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What You Didn’t Know About “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”

1980s | September 26, 2018

Television Personality Robin Leach sighted on February 28, 1989 at Sfuzzi Restaurant in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

From 1984 to 1995, we were able to take a glimpse into the lives of the ultra-rich thanks to the television series, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” Hosted by the impeccably-accented Robin Leach, the show capitalized on the attitude of conspicuous consumption that defined the 1980s. Each week, viewers got to see the extravagant homes and witness the luxury life enjoyed by wealthy entertainers, business tycoons and professional athletes. Here’s what you may not remember about the television show that made us all jealous of the one-percenters. 

“Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams”

It was the show’s host, Robin Leach himself, that coined the catchphrase of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” In fact, his “Champagne wishes and caviar dreams” phrase was one of the most popular phrases of the 1980s. Even today, the phrase pops up in songs and movies, further cementing its place in pop culture. 

Champagne Everywhere!

If the show is to be believed, the ultra-rich spend their days surrounded by champagne. The expensive beverage with the high-end reputation was featured prominently in nearly every episode. Even the intro to “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” included champagne. Multiple shots showed champagne being poured and glasses lifted in the air. The subconscious message of the series was, “You will know you’ve made it big when you drink champagne on a random Tuesday!”

Featured Guests had to Surpass an Income Threshold

Just how does one define ultra-rich? This was a question the producers of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” had to answer. They settled on a number. To be considered for a guest feature on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”, one had to have a net worth that exceeded $50 million. 

It Wasn’t all About the Houses

Although “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” focused on the opulent homes of the well-to-do, it wasn’t only about fancy houses. The host, Robin Leach, also took viewers on a tour of the wealthy guests’ summer homes, their garages full of expensive sports cars, and their closets full of one-of-a-kind designer clothes. Viewers got to tag along as Leach boarded private planes, helicopters, yachts and limousines to show us where the rich and famous vacation. 

Bill Conti

The Theme Song Wasn’t Originally Intended for “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”

When Bill Conti, a well-known musical composer and Academy Award winner who wrote the scores for “Dynasty,” “The Right Stuff” and for “Rocky” “Gonna Fly Now”, wrote the some, “Come With Me Now”, it was for the 1979 movie, “Five Days From Home”. The love ballad was later adopted for the theme song for “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” Another of Conti’s compositions, “Runaway” from the film, “For Your Eyes Only”, was frequently used for in-show content background music. 

Robin Leach was a Journalist

The very British and very proper Robin Leach began his career as a journalist. He covered entertainment and gossip news in both England and the United States for more than ten years before he landed a spot as a correspondent on “Entertainment Tonight” in 1981. He was able to parlay his success on that show into the hosting gig of the newly-developed “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”

Regis Philbin

Robin Leach Worked with Regis Philbin

Early in his career, Robin Leach worked alongside Regis Philbin when they were both contributors on “AM Los Angeles,” which broadcast on KABC-TV. This was just one of Leach’s television reporting jobs. He also worked for CNN, “People Tonight” and “Good Morning Australia” as well as a gig on the Food Network. 

Robin Leach with Donald Trump

Donald Trump was on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”

In 1994, an episode of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” featured the business mogul and future president, Donald Trump. At the time, Trump was married to Marla Maples, who was also shown on camera being interviewed along with her husband by Robin Leach. Leach even asked the couple about their newborn daughter, Tiffany. 

“Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” Spawned Copycat Shows

The popularity of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” led to other television shows that featured the extravagance lives and homes of the famous and wealthy, including “Cribs”, “The Fabulous Life of..,” “My Lottery Dream House” and “The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes.” “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” was also the forerunner of celebrity reality television shows, like “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and others, they offered an unscripted glimpse at the everyday lives of the ultra-rich. 

Morgan Fairchild

“Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” Guest List is a Who’s Who of 1980s Stars

Many of the celebrities that were featured on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” were the mega-stars of the 1980s and 1990s. They included Michael Jackson, Marie Osmond, Peter Usinov, Melissa Gilbert, Morgan Fairchild, Lynda Carter, Stephanie Powers and Jeff Bridges. Shari Belafonte, who starred in “Hotel”, was a guest on the series and then became the show’s co-host, along with Robin Leach. When Leach retired from the series in 1994, Belafonte took over as the host and the name was changed to simply “Lifestyles.” 

Robin Leach Recently Passed Away

The former host of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” Robin Leach had been in poor health in recent years. He suffered a stroke on August 20 of this year and died three days later. He was 77 years old. For the host of a show about the rich and famous, Leach enjoyed a level of that wealth and fame himself. His name will forever be linked to the phrase, “champagne wishes and caviar dreams.” 

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Karen Harris

Writer

Karen left the world of academic, quitting her job as a college professor to write full-time. She spends her days with her firefighter husband and four daughters on a hobby farm with an assortment of animals, including a goat named Atticus, a turkey named Gravy, and a chicken named Chickaletta.