A head-turning nightclub promoter who first drew notice after the tragedy of Sept. 11 is back in the news but she's attracting a very different kind of attention. According to a claim in the National Enquirer, Rachel Uchitel has been having an affair with golf star Tiger Woods since June. Uchitel and Woods have denied the claim but have been unable to prevent widespread Internet chatter, which speculates that the jet-setting 34-year-old was the source of a fight between Woods and his wife Elin Nordegren that led to the golfer's crashing his SUV outside his Florida mansion early on Nov. 27. (The multimillionaire athlete will be issued a citation for reckless driving, according to local authorities.) Dubbed a "New York City party girl," Uchitel insists the Enquirer's report is false and says she has met Woods only on two brief occasions. Nevertheless, the maelstrom of attention surrounding the clean-cut Woods' accident has turned Uchitel into a full-blown media star at least for the moment.
Born in 1975 to a wealthy family. Her mother is a Palm Beach, Fla., socialite and her father, who died in 1991, was a successful cable-TV entrepreneur in Alaska. Her grandparents ran New York City's famous El Morocco nightclub in the 1960s.
Spent five years after college as a news producer in New York City for Bloomberg Television. She held that job on Sept. 11, 2001, when her fiancé was killed in the World Trade Center.
After the tragedy, the cover of the New York Post featured a photograph of a tearful Uchitel clutching a picture of her deceased fiancé, investment banker Andy O'Grady. She said she successfully coped with the tragedy for about two years but then suffered an emotional breakdown.
Married Wall Street trader Steven Ehrenkranz, a childhood friend, in 2004. They divorced four months later, and Uchitel began a new career in Las Vegas as a nightclub hostess and VIP coordinator.
Has worked at trendy clubs in Las Vegas, New York City and the Hamptons, mainly to court and entertain celebrity clients.
Hired high-profile Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred to shepherd her through the media scrum.
Likes to spend several weeks a year in Saint-Tropez, France, and calls the Four Seasons in Chiang Mai, Thailand, her "favorite place in the world." Once owned two small dogs named Ozzy Osbourne and Rudy Giuliani.
"I live alone, I don't have a boyfriend, and I have my gay best friend staying over most nights. I'm a recluse. I don't go out, I stay home with my dogs and friends ... I do not have sex with celebrities, and I have not had an affair with Tiger Woods."
New York Post, Dec. 1, 2009
"I couldn't get through the day. I felt like everyone else had forgotten about it. I was resentful. Lonely."
Describing her "massive breakdown" about two years after the Sept. 11 attacks (New York Times, Dec. 12, 2004)
"Although I've been romantically linked to a famous baseball player, a Broadway star, a musician and various film and television actors, I will never kiss and tell!"
BlackBook magazine, June 26, 2008
"She lost her fiancé on 9/11 and understandably had a very hard time ... I think she went through what any other person who lost someone
does: intense depression, grief and anger. She had something of a breakdown and felt very lost."
Uchitel's mother, identified only as "Susan" (ABCNews.com, Dec. 1, 2009)
"She's so brave to be vulnerable again. It gives the world, and me, so much hope."
Annelise Peterson, the maid of honor at Uchitel's 2004 wedding (New York Times, Dec. 12, 2004)