Madeleine Astor

J

Jillynn Grow

Guest
I will be Madeline Astor in a titanic exhibition. It will be an improvisational dialogue with with the exhibit patrons. I have been researching my character all over the place since it is completely unscripted. I would be most grateful for any trivia and/or info you have about her prior to the sinking of the Titanic. I would be most interested in her hobby's, interests, nature ECT..

Thanks,
Jillynn
 
R

Randy Bryan Bigham

Member
Jillynn,

I am not an expert per se on Madeleine but as I am a collector of turn-of-the-century magazines and newspapers, I've been privy to some nice images and articles on this rather tragic figure.

As you know from her profile here on ET she was very young on Titanic. And as she was really a quite minor debutante there wasn't a great deal of press attention paid her before she was spied by a newly divorced JJ, supposedly at a party at his home, thus beginning their courtship. That would have been in the summer of 1911.

Madeleine was an expert horsewoman, as most society girls here and abroad would have then found advantageous. After the Titanic disaster she was always out riding alone or with friends. I have at least 6 photos of her post-Titanic on the bridle path.

I have the impression she was shy, though not introverted, for she loved to dance, according to "Vogue," and was in fact at one time a patroness of a society dance club called the de Vingt in New York.

She was often photographed at Newport strolling the shores with friends and I've found columns mentioning her participation in charity bazaars, one in particular in 1915 when her candy-selling booth was set up next to a booth presided over by a sharer in Titanic sorrow, Mrs. George Widener.

I have a magazine picture, too, of Madeleine getting into her car following a rehearsal for her summer wedding to William Dick in 1916, he being described in the caption as "her sweetheart of early schooldays at Bar Harbor." In this picture she wears a dark hat with a striped band round the crown, a light gauze or muslin blouse with a loose, polka-dotted scarf tied under the open lapels.

It is interesting to note that in her 1911-12 honeymoon photos with the Colonel, Madeleine is wearing black & white striped combinations. Which leads one to imagine she was partial to the effect.

Perhaps a good way to feel "in character" for your role is to wear the black and white she obviously favored. She also in all her pictures looks a bit sad or meditative.

I hope these musings may give some indication of her personality.

I will be happy to share copies of my pictures of Madeleine Astor, if you think that will help you get an idea of her for your performance. My email is [email protected].

Break the everlasting leg,

Randy
 
K

Kathy Bruce

Member
Hello

Interesting about the Madeline, I'm just wondering I'm very interested into the Astor's and I'm just wondering I would love to see the copies, if you wouldn't mind. My email address is [email protected]

Kathy
 
B

Beverly J. Crowder

Member
I found it rather ironic that the US inquirely was held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, that was part owned by JJ Astor. Kinda freaky huh?


Beverly
 
D

Daniel Rosenshine

Guest
There's an article about the Astor houses and a bit on the family in the Winter 2000 "Titanic Commutator."

Daniel.
 
K

Kathy Bruce

Member
Hello

I have a question to ask is there any photos of Madeline Astor parents and her two other sons from her other marriage?


Kathy
 
R

Randy Bryan Bigham

Member
Kathy,

I have a picture of Madeleine and JJ's son, taken when he was about 3 years old. I haven't seen pictures of the Forces.

All,

Also, as to other pictures of Madeleine, I had one which I gave to Don Lynch years ago, showing her in mourning attire walking on 5th Ave. This image was used in the A&E documentary. It was taken from one of my old Vogues, I think from late 1912.

Randy
 
D

Darren Honeycutt

Member
I was reading where John Jacob's wife Madeline had owned a plantation in Aiken, SC. From what I understand there was a fire. I was wondering if she rebuilt and is her plantation still in existance?
 
Phillip Gowan

Phillip Gowan

RIP
Hey Darren,
I'm not absolutely sure on this one and need to do some investigation--but I'm thinking that she had just been to Aiken to deal with the aftermath of the fire and then headed on down to her home in Florida and died very shortly thereafter. She apparently still owned the property at the time of her death and it would have passed to her sons by W.K. Dick. One of them settled near Charleston, SC but I've never seen anything indicating that they rebuilt in Aiken. That will bear some futher scrutiny--am about 2.5 hours from Aiken--maybe Meister and I can make a run over one Saturday and see what we can find out. For obvious reasons I'm particularly interested in South Carolina connections to Titanic.

Phil
 
B

Brian Meister

Member
Hey Phil,

I am in on the trip to locate the Astor
Southern mansion. Should be a lot of infor-
mation down there.
Let me know when.

Brian
 
Tracy Smith

Tracy Smith

Member
Let me know what you guys find out...I'm interested in the SC connection as well.
 
M

Mac Smith

Guest
This is a double post - it originated on the L. Duff-Gordon thread, but should be over here also as it relates to the unsinkable Madeleine Astor - Mac Smith

Speaking of Titanic divas to whom men cling in times of bad weather - here in Maine we are going to get our fourth snow storm this week tonight, and already there are 3-foot snowdrifts along the roads, making pulling out from a stop sign deadly. It is cold and miserable, and January is only half over, not to mention February.

This is when I turn to Madeleine Astor. In Maine, Bar Harbor symbolizes the beauty of summer, and to me, Madeleine Force Astor symbolizes Bar Harbor. It was here that J. J. Astor IV met his second wife while she played tennis on the courts at the Kebo country club. After her marriage the local papers were vicious in their items concerning Col. and Mrs. Astor:

"THE ASTOR-FORCE CASE AGAIN

For it's off with the old love, and on with the new;

Divorces are easy and we all draw a few.

The lady is "cute," and she's only eighteen,

But whether the new Force'll hold him is yet to be seen." (1911 Bar Harbor newspaper)

Boarding the Titanic, stewardess Violet Jessop commented on how sad Mrs. Astor looked (can't find the clipping), making Ms. Jessop reflect that she was glad she had not married for money the one chance she had had.

The sadness of Mrs. Astor upon entering the Titanic (smacking of the character "Rose" in the 1997 movie "Titanic") is not surprising because, with all the viciousness that she had felt because of the wedding (including a huge social snub at she and J.J.'s first big party they planned in New York in January 1912, I believe), Madeleine knew that she was headed back into the lion's den, at the
beginning of the social season, five months pregnant. (She must have been showing by then.) If the public and the press had been this bad thus far, imagine what she would hear when she and her husband arrived in America on the Titanic.

That did not happen, but that summer she returned to Bar Harbor.

She started off slow, following dictates of mourning, except that she would not wear black, her mother announced.

In 1916 she married William Dick. At the time of her marriage a local paper wrote about her time since the loss of her first husband:

"Bar Harbor has been largely devoted to dancing for the past few seasons, and at the regular dances at the Swimming club, the Malvern, and various other places where society gathers, she was generally to be found. In fact, after an extremely quiet period after the Titanic disaster, it seemed that when convention and her own wishes allowed, she inteneded to make up for the gloomy years that she had spent after the ocean tragedy."

The articles also says "Last summer she was the acknowledged leader of society, and both the Swimming club and the Kebo golf club were almost daily visited by her."

Madeleine arranged impromptu picnics at Echo Lake, where she burned her finger while broiling chops over an open fire, as well as many other last-minute picnics and other social activities, at which Mr. Dick was often in attendance but not "with" Mrs. Astor.

"Before her marriage to Col. Astor, the Forces have been coming to Bar Harbor for many years, and she and her sister had grown up here. They had a small cottage in an unfashionable locality, entertained very modestly, and had rather a modest place in fashion's whirl here. Her marriage to Col. Astor, whom she won solely by her beauty and charm, at once placed her in a position to dictate to the
resort here and families who would have gladly snubbed her as plain Madeleine Force, were forced to recognize her unquestioned social leadership as Mrs. John Jacob Astor and mother of the heir to the Astor millions. Since her marriage, her social position has been unquestioned here."

Madeleine Talmadge Force Astor Dick Fiermonte, 90 years later you still rock my cold winter world. You go, girl!!!

Mac Smith
 
A

Andrew Pascale

Member
Hi guys. I was just wondering..... I read this article by Phil Gowan on the website titanic-titanic.com--

"Probably Mrs. Astor was wearing an evening gown - of course she would have had to dress for a dinner on a boat like Titanic... They said she had on only a raincoat, but I doubt that. .."
A man named A.J. Dickinson said that.

I watched Ghosts of the Abyss a few days ago and was inspired when i saw the scene where Madeleine was put into the boat. In the movie she is only wearing an evening gown. I'm a bit confused on what i should be making her wear. Any suggestions?

Thanks
Andy
 
V

Vitezslav Ivicic

Member
I have also seen that seen in Ghosts of the Abbys and I was wondered if she was really wearing evening gown only. She was in "delicate condition" so I think she should wear more clothes. And I was also wondered about her armpits. You could see she had shaved armpits but I heard that shaved armpits in the Titanic era were vulgar. But in cutted scenes of Cameron`s Titanic she had also a coat. I can send you the photo if you want.
 
Shelley Dziedzic

Shelley Dziedzic

Member
The custom of shaving armpits for women is an interesting topic. Lots of early cultures from Egyptians to Greeks prized body hairlessness, but it seems like 1915 was the first year it became a must for women of that era to shave their underarms. It may relate to the moving pictures -Theda Bara appeared shaved that year in Cleopatra, as well as ladies' magazines in May (Harper's Bazaar) showing smooth pits. Prostitutes had the reputation of unshaven armpits also, and with the shorter fashions and more exposed skin which was to follow the Victorian period, it probably just looked nicer. I expect Mrs. Astor would have shaved- she was very athletic, bathing, tennis, horseback riding and such, and was probably keeping up with the trends before the multitudes copied them.
 
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