he male in Samantha Kluge’s Encino home has turned her living room into a dance floor. He’s showing off some killer moves and he knows all eyes are on him. The society heiress doesn’t seem to mind that Jack Jameson Groves has turned her elegant abode into a club: not only is the five-year-old her son, but he also happens to be the person responsible for helping Samantha find love – and herself – again.
In her past life, the daughter of late Metromedia mogul John Kluge was herself a club-hopping, hard-partying New York socialite throughout her 20s, working as an editor at publications like Glamour and Cosmopolitan. Now in her forties, Samantha has traded alcohol for juices, nights out on the town for nights in with her son, and a job that entailed late nights and a plethora of parties for solo artistic pursuits like jewelry-making, interior design and bespoke clothing creation inside her home studio. “My days in New York were so completely different from my life now, with Jack,” Kluge muses. “I would go to cocktail parties after work every night there, but I quit drinking when I moved to California 14 years ago. I made a lot of little changes slowly. I got more physically active here, whereas in New York, I was all about work and partying. My nickname was the ‘Party Priestess’. But here I’m totally anonymous, which I love. I left in the wake of a bad divorce, and I needed a fresh start. I found that here.” Kluge, who has tied the knot three times in the past, including a marriage to Jack’s father Jonathan Winston Groves, is in a good place now, though her past heartbreaks certainly weren’t the easiest to heal.
“My first divorce cut the deepest. It was tough and a little sloppy, but I got through it and I learned a lot from it, and I see my part in it. It takes two to tango,” she says now, confiding, “I thought my life was over twice. I was very self-involved and self-obsessed in New York, but I hadn’t excavated my true self yet. Losing my parents, going through a 10-month period where I had two back surgeries, getting divorced; these were all traumatic things. But here I am. I’m middle-aged and I have a kid, and this is it. But just when the caterpillar thinks his life is over, he turns into a butterfly.
It is Jack, in every possible way, that has helped Samantha to emerge from her cocoon. He has made her more responsible and more self-aware. He is also the reason she is selling her current home of six years, a historic house once owned by John Wayne that she lovingly and painstakingly curated, in order to move him to her favorite school district of choice. She would do anything for him and he for her. In fact, he even introduced Samantha to her fiancé, freelance TV producer Kevin Herndon. “I had just gotten out of a really toxic relationship when Jack introduced me to my fiancé of a year. He was only three years old,” she recalls with a laugh noting, “First of all, I’m aware my ticker is broken. We were coming back from being out of the country, where I had had a few tough months being with someone who tried to take advantage of me. I had been single for a while at that point. I was just trying to recover.”
Jack took it upon himself to find his mother a partner, and brazenly asked one of her male acquaintances if he was single. Samantha recalls when Jack first approached Kevin, and asked, ‘Do you have a girlfriend? My mom needs a good man. She’s had a tough ride.’ He said to Jack, ‘How about I take her to dinner first?’ Jack said, ‘That’s a good start.’ Within six months, we were in a relationship. Jack asked him if he was going to be his stepdaddy at age 4, and a few months later, we were engaged.”
Her life with Jack and Kevin marks a fresh start for the resilient Kluge, who learned the art of dealing with the hand she’s been dealt, however horrible, from her father. “When I was a young kid, my dad said, ‘Kid, you’re going to be a target. You’re going to have to build muscle to let these things roll off your back.’ He was absolutely right, but things got worse when he was gone.” Kluge has been consistently mourning and missing her father, who died three years ago at the age of 95. She misses his presence, and his belief in her abilities. “He told me that success is only a little talent and 99 percent persistence and to never give up. I became an editor in six months, and my father was impressed. He said, ‘I never realized how much you’re like me. You’re very driven.’ He even told a friend that if he believed in nepotism, I could run his company. I was shocked.” Kluge didn’t need nepotism to get her through life: she’s made her way and found happiness all on her own.