So there I was with Raquel Welch at Alana Stewart’s book-signing party at the Art House one night last week.
Now, I love Raquel — I mean, I must have been 12 or so when she posed for that publicity shot in a fur-bikini for “One Million Years B.C.” so you can imagine I was more than thrilled.
We probably spent half-an-hour or so chatting, and I found her charming and way smarter than you would think.
The problem — Raquel and I agreed — was that there was no one there to chronicle it … not us, but Alana’s party,
In the old days (ahem, last year!) it would have been the legend Army Archerd in his “Just for Variety” column. I mean, it was made for him: exclusive, studio heads, and Army, the only journalist there.
Unfortunately, he passed away a day or two before.
Instead, we all remembered the documentary Alana made about her best friend, Farrah, for TV several months ago. The book, “My Journey With Farrah,” is sort of the print follow-up — and opened at #9 on the New York Times’ bestseller list — the Gold Standard of print media.
And you would think that, given the names involved, it would have attracted a huge audience.
But Alana never does anything halfway — and in this case, she didn’t, either.
When Rogers & Cowan first called to invite me, I assumed it would be one of those crazy book-signing parties with hundreds of “wannabes” or “never weres” stampeding to get in.
But not Alana — truthfully, the Art House could have held 500 or more guests. But, in all honesty, there were maybe 50. But, what a 50 — everyone from former Columbia studio chief Craig Baumgarten to top producer Jerry Bruckheimer to Susanne de Passe to jewelry designer Loree Rodkin to former studio heads Alan Ladd Jr and Larry Gordon.
Now this was Army’s kind of party — the sort of “inside Tinsel Town” that he loved to dish about in his famous column.
Ah, well, Raquel and I looked at each other — that was never going to be again and, well, like his good friend, publicist Howard Brandy (who also just passed away), there would never be another like him.
So I’m not here to tell you about the party — though, I must admit, as I went down the list from studio head to studio head to, well, me — I felt a little flattered.
But then I remembered how I knew Alana — 20 or so years ago when I first came to LA as a correspondent for Newsweek a mutual friend had introduced us. And in those days I’ll never forget visiting her at her and Rod’s house in Brentwood when Kimberly — now a model — and son Sean (who later worked for me as a P.A. on a movie) were still 6 and 4 and running around in the back yard.
And while, over the years, between her marriages, we’ve flirted with one another once or twice, I always knew that she loved her two husbands more than any man deserved. They may not have known it — but it was true. As she writes in “My Journey With Farrah,” she (like Farrah) was just an old Texas gal who stood by her man — in Farrah’s case (as Alana’s movie and book prove), Ryan … whatever their problems.
So I was trying to sneak out of the affair (aside from Raquel, the only other ciitizen I spent any time with was Dr. Eric Esrailian, the head of gastroenterology at UCLA, where Farrah was treated and, it turned out, was good friends with the director of my last picture, “Screamers,” Carla Garapedian) … when Alana grabbed me. We had a good laugh after she spilled a glass of wine down the front of my pants — and then she took my copy of her book and insisted on signing it.
”To Peter, My old, dear friend for many, many years, Love, Alana.”
And that’s why we — everyone from studio heads to top producers to doctors from UCLA love her — because, as she proved with Farrah, there’s no better friend or love in the world.
If only Army could have been there to record it.