Evelyn Nesbit Thaw


Jim Kalafus

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>Wasn't she crazy?

Well...Miss Nesbit, after her star-making turn on the stand at her husband's trial, had a rough half century. After her ca 1915 divorce from Thaw, she operated a club in NYC (Chez Evelyn) did stage and film work without achieving lasting star status in either, became a heroin or morphine addict, went broke, made a suicide attempt and died some time in the 1960s. The only film still of her's that I've seen showed that her looks had coarsened by the 1920s, and in a press photo of her from the mid 1930s she looked eerily like the bedraggled female Lusitnaia survivors in the famous Queenstown groupshot. I wouldn't say 'crazy' about Evelyn Nesbit, but 'troubled' seems appropriate.

Her husband? Indicted for kidnapping and beating a 19 year old male in 1917. 1927 sued by a female nightclub hostess after he allegedly beat her. 1933, a man brought suit after being beaten. Died 1947.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Her husband? Indicted for kidnapping and beating a 19 year old male in 1917. 1927 sued by a female nightclub hostess after he allegedly beat her. 1933, a man brought suit after being beaten. Died 1947.<<

Whew! What a piece of work! I suppose this was one of those chaps where people didn't attend the funeral but the certainly approved of it!
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Mark Baber

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An aside:

4 August 1914: Olympic (Capt. Haddock) makes her first wartime arrival
in New York, escorted to within a few miles of port by the British
cruiser Essex, sent to protect her from possible attack by German
cruisers. Among Olympic's passengers are Evelyn Nesbit Thaw and Mrs.
Stanford White, who are reported to have met several times during the
crossing. (Source: The New York Times, 5 August 1914.)
 

Jim Kalafus

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>Whew! What a piece of work!

Thaw allegedly had a trick in which he would leave money out in the open in his hotel room, summon the bellboy and then hide, and if the kid 'lifted' the money, he would emerge from hiding and basically give the kid the option of prosecution or a severe whipping. Or so claimed Scotland Yard. Evelyn told lurid tales of sadism inflicted upon her at the trial, not to convict her husband but to bolster his insanity defense~ Stanford White was the Beast, who, by Thaw's accounting had despoiled 387 American Virgins, Evelyn included. He had a doting mother who paid his bills, and commissioned perhaps the oddest crime novel of them all, in which her son (under the fictional name of "Daw" I believe) shot the notorious Libertine architect "Black" (not intended to be mistaken for "White," of course) while nobly avenging the honor of his wife. Had a cocaine habit, and a midlife propensity for flogging prostitutes.

All in all, a life of the party sort.
 

Brian Ahern

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Dec 19, 2002
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Harry K. Thaw is definitely a creepy one.

Peter - are you perhaps asking because you caught the PBS special on this love triangle that aired here in the States on Sunday night? It was made about ten years ago, I believe, and was interesting, though it left out the fact of Evelyn having had a son and Harry's going back to prison for the assault on the young man, among other things.
 
Apr 11, 2001
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Ragtime and Girl in the Red Velvet Swing are two good movies you can get from Blockbusters or Netflicks on the topic. Evelyn was quite a dish though-and men will be men. She did have a tiger by the tail in more ways than one.
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May 27, 2007
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"American Eve", Evelyn Thaw and Stanford White "The Birth Of The It Girl and The Crime Of The Century"! Pretty High Falutin' title but it was a good telling of things from Ms. Nesbit Thaw's perspective! Also of the situation she found herself after getting Date Raped or Molested by Stanford White and falling into the clutches of Henry Kendall Thaw and the murder of White plus it's effect on early Twentieth Century America and more importantly Ms. Nesbit-Thaw! She was one of the first to be taken down by the tabloids! Either she was thought of being an innocent or as one ET'er called her an "Opportunistic Whore"! I think the real Evelyn is somewhere in between! I recommend the book because of the Author Paula Uruburu's feel for her subject and that it provides a good look at Evelyn's life and others whose lives intersected her's and it is a fair telling!
 
I wouldn't call her "troubled". I'd more say that if she lived in a trailer park in Kentucky, the police would there every night.

She's a very very interesting figure. Actually, I take that back. The whole White/Nesbitt/Thaw triangle, murder and trial are the really fascinating parts of her life.

Would anyone else agree that it paved the way for the Titanic in the media coverage?

There's a site at the bottom of the Wikipedia article that Jim posted for evelynnesbit.com.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>Would anyone else agree that it paved the way for the Titanic in the media coverage?

Just one of many lurid stories the press went insane over. My own taste in Edwardian Harlots runs towards Nan Patterson, who generated oceans of ink when she shot her 'paramour' Caesar Young, in a closed taxi, en route to the White Star Line pier (he was sailing on the Germanic. She wasn't) as the cab crossed West Broadway. It eerily prefigured Claudine Longet and Spider Sabich... she wept a lot and said that the gun accidentally discharged, and that rumors that Caesar was dumping her were without merit. You can guess what the verdict was.

The "Masseur Murder" was amazingly well covered, too. A "Gentleman's masseur" started bobbing down the East River in relatively minute segments. With every new, gruesome, find the press fever grew.. the NY World helpfully placed a male figure diagram on the cover each day, with 'recovered portions' depicted in black and 'still to be found' in white. "Someone out there knows this man. Someone can identify him. IS IT YOU?" The resolution, when it came, was an anticlimax...

>The whole White/Nesbitt/Thaw triangle, murder and trial are the really fascinating parts of her life.

Her life as a film community heroin addict is pretty interesting, too. And, if you are ever in NYC, swing by (heh) the still-extant West 24th Street building where Stanford White had his grotto of debauchery. It is literally the last structure you'd pick as a landmark in the annals of sin. And, it's two seconds walk to the site of the West 23rd Street murder of Benjamin Nathan (next door neighbor of Edith Wharton ~ both houses survive under ca 1900 business facades) NYSE vice president... an event which, for a time, drew more publicity than Evelyn. It seems that Mr. Nathan MAY have brought home a gentleman suitor who was no gentleman... the press came this close // to saying so, but could not take the plunge and say it outright.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Sad to report, the building collapsed in 2007.

http://therealdeal.com/newyork/articles/tax-foreclosure-looms-at-love-nest-of-illustrious-architect-stanford-white-evelyn-nesbit-juliette-gordon-xspan d

In college, I had reason to be in it quite frequently and in those pre-internet days was frustrated by my inability to pinpoint exactly where the lair of degradation had been. I have subsequently been told that it was on the top floor(s). White's murder site is long gone, replaced in 1926 by the N.Y. Life Insurance Building at Madison and East 26th, but last time I checked, his rather pallid residence in the East 30s was still standing.
 
May 27, 2007
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>>My own taste in Edwardian Harlots runs towards Nan Patterson<<

Indeed. I don't think Nesbit was a harlot, but I think she had a lot of man troubles. Seduced at 14 or sold by her mother and then beat down by henry Thaw who I think obsessed over her endlessly and wore her down until she excepted his marriage proposal. The only thing I think she is guilty of is perjuring herself in court for the promise of money although that might of been because Thaw was her husband. I just get the feeling from reading ""American Eve", Evelyn Thaw and Stanford White "The Birth Of The It Girl and The Crime Of The Century that Nesbit got the short end of the stick
 

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