Life of the Party: The Pamela Harriman Story (1998)

TV Movie  |   |  Drama  |  12 October 1998 (USA)
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Told mostly in flashbacks, the film tells the story of Pamela Digby Churchill Hayward Harriman, one of the greatest and probably most famous courtesans of the twentieth century. While not ... See full summary »


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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Credited cast:
Pamela Harriman
Averell Harriman (as Mitch Ryan)
Pamela Harriman at 20
Peter Duchin
Cynthia Harris ...
Betsey Cushing Roosevelt Whitney
Minnie Churchill
Scott Thompson Baker ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Diane Agostini ...
Hayward Housekeeper
Dennis Basso ...
Dinner Guest
Harry Danner ...
Dr. Atchley
Mary Donnelly-Haskell ...
(as Mary Haskell)
Leland Hayward


Told mostly in flashbacks, the film tells the story of Pamela Digby Churchill Hayward Harriman, one of the greatest and probably most famous courtesans of the twentieth century. While not showing her childhood, first marriage to Winston Churchill's son, or most of her affairs, we do get to see her affair and eventual marriage to Broadway producer Leland Hayward, and then her marriage to politician Averell Harriman, with whom she had an affair while both were married to others in World War II. We also see her as ambassador to France during her last years, and her death in 1997. While some (mostly her lovers) adored her, others (mostly her son and her husbands' children) hated her. Written by Tommy Peter

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Release Date:

12 October 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Life of the Party  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Featured in The 56th Annual Golden Globe Awards (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

While Ann-Margret's portrayal is uncannily accurate, only a four hour mini-series could begin to do Pamela Harriman's story justice.
30 September 1998 | by (Washington, DC) – See all my reviews

This is a good film which could have been much better if it had been longer. The sets are sumptuous, the costumes accurate. Ann-Margret is uncanny in her portrayal of Pamela Harriman.

Why was there no mention of her childhood, where she was fat and unloved? Why no depiction of her close friendship with Winston Churchill Sr., playing cards with him all night to raise his spirits? Why no mention of Gianni Agnelli's rejection of her? Her service as a Rothschild mistress in Paris?

Many viewers will need more background to understand who the Whitneys are, who James Roosevelt was, why he was such a close parallel to Winston Churchill Jr., what role the "blackamoor" pin played in Pamela's relationship with Leland Hayward's daughter, and so on.

The first half of this film will confuse even those who know her story. Stick with it. The second half shows her happy and successful marriage to Averill Harriman about as well as can be done.

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