Maurice Venice is the talent scout who first makes Wilhelm Adler hope that he'll be a big-time star. When Wilhelm meets Venice, he thinks of him as being "huge and oxlike, so stout that his arms seemed caught from beneath in a grip of flesh and fat" (1.58).
There are early signs that Venice might not be a trustworthy fellow, but young Wilhelm doesn't let that bother him. It isn't until years later, while Wilhelm is working as an orderly at a hospital in Los Angeles, that he sees a surprising news story about Venice. As it turns out, the man had been using his film industry connections to run a prostitution ring. Charming.
Venice is the first of the con artists who come into Wilhelm's life needing him more than he needs them. One of Wilhelm's most striking characteristics is the fact that he can't recognize when someone is trying to use him.