Reservations? "You've got to be kidding," Randy Zeibert says over the phone. "Of course we've got a table for her. Come right over."
Dyan Cannon effervesces into Duke Zeibert's, as though she's been blown from a bubble machine. She provides war relief to battalions of businessmen growing bald, it seems, right at their luncheon tables. She's a breathless, husky, healthy wind of feminine loveliness and positive thinking. Earrings and bracelets blossom from her skin. Her hair is an explosion of blond kinks. Her white smile is incandescent.
"Anybody hear about Magic?" she asks. She's wearing derma-tight black jodhpurs and a flower-power vest. She's talking about Magic Johnson -- the Lakers' point guard who had been kicked in the head the night before. She's a basketball freak, a Lakers maniac, season tickets etc. "How long's he going to be out? Anybody know?"
They start descending, gathering, swarming. A charcoal-gray buildup of men. Larry King, the CNN talk show host, moves right in. ("His kiss was wet," Cannon whispers later.) A party of six guys needing a table doesn't seem able to get past her. They don't want to, either. "Come on, fellas," Randy has to say. The old man, Duke himself, hustles over to her table. He's ancient and charming.
"No wonder you're a star," he gushes to Cannon. "I've had them all here, but nobody like you."
"Hey, Duke, I love your restaurant," she says, pawing his hand, staring him in the eyes. She's a counselor, a healer, a mother -- even though there's nothing on the menu she can eat. And for all her unsatisfied searching -- the primal screaming, the psycho-cybernetics, the Rolfing, aerobics, hypnotism and health foods -- the world is a wonderful place to her. When Duke finally leaves, she says, "You know, at 80, he's still got it."
The eternal it. She does too. "Hey, Larry," she shouts across the room to King, "so you're single again?" She spins her head around and slowly scans the tables. "Boy, did we come to the right place!" she hollers. "We're the only women here!"
How many times has she been on Johnny Carson? In loose-fitting, flower-child getups or snug, short dresses, Cannon has delivered more ditsy-wise lines than Goldie Hawn could ever conjure. Love, Southern California Style. "I think she came on once," one man dimly recalls, "and claimed she was a practicing celibate."
Last week on Carson, she was promoting her new movie, "The End of Innocence." She wrote it, directed it. She stars too. It's about a woman finding herself.
She and Johnny pattered on about their recent dinner together, about their divorces. Her two. His three. Her skirt kept riding up. Cannon said she hoped her parents weren't watching the show. Because now that she's split with Stanley Fimberg, her husband of six years, she doesn't want to get married again. Ever.
"I don't really see the point," she said, "at my age."
Yes. True. Miraculous. She looks impossibly young and fit. She still has an unfathomable new age veg-head way of communicating vital energy. In person, she looks even better than her photographs and something like Susan Sarandon, but younger. Her figure isn't something she's hiding, for one thing. It's right out there for everybody to see. Her bottom, just to mention one small part of it, is an amazing example of the anti-gravitational effects of excessive exercising.
"I don't count years," she says at lunch. "I don't count time."
She also doesn't smoke or eat meat. She eats popcorn and vegetables. She picks the chicken out of her "Duke's Salad" and orders chamomile tea after lunch. Every morning, she listens to tapes of her own voice saying very positive things about life. Music -- either writing it, singing or playing her drums -- is what heals her, she says.
Whenever she's feeling crazy, there's a little song she's made up. It's a cross between a mantra and a Laker Girl cheer:
Oooh dee rhana. Faaa dee fana.
Oooh dee rhana. Oooh dee fana.
Oooh dee man. Oooh dee man.
She claps while she sings.
A woman -- probably in Cannon's age range -- emerges from the fog of men. She wears a conservative blue suit and an iron mist of blond hair.
"You look so familiar," Cannon says.
"I know why," the woman says. "We met at my old house in Malibu Colony. ... But you didn't have much on, to say the least."
"I didn't?" Cannon asks.
"No," the woman says. "You were in the Jacuzzi being photographed."
Cannon smiles. She's serene, unruffled. But later, she remarks on the working women's clothing she sees around her. "Women as they unfold," she says, then pauses. "They get older and wear suits that make it look like they're not making love. Do you know that look? Well, maybe they aren't."
She doesn't want to direct herself again. Particularly not in a drama like "The End of Innocence." It's a simple story, but serious. It's about a woman who doesn't know herself. Unformed and eager to please, she listens to her awful parents, her critical older husband, then her lousy boyfriend. She takes Valium, smokes lots of joints, then binges on ice cream sandwiches when she's upset. She never says no. She's sort of boring -- until she freaks out one night when her boyfriend cheats on her and she climbs around the muddy Hollywood Hills in her white nightgown.
She has a nervous breakdown.
Her life gets better there.
The end of parental oppression.
The end of Valium dependence.
The end of bimbohood.
John Heard plays her shrink.
She grew up in Seattle, the daughter of an insurance agent -- a deacon in the Baptist church -- and a Jewish mother. She moved to Hollywood in her teens. She modeled. She took acting lessons. She was a Slenderella beautician. She dated Mort Sahl.
Television was good to her; she did more than 250 shows -- "Playhouse 90" and "Bat Masterson" and "Highway Patrol" and "77 Sunset Strip" and "Have Gun -- Will Travel."
And in the era of Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow, she married Cary Grant. She was his fourth wife. This isn't exactly what she is frantic to discuss. Malibu waves under the bridge. But in "The End of Innocence," there's a character -- the husband -- who seems based on Grant and what's been written about him: He's critical of her short skirts and heavy makeup. He introduces her to drugs. He's older. He wears thick-framed glasses. He's been married many times before. All women think he's incredible. He doesn't make love to her enough.
"It's not about my life," Cannon says, "but I understand all the feelings that underlie this movie. I've been through a lot of the same stuff."
Why not be evasive? The story of their time together -- from 1961 to 1968 -- has been so well documented already. It started when Cary Grant was watching TV in bed one night, scanning the channels until he landed on "Malibu Run" with a romping young blond actress named Dyan Cannon. He was impressed by something about her. Maybe her looks. Maybe her comedic timing. He called her agent. He found out everything he could about her. He pretended to be interested in casting her in a film. A call was placed to her in Rome, where she was vacationing with a girlfriend. Come back and do a screen test with Cary Grant, she was told.
Would he pay for the flight back?
Forget it, she said.
It took nine tries before she agreed to go to lunch with him. They dated. She fell. He wanted a child. She got pregnant. They married in Vegas. "Cary's Fourth Expects First" was one headline. She was 28. He was 61. His real name was Archibald Leach. Her real name was Samille Diane Friesen. Together, they produced Jennifer Grant. He announced that he was taking a year off to be with his baby, but he fought with his wife instead. And she left him.
She left Cary Grant.
Why is there something funny about this? During their divorce trial in 1968, she described him as "an apostle of LSD." He spanked. He was cheap. He was jealous. And once, she said, he was lying in bed watching the Academy Awards and became violent. "He jumped on the bed and carried on," she testified. "He yelled that everyone on the show had their faces lifted. He was spilling wine on the bed... ."
He insisted she get analysis.
It wasn't until 1969 that things -- career-wise -- looked up. She made "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" and was nominated for an Oscar. But dependence problems followed -- drugs and alcohol. She got some primal scream therapy, which helped. She went into a padded room and pounded the walls and screamed. In 1971 she was able to make four movies. Since then she's appeared seldom, most notably -- she got two more nominations -- in "The Last of Sheila" and "Heaven Can Wait."
"I've passed up more millions in Hollywood," she says, "than I've ever made."
For years, Cannon clearly walked through fire to ensure that her daughter would have a healthy childhood. While the court battles raged between Cannon and Grant -- first over custody, then over the tiniest details of their daughter's upbringing -- Jennifer grew to be normal by all accounts. From 1968 until 1985, Cannon remained single.
"I didn't have live-ins," she says, "because I was raising my kid and I didn't want her influenced with that. I let one guy move in, finally, when she was old enough, but he only made it as far as the maid's room. He never made it upstairs."
In 1975 Cannon wrote and directed a short feature called "Number One," about children discovering their sexuality. More recently she was in "Caddyshack II." Last year she sold her Malibu house to pay for "The End of Innocence."
"A career," she says, "is how you are living your life."
She owes her name to Hollywood producer Jerry Wald. "A total stranger," she says, "and I stupidly listened to him." Wald was testing her for a picture. "I walked in and he said: Oh my God! Guns! Explosions! Cannons! What's your name?"
She didn't get the part.
Duke: "I just want to say goodbye. I got to go. I got a hot bridge game."
Dyan: "Are you married, Duke?"
Duke: "I'm a three-time loser. Yeah. But I'm going for four, baby. You'd better believe it. Hey, you've got to be kidding. Man does not live by rolls and pickles, you know."
After he leaves, Cannon says, "Who was that Frenchmen, the one with the cane who sang all those songs?"
"Yeah. Duke's got that. The same kind of flair. A joie de vivre."
Leaving the restaurant, Cannon buys some popcorn across the street. She puts on round wire sunglasses, like the ones John Sebastian wore at Woodstock. A young business guy stops and stares. "Dyan Cannon," he whispers to her as though she's a mirage. "Dyan Cannon buying popcorn at a street stand. I've seen it all now... ."
The reviews for "The End of Innocence" have been mixed. The eight weeks of shooting and acting were grueling. And Cannon hated being stuck in a sunless editing room for weeks on end. Next movie, she says, "will be a romp. That's my thing... . I think people need lots of lifting, laughter. Right now, especially."
There are pictures in this month's Harper's Bazaar of Cannon and her daughter. Stunners. Sisters? (It's something like that old Palmolive commercial: "Gosh, Mrs. Smith! I thought you were Dale!")
Jennifer, now 24, graduated from Stanford several years ago. Until recently she thought she wanted to be a psychologist, psychiatrist, something along the couch-coaching line of work. (Why isn't this surprising?) "Then she saw my movie five times," Cannon says. "It changed her life. Now she wants to get into The Business. It's given her the confidence to believe that she can do what she wants... .
"She's a neat, neat, neat kid," Cannon says, "and I'm pretty objective. I only kid myself about a few things. And right now, I can't even think what those are."