It was interesting to read the New York Times story about the generational divide in regard to remembering Princess Diana. Essentially, for a lot of millennials she is the famous woman who died in an awful car crash. For the older generations, its a mixed bag that breaks down as either the "people's princess," with a gift for caring and charity, or the socialite fashion plate who married the heir to throne.
For me she was many things but most of all fascinating, a genuinely intriguing character to emerge in an otherwise boring family. She was impossible to ignore. Certainly high drama, larger than life. She did grow from a girl to a woman before our eyes and in her last several years was indeed was the modern picture of chic, and using celebrity for good.
She was also very much a part of my professional life. As a the "big game hunter" for Larry King Live - and, given the manner of her death, chased by paparazzi, that does give ghoulish tone to my role -- I was routinely in touch with her court, her circle of friends and handlers, to try to land an interview for Larry King. I received so many elaborate and artful rejection letters that I got them framed to hang in the powder room.
We met twice. The first time was a fundraising gala for the Nina Hyde Cancer Center, where she arrived, in a sleek white evening gown, with Ralph Lauren and was the table mate of my good friend J. Carter Brown. I came with Larry and LKL's Executive Producer, Wendy Walker. We had a moment with Diana and Ralph where Larry, true to form, greeted her as "Lady Di." She smiled. While she walked through the room with Carter, we stopped her again and she met my colleague Britt Kahn...which sort of made Britt's night.
We met a second time in New York, just before her death. It was at Christie's at the party to celebrate the auction of her dresses for charity. She arrived fresh from the south of France, glowing with a Riviera tan. It was a packed party, but a kind security guard helped me get in front of her to say hello. She was charming, thanking me for my letters, and letting me down softly that there would never be an interview.
The night she died I was out at my home on the Chesapeake Bay with house guests that included my friend Yolande Fox. It was the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. We were the only two awake, watching TV, when the news broke. Shock is too small a word to explain our it hit us. I was up all night making calls to London, to my contacts, after we heard of the wreck in Paris. In fact, it was through these contacts I learned of her death even before it was made public. There was not much I could do with that, though, but share it with Wendy, as we didn't have a show until Monday night.