik has to pony up this time to be a free man again.
MUGSHOT: Bergen County Sheriff’s Office
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