Gift of flight
offBeat with PHILIP POTEMPA
Even though I had actress Victoria Principal‘s 57th birthday in Wednesday’s celebrity birthday list, I notice the young designers on our night news desk, who lay out our newspaper, took her name out.
For a 20-something person, Principal’s name probably doesn’t mean too much (unlike my older brother David, who I recall had a busty-pose pin-up poster of Principal in our bedroom while we were growing up.)
They might recognize the name from the actress parody character “Principal Victoria” who appears on “South Park.”
Or recall she played herself for a live-action 1999 parody of the infamous “Pamela Ewing dream sequence” (from one of the more notorious cliff-hanger finales during her nine years on the prime-time soap “Dallas”) on the hit animated show “Family Guy.”
Now that a new big-screen version of “Dallas” is in pre-production and casting, a new generation will soon associate one of TV’s most unwelcome in-laws (Remember? She was a member of the Barnes Clan and the Ewings despised that last name) with another actress’ face rather than Principal’s.
But I still believe Principal’s birthday this week is interesting, in light of her name returning to news headlines.
After 21 years of marriage to her second husband, Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Harry Glassman, Principal’s divorce papers, citing irreconcilable differences filed last May, are finally going through, according to wire service reports. The Associated Press revealed that court papers filed on Dec. 27 in Superior Court show a financial settlement has been reached, splitting up the couple’s property of more than $50 million and ignoring a prenup that 63-year-old Glassman had been contesting. (Her official Web site, as of Wednesday, still has her married to Glassman.)
In addition to his list of famous plastic surgery patients, Glassman received additional notoriety when he became tangled up in the headlines that swirled around the mysterious 1993 death of one of the richest women in the world, tobacco heiress Doris Duke.
Just a year before her death, Duke, at age 79, had a face lift performed by Glassman. Two days after the operation, Duke fell and broke her hip when she returned to her Los Angeles estate, Falcon’s Lair (previously owned by Errol Flynn). It was Glassman who referred Duke to his friend Dr. Charles Kivowitz, the attending physician who classified Duke’s condition as in terminal decline and prescribed an IV of morphine (after her death, there was never an autopsy before the quick cremation). It was also Glassman’s recommendation that Duke hire Chicago-based law firm Katten Muchin & Zavis and their top estate specialist William Doyle to draw up the new and final will that made Duke’s butler Bernard Lafferty the executor.
When New York Surrogate Eve Preminger appointed Richard Kuk, a former Manhattan district attorney, to investigate any evidence of foul play, he found that shortly before Duke’s death, she issued a check to Glassman for $500,000 as “a gift” and that the Chicago law firm Glassman recommended had charged Duke $9 million in legal fees for a mere 18 months of service.
As for Principal’s worth, in addition to her acting work, much of her personal fortune has come from writing best-selling beauty, exercise and diet books, in addition to selling and marketing her own skin care and make-up line on the cable shopping channel QVC.
It was also one year ago that eccentric billionaire Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic, not only announced he was launching a proposed $225 million space travel agency for tourists to enjoy sub-orbital flights, but also that Principal was the first female customer to pay the $200,000 deposit to be on the first flight.
Branson’s Virgin Galactic at Spaceport America in New Mexico is to be completed in 2010, just in time for Principal to celebrate her 60th birthday in outer space.
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