The affair of Anjelica Huston and Jack Nicholson ended 20 years ago but the friendship between two stars still goes on...
The great and good of Hollywood wouldn't have missed it for the world. Jane Fonda was there looking impossibly glamorous for someone of 75, Lauren Hutton, Sylvester Stallone, Warren Beatty ...the list went on...
They were all at the swish Hollywood hotel the other day for the launch of the biography of another Hollywood legend, 62-year-old Anjelica Huston, daughter of the iconic movie director and star of such classics as The Royal Tennenbaums, who was revealing all in her book A Story Lately Told.
And most of the evening she snuggled close to one of the major figures in the book. "It wouldn't have been the same without him," she told reporters. "He is still a major part of my life, my closest friend, someone I can always rely on."
She was talking about a stocky figure in a blue shirt and black jacket ... 76-year-old Jack Nicholson. True they had once had one of the longest affairs in Hollywood history. But Anjelica had given him his marching orders more than two decades ago.
She had discovered that Jack had fathered a love-child with starlet Rebecca Broussard, stormed out of the house they shared and never went back. She married sculptor Robert Graham, who died in 2008, but she never forgot Jack Nicholson.
He has only married once — to Sandra Knight — which ended in 1968 — and has repeatedly said that he had been crazy to cheat on Angelica Huston.
It was in September, 1973, that Anjelica, then 22, found herself at one of Jack Nicholson's tumultuous open-house parties at his Hollywood mansion on Mulholland Drive. "I expected to drop in for half an hour," she remembered. "But it didn't quite work out that way..."
Nicholson caught a glimpse of the beautiful dark-haired stranger at the other end of a crowded room, put down his drink and hurried over.
"Class," he said of his first impression. "I'd never seen such class!" Daughter of Huston and his ballerina wife Enrica Soma, Anjelica had been brought up in Ireland. After an unsuccessful movie, directed by her father, she abandoned an acting career and became a top model in Paris.
It was love at first sight. Within days, Anjelica had cancelled all her modelling contracts and moved into Mulholland Drive. She became in her own words, "a woman of leisure". Jack's friends were amazed by the way he settled down with his new love and didn't even give other women a second glance. "I don't like it," said his buddy Peter Fonda. "It's not natural!"
Nicholson was utterly faithful for two years. Then, when Anjelica was away, he had a fleeting affair with one of her best friends. Next day a gossip writer phoned Anjelica and told her. She was furious. "I have been totally devoted to that jerk," she fumed.
To get revenge she had an affair with Jack's best friend Ryan O'Neal — which apparently hurt Nicholson deeply. "I don't blame her," he said. "But I wish she hadn't done it. And I'll never forgive Ryan..."
But he forgave Anjelica — and agreed to star with her in a movie directed by her father — Prizzi's Honor — in which he played a dull-witted Mafia hit-man and she was the woman determined to marry him. In fact in real life it was the other way around — just before Prizzi's Honor Nicholson had proposed for the third time — and been turned down. "I'm with you now," she said. "Can't you be happy with that?"
They kissed and made up — and stayed together for 16 years. But by now Anjelica was beginning to wonder if this really was a match made in Heaven.
"I had been with him most of my adult life," she told friends later. "I still love him, but with Jack, what you see is what you get. He is quite incapable of opening up and telling you what he feels.
"I just felt I was living a two-dimensional life. I know if I discussed it with him he would talk me out of it, so I didn't. Then I heard about his affair with Rebecca Broussard and I knew the time for talking was over. I just walked out."
The first Nicholson knew was when he returned home after filming to find Mulholland Drive empty. Anjelica had moved to a remote house in the Hollywood Hills.
He was tearful and then bitter. And when John Huston, his friend and mentor for 30 years, died, he refused to go to the funeral. "I might have gone back if he hadn't done that," Anjelica said. "Sometimes I still love him, sometimes I hate the rat. But one thing's certain...I'm never going to forget him."