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Tom Selleck recalls dancing with Princess Diana after famous John Travolta moment: 'Seemed to be having the time of her life'

The Blue Bloods actor recalled the famous White House state dinner in 1985 hosted by former President Ronald Reagan in honor of the late Princess and the then Prince Charles

Beatriz Colon
Beatriz Colon - New York
New York WriterNew York
May 8, 2024
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Princess Diana's famous dance with John Travolta in 1985 is a fixture of US, royal, and pop-culture history, however there was one crucial player to the iconic moment that people might not know about: none other than Tom Selleck.

The Blue Bloods actor, along with the Grease actor and Clint Eastwood, were the only actors invited to the White House state dinner that November 9, in honor of the Princess and her then husband, now King Charles, by former President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan.

Now, 40 years later, the Friends alum is looking back on the memorable dinner, and how he was tasked with avoiding potential rumors that could be started from the famous dance.

In his new memoir, You Never Know, which was released May 7, Tom shared his memories from the state dinner, first recalling how he felt "anxious" to meet the royals, before sharing Diana was "charming, graceful, and beautiful," as well as the then Prince's ability "of making you feel like you were important to him in your moment together."

He then wrote about how guests moved to the East Room after dinner, where the Reagans, and of course John and Diana, shared a dance, before revealing he was shortly after approached by a woman "speaking very rapidly."

"Mr. Travolta and the princess are dancing for a second time together. We can't have that. We don't want to start rumors, do we? Mr. Selleck, you must step in and replace him," Tom wrote that the woman told him.

In this handout image provided by The White House, Princess Diana dances with John Travolta in Cross Hall at the White House in 1985© 1985 Pete Souza/The White House
The iconic photo of the actor and the late princess was taken by Barack Obama's photographer Pete Souza

It sparked more anxiety, it seems, and he continued: "'I'M NOT CUTTING IN ON JOHN TRAVOLTA!' was my reply, probably in too loud a voice," though he ultimately acquiesced, and he too shared a dance with Diana.

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"Princess Diana was lovely, and there was a very shy quality about her in spite of her being well schooled in the art of conversation," he further shared.

Princess Diana is greeted by Tom Selleck, behind them Nancy Reagan, at a White House state dinner on November 9, 1985.© Maidun Collection / Alamy Stock Photo

"I gotta say she seemed to be having the time of her life. I was relieved she talked most of the time. Let's just say it was not my finest hour as a conversationalist."

MORE: Meet Blue Bloods star Tom Selleck's children

Two years prior to the dinner, Tom had married wife Jillie Mack, who was in attendance, and he also revealed she shared a dance with the now King.

In this photo provided by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Tom Selleck dances with Nancy Reagan, left, and Princess Diana and Clint Eastwood dance, right, in the Cross Hall of the White House in Washington, D.C. at a Dinner for Prince Charles and Princess Diana of the United Kingdom on November 9, 1985© MediaPunch Inc / Alamy Stock Photo
Clint later danced with Diana while Tom danced with Nancy

He wrote: "The prince asked Jillie for a second dance. Clint took over for me, and I got to dance with my friend Nancy [Reagan]."

"She was relaxed, and I was relaxed. They were playing a song from the 1940s. I wish I could remember what it was, because Nancy was quietly singing along. What a nice way to end the evening."

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