Luxebeaute's Blog

January 12, 2013

Pat Montandon: The Rise and Fall of a Socialite

Filed under: Totally Random — luxebeaute @ 5:30 am
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Last night I decided to re-read Sean Wilsey’s 2005 memoir Oh the Glory of It All … I recall vividly the minute I originally found out it was slated for publication, as I was in pre-order heaven. I was hoping for a You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again meet Flowers in the Attic type read, and I knew it was going to be mostly a bullshit tale infused with all sorts of sordid details on his two socialite mommies- Pat Montandon and Step Mother, Dede Dow Buchanan Wilsey. Being that I am on team Dede and figured he wasn’t, the thought that he would perform literary rape on bio Mom never crossed my mind. Although he bashes the hell out of Dede, he also does his best to paint Montandon is immature, spoiled, self entitled, and totally bat shit crazy. Meeting her, he writes, was “like meeting a celebrity you never heard of.”

Pat Montandon began as a dirt poor gal from Okalahoma born to evangelical Nazarene ministers (yup, both parents). As she got older, she got hotter, and eventually made the move to Dallas to pursuit a modeling career and ended up wedding her first husband, Haward Groves. After 12 yrs of marriage she gave him the heave-ho, moved to SF, and became a model for I Magnin. Somewhere in this time frame she worked as a TV host, became society editor for the Examiner, wrote a book about party planning, and had a fling with Frank Sinatra.

Next she took up with Melvin Belli. Mel promised pat he would put the kybosh on his playboy and boozing ways, so the couple said I DO in a Shinto ceremony in Japan. The marriage was so brief it was dubbed Thirty Seconds over Tokyo in the press. Her next Hubby was Al Wilsey, a wealthy tycoon nine years her senior. The marriage to Al allowed Pat to take socialite status to new heights and she became renowned as the ultimate party planner. During their marriage the couple had a  6,000 SF penthouse in the Summit Building atop Russian Hill, set 800 feet of the ground with panoramic views (later owned by Charlotte Shultz), as well as a second home in Napa.

Al may have showered Pat with furs and jewels but he had a major rep as a playboy; it is said he had extra marital affairs with everyone from Dinah Shore to Danielle Steele. Pat thought they were blissfully happy until 1980 when Al announced he wanted a divorce, would not give her a dime, and was moving out. Pat called then BFF Dede who was floored by the news- Dede came to her Pat’s rescue by treating her to a vacation in Puerto Vallerta while Al moved out. The Montandon-Wilsey split was a huge to do amongst SF society and the details of their extravagant lifestyle and divorce were written up on an almost daily basis. While awaiting finalization of divorce, Pat was granted $20,000 per month alimony, in which she fought. Pat asked for a minimum of $57,000, insisting that 20K per month only leaves her with $7,000 by the end of each month- not nearly enough to sustain the lifestyle she was accustomed to. Al denounced the amount, stating it was more appropriate for Prince Charles or the Sha of Iran. In all of this, Mommy dearest was labeled The World’s Most Expensive Wife, the blond dumbshell and Pushy Galore by local papers. Likewise, Armistead Maupin made Pat a character (as Prue Giroux) in Tales of the City.

In a Falcon Crest-esque chain of events, Dede left hubby John Triana to wed Al and Al’s old mistress Danielle Steel married Triana. And poor Pat, now socialite non grata, decided to jump off the penthouse terrace and asked her son to tag along. He told her he didn’t think that was a good idea.  She’ didn’t jump.

So what is a denounced socialite to do? Come to the revelation the purpose of her beauty was to save children from a nuclear holocaust and create a utopian society. She organized peace rallies for children in San Francisco and formed Children as Teachers of Peace. She took the took trips- with children in toe- Rome to see the Pope, Gandhi, Indira Helmut Kohl, Menachem, Moscow to met members of the Soviet Peace Committee and the Kremlin to meet with the chairman of the Council of Nationalities of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. Being that there was sincerity behind all this kooky and cultish humanitarianism, Pat was honored with the United Nations Peace Messenger Award as well as nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Nowadays, Pat is still working the philanthropic circuit, but in and with a much different crowd than before. In counter attack of her Son’s tell all Glory of It All,  she penned Oh the Hell of it All . A fine read, to be sure- but much like the new testament, it is not nearly as page turning as the original.

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