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Model Sues Princess Di's Rumored Beau for Jilting Her

Courts: Woman alleges that Dodi al Fayed had promised to marry her Aug. 9 and seeks the balance of $500,000 she says he promised her for scaling back her career.

August 15, 1997|ANN W. O'NEILL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In most towns, young women heartbroken over being jilted shred the two-timing rat's photo, take to their beds for a few days, pop bonbons and call on friends for sympathy.

But this is Los Angeles, where on Thursday model Kelly Fisher filed a lawsuit, flashed a glittering sapphire and diamond engagement ring, and dabbed at teary eyes while her lawyer, Gloria Allred, told the international media that her client's prince was instead "a frog in prince's clothing."

The woman scorned even offered, in a statement prepared by Allred, to meet "anywhere in the world on a confidential basis" with the other woman--Britain's Princess Diana.

Her client's wish, Allred said, was to set the princess straight on her experiences with the man she claims persuaded her to abandon a successful modeling career, then figuratively left her at the marriage altar. At a crowded news conference, where the British accents were as thick as the London fog, Allred announced Fisher's breach of contract suit against millionaire playboy Dodi al Fayed, who recently was featured on the covers of European tabloids supposedly kissing--or snogging as the British say--with Di on a yacht off the south of France.

Fisher, sleekly outfitted in black slacks and sweater, bears more than a passing resemblance to Diana. She says she was aboard another Fayed family yacht nearby at the time of the internationally infamous "kiss photo."

"We would like the princess, who has suffered greatly in the past, to know of Ms. Fisher's experiences with Mr. Fayed so that she can make an informed decision regarding her future and that of her children," Allred said, reading from a prepared statement as cynical journalists snickered, groaned or rolled their eyes.

"If this is news, then I'm the queen of England," one journalist said.

Allred would not give her client's age--she's a model, after all--and would not provide copies of the lawsuit, which was filed Thursday morning in Santa Monica Superior Court.

Fayed, 41, could not be reached for comment. In a statement from London, Fayed's family told the Associated Press: "We are content to leave it to the good sense of the British and American people to judge this development for what it is."

Although Fisher claims that she and Fayed were to have wed Aug. 9, the breach of contract allegation does not deal with his promise to marry her. Instead, it focuses on what Fisher, who has appeared on the covers of fashion magazines such as Elle and W, claims were career sacrifices she made after he promised to take care of her.

The couple met in Paris in July 1996. By November, he was asking her parents for her hand in marriage, Allred said.

The suit contends that Fayed, whose father owns Harrods department store in London and the Ritz Hotel in Paris, offered Fisher $500,000 to scale back her modeling career in America and move to Paris so she could spend more time with him. Fayed told her his family was embarrassed that his fiancee worked, the suit claims.

During the 1980s, the younger Fayed produced the Academy Award-winning film "Chariots of Fire."

Fisher, who owns a home in Malibu, said in her lawsuit that she received $60,000 and a check for $200,000 that bounced. Her fiance failed to make good on the check despite written demands, according to the suit.

Among other things, the suit seeks the remaining $440,000, legal costs and damages to be decided later.

In a statement, Allred also contended that Fayed told Fisher he bought a home at Paradise Cove in Malibu where they would live together.

"He brought her to the home to see it and told her to start shopping for furnishings," Allred said.

The attorney said Fisher learned of Fayed's frolic with Diana the way the rest of us did--from the "kiss photo." Fisher's attempts to contact her fiance proved unsuccessful. At one point, Fisher was abruptly told by a family member not to call anymore, Allred said.

"Mr. Fayed needs to take responsibility for the woman that he 'left at the altar' and treated with such total disrespect," Allred said. "He threw her love away in a callous way with no regard for her whatsoever."

Fisher's mother, Judith Dunaway, stood beside her daughter at the news conference, telling reporters: "No one's daughter deserves to be treated as my daughter was. Kelly loved him, trusted him and has been treated very cruelly by him. Dodi Fayed should be ashamed."

She said she had given Fayed permission to marry her daughter in November, when the couple attended Fisher's sister's wedding.

Fisher spoke only one word to the media: "No." It came in response to questions about whether she would ever reconcile with Fayed or continue to see him as a friend.

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