During the excess of the 1980s, one television program illuminated the holdings of the 1% – with a distinct voice over – Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.
Debuting in 1984, the syndicated show was created by Al Masini, well-known for his successful entertainment shows including Solid Gold, Entertainment Tonight and Star Search.
Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous focused on the elite lives of the wealthy, showing their massive homes, outrageous numbers of cars and boats, as well as letting the common man behind the high gates and into the exclusive VIP areas around the globe where the billionaires went to play.
Each hour showed off the trappings of rich – from the private islands to the grand estates – from old money to new millionaires. And for all of us viewing the show, it was like looking at a catalogue of how to be rich, without the means to be able to buy anything, yet we wanted to see.
Hosted by Robin Leach, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous became the accepted standard of how the wealthy must live – with gold-plated items, access to the world’s luxury brands and a permanent red carpet rolled out for this exclusive group.
And each episode ended with his signature send-off – “wishing you champagne wishes and caviar dreams.”
I remember watching this show with my Mum, and we both would be amazed, intrigued and sometimes disgusted at the opulence shown. It didn’t matter how wealthy you thought someone might be, there was always someone else with another far-out view of how to spend their endless amount of cash.
For a decade labelled excessive, this program illuminated all the materialism that was celebrated so openly.