Doc Hollywood

updated 11/20/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/20/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

There's not much that John Paul DeJoria won't celebrate. On his wife's last birthday, he treated 30 friends to cocktails in his Manhattan penthouse, dinner at the Russian Tea Room and dancing till dawn. He got Cher to serenade 300 for their first anniversary in 1994. And he keeps things rolling between Christmas and New Year's by throwing an annual gathering for 100 in Aspen. So last July, when the multimillionaire CEO of John Paul Mitchell Systems learned he was getting an honorary doctorate from Pepperdine University in Malibu, he thought, "Garden party!" Well, actually, at first he thought—and said—"Why me? I don't give you money," recalls DeJoria, 51, who saw his last diploma when he graduated from L.A.'s John Marshall High School. "They said, 'You lecture, you're involved in humanitarian and ecological causes, and your success alone is equal to a Ph.D.' "

Not wishing to argue the point, DeJoria swung into partying mode at the 10-acre Malibu estate he refers to as his summerhouse. In other words, he turned to his wife. "I like a party where Eloise does the arranging and all I do is show up," the shampoo king admits. Luckily for Eloise, 38, a model and former Playboy centerfold who now serves as the spokeswoman for Paul Mitchell products, entertaining at any of the 10 Dejoria houses requires neither deep thought nor heavy lifting. She left the flower choices to Lisa Benon, who fills the DeJorias' home with bouquets every week they're in town, the menu planning to the staff at Eclipse—a West Hollywood hot boîte partially owned by her husband—and the 60 invitations to her personal assistant, who also ordered a Pepperdine University-shaped cake. The bill for the Aug. 5 "afternoon of midsummer Malibu madness," as the invitations put it: $10,000 plus. "It's not every day you get an honorary degree," explains Dejoria. "We don't spend that much on our regular dinner parties."

The guests, many of them celebrities, were suitably impressed. "J.P. doesn't do anything by halves," said his friend and neighbor Pierce Brosnan, who arrived with his steady, Unsolved Mysteries correspondent Keely Shaye-Smith. "He's a good showman in this town." While drinks and caviar pizzas circulated, partygoers like Ed Begley Jr., Longtime Companion Oscar nominee Bruce Davison and Murder One star Daniel Benzali wandered the 22,000-square-foot oceanfront estate, taking in its Italian tiled courtyards, tennis court, Jacuzzi-with-waterfall and array of statuary—including one in front of the house of the host and hostess. Even his fellow tycoons were dazzled. "Not everyone can afford a place like this," said Veg-O-Matic founder Ron Popeil, lolling with a bikini-ed friend in the 60-foot-long pool, landscaped with rocks and tropical plants. "Not even me." Michelle Phillips, a J.P. pal from their high school days, splashed nearby. "I haven't been to an actual pool party since I was 16," she said.

And there was never one quite like this. After a sumptuous seafood buffet served in the main tiled courtyard, Eloise emerged in white bikini, high-heeled loafers and lab coat to present J.P. with a black doctor's bag. "He's got his doctorate of law now," she said, amid much applause, "so he's a doctor. Dr. John Paul Dejoria." The couple's good friend James Coburn, at least, felt the name fit. "J.P. makes everything well that he touches," Coburn said. "He's cured forests, he's cured people. He deserves this."

Though the two-foot-high chocolate-and-rasp-berry cake—topped with a likeness of John Paul on his Harley, diploma in hand—went mostly uneaten, Eloise counted the day a success. "If you don't ever have one bad feeling in a whole party, and everyone is there to support you, nothing can go wrong," she concluded. Pierce Brosnan grinned and offered a different take: "It's just another day in Malibu."

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