Barbara Woolworth Hutton
November 14, 1912
New York City, U.S.
|Died||May 11, 1979 66) (aged|
Prince Alexis Mdivani
(m. 1933;div. 1935)
Count Kurt von Haugwitz-Reventlow
(m. 1935;div. 1938)
(m. 1942;div. 1945)
Prince Igor Troubetzkoy
(m. 1947;div. 1951)
(m. 1953;div. 1954)
Baron Gottfried von Cramm
(m. 1955;div. 1959)
Prince Pierre Doan
(m. 1964;div. 1966)
|Relatives|| Frank Winfield Woolworth (maternal grandfather)|
Edward Francis Hutton (paternal uncle)
Dina Merrill (paternal first cousin)
Barbara Woolworth Hutton (November 14, 1912 – May 11, 1979) was an American debutante, socialite, heiress and philanthropist. She was dubbed the "Poor Little Rich Girl," first when she was given a lavish and expensive debutante ball in 1930, amid the Great Depression, and later due to a notoriously troubled private life.
A debutante or deb is a young woman of aristocratic or upper-class family background who has reached maturity and, as a new adult, comes out into society at a formal "debut" or possibly debutante ball. Originally, the term meant the woman was old enough to be married, and part of the purpose of her coming out was to display her to eligible bachelors and their families with a view to marriage within a select circle.
A socialite is a person who plays a prominent role in high society. A socialite spends a significant amount of time attending various fashionable social gatherings.
A beneficiary in the broadest sense is a natural person or other legal entity who receives money or other benefits from a benefactor. For example, the beneficiary of a life insurance policy is the person who receives the payment of the amount of insurance after the death of the insured.
Heiress to one-third of the estate of the retail tycoon Frank Winfield Woolworth, Barbara Hutton was one of the wealthiest women in the world. She endured a childhood marked by the early loss of her mother at age four to suicide and the neglect of her father, setting the stage for a life of difficulty forming relationships. Married and divorced seven times, she acquired grand foreign titles but was maliciously treated and often exploited by several of her husbands. While publicly she was much envied for her possessions, her beauty and her apparent life of leisure, privately she remained deeply insecure, often taking refuge in drink, drugs, and playboys.
Frank Winfield Woolworth was an American entrepreneur and the founder of F. W. Woolworth Company and the operator of variety stores known as "Five-and-Dimes" or dimestores, which featured a low-priced selection of merchandise. He pioneered the now-common practices of buying merchandise directly from manufacturers and fixing the selling prices on items, rather than haggling. He was also the first to use self-service display cases, so customers could examine what they wanted to buy without the help of a sales clerk.
Hutton had one child, Lance Reventlow, with her second husband, but was an inconsistent and insecure parent and the subsequent divorce ended in a bitter custody battle. She later developed anorexia nervosa and perhaps therefore prevented further childbirth. Her son died in a plane crash in 1972 at the age of 36, leaving her devastated. She died on May 11, 1979, at age 66. At her death, the formerly wealthy Hutton was on the verge of bankruptcy as a result of exploitation, as well as her compulsive generosity and spendthrift ways.[ citation needed ]
Lance Graf von Haugwitz-Hardenberg-Reventlow, was a British-born American entrepreneur, racing driver and heir to the Woolworth fortune. Reventlow was the only child of heiress Barbara Hutton and her second husband Count Kurt Haugwitz-Hardenberg-Reventlow. His stepfathers included actor Cary Grant and Prince Igor Troubetzkoy.
Anorexia nervosa, often referred to simply as anorexia, is an eating disorder characterized by low weight, fear of gaining weight, and a strong desire to be thin, resulting in food restriction. Many people with anorexia see themselves as overweight even though they are in fact underweight. If asked, they usually deny they have a problem with low weight. They weigh themselves frequently, eat only small amounts, and only eat certain foods. Some will exercise excessively, force themselves to vomit, or use laxatives to produce weight loss. Complications may include osteoporosis, infertility, and heart damage, among others. Women will often stop having menstrual periods.
Born in New York City, Barbara Hutton was the only child of Edna Woolworth (1883–1917), a daughter of Frank W. Woolworth, the founder of the successful Woolworth five-and-dime stores. Barbara's father was Franklyn Laws Hutton (1877–1940), a wealthy co-founder of E. F. Hutton & Company (owned by Franklyn's brother Edward Francis Hutton), a respected New York investment banking and stock brokerage firm. She was a niece by marriage of cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, who was for a time (1920–1935) married to E.F. Hutton; thus their daughter, actress-heiress Dina Merrill (born Nedenia Hutton), was a first cousin to Barbara Hutton. Dina Merrill related on A&E's Biography of the Woolworths, that for a time Barbara lived with them following the death of her mother and abandonment by her father.
The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States and thus also in the state of New York. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.
Edward Francis Hutton was an American financier and co-founder of E. F. Hutton & Co., one of the largest financial firms in the United States.
Marjorie Merriweather Post was an American socialite and the owner of General Foods, Inc. She used much of her fortune to collect art, particularly pre-revolutionary Russian art, much of which is now on display at Hillwood, the museum that was her estate. She is also known for building Mar-a-Lago.
Edna Hutton reportedly died on May 2, 1917, age 33, from suffocation due to mastoiditis,but rumor persists that she committed suicide by poison in despair over her husband's philandering, especially as the coroner decided that no autopsy was necessary. Four year old Barbara discovered her mother's body. After her mother's death, she lived with various relatives, and was raised by a governess. Hutton attended Miss Hewitt's Classes, now The Hewitt School in New York's Lenox Hill neighborhood and Miss Porter's School for Girls in Farmington, Connecticut. She became an introverted child who had limited interaction with other children of her own age. Her closest friend and only confidante was her cousin Jimmy Donahue, the son of her mother's sister. Jimmy Donahue inherited a portion of the Woolworth estate with Barbara and also grew up to have notorious, and public, drug, alcohol and relationship problems.
Mastoiditis is the result of an infection that extends to the air cells of the skull behind the ear. Specifically, it is an inflammation of the mucosal lining of the mastoid antrum and mastoid air cell system inside the mastoid process. The mastoid process is the portion of the temporal bone of the skull that is behind the ear which contains open, air-containing spaces. Mastoiditis is usually caused by untreated acute otitis media and used to be a leading cause of child mortality. With the development of antibiotics, however, mastoiditis has become quite rare in developed countries where surgical treatment is now much less frequent and more conservative, unlike former times. Additionally, there is no evidence that the drop in antibiotic prescribing for otitis media has increased the incidence of mastoiditis, raising the possibility that the drop in reported cases is due to a confounding factor such as childhood immunizations against Haemophilus and Streptococcus. Untreated, the infection can spread to surrounding structures, including the brain, causing serious complications.
A governess is a woman employed to teach and train children in a private household. In contrast to a nanny, she concentrates on teaching children instead of meeting their physical needs. Her charges are of school age rather than babies.
Lenox Hill is a neighborhood on Manhattan's Upper East Side. It forms the lower section of the Upper East Side—east of Park Avenue in the 60s and 70s.
In 1924, Barbara Hutton's grandmother Jennie (Creighton) Woolworth died and bequeathed to her $26.1 million. Another $2.1 million in stock from Edna's inheritance was placed in a separate trust - both trusts were administered by Franklyn Hutton. By the time of her 21st birthday in 1933, her father had increased her inheritance to $42 million (Over $1 billion in 2018), not including the additional $8 million from her mother's estate, making her one of the wealthiest women in the world.
In accordance with New York's high society traditions, Barbara Hutton was given a lavish débutante ball in 1930 on her 18th birthday, where guests from the Astor and Rockefeller families, amongst other elites, were entertained by stars such as Rudy Vallee and Maurice Chevalier. The ball cost $60,000, a veritable fortune in the days of the Depression. Public criticism was so severe that she was sent on a tour of Europe to escape the onslaught of the press.
She lived in the family home at 4 East 80th Streeton the Upper East Side.
Though Barbara Hutton was portrayed in the press as the "lucky" young woman who had it all, the public had no idea of the psychological problems she lived with that led to a life of victimization and abuse.
Popular poet Ogden Nash then took note of Hutton's public private life in the following light verse:
Said Aimee McPherson to Barbara Hutton,
"How do you get a marriage to button?"
"You'll have to ask some other person."
Said Barbara Hutton to Aimee McPherson
Barbara Hutton habitually married:
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it.(January 2014)
Her first husband, Alexis Mdivani, used her great wealth to his advantage. As a social climber, he and his siblings were part of the "Marrying Mdivinis" from Georgia who claimed to be "princes" after they fled Tbilisi in 1921 due to the Soviet Invasion of GeorgiaAlexis was already married to Louise Van Alen, a friend Barbara met at Bailey's Beach in Rhode Island and a member of the Astor family, when he met Barbara in Biarritz, France. Their meeting was engineered by Alexis' manipulative sister Roussie who was always propelling her family into wealthy marriages even if a divorce was required. Roussie and Alexis devised a plan that would enable Alexis to divorce Louise, seduce Barbara, and force her into marriage all at once when Alexis, Louise, Barbara, Roussie, and others were visiting San Sebastien, Spain. Roussie timed Louise and other witnesses to a visit a guest cottage while Alexis seduced Barbara. The group caught the couple, prompting Barbara to flee to Paris to avoid facing the scandal, but Roussie threatened Barbara with negative publicity if she did not marry her brother. Alexis and Barbara were married on June 22, 1933, in the Russian Orthodox Church in Paris, France. Barbara's father provided a $1 million dowry. After spending millions of Barbara's inheritance on a home, polo ponies, clothes and men's jewelry, Alexis and Barbara divorced in March, 1935.
Count Kurt Haugwitz-Reventlow, with whom she had her only child, a son named Lance, was her second husband.Reventlow dominated her through verbal and physical abuse, which escalated to a savage beating that left her hospitalized and put him in jail. He also persuaded her to give up her American citizenship, and to take his native Danish citizenship for tax purposes, which she did in December 1937 in a New York federal court. At this point she lapsed into drug abuse. Hutton then developed anorexia, which would plague her for the rest of her life and would leave her unable to have further children. Lance Reventlow, the son, became a race car driver and builder of his own well respected sports car, the Scarab, in the golden age of American sports car racing.
Hutton's divorce from Reventlow gave her custody of their son after a bitter court dispute. As her father had done, she left the raising of her child to a governess and private boarding schools.
In 1938, Hutton had a brief affair with Howard Hughes in London at the Savoy Hotel, where Hughes spent several afternoons in Hutton's round satin bed. Hughes, at the time, was engaged to Katharine Hepburn and had come to London to meet with government officials and arrange permission to overfly Europe as part of a plan to circumnavigate the globe by air. Hutton later recalled that "he saw I had difficulty reaching orgasm and tried desperately to make me do so the first time . . . thereafter pleasing himself and saying that I would not have one anyway. If I touched myself, he angrily brushed my hand away. He could not take it when a woman lost herself in pleasure because he felt he must absolutely be in control of a situation."
Hughes had met Hepburn on the set of one of Cary Grant's movies, while visiting with Grant. Howard Hughes and Cary Grant were close, long-time friends.
As World War II threatened in 1939, Hutton moved to California. She was active during the war, giving money to assist the Free French Forces and donating her yacht to the Royal Navy. Using her high-profile image to sell war bonds, she received positive publicity after being derided by the press as a result of her marriage scandals. In Hollywood, she met Cary Grant, one of the biggest movie stars of the day, and later married him on July 8, 1942. The press dubbed the married couple "Cash and Cary", though Grant did not need her money nor did he need to benefit from her name, and he appeared to genuinely care for Hutton. Nevertheless, this marriage also failed. Grant did not seek or receive any money from Hutton in their divorce settlement.
Hutton left California and moved to Paris, France, before acquiring a palace in Tangier. Hutton then began dating Igor Troubetzkoy, an expatriate Russian prince of very limited means but world renown. In the spring of 1948 in Zurich, Switzerland, she married him. That year, he was the driver of the first Ferrari to ever compete in Grand Prix motor racing when he raced in the Monaco Grand Prix, and later won the Targa Florio. He ultimately filed for divorce. Hutton's subsequent attempted suicide made headlines around the world. Labeled by the press as the "Poor Little Rich Girl", her life made great copy and the media exploited her for consumption by a fascinated public.
Her next marriage, lasting 53 days (December 30, 1953 – February 20, 1954), was to Dominican diplomat Porfirio Rubirosa, a notorious international playboy who meanwhile continued his affair with actress Zsa Zsa Gabor.She was granted the Dominican citizenship in 1953.
In a scathing review of the marriage ceremony in the Milwaukee Sentinel , Phyllis Battelle coined the oft-quoted phrase: "The bride, for her fifth wedding, wore black and carried a scotch-and-soda."
Hutton then spent time with Americans James Douglas and Philip Van Rensselaer. Her lavish spending continued; already the owner of several mansions around the world, in 1959 she built a luxurious Japanese-style palace on a 30-acre (120,000 m2) estate in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
Her next husband was an old friend, German tennis star Baron Gottfried von Cramm. This marriage also ended in divorce. He died in an automobile crash near Cairo, Egypt, in 1976.
In Tangier, Hutton met her seventh husband, Prince Pierre Raymond Doan Vinh na Champassak. This marriage, too, was short-lived.Raymond Doan was an adopted member of the former royal family of the Kingdom of Champasak.
Hutton lived with Frederick McEvoy, purchasing a chalet at a ski resort in Franconia, New Hampshire, after her marriage to actor Cary Grant. The couple never married and remained friends until McEvoy's death in 1951.Hutton frequently appeared intoxicated in public and was notorious throughout her life for lavish spending. As she aged, the men she spent time with did not. She was known to make gifts to total strangers.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it.(January 2014)
Over the years, apart from an important inheritance which included Old Master paintings and important sculptures, 40-carat (8.0 g) Pasha Diamond, which she purchased as an unusual octagonal brilliant-cut but had recut into a round brilliant, bringing it down to 36 carats (7.2 g).she also personally acquired a magnificent collection of her own which included the spectrum of arts, porcelain, valuable jewelry, including elaborate historic pieces that had once belonged to Marie Antoinette and Empress Eugénie of France, and important pieces by Fabergé and Cartier. Among her pieces of jewelry was the
The death of her only son Lance Reventlow in an air crash in 1972 sent Hutton into a state of despair. By this time, her fortune had diminished, due to her extreme generosity, including donating Winfield House to the United States government as a residence for its UK ambassador.Alleged questionable deals by her longtime lawyer, Graham Mattison, also ate away at her fortune. Eventually she began liquidating assets in order to raise funds to live, yet continued to spend money on strangers willing to pay a little attention to her. She spent her final years in Los Angeles, living at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, where she died from a heart attack in May 1979, aged 66. One biographer wrote that, at her death, $3,500 was all that remained of her fortune, but some who actually knew her said that was not the case. She was interred in the Woolworth family mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York.
Mrs. Franklyn Laws Hutton, who was Edna Woolworth, daughter of F. W. Woolworth, was found dead in her apartment at the hotel Plaza on May 2, 1917. ...
Several books have been written about Barbara Hutton, the best known of which are:
In 1987, a television motion picture titled Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story starred Farrah Fawcett in the role of Barbara Hutton.
Dina Merrill was an American actress, heiress, socialite, businesswoman, and philanthropist.
Jill St. John is an American actress. She is best known for playing Bond girl Tiffany Case in Diamonds Are Forever (1971).
Mae Murray was an American actress, dancer, film producer, and screenwriter. Murray rose to fame during the silent film era and was known as "The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips" and "The Gardenia of the Screen".
Porfirio Rubirosa Ariza was a Dominican diplomat, race car driver, soldier and polo player. He was an adherent of the dictator Rafael Trujillo, and was also rumored to be a political assassin under his regime. Rubirosa made his mark as an international playboy for his jetsetting lifestyle and his legendary sexual prowess with women. Among his spouses were two of the richest women in the world.
Cheryl Lynn Holdridge was an American actress, best known as an original cast member of The Mickey Mouse Club.
Alice White was an American film actress. Her career spanned late silent films and early sound films.
Gottfried Alexander Maximilian Walter Kurt Freiherr von Cramm, was a German amateur tennis champion who won the French Open twice. He was ranked number 2 in the world in 1934 and 1936, and number 1 in the world in 1937. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1977, an organisation which considers that he is "most remembered for a gallant effort in defeat against Don Budge in the 1937 Interzone Final at Wimbledon".
Prince Igor Nikolayevich Troubetzkoy was a French aristocrat and athlete of Russian descent.
Jennifer Diane Grant is an American actress, the only child of actors Cary Grant and Dyan Cannon. She is best known for roles in the television series Beverly Hills, 90210 and Movie Stars.
Clarence Linden Garnett Ashby III is an American actor and martial artist. He is known for his roles as Johnny Cage in the film adaptation of Mortal Kombat, and as Dr. Brett Cooper on Melrose Place. He is also known for his role as Sheriff Noah Stilinski in the MTV series Teen Wolf (2011-2017).
The Mdivani is a Georgian family. In the West, the best known bearers of this name were the children of General Zakhari Mdivani and his wife Elizabeth. The five siblings fled to Paris after the Soviet invasion of Georgia in 1921, and became known as the "Marrying Mdivanis", as they all married into wealth and fame.
Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story is a 1987 television biographical drama starring Farrah Fawcett. The film chronicles the life of Barbara Hutton, a wealthy but troubled American socialite. Released as both a television movie and a miniseries, the film won a Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Film. Fawcett earned her fifth Golden Globe Award nomination, for Best Actress in a Miniseries of Television Film.
Frederick Joseph McEvoy was an Australian born British multi-discipline sportsman and socialite. He had most sporting success as a bobsledder in the late 1930s, winning several medals including three golds at the FIBT World Championships. He married several wealthy heiresses and was a close friend of Errol Flynn. He usually shortened his name to Freddie McEvoy and was nicknamed "Suicide Freddie".
Armgard von Cramm was the mother of Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld, Prince consort of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands.
Margaret "Daisy" Van Alen Bruguiere was an American socialite, art collector and the niece of Frederick Vanderbilt. From the 1940s until her death, she was the leader of the social scene in Newport, Rhode Island.
Lady Hutton is a former luxury yacht built in 1924 at Friedrich Krupp Germaniawerft in Kiel, Germany. She has now been converted to a hotel and restaurant ship, riding at anchor at the Riddarholmen in Stockholm since 1982. In addition to its size and proximity to the old city, much of her fame is tied to Barbara Hutton, for whom the ship is named.