MEL OF A PAST; Two divorces, a fling with a vicar's son and a lover 40 years her senior, pounds 640m Gibson's new girl has one.
SWEEPING down the red carpet at an LA premiere this week, hand-in-hand with Mel Gibson, Oksana Grigorieva looked like the cat that got the cream.
While 53-year-old Mel was tight-lipped and appeared slightly ill at ease - perhaps mindful of his pounds 640million divorce battle and its effect on his seven children - his young Russian girlfriend seemed to be enjoying every minute in the limelight.
But then Oksana, a 39-year-old Russian musician and singer, has fought hard to be part of the glamorous showbiz set.
Those who know her from her younger days recall a girl determined to escape her impoverished upbringing in a grimy industrial town in Ukraine.
A girl who knew the effect of her beauty, who would cast men aside once she had "no use for them", and who had her sights set on fame and fortune in the West, even when she was still at school.
Oksana has certainly found fame now. The pictures showing her frolicking in the surf with Mel near his Costa Rican estate showed the world his 28-year-marriage was over.
His estranged wife Robyn, 52, could claim up to half the Braveheart star's fortune, in what may be one of the most expensive divorces in Hollywood history.
There have been suggestions that Oksana has been secretly seeing Mel - who has lived apart from Robyn since August 2006 - for two years. Although other sources insist she has only been with him for four months.
Whatever the case, it is just the latest instalment in what has been a colourful love life.
The Mirror can reveal that Oksana has been married twice - once to a 41-year-old graphic designer when she was just 22 - and she had a 10-year romance with Bond star Timothy Dalton (they have a son, Thomas, 12).
Other exes include a vicar's son from Kent and a 60-year-old ballet dancer.
Oksana's journey to Hollywood via the UK started in the bleak industrial town of Saransk. Her mother Ludmilla conducted an orchestra at the local chicken factory, for which she was paid in chicken and eggs. Her father Ptyr sold potatoes at the market.
Valentina Yeltsova, 55, who taught Oksana for four years, told the Mirror yesterday: "She was always determined to get to the West."Oksana used to like English at school.
It seemed like she was preparing herself for a better future and aiming to study as much as she could to escape from this country." Ms Yeltsova recalls a beautiful, precocious teenager who had little time for other children of her own age.
"Her prestige was enormous, boys were sort of scared to fall in love with her," she said. "They knew she was not like other girls - she knew that herself.
"She always took parts in school shows.
It was obvious that she was destined for some extraordinary life. She knew that and worked on herself to become more beautiful and better." At 19, Oksana married a local man. It lasted six months.
He was a drug addict and she felt he was holding her back.
Ms Yeltsova added: "Her first husband was very jealous and when she was called to Moscow to take part in a beauty contest after she won a competition in Saransk, he refused to let her go.
"She decided she had no more use for him and cast him aside." Oksana then moved to the Russian city of Kazan and attended the world famous
Conservatory - the equivalent of RADA in London. There she began romancing a much older violinist from an orchestra in Moscow, while still dreaming of a life outside Russia.
That finally came through her parents, who put her in touch with Elizabeth Hoodless of the Community Service Volunteers organisation in the UK.
At the age of 20, Oksana came to London to look after Ms Hoodless' elderly parents, who lived in Shoreham, Kent.
But she seemed far more interested in trying to kickstart a career in acting and modelling.
#x0A;"She didn't really understand her duties," said Ms Hoodless later.
"One day she asked my parents to run a few errands for her, such as taking her film to be developed. They had to remind her that she was supposed to be looking after them!" During her three months in Shoreham, Oksana caught the eye of Matthew Simmons - his father was the vicar of the village's St Peter and St Paul Church.
Matthew later recalled: "It was her first trip to Western Europe and she was naive.
"I took her to London and she loved looking at designer clothes shops. When she first arrived, her dress was very Russian, but by the time she left, she was wearing fashionable jeans and tops.
"We called her Sana. Her most striking feature was her beauty. She was really very attractive.
"I joked to her that she would make me a millionaire because I would be her agent and she would become a supermodel."
They split up and Oksana found a new job in Hampshire, before marrying graphic designer Nicholas Rowland, 41, at Brighton Registry Office on April 6, 1992. She listed her job as "music teacher" on the marriage certificate.
It was another short-lived union and Mr Rowland has refused to comment on it.
Oksana went on to study at the Royal College of Music in London where she met a retired ballet dancer in his 60s. They moved in together almost immediately.
He was to prove a useful contact, through whom Oksana met people in high places. At a film premiere party in London, she met actor Timothy Dalton.
At the time, her mother Ludmilla described the meeting as: "The Prince noticed Cinderella leaving and asked if she would be coming back. Later, they spent the whole night talking to each other.
Timothy had to go to Japan but kept calling Oksana. When he came back, he found her." Dalton was rumoured to have proposed.
Oksana turned him down but the couple stayed together.
Sadly, there was no fairytale ending this time either. Two years ago, Oksana and Dalton went their separate ways.
Now she is making headlines again with her latest lover - superstar Mel Gibson.
The couple's attendance at the premiere of the film X-Men Origins: Wolverine was unexpected as Mel rarely attends Hollywood events.
This week his publicist told an American magazine: "Mel has been single for almost three years and it's nice to see him getting out and enjoying himself." The romance is also causing a stir back in Ukraine.
One of the neighbours in the run-down block where Oksana's family still own a flat said: "I know she and her mum watched Timothy Dalton on the telly in Jane Eyre.
But I've no idea if she saw Mel Gibson and craved him as well. Most people here had no idea who he was."
They do now.
GLAMOROUS With Mel at the LA premiere of Wolverine this week. Below, with her mum Ludmilla and dad Ptyr. Left, their old flat in Ukraine Oksana's looks have captivated many men MEL'S BELLE BOND'S GIRL With Dalton; above, certificate from her second wedding
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||May 1, 2009|
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