By People Staff
December 30, 1991 12:00 PM

Somebody called me the other day and said. ‘What is Anjelica Huston doing in a hit movie?’ ” the actress recalls with a throaty laugh. What indeed? Huston, 40, is a Hollywood blue blood with an equine grace, glacial cheek bones and brown eyes that promise a quirky heat beneath the ice. Or, as her Enemies, A Love Story director Paul Mazursky once put it. “a quality doll—the babe the gangster would love to have.” Perhaps that is why she’s better known for critical successes than for dead-center holiday blockbusters like The Addams Family.

This, though, has been Angelica’s year to gallop ahead in the stretch. She received her third Oscar nomination (having won Best Supporting Actress in 1986 for Prizzi’s Honor, and a nomination for Enemies in 1990) for her role as the steely shill who kills her own son in The Grifters. Then came her wicked portrayal of campy, vampy Morticia Addams.

To hear Anjelica tell it, she has been rehearsing to play the spooky part since she was a little girl growing up in Ireland with her often absent father, the late director John Huston. “We had a book of Charles Addams cartoons in the bathroom,” she recalls, “and I would part my hair in the middle and play Morticia in the mirror.”

Huston remembers life with father and mother (former ballerina Ricki Soma, who died in a car crash when Angelica was 17) as being “a little bit Addamsian…. One was largely left to one’s own devices. One sort of had the impression one was unlike anyone else.”

Indeed one was, when one was the daughter of a flamboyant father and later the lover, for 17 tumultuous years, of the equally flamboyant Jack Nicholson. That relationship ended two years ago, after she discovered Nicholson was expecting a child with Rebecca Broussard, a bit player in his ill-fated The Two Jakes. It was a trying time for Huston, who has said she despises “public humiliation.”

Now she is deftly carving an identity of her own, onscreen and off. She is engaged to sculptor Robert Graham, 53, whom she has known for several years, but hasn’t had a chance to set a wedding date because of the hoopla over Family. Still, she sometimes has doubts about the future. “When everything is so good, I’m apt to wonder what’s coming that isn’t so good.” she says. “I feel a little trepidatious. But all in all, I’m glad I’m out from under the dark clouds.”