“In my early twenties, I modeled in the Village in New York City. I am a musician now and enjoy playing for my own comfort,” Diane shares. Diane, you had us at, ‘I modeled in the Village in New York City!’ As a young girl, Diane was working in the Art Department of McGraw Hill when, out of the blue, her boss asked if she would model for his clothing line. The one caveat…they were plastic clothes — pants and skirts. Diane’s only question at the time — “Are they see through?” They weren’t, and so, she became a runway model for plastic clothes and was even photographed by Brooke Elliot (a famous fashion photographer, at the time).
In 1974, Diane embarked on a new adventure when she married the love of her life, Michael, who starred for 10 years in the Broadway production of Beatlemania as John Lennon. They traveled all over the world together (from California to New York, and Canada to South Africa) as Michael performed, even taking their baby son with them. Side note: While performing in England, Eartha Kitt babysat for Michael, Jr.! Diane says that she loved living the celebrity lifestyle. They went to parties with Liza Minelli and Aerosmith and had lunch with Rita Moreno — Diane was often asked for her autograph as she exited the theater with her husband. “I’d do it all over again in a minute!” Diane says.
However, this lifestyle did eventually take its toll, and after 12 years of marriage, Diane and Michael divorced. They still shared a great love, however, and 15 years later decided to reunite only to discover that Michael had liver cancer. Diane fought to keep him alive and was preparing to donate a piece of her own liver to save him. But, sadly, this option was illegal in Florida where Michael was living at the time, and he would not have survived the flight back to New York.
Despite her loss, Diane remains a positive person. She believes it’s important to always find the silver lining as, “Everything happens for a reason, and even if it’s not a good thing, something good will be learned from it or happen because of it.” She says, “What choice do you have? You have to focus on the good to get you through the rough times.” Her optimism was severely tested again, unfortunately, when she lost everything to Hurricane Sandy. Diane recalls six feet of water pouring in through the top of the basement window — it sounded like a waterfall. She stood at the top of the basement stairs looking down, and saw all of her belongings just swirling around…she saw sheet music float by…she saw towels and clothing float by. All of her most treasured artifacts were gone. Beatlemania memorabilia, family photos, electric pianos, playbills, her father’s trombones and her mother’s piano were all gone.
She had no power and was trapped in her house for 4 days. There was no heat and she was freezing….no one could reach her. When she looked out her living room window, all she could see was water, and people were starting to be evacuated by canoe. There was raw sewage and asbestos in her house, and when her son was finally able to rescue her, she had to be hospitalized – remaining on antibiotics for several weeks. Sadly, the insurance company and FEMA would give her only half of what it would cost to repair the house, and Diane was forced to walk away and leave the house she loved and grew up in behind.
“On the bright side,” Diane says, “All of my Hot in Hollywood shoes were spared!” And she is slowly rebuilding her Laurie Felt wardrobe one jean at a time!
Diane, we are so inspired by your beautiful life AND your incredible perseverance! We are honored to feature you as a Heartfelt Role Model.