By her own admission, Alana Collins Hamilton Stewart was raised in abject poverty in Nacogdoches, Texas. The early pages of her new memoir, “Rearview Mirror,” are fascinating and touching, as one wonders how she could have escaped her roots to become the celebrity she is today.
Stewart grew up with a mother who was a drug addict at a home where an outhouse served as a bathroom. Once Alana was able to leave, and after a brief stint as a domestic airline hostess, she began modeling in New York City. Here she met playboy types who were looking for young, nubile and gullible flesh to exploit. And Alana was born beautiful. Her beauty could have been a curse, as it attracted men who used her.
One of these men was not George Hamilton, whom she married in 1972. In 1974, she gave birth to their son, Ashley.
George and Alana remain friends today. He gave her a blurb for her memoir, even though she wrote revealingly about him. Hamilton said, "Through marriages and divorces, I've gotten to watch this fascinating and complex woman come into her own, from small-town roots to the confidante of the glamorous and powerful. Her take on the ride is not only insightful and exciting, it's gut-wrenching and more than enough for a lifetime."
Hamilton wrote these words of praise even though Alana recounted the time he left her mother’s funeral to make an appearance at a convention out of town and abandoned Alana to be alone with her grief. With typical Hamilton savoir faire, he did not object to her mentioning this and several other unflattering things about him.
On the other hand, there is no blurb from her second husband, Rod Stewart, who is the father of Sean and Kimberly, two of her three children. Rod’s attraction to Alana was not only due to her blonde beauty, but to her status in Hollywood’s inner circle and to her catching George Hamilton.
Alana had learned from George how to social climb. She focused on making friends of the rich and powerful. A bangers-and-mash man (I know because when Rod and I dated, I would eat them with him in his kitchen), Rod wanted the approval of Hollywood’s elite and to be accepted by them. Also, Rod had a fixation on George Hamilton due to George’s class and status. Rod suffered from a deep insecurity about his childhood. Alana and he shared humble roots.
After a stormy, drug-fueled marriage, multimillionaire rocker Rod left his globetrotting, celebrity-oriented wife and mother of two of his children financially in need in the later years of her life. While pregnant, Alana, who believed “until death do us part”, signed a killer prenuptial in haste, defying stellar legal advice.
"I remember seeing her right before that divorce," George Hamilton recalls in an interview, "She had that look only combat veterans get. That million-mile stare."
When Alana first arrived in New York, she was focused on fame and fortune. She caught that brass ring by marrying Rod, but the ring tarnished after their divorce.
Still, she was left with a glowing friendship with George. “Rearview Mirror” is the story of a lasting love between Alana and George Hamilton. Even though today George has a girlfriend, it is apparent that part of his heart will always belong to Alana.
In the first part of her life, Alana's fascination with celebrity was understandable given her humble beginnings. However, if it had not been so all-encompassing, one would have a greater sense of compassion for her.
In her later years, she discovered 12-step programs and spirituality. One hopes that she has acquired genuine values and is at peace.
While Alana’s mother was unable to be emotionally available for her due to addictions, Alana sought the help of therapists to learn to be emotionally available for her children. Without proper therapy, it would have been difficult for her to free herself from her past. Two of Alana’s three children suffered from alcoholism, which is a disease that can be inherited. Today they are sober.
Alana and I studied comedic improvisation together in the late 70s, and she kindly makes reference to this in “Rearview Mirror.” For me, her greatest accomplishment in the acting arena was her talk show with George in which she utilized her comedic talents. Unfortunately, “The George and Alana Show” was canceled too soon due to inexperienced producers.
Stay tuned for a possible rebuttal in “Rod: The Autobiography,” to be published on October 23.