Private Sydney: Danielle's celebrity crush?
Private Sydney delves into secret celebrity life, as columnist Andrew Hornery tells of an unusual meeting with Russell Crowe's ex, Danielle Spencer.PT3M47S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-27xbh 620 349 October 19, 2012
AT THE time it seemed quaint that Danielle Spencer, wife of a Hollywood heart-throb, would harbour her own celebrity crush when she asked PS to introduce her to hunky former rugby star and latter day male model Kris Smith.
But given the events of the past week, with Spencer's decision to end her nine-year marriage to Russell Crowe, an entirely new light has been cast upon this rather unusual episode.
It was at the Myer fashion show at the Hordern Pavilion in August when PS last caught up with Spencer.
Split ... Danielle Spencer and Russell Crowe. Photo: Getty
She had agreed to be interviewed, and discussed things mostly to do with her wardrobe and how handy it was to have a husband with Giorgio Armani on his speed dial when it came to doing red carpets.
It was after the interview, when we were chatting over champagne, that Spencer took PS by surprise by asking her girlfriend to see if I could organise an introduction to the recently single Smith, former partner of Dannii Minogue, who had just sashayed down the runway in nothing but a pair of swimming trunks and a smile.
''Of course, not a problem,'' I confidently announced, noticing the crimson hue spreading across Spencer's face.
Male model Kris Smith with his ex Dannii Minogue. Photo: Paul Rovere
When I dragged Smith over, Spencer gushed like a schoolgirl as the towering former rugby player politely introduced himself.
It was a friendly meeting and although it is not suggested that anything happened, PS quietly wondered what Crowe would have thought.
Danielle Spencer has been on the celebrity radar for more than a decade but it has only been in recent months that she finally moved out of her now estranged husband's shadow, catapulted into the limelight most recently as a contestant on Dancing With The Stars.
Indeed, this is now considered a controversial chapter in itself as rumours soon mounted about the nature of her relationship with dance partner Damian Whitewood.
The professional ballroom dancer almost popped a sequin when he denied he was ''the other man'' on Today Tonight this week, collecting a rumoured $10,000 cheque on the way after admitting he was aware there were problems in her marriage.
Among those most surprised by the split would be Nicole Kidman.
It was Crowe who rushed to be by Kidman's side when Tom Cruise walked out of their marriage. At the time, many expected Crowe and Kidman to eventually form a romantic union, although PS hears Kidman only ever saw the actor as being like ''the brother she never had''.
For years Spencer has been criticised for many things, from her fashion sense to women's magazine pundits analysing her ''unhappy'' face.
She has long been portrayed as the patient wife, always there no matter what controversy her husband landed in, from throwing telephones at hotel clerks to bar room brawls.
PS never found her to be the type to fawn, pose or gush on a red carpet. Indeed, she was a reluctant and unusually down to earth participant in the fame game.
Florence, Sydney and Monte Carlo
HALF a century ago she was arguably the most glamorous society hostess in Sydney. This week PS hears from Monte Carlo that Lady (Florence) Packer's health has taken a turn for the worse.
PS understands Lady Packer, who marked her 97th birthday in June, has been slowing down for some time. Until only recently she had been an active member of the St Paul's of Monaco congregation and a keen bridge player.
In recent days she has been confined to her bed.
Sir Frank Packer's second wife (he was her third husband), Lady Packer's life story is a truly remarkable one, with her arriving by ship in Sydney after World War II.
For the next 60 years she would divide her time between Sydney and Monte Carlo, where she was great friends with Princess Grace.
She was born in Paris in 1915. Her father, Edmond Porges, was a British banker whose family went on to establish the DeBeers diamond empire.
She grew up with the likes of the wealthy de Rothschild clan and the children of the French industrialist Andre-Gustave Citroen. She counted the offspring of various European royals among her friends.
British Vogue covered her coming out party in 1935 when 250 members of Parisienne high society were invited to the family's home, where the Ballet Russe performed in the garden, just a stone's throw from the Elysee Palace.
When the Nazis invaded Paris they seized the home and took the family's art collection and valuable possessions. Florence escaped with her mother by catching a ship bound for England with the King of Albania.
She came to Sydney in 1946 after marrying Noel Vincent, a friend of Frank Packer's, and she was quickly feted in the Herald's social pages, taking the locals by storm with her European fashions. She even hosted a Christian Dior parade at David Jones in 1948 when the designer's infamous New Look was launched in the antipodes.
Becoming firm friends with Frank's wife Gretel as well as the feared president of the Black & White Ball committee Nola Dekyvere, Florence quickly took up a position on the Sydney social scale until she returned to Paris in 1961 after her marriage to Vincent came to an end.
It was in 1964, four years after Gretel Packer died, that Frank Packer travelled to Paris and married Florence at a London registry, later announcing the news at a press conference at the Savoy.
Becoming the new chatelaine of Cairnton, the Packer family estate in Bellevue Hill, her parties were the talk of the town, with visiting dignitaries regularly feted, including Cecil Beaton, who had stayed for the night and took her photograph at breakfast. He described Lady Packer as ''very French and cuddlesome''.
On her 95th birthday Father Walter Raymond from St Paul's of Monaco told PS her ''intelligence shows no signs of wear and tear … She is very sharp and our conversation at tea flows over a large range of topics. She has very fond memories of her time in Australia. She often comments, 'The Australian people were always very kind to me.'''
SAS-style security for nuptials
JODI GORDON and Braith Anasta clearly had a lot at stake to protect their $100,000 Balinese wedding deal with Woman's Day last Sunday, but perhaps the size of the crack security team was a tad over the top.
Despite initial denials that any security measures had been taken, Gordon's manager, Sean Anderson, confirmed to PS this week that no less than 16 SAS-level private guards were stationed at the resort in Uluwatu where the wedding took place.
He also confirmed reports the guards had pounced on the Sydney paparazzo Brendan Beirne who had been discovered in the bush adjacent to the cliff-top Itsana resort taking photos.
''They found him, he was looking pretty sweaty and a bit worse for wear,'' Anderson told PS at Tuesday night's Range Rover launch.
Anderson agreed the security guards had been particularly heavy-handed with the photographer, describing them as ''very mean, tough kind of guys … not the sort of blokes you want to mess about with''.
They demanding that camera memory cards be handed over, but PS hears only two cards were actually confiscated, with a third card still unaccounted for.
Yet local police were never called to the resort, matters being handled by the security guards, a situation which would not have happened in Australia.
The missing memory card caused considerable angst on the day, especially when it was suggested the security guards would have to conduct a ''cavity search'' to locate it. It was Anderson who suggested such a search was ''probably not necessary'', much to the relief of the security guys.
Shire pitch falls flat
The Shire has been long confined to the annals of television history, but it would seem some of its, ahem, ''stars'', simply refuse to disappear. PS has learned of a highly entertaining email exchange between Alex Haddad from the grandly titled talent agency VIP World Entertainment (PS has never heard of it either) and a top magazine executive. Haddad thought he was pitching an exclusive story to Vogue Australia about The Shire'sVernesa Toroman having a boob job. Haddad was offering the story to Vogue for the bargain price of $2500, complete with ''graphical'' before and after images. Problem was the pitch went to Trudi Jenkins, editor-in-chief of the food magazine Delicious. Jenkins fired off an email in response: ''I do not work on Vogue, and nor do any of the other people listed on your email. Secondly, if you think a magazine such as Vogue would be interested in running a story on Vernesa and her surgery, with ''graphical'' (sic) images shot using a mobile phone, I'm not quite sure what planet you are on. Do your research and get your facts straight.'' Friends report Toroman was left feeling, er, a little deflated.
A year to the day since he lost his beloved wife Elaine, the Christian Democratic Party leader Fred Nile stepped out with a new, much younger woman on his arm at Thursday night's NSW Parliamentary Spring Ball. PS can reveal the mystery woman, who wore a fluffy white fur, is northern beaches single mother Silvana Nero, pictured above with Nile, a CDP aspirant who most recently was an unsuccessful candidate in the Warringah Council elections. The pair were the talk of the room. Denying that anything romantic was going on, they remained arm-in-arm for most of the night. Nile, 78, even busted a move on the dance floor, presenting a wild, finger-pointing interpretation of the jive bunny, all the while remaining stationary as Nero circled him like a bull fighter.