Interview with Catherine Oxenberg: More Than Just Hollywood Royalty [classic article]

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Catherine Oxenberg called me early in the a.m., although she’s on the “Left Coast” and I am in the East. She lives in California with her husband, actor Casper Van Dien, her daughter and his two kids. She is the daughter of HRH Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia and studied acting with Richard Burton, with whom her mother was romantically linked. She briefly attended Harvard, before being “discovered” by the Ford Modeling Agency. Though her intense eyes and blond locks have graced numberless magazine covers, Oxenberg is best known for her TV-movie roles as Princess Diana, and her 2-1/2 years on Dynasty.

GREEN: Do you have any new ventures?

Catherine Oxenberg: Yes! I will be going to Vancouver to shoot Sanctimony with my husband and Eric Roberts. It’s about a serial killer. I’m playing a pregnant lady. I will be doing a children’s film, Alien Incident and also, Flying Dutchman, again with Eric Roberts and also Rob Steiger. I’m writing a cookbook, Invokecatering, based on the Richmond cooking principles: “Whatever love you have, whatever spirituality you have, will be infused into the food.” I believe in the alchemy of cooking, cooking as therapy. One of the menus is for Thanksgiving dinner.

That’s funny, I wouldn’t guess people think of you as the American Thanksgiving type.

Well, my dad’s American. It’s true, though, I never spent Thanksgiving with my dad, and lived for 10 years in London and didn’t celebrate there. And, I’ve made the recipes up.

Do you have any properties or trusts or responsibilities from being royal?

None at all! I always just thought of my mother as being the Princess. Years ago, I went to Yugoslavia — they had billboards of me! Old people had tears in their eyes. I didn’t expect it. My mother has private land holdings there, through my grandfather, who was the reigning regent. She’s trying to get some of them back, but I don’t know how it will go. The political situation there is tragic. If I went back there, I could get shot!

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Would you do a USO tour there?

�I would go if asked, sure.

Do you have a crown or royal jewels?

�On the Russian side of the family, the other family members got them. I am the granddaughter of the Grand Duchess Marie, wife to Vladimir, who was brother to the Tsar.

Are you involved in any charities?

I used to be the head of a foundation that gave $200,000 to children and the environment. Now, I go to events and give money to causes such as Women Against Violence. I also work with the 52nd Street Project, getting kids into the arts.

Do you spoil your kids?

I am a pushover with the step kids, more strict with my daughter. She is raised spiritually. I was raised by nannies.

What do you indulge in?

I spoil myself! I will buy an antique, a Russian icon, furniture, a beautiful dress, lingerie.

Is it expensive to be a movie star?

Yes! The maintenance as I get older! I get facials and use Lumisol, a skin care line. I exercise every day, yoga.

Do you manage your own money?

I have been really lucky with money. I invest really well. I have two portfolios: Prudential and Charles Schwab. I have done really well with tech stocks: Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO), AOL (NYSE: AOL), and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT).

What other kinds of things do you have?

I bought a house for $425,000 and sold it for $925,000. I have a big Range Rover, and I crashed my husband’s big Expedition! I would love to have horses, but I’d have to move, which I may do anyway in the next couple years, to have more land.

Do you get residuals from Dynasty?

I get checks for 15 cents! It’s always playing somewhere in the world. It never dies.

Are you surprised?

�Horrified! The way we looked in the ’80s.

It seems that Joan Collins looks the same.

She does!

It seems like some of those Dynasty people are on TV all of the time.

�Well, Aaron Spelling was angry when I left. He doesn’t like people to leave him and I left him. It definitely affected my career.

What’s the most money you ever got from Dynasty?

Not too much. I got the minimum, starting out. I made more from my champagne endorsements than from Dynasty. I made some money playing Princess Diana. I met her at her wedding; my mother is Prince Charles’ cousin.

What do you think is a waste of money?

Well, I’ll tell you what is NOT a waste of money: I always pay the most for food, organic vegetables, etc. I have only one body and it’s a temple. I do have an old dishwasher that I’m too lazy to replace.

Your mother hawks perfume for Merv Griffin. Would you?

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