Patricia Montandon

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Patricia Montandon
Patricia Montandon (Q7145755) (cropped).jpg
Patricia Montandon in 1981.
Patricia Montandon

(1928-12-26) December 26, 1928 (age 92)
Spouse(s)Howard Groves
Melvin Belli
Alfred Wilsey
ChildrenSean Wilsey
Parent(s)Charles Clay Montandon
Myrtle Taylor

Patricia "Pat" Montandon (born December 26, 1928) is an American author and humanitarian.

Early life[edit]

Pat Montandon was born on December 26, 1928. The daughter of an itinerant Nazarene Church Texas minister, Charles Clay Montandon, and his wife Myrtle Taylor, she grew up in Oklahoma during the peak of the Great Depression. In the 1960s Pat was living in San Francisco,[1] where she became a columnist and popular television host. During this time Pat became known for her talent giving themed and memorable parties. She once dated Frank Sinatra.[2]

Roundtable Luncheons[edit]

Passionate about facilitating authentic conversation between friends and strangers alike, in the 1970s Montandon began hosting what would soon become a life-long passion and pleasure, her legendary Roundtable Luncheons. Over the years she has welcomed a diverse range of people into her home to break bread and learn from one another. Four decades of hosting her Roundtables has allowed her to forge both professional alliances and lasting friendships with hundreds of guests, including people she'd just met on the street and well-known public figures and celebrities such as Steve Martin, Nancy Pelosi, Betty Friedan, Eldridge Cleaver, Alex Hayley, Gloria Steinem, Billy Graham and many more. Far from meaningless chatter, Pat's Roundtables were places of deep discussion and no topic was taboo. Attendees have discussed topics such as rape, racism, war, writing, childhood trauma and how to make the world a better place. The Roundtables are ongoing.


In 1960, she moved to San Francisco, where she hosted a TV show and became a newspaper columnist for the San Francisco Examiner. After a summer of managing a Joseph Magnin clothing store, she became a darling of the society columns through her creative skills as a party giver.

In 1979, Pat Montandon created the idea for the Napa Valley Wine Auction, which has become the most successful auction of its kind. She consulted with friend and vintner Robert Mondavi to present the idea to area vintners. Her unexpected divorce compelled Montandon to give her idea to the Napa Valley vintners with her portion of the proceeds benefitting two Napa Valley hospitals.[2]

She is the author of numerous non-fiction books, including the NY Times bestseller How to be a Party Girl,[3] The Intruders,[4] Whispers from God: A Life Beyond Imaginings,[5] and Oh the Hell of it All.[6] Additionally she wrote a book called "Celebrities and Their Angels" as well as "Making Friends" about Katya from Moscow and Star from San Francisco; two eleven-year-old girls discovering America together; this was the first book co-published in both the U.S. and the Soviet Union.[citation needed] Her most recent book, a second memoir titled Peeing on Hot Coals, was released in 2014.[7]

Humanitarian works[edit]

Montandon is an activist for women's rights, and in 1970 she founded The Name Choice Center to inform women of their right to keep their own name after marriage.[8]:60

In 1982, Montandon founded a peace group, Children as Teachers for Peace (later renamed Children as the Peacemakers).[9] Montandon has made 37 international trips with grade-school children, and has had substantive meetings with 26 world leaders such as China's Premier Zhao Ziyang, Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Pope John Paul II, the late Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland of Norway, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Mother Teresa. She collects letters written by schoolchildren, urging an end to nuclear proliferation, and has delivered food and supplies to needy children in Russia and Ethiopia.[10]

In 1987, Montandon designed the Banner of Hope. Now, a mile-long, the red-silk memorial inscribed with the names and ages of children killed in war, was first exhibited in the Kremlin at an International Women's Congress.[11] The Banner was highlighted at opening ceremonies of the United Nations, unfurled on the Great Wall of China, and in 2005, enveloped a school in Beslan, Russia after the massacre there.[citation needed]

In 2018 Pat rebranded her organization, now called Peace To The Planet, providing kids a platform to stop gun violence and fight global warming. Peace To The Planet is completing a new banner, similar to the Banner of Hope, showing the faces and names of children killed in gun violence.

Awards and honors[edit]

Montandon was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize three successive years and received the UN Peace Messenger award in 1987.[12]

Montandon's peace work has been honored with awards from Turkey, El Salvador, The People's Republic of China, India, and Norway, and she received the Russian Federation’s Medal in Memory of Anne Frank, Sadako, Tanya Savicheva and Samantha Smith.[citation needed]

In 2014 Dr. Jitu Rajgor, a long time admirer and friend of Montandon’s, founded a women’s health facility in her honor at his clinic in Ahmedabad, India. At Pat Montandon's Women Health Care clinic they treat women of all ages who have little ability to pay for health care.[citation needed][13]

Personal life[edit]

Montandon was married three times. Her first marriage, to Howard Groves in 1947, lasted 12 years. In the 1960s she had a short-lived marriage to flamboyant attorney Melvin Belli.

In 1969 she married butter baron and billionaire Al Wilsey and the next year she had her only child, best-selling author Sean Wilsey. As a society wife, Montandon "acquired a reputation for giving the best parties and round-table luncheons."[14] Wilsey later had an affair with Montandon's married best friend, Dede Traina, before he filed for divorce in 1980 in order to marry Traina.[15] Montandon was devastated and the divorce proceedings played out publicly.[16] Gossip columns raked Montandon over the coals, claiming as unreasonable her right to fairly split the couple's assets and to receive alimony.[16][17]

In 1975, she won a lawsuit she brought against Triangle Publications whose publications impugned her reputation.[18]

In popular culture[edit]

Author Armistead Maupin caricatured her as society columnist Prue Giroux in his Tales of the City series.[14][10]

Published works[edit]


  1. ^ The manuscript version of her birth certificate can be read Patsy Sue or Patsy Lue but the typescript version is Patsy Lue.
  2. ^ a b Siler, Julia Flynn (2007). The House of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty. Penguin. ISBN 9781592402595. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  3. ^ Patricia Montandon; Rudolf E. Noble (1968). How to Be a Party Girl. McGraw Hill Book Company. ISBN 978-1470119065.
  4. ^ Montandon, Pat (1975). The Intruders. Coward, McCann & Geoghegan. ISBN 0-698-10636-9.
  5. ^ Patricia Montandon (2008). Whispers From God: A Life Beyond Imaginings. Harper Paperbacks. ISBN 978-0061373923.
  6. ^ a b Kuczynski, Alex (27 August 2007). "Book Review: Oh the Hell of It All". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Pat Montandon - Peeing On Hot Coals". Book Passage. September 25, 2014.
  8. ^ Patricia Montandon (2007). Oh the Hell of it All. Harper. ISBN 978-0061146060.
  9. ^ “Peace Organizations, Past and Present; a Survey and Directory”, by Robert S. Meyer. McFarland, 1988, p. 79. She auctioned her couture wardrobe, jewels and furs to fund the organization and its many accomplishments.
  10. ^ a b Carolyne Zinko (April 15, 2007). "DOUBLE TROUBLE / High anxiety in high society?". San Francisco Chronicle.
  11. ^ Retrieved 11.30.11.
  12. ^ "Pat Montandon". Huffington Post. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  13. ^ "Pat Montandon Women's Health Care". Facebook.
  14. ^ a b Robin Abcarian (April 9, 2007). "Title sounds familiar: Now, it's mom's turn". Los Angeles Times.
  15. ^ Holson, Laura M. (24 September 2016). "Dede Wilsey Is the Defiant Socialite". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  16. ^ a b Kakutani, Michiko (27 May 2005). "A Rich Boy's Poor Childhood". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  17. ^ Miller, Johnny (14 September 2008). "Pat Montandon sought huge alimony in 1983". SFGate. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  18. ^ Newark, Ohio, Advocate, 10-15-75: She received in Triangle Publications vs. Montandon (75-195) a $150,000 judgement for the publication of a statement that was based on two court actions said that she was a call girl.
  19. ^ "HOW TO BE A PARTY GIRL by Pat. Montandon | Kirkus Reviews". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  20. ^ Fleming, Michael (6 August 2003). "'Intruders' casts spell over Focus". Variety. Retrieved 15 October 2019.