Tommy Manville

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Tommy Manville
Thomas F. Manville Jr.jpg
Maville c.1922
BornApril 9, 1894
DiedOctober 8, 1967(1967-10-08) (aged 73)
Resting place Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, New York
  • Thomas Franklyn Manville (father)

Thomas Franklyn Manville Jr. (April 9, 1894 October 8, 1967) was an American socialite and heir to the Johns-Manville asbestos fortune. He was a celebrity in mid 20th-century Manhattan due to both his inherited wealth and his record-breaking 13 marriages to 11 women, which won him an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records. The termination of his marriages usually resulted in gossip, widespread publicity, and huge cash settlements. [1]



Early life and first wives

The first Mrs. Manville Florence Huber 1st Mrs Thos. F. Manville Jr.jpg
The first Mrs. Manville
Manville (center) at the Stork Club in New York City (1944) Stork-Club-Cub-Room-November-1944.jpg
Manville (center) at the Stork Club in New York City (1944)

Born April 9, 1894, Thomas Franklyn Manville Jr. was the son of the founder and chairman of the Johns-Manville Corporation. His grandfather was Charles B. Manville. [2] Manville stated that he and his father did not get along and that his father repeatedly disinherited him. However, Manville’s father always relented, and Manville received an inheritance after his father’s death. [3] Among other accomplishments, his father Thomas F. Manville became a director of Consolidated National Bank in 1904. [4]

Determined to wed, Manville was 17 years old in 1911 when he met Florence Huber, a chorus girl, under a Broadway marquee. They were married five days later. Manville’s father, who was traveling from Europe to the United States, said he would have the match annulled when he reached New York.[ citation needed ] Manville arranged a second wedding ceremony in New Jersey, tried to have another in Maryland, and said that he would, if necessary, remarry his bride in most of the then-46 states. When his father shut the family treasury against him, Manville took a $15 a week job in the family's Pittsburgh factory in order to get by.[ citation needed ]

Manville’s first marriage lasted 11 years. However, he and his wife separated in 1917, remaining separated until their divorce in April, 1922. He married Lois Arline McCoin, his father's 22-year-old stenographer, in September 1925. The next month, Manville’s father died, leaving him about $10 million of a $50 million estate. In 1926, McCoin charged desertion and received a settlement of $19,000 a year. She died in 1929.[ citation needed ]

Subsequent marriages

Manville soon began describing himself as a "retired businessman," or gave his occupation as "looking after my estate." Manville took 11 wives in 13 marriages. He remarried twice and was divorced from 10 of them a total of 11 times. In May 1931, he married Avonne Taylor, a Follies girl. She had been wed twice before. They separated after 34 days, and were divorced that November.

In October 1933, Manville married Marcelle Edwards, a showgirl. They divorced in October 1937 after a $200,000 settlement.

In November 1941, he married Bonita Edwards, a 22-year-old showgirl. They were divorced in January 1942.

In October 1942 he married Wilhelmma Connelly (Billy) Boze, a 20-year-old actress. They were divorced in February 1943; Miss Boze distinguished herself among Manville's former wives by steadfastly refusing to take any money in settlement.

In August 1943, Manville married Macie Marie (Sunny) Ainsworth. She had been married four times by age 20. They were separated after eight hours and divorced in October 1943.

In December 1945, he married British-born Georgina Campbell. She was killed in an automobile collision in 1952 while driving to have breakfast with her husband at "Bon Repos." "We have been friends," Manville said of his wife at the crash scene.

In July 1952 he married Anita Frances Roddy-Eden. She obtained a Mexican divorce in August, and accepted $100,000 in lieu of alimony.

In May 1957, Manville married his 10th wife, Pat Gaston, a 26-year-old Texas showgirl. They divorced in November of that year.

Manville married his 11th and final wife, 20-year-old Christina Erdlen, in January 1960.[ citation needed ]

Though the record is confused, there were two remarriages among Manville’s first ten marriages.

This extraordinary cycle of marriage and divorce was Manville’s claim to celebrity. He reportedly used marriage as a means of personal publicity. In a story appearing under his name in the American Weekly magazine in 1936, he made sport of his marital propensities and pledged that his next wife would be a blonde—almost any blonde. The next year he took out full-page advertisements in New York newspapers, publicly seeking a new lawyer to represent him in family disputes.[ citation needed ]


He owned the estate "Bon Repos" in the gated waterfront community of Premium Point on Long Island Sound in New Rochelle, New York. [5] While he reveled in the publicity surrounding his marriages, Manville sought privacy on his estate. He equipped it with burglar alarms, peephole doors, armed guards, a public-address system, a radio in every room, and 20 telephones. He called the estate his fortress, and often wore two heavy pistols on his belt.[ citation needed ] In June 1967, while Manville was in Doctors Hospital, three gunmen wearing black masks invaded his estate and stole an undetermined amount of cash, jewelry, furs, and clothing. Manville had been in ill health for several years, and his 11th wife, the former Christina Erdlen, was with him at the hospital when the estate was robbed.[ citation needed ]

Death and legacy

The mausoleum of Thomas Manville in Kensico Cemetery Thomas Manville Mausoleum 2010.JPG
The mausoleum of Thomas Manville in Kensico Cemetery

Manville died on October 8, 1967. [1] [6] His ninth wife Anita Manville wrote a biography, The Wives and Lives of Tommy Manville, which was seen as the inspiration of the camp musical, Lucky Wonderful: 13 Musicals About Tommy Manville by Jackie Curtis. He was probably the model for Gary Cooper's character in the 1938 motion picture Bluebeard's Eighth Wife . Manville is also mentioned in Irving Berlin’s song What Chance Have I with Love ("Tommy Manville's love is not returned/He sells asbestos and he has learned/ That with asbestos he still gets burned") and in many other passing pop-culture references and metaphors.

Manville was considered something of a clown (an image he cultivated with his public persona—part bon vivant, part hapless tool of women), but was also secretly admired by some for his number of conquests and his extravagant bank account. At the time of his death it was estimated that Manville spent more than $1.25 million on divorce settlements. [1]

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 "Tommy Manville Is Dead at 73; Often-Wed Asbestos Millionaire; His 11 Wives, 13 Marriages and 11 Divorces Attracted Wide Public Notice". The New York Times. 9 October 1967. p. 47.
  2. Ingham, John N. (1983). Biographical directory of American business leaders. H-M . ISBN   9780313239083 . Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  3. Tegler, Eric (November 19, 2007). "The Marrying Kind" (PDF). AutoWeek . p. 25.
  4. "Topics in Wall Street", The New York Times , New York City, p. 12, April 16, 1904, retrieved January 19, 2017
  5. "Bon Repos". Life . Vol. 17 no. 25. 18 December 1944. pp. 31–34.
  6. Fox-Sheinwold, Patricia (2000). "Manville, Tommy (1894-1967), wealthy, talked-about playboy". American National Biography. doi:10.1093/anb/9780198606697.article.2000630 . Retrieved 10 February 2021.