It began, of course, with her mom, who, back in North Carolina, christened her little girl "Starlet." Little wonder she grew into her name. "I just wanted to be the diva," Star Jones says. "I admit it. I wanted to be the diva."
Even as a kid, Star Jones knew how to provoke her peers. "I was popular, well known but annoying, I think," she told "20/20." Today, as a co-host of "The View," she has become popular enough for parodies on shows like "Saturday Night Live." But as a TV-savvy lawyer who made her name analyzing the O.J. Simpson trial, Star, 43, has hitched a long, productive ride. "I ended up having the ear of the man who would become my mentor, Johnnie Cochran," she says with respect. "We became very good friends and yeah, I will be very straight and say, Johnnie created that which is Star Jones."
Finding God and Losing Weight
So what exactly is Star Jones today? In her new book, "Shine," she says she connected to God, found love and lost weight. She had to lose weight. At her peak, she weighed 300 pounds, and she's only 5 feet 5 inches. "I went from full-figured to fat and from fat to obese and from obese to morbidly obese," she says. "I was killing myself." Star developed adult asthma, an irregular heartbeat, legs that ached from walking up and down stairs, back problems, labored breathing. It was mortifying.
"I can recall sitting on the beach in the Bahamas and literally thinking, how much can I drink this afternoon before I have to go to the bathroom? Because I don't know if I can make it across the sand to the restroom and then back to the sand."
And then there was that day in her bedroom, at home, when she was trying to put lotion on her legs. "I had to literally lift my leg and bring it over to the other leg to put the lotion on because I was too heavy to do it and just bring it up one at a time. [It] physically disgusted me."
Star says since she got her act together two and a half years ago, she's dropped 150 pounds. But don't look in her new book for her secret to getting svelte. Despite all the rumors in gossip columns and blogs, she will neither confirm nor deny whether she had gastric-bypass surgery -- the same operation that celebrities Al Roker and Carnie Wilson have openly credited with their own weight losses. Star says she doesn't want to be "the poster child for a procedure or a diet program or a pill that's going to tell you, you too can look like this." Instead she talks about portion control -- eating just half of what's on her plate -- and giving up her favorite food group: double whoppers with cheese.
Making Room for Love
While dropping all that excess baggage, Star says she also realized she had room for someone else in her life. When she met Al Reynolds, a banker eight years her junior, it was love at first sight. He proposed to her at an NBA All-Star game, on live TV. And while Star hasn't jumped on Oprah's couch, her own declarations of love were equally public. "I wanted everyone to know," she says. "I really was in love with this man. And so I shouted it from the rooftop. And that could be annoying to people, for goodness sake. I get it, I understand that."
The media had a field day with her wedding -- a silver-and-white extravaganza at New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel that even she calls "over the top, extravagant, ridiculous." Headlines blared "Bridezilla!" after Star solicited and accepted free services and gifts for her guests' goody bags. None of which fazed the bride herself. "I wouldn't do one thing differently," she says now. "I wanted the fantasy. I so wanted to be Cinderella for one brief shining moment. I wanted the white dress. I wanted the 926 bridesmaids. I wanted it all." As for the criticisms, "Oh, I couldn't care less," she says.
What she does care about are the innuendos about her husband. In her book she writes, "One day we would read that Al was out gallivanting with a bunch of women. The next day, we'd read a story questioning his sexuality." In person she elaborates: "I had extremely candid and loving and wonderful conversations with my husband. And I have no doubts in my mind who he is, what he wants and who he's with." So, is he gay? "Of course not," she says, calling the question silly.
Today Star says she's thinking about having children, although she has no deep yearning to be pregnant. She says her satisfaction now comes from what she is, not from what she's got. Still, she does have a couple of fantasies left; among them, a personal tribute to a diva from another empire: "One day," says Star Jones, smiling in anticipation, "I want to ride down the Nile, like Cleopatra did."