- Even those who had been ‘defrosted’, or replaced with another woman, speak of him with affection
- Why did women fall for him like dominoes and how did he stay such good friends with so many of them
- But he was jilted twice, practically at the altar, and his first marriage ended disastrously after a year
- Undoubtedly the television presenter and journalist was a catch, from the earliest days
Before he settled down to marriage, the late David Frost’s romantic entanglements were a sort of running soap opera, played out in the gossip columns of the day.
Actresses, society girls, media high-flyers and the aristocracy all fell for his legendary charm and sense of fun.
Indeed, tracked down by the Mail following his death last weekend at the age of 74, even those who had been ‘defrosted’, as they put it — meaning being replaced by another young beauty in Frost’s affections — still could only speak of him with affection.
His reputation as a ladies’ man never entirely left him, despite him experiencing a fair few ‘defrostings’ of his own: he was jilted twice, practically at the altar, and his first marriage ended disastrously after a year.
So who were these ladies that Frost loved, who so adored him in return? Why did women fall for him like dominoes? And why did he manage to stay such good friends with so many of them?
The first woman he became entangled with was actress Janette Scott, daughter of actress Dame Thora Hird. They met in 1961 and dated for three years.
Frost, then just 22, was already famous, having secured a job as the presenter of That Was The Week That after leaving Cambridge. He’d lusted after the glamorous blonde — best known for her role in the 1960 film, School For Scoundrels — as a besotted teenager, watching her on the big screen.
When she popped up in the TV studios one night, he felt compelled to act.
Miss Scott, now 74, retired and living in East Sussex with her third husband, says she was impressed by his determination — and his enormous intellect.
‘It was a special time, an adventure,’ she recalls. ‘There were lots of “firsts” for both of us . . . We travelled a lot. It was the first trip to America for both of us, our first time on the QE2 to New York, our first time to Hawaii. We had lunch with President Johnson.
‘David was very confident and I’ve always been attracted to brainy men, but at that time I was more mature as far as showbusiness went, and I helped him make decisions.’
She was the first to ‘defrost’ David, when she fell for American singer Mel Torme. They married in 1966 and had two children together, but divorced in 1977.
She insists there were no hard feelings between her and David and they remained friends until his death.
‘The last time I saw him was seven years ago, at a memorial service for my mother. I was very pleased that he came. I heard poor David had died from the television news. I feel very sad — and now all those special memories belong only to me.’
Despite his first experience of heartbreak, the relentlessly resilient Frost was soon back on the dating scene, stepping out with actress Jenny Logan, who starred in the hilarious Shake ’n’ Vac television adverts in the Eighties.
She declined to speak about her relationship with Frost this week, but a friend told the Mail: ‘She’s very upset. He was the love of her life, without doubt.’
In 1967, Frost was back in the gossip columns, having ‘danced into the early hours’ aboard the Cunard Liner Queen Mary, docked at Southampton, with a 24-year-old blonde American starlet called Carol Lynley.
It’s said that Frost had an on/off romance with Miss Lynley over the course of 18 years.
Now 71 and living in California, she said succinctly: ‘He was an extraordinary person, and that kind of sums him up.’
The following year, 1968, Frost was introduced to Bernadette Carey, a 28-year-old New York fashion editor, at a fashionable party in The Hamptons. ‘He was very bright, very nice, very charming. We spent the evening talking and he took me to the train station,’ recalls Bernadette, now 73 and still living near New York with her husband of 33 years, Bruce Smith.
She remembers the two years of their relationship as a charmed and glamorous time.
‘David had a network show in America by then and was the toast of New York. He’d taken a house in The Hamptons. I didn’t look too bad and I had a fairly decent wardrobe, which David liked.’
Indeed, David was known for his sharp dress sense: with a penchant for Doug Hayward suits, Turnbull & Asser shirts and Gucci loafers.
‘He knew everyone,’ she said. ‘We used to go for lots of nice dinners with people such as Jackie and Ari Onassis. David was very fond of Ari. He bought me a gold watch from Tiffany’s store and a gold bracelet with turquoise stones.
‘It was a hugely exciting time. In 1970 David won an Emmy for his TV show and we attended the ceremony in LA together. We’d been up to Boston that day, where David was giving a talk, and I remember it was all a mad rush, pouring with rain and my hair was a mess.’
Their A-list romance came to an abrupt end when, in 1970, Frost met the American singer Diahann Carroll, then a huge star. He was instantly bewitched.
Bernadette learned from a friend that Frost was seeing Diahann. ‘I bumped into this friend on 57th Street and she asked after David.
‘When I replied that he was in California, she blurted out: “No, he isn’t”. Then it all came out about Diahann.
‘She said: “Didn’t you know he was seeing her?” and I replied: “No I didn’t, but thanks for telling me”.
‘I phoned David and asked if it was true and he said: “Well, yes it is.” He made no attempt to deny it. I was kind of devastated.
‘David and I had no contact after that but when I married in 1980, he heard about it and sent my husband a telegram congratulating him and sending me his best wishes.’ Bernadette and Frost were to meet just one more time — at The Ritz Hotel in London in the Nineties.
‘I was on holiday, having lunch, and suddenly I heard David’s voice at the other end of the room,’ she says. ‘He was with a group of people and when they came past our table, I called out to him.
‘He was so surprised to see me, he was completely speechless.’
Which may have been a first.
The romance with Diahann — who starred in Dynasty — was a sensation at the time. He showered her with baubles, reportedly including a rare ruby and rose-cut diamond brooch which had once belonged to the Royal Family.
After much speculation, the couple got engaged in November 1972 in New York, after buying a 200-year-old, egg-sized diamond engagement ring.
‘It’s delicious,’ said Frost, of the engagement. Flashing her diamond, Diahann purred: ‘It’s as big as my heart.’ The happy couple planned to marry in London the following Easter, but before the wedding could take place, Diahann decided to marry someone else instead — a 39-year-old boutique owner, Fredde Glusman.
Maybe Frost had it coming after his treatment of Bernadette, but this was a ‘defrosting’ like no other.
Diahann explained: ‘I came over to Las Vegas for some meetings with my business manager and we planned to have some cocktails with Fredde Glusman. ‘The next thing I knew I was standing in front of a judge getting married.’
As you do.
Frost was gallant and ever the gentleman in defeat. ‘Life is full of surprises,’ he said. ‘But if Diahann is happy, then I am happy, too.’
There was nothing for it, but for Frost to get back in the field.
Which he did with elan — bringing us to 1974, a year of twists, turns and improbable cliff-hangers even by the standards of Frost’s colourful love life. At the start of the year, he fell in love with Karen Graham, an American model who was to go on to become the ‘face’ of Estee Lauder.
They got engaged and Karen as taken to Beccles, in Suffolk, to meet Frost’s mother Mona — for her approval.
Mrs Frost remarked that she was ‘such a nice girl’, even seeking advice on English recipes for her fiancé.
‘There’s not a doubt about this one,’ she said. ‘I knew the second I saw her. Oh, she’s just like one of our family.’
But no sooner were the words out of Mrs Frost’s mouth, apparently, than Karen had married another man, Delbert Coleman, a tycoon who ran the Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas.
Poor David Frost. What was it about Vegas?
Today Miss Graham is 67 and runs a fly fishing business in North Carolina. She could not be contacted this week, but back in 2000, musing about her romance with Frost, she said: ‘I respected David an awful lot and still do. It was a big mistake not marrying him, possibly the biggest of my romantic life.’
Frost was keen to put this second jilting at the altar behind him, and quickly got in touch with the actress Alexandra Bastedo, whom he’d met a few times on the London scene. In June 1974, the pair were photographed at a film premiere.
‘We were both on the rebound at the time,’ recalls Alexandra, now 67, who runs an animal rescue charity in East Sussex.
‘I’d just come out of a romance with Omar Sharif, who was married to someone else, and David had just finished with Karen Graham. We went out a few times.
‘We knew we’d be photographed (at the premiere) and thought it would be a good way for both of us to put these two experiences behind us, make people forget about them. But we did like each other.
‘David was terrific company, very kind, very thoughtful. He was lovely, very amusing. I was very shy and lacking in confidence at the time and I hung on to his every word.
‘If he said he was going to call, he’d call. He didn’t play games.’
The romance fizzled but, as was common with so many of Frost’s flings, they remained lifelong friends.
Five months after meeting Alexandra, Frost had moved onto Caroline Cushing, a former debutante, who was married to a wealthy American, Howard Cushing.
Their first date was the boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in then Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo — the so-called Rumble In The Jungle.
– Caroline Cushing Graham
After that, the pair travelled all over the world with Frost’s work. She was behind the scenes during the series of televised interviews with disgraced American president Richard Nixon, for which Frost is probably most famous.
They split up in 1979 and Caroline went on to marry Bill Graham, the son of Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, but stayed friends.
Now 73 and running a PR agency in California, Mrs Cushing Graham says: ‘He was never in a bad mood. He had a very upbeat personality and was able to work really hard. He was a great human being.
‘He was a great gourmet, a unique Englishman. I’m sad he didn’t die on English soil. He loved England.’
Then, in 1981, aged 41, Frost finally made it all the way up the aisle. He stunned his friends by marrying actress Lynne Frederick — whose previous husband, Peter Sellers, had died just six months earlier.
It was a disastrous union and they divorced the following year. Lynne suffered from alcoholism and died in 1994 aged just 39.
Then, after so many false starts and broken hearts, Frost found lasting happiness with his second wife, Lady Carina Fitzalan-Howard, second daughter of the Duke of Norfolk, whom he married in 1983.
They had three sons and remained together until his death last weekend aged 74 following a heart attack on board the Queen Elizabeth cruise liner, shortly after it left Southampton bound for Rome.
This week Lady Carina and the other women with whom Frost shared his life are in shock.
‘I just didn’t think David would die,’ says Bernadette Carey Smith, summing up their mood.
In the end his life was cut short, but as the stories of the women he shared in his life show, wasn’t it a life lived spectacularly well?
- Sir David Frost (journalism3430.wordpress.com)
- Was David Frost religious? Yes, said his wife. He thinks he’s God (telegraph.co.uk)
- David Frost Dies at 74 (waitwhatsadial.com)
- Sir David Frost dies: TV giant, party host supreme and thoroughly good egg (dailymail.co.uk)
- David Frost’s finest hour (shirazsocialist.wordpress.com)
- David Frost Interviews Enoch Powell. (europeanmediacentre.wordpress.com)
- David Frost 1939-2013: a video tribute (blogs.spectator.co.uk)
- Sir David Frost obituary (theguardian.com)
- David Frost dies aged 74 (newstatesman.com)
- Veteran British broadcaster David Frost dies at 74 (rediff.com)