LOS ANGELES -- BULLETIN: Late on the third day of Joan Collins' divorce proceedings, her lawyer showed up with a Mystery Witness. M.W. wore a white knit dress and leopard-patterned high-heeled shoes and sat in the courtroom for a while yesterday in sunglasses, causing heated speculation. Then she rose and testified that her name was Romina Danielson and that she was the girlfriend.
She testified that she and Peter Holm, the muscular blond Swede to whom Joan Collins no longer wishes to be married, had dalliances during the day while Collins was at work. She said they met in 1985, on Valentine's Day. She said Holm used to call her "Passion Flower." She said she was 21 then and that Holm suggested to her -- hold on, it gets worse -- to marry a wealthy 80-year-old friend of his for his money, which she did.
She said she had divorced this gentleman by now, and that Holm told her it would take a few years for him, Holm, to obtain joint possession of Collins' property, so that he could, in Danielson's words, "split" and they could live together. "It's obvious he loved women with money," Danielson testified. "He wanted to have a child with me."
Then her eyes rolled back in her head.
Then she collapsed.
Then she began sobbing very loudly and paramedics carried her away. Court was adjourned.
On Wednesday Joan Collins was on the witness stand. It was hard not to fixate on her lips. She has these amazing lips, sort of full and bowed and constantly at work there below the smoke-colored eyelids and the large tousled hair. The hair was mesmerizing too, especially on Wednesday, when a single velvet bow appeared to be perilously containing the whole arrangement, and when she walked back into the courtroom after lunch she had a peach-colored rose in one hand and the black velvet bow in the back -- and she would lift the rose to her face, you see, as though preparing to kiss it --
Anyway, the lips. These lips are worth $95,000 per episode, which is what Collins testified she made last season on "Dynasty." These lips pouted, and pursed, and made small moues in the general direction of the press corps, which was dutifully taking notes. Some of the notes were in Swedish, since the proceedings in Department 27 of Los Angeles Superior Court are of interest to the developed world in general; German reporters were there also, and half of Fleet Street, which particularly liked it when Collins said she accepted the engagement offer of Peter Holm because "it would give him more status as being the official man in my life rather than being just, sort of -- the dog."
The court reporter looked up and said he had failed to catch the last word.
"Dog," Joan Collins said.
It is expensive to get a divorce if you live in Los Angeles and make $95,000 per episode. Usually it is expensive for men, who are frequently to be found shedding their wives and former popsies here at very great cost and some embarrassment to themselves, but we are in a new era now, and thus these vistas have been opened to women also.
The husband Joan Collins is trying to remove herself from is the Swedish individual named Peter Holm. Peter Holm is reported to be 40, which already is enough younger than Joan Collins (53, or something like that) to cause titters among the low-minded; in fact, since Holm has loose, longish hair and a chiseled cleft chin and a constant look of bovine good humor, he appears somewhat younger even than that, and spends a good deal of time on the witness stand saying to Joan Collins' extremely famous divorce lawyer Marvin Mitchelson, "I don't understand your question, sir."
Holm says "sir" a lot. He has a Swedish accent. Here is Mitchelson, standing behind the lawyers' table, gripping the back of a chair: "Did you need a million three hundred thousand dollars that was paid in 13 months for your support?"
Holm, politely: "I don't understand your question, really."
Mitchelson: "Did you need a million three hundred thousand dollars?"
Holm blinks, looks as though he is trying to concentrate. "For how many months?"
Mitchelson, pronouncing carefully: "Thirteen months."
Holm: "That's what it works out to."
Mitchelson: "So you needed that for your support, is what you're saying."
Holm: "That's what it works out to."
After court a reporter thrust her tape recorder at Holm and asked him to tell it how much his suit had cost. The suit was gray, textured, big shoulders, little hankie folded cleverly into the breast pocket. "I don't recall, exactly," Holm said, in the accent. The reporter said, Well, approximately, and Holm smiled, and said, "I don't know, around a thousand dollars, approximately."
This was all before the Mystery Witness showed up. The Mystery Witness immediately threw everything into major disarray and inspired Holm after court yesterday to suggest that "there was money exchanged" between Mitchelson and the young Romina Danielson. Mitchelson suggested Holm was "a lying person" and the wire service reporters leapt for the telephones.
Here's the deal: Peter Holm, who was a rock star in Sweden -- of some repute, if we are to believe the Swedish lady with reading glasses who has been covering the trial for some Swedish papers -- was married to Joan Collins on Nov. 6, 1985, in what one of his own legal declarations refers to as "an exciting week for both of us. Not only did we fly by private jet to Las Vegas and get married, but also later that week we were together in Florida, where we met and danced with Prince Charles and Lady Diana."
In December 1986, Joan Collins filed for divorce. She says they had a prenuptial agreement. She says he has already gotten everything the prenuptial agreement promised him, and that that adds up to something over a million dollars. She says, indeed, that she has been taken to the cleaners by former husbands before and thus insisted on a prenuptial agreement, since she is a person of very considerable means and receives large checks for appearing on television, as she does weekly on "Dynasty," where she wears remarkable clothes and makes people's lives miserable because she is Alexis, a Glamorous Nasty Lady.
Peter Holm, on the other hand, says there was no prenuptial agreement. He says the piece of paper that was produced on his computer, and which was notarized, and which contains the signatures of both him and Collins, was "never intended to be a legal document ... it was just between Joan and me."
He says further that without the prenuptial agreement, he is entitled under California community property laws to half her earnings during the period of their marriage. At present it is not clear precisely how much money this is, but we are in the realm of, let us say, really a lot. Holm's lawyer Frank Steinschriber says he figures $4 million to $5 million is the amount to be divided.
About the Mystery Witness, he has said her story is "absolute rubbish."
Also, until the settlement is complete, Holm would like "temporary support." He says he has no present means of income. This is the official tabulation, in part, of what Holm calculates his immediate monthly needs to be:
Household salaries: $7,000.
TV cable and video supplies: $670.
Audio supplies: $400.
Lease of BMW 635 CSI: $3,910.
Personal grooming: $200.
Clothing and accessories: $12,000.
Travel and lodging: $4,000.
There are some other items, such as $700 for "general" household supplies and $500 in limousine expenses and $8,000 for an interesting category called "cash draws spent on personal items and purchases." The monthly total, which Holm declares is based on recorded expenses for the calendar year 1986 and so "may have increased due to inflation," is $80,056.
Items of information about Joan Collins:
She was born, according to her autobiography, in a nursing home "sometime between the end of the Great Depression and the beginning of the war." She was extremely adorable and her mother put a warning sign on the perambulator so that strangers would not come up and give her big kisses all the time.
When she ate ice cream, her mother put it in the oven for a few minutes first, to take the chill off.
Her first marriage was brief and violent and awful. The guy tried to rent her to an overweight Arab sheik and she screamed "Never in a million years," and that was the end of that. She had many charming men over the years, including Warren Beatty and Charlie Chaplin's son Sydney. Warren Beatty took a lot of vitamins and used to call her "Butterfly."
Her father is Jewish. She attends to people's astrological signs; hers is Gemini. She is "very conscious of correct nutritional needs" and generally stays below 120 pounds. She has three children from the two marriages that followed the first and preceded the last (that makes four altogether, got it?), and the diamond engagement ring that Peter Holm gave her was of five-carat size, which she accepted, since she is, as she testified, "rather of a romantic nature." After she filed for divorce, Holm changed all the locks on one of their houses and hired armed guards and locked himself in. For a while he threatened to shoot anybody who tried to haul him out, but then before police arrived he walked from the house and said, "I am a peaceful man."
Last weekend, outside his lawyer's office, he walked around behind Joan Collins with a picket sign that said, "JOAN, YOU HAVE OUR $2.5M 13,000 SQ. FT. HOME, WHICH WE BOUGHT FOR CASH DURING OUR MARRIAGE. I AM NOW HOMELESS. HELP!" There was no immediate record of her response.
At an interval in the court proceedings this week, a reporter asked the Respondent, as Holm is now referred to in the court papers, whether he perceived himself to be destitute in the absence of a monetary settlement from his wife.
"Yes," said Peter Holm.
Joan Collins comes in and out the back door of the courtroom. Every time she comes out, it looks like a Charlie Chaplin movie. A hundred men and women carrying large camera equipment appear to lock arms and goose-step, backward, straight across the hallway Joan Collins leaves by. There is a lot of yelling, but Joan Collins does not say much.
On the stand, she said a lot. When she wept it was quite delicate and she dabbed at her eyes and then put on her sunglasses and took them off again. She said Peter Holm moved in with her in 1983 and that he had run a glazing machinery business in England, but that he had "let it go to pot" and that Collins paid for his food and housing and gave him money for clothes and a nice car to drive, and that if they went out for dinner or away for the weekend she might give him some more money so that he could pay for "the things a man usually pays for."
Never mind what you think this sounds like. Peter Holm was performing "services" for Joan Collins, according to testimony from both parties, including advising her on her finances and working as her business and personal manager. For these duties, the testimony has indicated, he was paid 20 percent of Collins' gross income while they lived together, and the document that either is or is not a prenuptial agreement specifies that he will receive 20 percent of said income during the period of their marriage.
Actually he wanted it to say 50 percent, Collins testified, and she wanted it to say 10 or 15 percent. They compromised. But this was not a legal document, Holm said. "It was just to emphasize our mutual commitment to each other."
He said this to Mitchelson, who then allowed his own voice, for the first time, to drip.
"Your mutual commitment," Mitchelson said. Dripping. Scarcely containing himself. "Your mutual financial commitment?
"Our mutual financial and moral commitments to each other," said Holm.
Holm likes to observe that when he met Joan Collins she was driving an old Mercedes-Benz and was making less than $40,000 per episode on "Dynasty." He likes to observe that they were together while her salary increased, that they coproduced two mini-series starring Collins, and that they paid cash for the $1.95 million Beverly Hills house which his legal declaration describes in some detail. "13,000 Square Feet of living space including a huge master bedroom suite, a separate guesthouse and numerous other amenities, including room to park 20 cars, large pool and fountains, an extensive lawn and terraced walks throughout the estate." He says he does not feel like an abandoned housewife.
(This is before the Mystery Witness makes her appearance, so perhaps his point of view is understandable when you think about it.)
"Some housewives who make outrageous claims, they don't do any financial planning," Holm says. "They might just go out and buy clothes, and have claims, and I think that's outrageous."
He seems rather to like the reporters who press around him between court sessions, most of them rumpled and cynical in a reportery sort of way, and practically feeling his suit cloth in the manner of tribal people confronted with an alien in intriguing dress.
Is he a gold digger with a cute chin dimple?
"If you look upon it in a simple way, in terms of when I met Joan, we both really had little money when we met," Peter Holm says. "She had income, but she had plenty of debt. She had a car that was $4,000 worth, a Mercedes that was 20 years old, which is not what someone of her stature should have, and she had the mansion on Bowmont, which is basically on loans. Now, after a year and a half together, we bought for cash a brand-new Rolls-Royce."
Why does he say he never wanted a prenuptial agreement? (Dumb question. You have to ask it anyway.)
"If you are together, or really put yourself in every aspect together, I think it is good to share the good and bad together," Peter Holm says. "If it's bad, you're both in it, and if it's good, you're both in it. And I didn't take out the divorce."
About the alimony request.
"Temporary support," Holm says. "If you realize we were earning $400,000 a month, in excess of that, then suddenly $80,000 a month isn't that big a deal." Perhaps he could get a job? "I don't have an employment visa here, so I can't take on employment," Peter Holm says.
His eyes are sort of slate gray, not much blue in them. He appears imperturbable.
Steinschriber the lawyer gathers up papers and bustles by. "This is fun, isn't it?" Steinschriber says.