Royal biographer, journalist and publicist Diane Clehane died on Monday.
Clehane, 61, was undergoing treatment for an illness, according to a Facebook post from her husband Jim Donovan. The cause of death at White Plains Hospital was not immediately known Tuesday, according to a family spokesperson.
Funeral services will be held Friday at 10:30 a.m. at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Greenwich, CT.
For more than 20 years, Clehane has covered the bows and tenors of the British royal family and has often made television and personal appearances to discuss the latest developments at ‘The Firm’. Clehane was a regular commentator on NBC’s “Today” show, NBC News and CBS News. A New York Times bestselling author, Clehane wrote the books ‘Imagining Diana’, ‘Diana: The Secrets of Her Style’ and ‘The Royal Women’ about Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and some of the other women in the House of Windsor. Clehane summed up the public’s unquenchable thirst for royal information last year as “a brief escape from our somewhat grim reality at the moment. It’s fun and it takes people out of themselves and it’s completely different from their own lives.
Diners at the media- and celebrity-centric Michael’s restaurant in Midtown could always count on Clehane sitting with a subject. As was often the case with the always productive Clehane, these weekly lunches were working lunches for her Adweek “Wednesdays at Michael’s” column.
Born in New York, Clehane graduated magna cum laude from the University of Massachusetts with a double major in journalism and sociology. There, she dug into reporting as a writer for The Collegian and acted as a tour guide on the sprawling UMass campus. She was also involved in Greek life as Vice President of Alpha Chi Omega.
Although she ran around in lively circles for work, she was known to be a consummate professional – detail-oriented and professional. Clehane covered a lot of ground and called it how she saw it, unaffected by the shine of fame.
Always working on something, her portfolio included countless articles for publications such as Vanity Fair, People, Worth, Newsweek, Forbes, Variety and other national outlets. According to her own account, her recurring royal cover for digital lifestyle site Best Life has led to more than a million hits for articles on MSN and Yahoo.
Celebrity culture was another area of expertise for Clehane, whose Greenwich, Connecticut-based company, Madeline Communications, was named after her beloved daughter. For 25 years, Clehane was Director of Media Relations and Publicity for Fashion Group International. Before stepping down from the role last year to focus more on her royal coverage, she was the frontman for the organization’s ‘Night of Stars’, an annual gala that has attracted such powerful names as Kim Kardashian. , Kanye West, Jennifer Lopez, Meryl Streep, Nicki Minaj, Kerry Washington, Olivier Rousteing, Vera Wang, Rick Owens, Iman, Prince, “Stars Wars” creator George Lucas, Michael Douglas, Sarah Jessica Parker and more. Announcing his resignation from FGI last year, Clehane said the big surprise and fun had always been meeting the celebrities and seeing what they really looked like. “I saw the good, the bad and the very bad behavior. Fortunately, [the really badly behaved] have been rare,” Clehane told WWD.
Recalling the speculation that swirled about the antics Miley Cyrus might pull off on ‘Night of Stars,’ after her risque performance with Robin Thicke at the MTV Awards in 2012, Clehane said, “She couldn’t have been nicer or more professional. It was ‘Yes, ma’am. Yes, whatever you would like me to do, ma’am.
Clehane also countered Lopez’s reputation for being very demanding, describing the Grammy winner as “without a doubt one of the loveliest people I’ve ever dealt with at the event.”
His own straight-shooting style was evident during a 2015 red carpet exchange with Streep, who presented Alber Elbaz with an award that year. The Oscar-winning actress rushed over to Clehane and said, “I love this necklace. Is that Alber?'” Clehane replied, “Actually, it’s $39.99 at Zara and I picked it up on my way here.” She said, “I’m going there- down tomorrow to buy this necklace”, which I thought was really cute.”
Last year, Clehane also recalled one of the dullest times in celebrity dating. Years ago, when ‘Night of Stars’ took place atop Rockefeller Center’s Rainbow Room as a ‘tribute to film and fashion,’ Clehane said she greeted Annette Bening when she arrived , as she always did with celebrity guests. “I said, ‘Hello Miss Bening…’ She didn’t even let me finish. She said, ‘Here’s my coat. Where can I get a drink?’ Hmm, nice, very nice.
Overall though, Clehane told WWD that she discovered that celebrities really are just people and that she made a significant difference in making this event what it was. “Celebrity involvement in Hollywood is really what raised it [and gave it the] kind of awareness he has today where everyone’s covering for him: ‘Entertainment Tonight’, ‘Access Hollywood’ and all those outlets that wouldn’t have thought about it if it hadn’t been for the A-listers that were there,” Clehane said last year. “And it was a lot of fun. I’ve always enjoyed this part. It’s a lot of work but it’s great. »
Announcing her exit from FGI last year, Clehane addressed the disorienting times the pandemic had caused and the importance of clarity. She said: “It’s time to really look ahead and think about the things you really want to do. You look at how you’ve spent your time over the past year and you really need to be doing the things you love. For now, that’s about all we have – love for the people we have in our lives and love for what we do. It must make sense. Otherwise, what do we do?
An active member and co-chair of the Junior League of Greenwich committee, Clehane previously worked as Media Relations Manager for Adopt a Dog of Greenwich.
His friends were stunned by the news on Tuesday.
Steve Millington, managing director of Michael’s, where she wrote her Wednesday column with celebrities, authors and media personalities, said: “It’s terrible. I can’t even understand. It really blindsided me. As we resume, I expected her to walk through the door and bring me her goofy, fun, and energetic self. I knew her so well and we were very good friends.
Millington said she wrote the column every Wednesday for 15 years. “She was a huge supporter of ours and loved the energy and the good times – a quirky, but loving and fun woman. I remember when she adopted her daughter from the same place [Spence-Chapin] I adopted my children. She was such a talented, witty and fun writer. She fought with people,” he said.
He said the column raised Michael’s profile. “It gave us a real advantage over many other restaurants because our lunch business was always huge with everyone and everyone’s grandma here. She would choose the mood of the day. We would have Obama here one day, the next day Laura Bush would be here, and the next day Tom Wolfe would be here. Diane would bring a mixed group of English people to talk about Princess Di. She knew the subject so much,” Millington said.
Judy Twersky, owner of a public relations and communications firm, said: ‘I am devastated. Diane was a loyal friend and client. She had drive, talent, looks, style, perfect hair at all times – and a crazy sense of humor! Michael will never be the same again.
Susan Silver, a former TV sitcom writer, said: “Diane was a fan of Mary Tyler Moore and I wrote the book about my life as a writer there. She had her own table at Michael’s and interviewed me [for Adweek’s weekly ‘Lunch’ column] and did excellent writing. She was such a devoted mother. I had never seen anything like this, this relationship she had with her daughter and brought Madeline back from China. It’s devastating. We did not know [about her illness] be there for support.
Meredith Paley, Vice President of Public Relations at Talbots, spoke about Clehane’s dedication to the brand as a fan and as a supporter of her annual Dress for Success charity initiative. “She was also very quick to explain in her witty and descriptive way her favorite Talbots cardigans, patterns, prints and sheath dresses. Her spirit and her passion for everything around her – her family, fashion and of course the royal family, will be sorely missed,” Paley said.
Teri Agins, author and former fashion industry reporter for The Wall Street Journal, said: “Diane was the celebrity reporter with a nose for the news – focusing on those juicy treats, always with a big to smile. It was always a pleasure to see your bold name featured in his Michael’s social column.
Deborah Cavanagh, brand marketing consultant for Lane Bryant, described Clehane as “not only a dynamic and brilliant journalist and an advocate for fashion, and an authority on all things royal”, but also an incredible and dedicated mum and a role model for Madeline,” adding that her Facebook posts shared birthdays, holidays, and what to watch (and not watch). She believed in cardinals and the ever-present spirit of those who have passed away,” Cavanagh said “I’m sure she will stay with us in her mind.”
Clehane is survived by her husband and daughter. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that any donations be made in their name to the American Cancer Society or Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center.