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The Phoenix of Bel-Air : Since Her Divorce From a DeLorean, Cristina Has Become One Red-Hot Ferrare

April 17, 1989|DIANNE KLEIN | Times Staff Writer

"All of that unpleasantness," Cristina Ferrare pronounces, "is behind me."

She is sprawling across an upholstered sofa in the study of her Bel-Air home, a stunning 39-year-old woman wearing a big cotton sweater that saw her through her latest pregnancy.

Her daughter, Arianna, born less than three weeks earlier, is tucked inside a frilly bassinet, alternating between sleeping and cooing.

Cluttering the bookshelves are framed photographs of Ferrare's husband, producer Tony Thomopoulos, herself and the children--counting all the his and hers and theirs, a total of seven.

Vases of fresh-cut flowers grace the tables. Sunlight streams in from the garden. A maid brings in a tray of decaffeinated coffee poured into fine porcelain cups.

Signs of "all that unpleasantness" are nowhere in sight.

"I purposefully kept a low profile over the last few years and purposefully shied away from any publicity, just, you know, doing my thing, doing my job, taking care of my family," Ferrare says.

"And now, you know, with everything that is happening and all of these positive things, I feel more at ease and comfortable talking about everything."

The everything is understood. It means the arrest and trial of her husband of 12 years, former auto maker John Z. DeLorean, who was acquitted in 1984 of conspiring to smuggle $24 million worth of cocaine into the United States.

It means her role as the glamorous model-turned-wife-and-mother who stood by her man only to leave him within three weeks of the not-guilty verdict.

It means her marriage, two weeks after the divorce to DeLorean was final, to Thomopoulos, then head of the ABC Broadcast Group.

And it means her career as a television personality, which despite scandal and motherhood, is hotter than ever.

Viewers, it seems, want to know this woman. They idolize and they criticize, and then they keep watching to see what she'll do next. For a brief time earlier this year, ABC featured Ferrare in three time slots.

She has been co-host, with Steve Edwards, of "A.M. Los Angeles" for five years--a job she negotiated during the DeLorean trial. Then with John Davidson she co-hosted "Incredible Sunday," since canceled, and in January she joined Robb Weller as co-host of the nationally syndicated "Home Show." She returns to "A.M." and "Home Show" today after a five-week maternity leave.

Now, she's mulling over the possibility of making room for a television series, written for and starring herself.

"One of the shows is going to have to go," she says. "And I'm so . . . I love what I'm doing. I love doing 'A.M.,' and I really, really enjoy doing the 'Home Show.' I'm in a personal dilemma. . . . I'm in a transition period. I don't know what I am going to do yet."

A quiet happiness spreads across Ferrare's face. These days it seems to be an abundance of good fortune, opened doors and yet-to-be-tested opportunities that occupy her time.

Criticism still hurts, she says, but it doesn't cripple. Even when it comes from DeLorean, a man who since their divorce has publicly accused her of selfishness, treachery and stupidity.

"I don't care anymore. My husband loves me. I love him. We're happy. I don't care what people think."

With that, Ferrare makes a loud, taunting noise with her lips. Brrrrrr.

It is addressed to her detractors, the former friends, the hypocrites, the National Enquirer, the millions of Americans who wanted to know, "How dare she?"

Cynthia Cristina Ferrare was an international supermodel, a 23-year-old pulling down $3,500 for a shoot, when she married John DeLorean, flashy and brash and 24 years her senior.

It was her second marriage--a three-year union with personal manager Nick Thomas had ended in divorce--and DeLorean's third. The date was May 8, 1973, three weeks after he submitted his resignation to General Motors with plans to manufacture his own luxury sports car.

DeLorean brought his 14-month-old son, Zachary, into the marriage, and six years later, Ferrare gave birth to the couple's daughter, Kathryn.

"We were like the golden couple," Ferrare says. "We were living the high life. We were living in New York. We were invited everywhere and did things and then we fell from grace. I mean, we were a scandal ."

Ferrare's friends, the same ones she had kissed and gossiped with at countless parties, found the DeLorean affair unseemly. There were scenes straight out of Tom Wolfe's novel, "The Bonfire of the Vanities."

"A lot of them, in the first few days after the arrest, they all wanted to be in the know," Ferrare says. "So they all rallied around and then, once we got into it--you know, it dragged on for two years before it went to court--slowly, I would say 90% of the people we knew in New York, we never heard from again."

Margaret Weitzman, Ferrare's best friend and the wife of the attorney who defended DeLorean, recalls a trip to an exclusive spa during that time.

People Avoided Ferrare

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