Sir David Frost could be just as entertaining off screen. Photo: Reuters
With a guest list headed by David Frost and including Barry Humphries, Clive James, Pamela Stephenson, Angry Anderson and Deborah Hutton, it was always going to be a night to remember.
And now, prompted by Frost's death at the weekend, the memories of that legendary night in 1987 at the Sebel Townhouse in Kings Cross are as strong as ever for the host Lisa Wilkinson.
At the time, she was the editor of Cleo and had decided to throw a party to celebrate the magazine's 15th anniversary.
David Frost and former US president Richard Nixon after recording an interview in California in March 1977.
“Damn me, but everyone I invited said, 'yes',” says Wilkinson, who now hosts the Today show on Channel Nine. “It was one of those nights when you think maybe I should never hold another dinner party because I'll never surpass this guest list.
“I looked around the room and thought, 'I'm just guaranteed to stuff this up!' I was so wet behind the ears I don't think I had even thrown a dinner party at home at that stage.”
The party raged long into the night and well into the next morning, says Wilkinson.
“On Monday morning I remember getting into the lift at lunchtime. I got one floor and the lift doors opened and in came Kerry Packer and David Frost. David gave me a big hug and a kiss and said: 'Thanks so much for Friday night. It was fabulous'. Kerry just looked at me and said: 'I'm not even going to ask'.
“I just left him guessing.”
Comedian and author Wendy Harmer was one of the lucky few to score an invite. “It was pretty amazing to be there,” she says. “I think most of the time David was more interested in talking to Pamela Stephenson than me!
“David was as you'd expect – urbane and affable. It was a memorable dinner, that's for sure. Most of the time I was clowning around with Barry Humphries and Clive. David was up the other end of the table with the sensible people.
“I remember I got Barry and Clive to improvise the most fantastically funny thing in the history of the world ever and forgot to turn the button on on the tape recorder.”
Frost is perhaps best remembered for his dramatic interview with Richard Nixon, during which the former president dramatically admitted he had "let down the country".
Frost died on Saturday evening on a cruise ship. He was 74. He came to prominence in Britain with the Saturday night TV satirical program That Was The Week That Was, which he hosted and co-created in the early 1960s.
The show cocked a snook at the establishment and pomposity in a way that had never before been tried on broadcast media. It shocked authority and was not to be missed by those who were its victims as much as by those who enjoyed seeing the great and the good so savagely ridiculed.
Frost wrote 17 books, produced several films and started two television networks, London Weekend Television and TV-am. He was awarded an Order of the British Empire in 1970 and received his knighthood in 1993.
Tributes to the veteran broadcaster have continued to roll in. Fellow interviewer Michael Parkinson described him as a "remarkable man", adding: "I was lucky to know him. He was extraordinary and inspired a generation – an incredibly talented man, adept at so many things, an all-rounder.
"He was part of the cultural opening up of the 1960s, and he broke boundaries."
British Prime Minister David Cameron said: "Sir David was an extraordinary man – with charm, wit, talent, intelligence and warmth in equal measure. He made a huge impact on television and politics.
"The Nixon interviews were among the great broadcast moments but there were many other brilliant interviews. He could be – and certainly was with me – both a friend and a fearsome interviewer."
John Cleese, whose career was in effect launched by The Frost Report, said: "He was always fun and kind and interesting, and I never heard him make a mean comment about anyone. I owe a great deal of my professional career to David, and I am very grateful for what he did for me.
"Life is going to feel rather diminished by the loss of his welcoming, cheery and optimistic voice."
with AAP and Telegraph, London