SFlashback: Arianna Huffington, 1985

After reading the lengthy profile of Arianna Huffington in the current issue of “The New Yorker” we rummaged through our archives and dug up an article from 1985, at the time that Ann Getty introduced Arianna Stassinopoulos to her future husband, Texas oil heir R. Michael Huffington (his family, then worth $300 million, had just appeared in the Forbes Richest Americans list.)

It seems that Arianna was one of the notables at the 1985 San Francisco Symphony opening, which SFluxe.com would have breathlessly reported about at the time, had the Internet existed. Alas, our favorite photographer Drew Altizer was only 15 years old then, so who knows how the pictures would have turned out.

Thankfully, Pat Steger was there, and reported on the happenings for the Chronicle:

“The evening began for 625 glitzy people with the sponsors’ dinner in a tent adjacent to Davies Hall. This year the valiant men of the St. Francis Hotel’s top-notch catering team were asked to do Austrian, which meant that everything seemed to be red cabbaged and spaetzled.

There were boxes of two German truffles called Mozart Kugeln at each place setting; as party-goers went from the white to the red wine, the truffles were being called Mozart’s balls by the more convivial.

A lot of the glitz at the opening happened when Ann Getty, in a black Yves Saint Laurent, arrived with a slew of friends including Robin Hambro, in a Valentino (her husband owns a bank in London); Joy Hendricks of Paris, in an Ungaro, since she is Ungaro’s right-hand woman; and oilman Michael Huffington of Houston. Also with Ann was her pal, author Arianna Stassinopoulos of New York, who is currently working on the screenplay of her biography, “Maria Callas.” She said, ‘Joan Collins wants to do it.'”

And in a caption to the piece, Pat wrote: “Arianna Stassinopoulos was fascinated by Michael Huffington.” No doubt! They married seven months later. From the New Yorker:

“The couple married in April of 1986 in a ninety-minute black-tie ceremony at St. Bartholomew’s Church in Manhattan. The five hundred or so guests included Herreras, Kissingers, Rothermeres, and Buckleys. Ann Getty paid for the Huffingtons’ post-ceremony dinner caviar, veal Florentine, Dom Perignonthe bill for which was reported to be significantly higher than what she had anticipated. Women’s Wear Daily devoted pages of coverage to the affair, noting that after the ceremony Huffington’s mother, smoking a cigar, told a reporter, ‘Now that I’ve got Arianna married off, I can go back to Greece.”

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Arianna Huffington, c. 1985-86. Photo by Norman Parkinson.

It was indeed the beginning of something big. Without the Getty introduction, there would be no Huffingtonpost.com today — one of the most important websites in American politics and society. As Bob Colacello remarked shortly after the April 1986 wedding: “Do you realize how many careers have been made and broken by where you sit at a party?” Especially if it’s hosted by Ann Getty!

And speaking of Mrs. Getty – we have just come across the most divine photograph of her, taken by the great Norman Parkinson in April 1983. You see her kneeling on a silk divan, which is part of a 19th century peacock throne made in Paris by LeBlanc-Granger. So decadent and theatrical! We love it!