Catherine Oxenberg, 'Dynasty' Royalty And NXIVM Foe, Then And Now
DYNASTY - "Catherine Oxenberg Photo Shots" which aired on October 08, 1984. (Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images) CATHERINE OXENBERG
Catherine Oxenberg dazzled viewers in the 1980s as Amanda Carrington on Dynasty, and as Princess Diana in the made for television film The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana. As the child of a genuine, real deal princess she's no stranger to being the center of attention, something that she used in her rules to bring them to life. But it hasn't been all glitz and glamor for this long time TV star. In the 2010s, Oxenberg encountered the NXIVM cult and has spoken out about her experiences with the group in documentaries The Vow and Seduced. Oxenberg's story is circuitous, but thankfully it has a happy ending.
Catherine Oxenberg is real royalty
It's not often that someone comes to Hollywood with stars in their eyes and a royal pedigree. Born in New York City in 1961, Oxenberg is the eldest daughter of Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia. But it's not just that she's the daughter of a princess, she's also related to the British royal family through her mother. Oxenberg's mother, Princess Elizabeth, is the first cousin once removed of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy, and Prince Michael of Kent. Oxenberg also has ties to European royalty in Spain, Wales, Russia, Greece, ands Denmark.
According to Oxenberg's sister Christina, the relationship between their parents was fraught from the start. She claims that the two were constantly cheating on one another, and that their mother slept with John F. Kennedy in order to get back at their father for having an affair. She writes:
They both had a lot of affairs and were very naughty, very badly behaved. My mom had an affair with J.F.K. when she got pregnant with me, and everybody knew about it. It was very public, and she did it to poke her finger in the eye of Howard, who was screwing around. As a princess she was able to outdo him and get the president.
Oxenberg's Studies Were Interrupted By The Lure Of Showbiz
After growing up in England, Oxenberg moved back to the states when she was a teenager to attend St. Paul's School and graduated Summa Cum Laude. From there she went to Harvard before taking a year off to pursue improv in New York City. During her gap year she signed with the Ford Modeling agency and ended up transferring to Columbia University to focus on the study of mythology, but it wasn't long before she left her studies behind to pursue a career onscreen.
In 1982 she starred in The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana, playing Princess Diana - one of her relatives. Oxenberg says that she took the role with Charles' blessing, but that she was never invited to Buckingham palace again. Ouch. Her chances of being accepted by her royal cousins may have been over, but in 1983 she was cast in the role of Amanda Carrington on Dynasty.
Dynasty brought Oxenberg to prime time
Amanda Carrington walked walked into the world of Dynasty in 1984 and shook the world of prime time television. While on the series she took part in cat fights, she fought in a swimming pool, and she had amazing hair. Fiction even followed fact when Amanda married Prince Michael of Moldavia in 1986 (they later divorced so she could pursue a relationship with her stepfather, naturally). After two seasons on the series Oxenberg was replaced by Karen Cellini under mysterious circumstances. She claims that she was fired, while producers claimed that she stopped showing up for fittings and when they reached out to her she asked for more money to film the seventh season. In 2006, Oxenberg appeared on a Dynasty reunion so it looks as if whatever bad blood there was with the cast has been washed away.
Oxenberg is pretty blasé about her time on Dynasty. While speaking with Comingsoon.net in 2016 she said that she doubts anyone even remembers that she was on the series:
I think if I have any fans who are still alive who watched the show I don’t think they would remember the name of the character. Some do… but I mean we are talking about the mid 80s. I do have one funny story. A few years ago a visitor came over to my house and appeared confused and said 'Are you Catherine Oxenberg’s daughter?' because they thought I looked too young to play that character! That was so cute!
The queen of made for TV movies
Following her time on Dynasty, Oxenberg went on to appear in a series of made for TV movies Trenchcoat in Paradise and K-9000 before starring in the single season of Acapulco H.E.A.T. These roles may seem like a fall for someone who was on one of the most popular primetime soaps of the '80s, but while working on The Collector, a made for TV movie about "a pair of hard nosed hit men in jeopardy" she met Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers), and began a relationship that lasted until 2015.
She and Van Dien had two children and lived in Malibu while appearing on the reality series I Married A Princess. Prior to her marriage with Van Dien, Oxenberg gave birth to a daughter named India.
She saved her daughter from a cult
After decades out of the spotlight, Oxenberg returned in a big way in 2018 when she began openly speaking out against the NXIVM cult while trying to extricate her daughter from the thrall of the group's leader, Keith Raniere. While trying to free her daughter, India, from the group Oxenberg appeared in two documentaries about the cult, The Vow and Seduced, both of which she used as a platform to speak out against the indoctrination and mind warping of young people who are easily led.
After cult leader Keith Raniere was sentenced 120 years in prison in 2020, Oxenberg spoke to the Hollywood Reporter about the journey to free her daughter. She explained:
It was a very lonely, very painful journey. My faith was tested because I didn't have a roadmap. Every day, a door would close, but I would try a different strategy and I just didn't stop. And somehow through this experience, I found I had access to a strength that I didn't know I had. And you could call it some primal, maternal kind of fire. I don't wish what I went through on anybody to discover that they're more than they thought they were. But I discovered that there was this unstoppable piece of me that I could not, I could not let her go. I couldn't.
Tags: Catherine Oxenberg | Cults | Dynasty | NXIVM
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