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Mrs. George D. Widener, later Mrs. John Hamilton Rice, apparently continued in her public life of society to-dos and charities following the Titanic disaster. I just came on several articles in "Vogue" and "Harper's Bazaar" from the mid to late teens referencing her activities.

One, in which the high life of Palm Beach is spotlighted, focuses particularly on the beauty of the jewels worn by ladies dining at Bradley's, the resort's most chic restaurant:

("Mondaines and Modes at Palm Beach: At the Monte Carlo of America the Fashionable World Makes Merry for Charity and Pleasure," Vogue, 1 April 1916, p52ff)

"...Even as one sits on the gallery of Ciro's at Monte Carlo and eats his hors d'oeuvres and sips a bit of incomparable wine as he meditates upon the Lucullan feast to follow, so, at Bradley's, the most Continental restaurant of this continent, he may experience the same emotions, and there is even the same deft Georges, the same maitre d'hotel who once served him at Ciro's, inventing wonderful new dishes in his honor and taking his order even as formerly by the turquoise Mediterranean. No such dinners are given anywhere in all America as those at Bradley's, and as the space there is not without limits, there is always a 'waiting list' outside the vine-screened doors..."

"...At the height of the season, on Saturday nights, the most beautiful and the most prominent women in America congregate in the cool green and white dining-room, and even the diamond horseshoe of the Metropolitan Opera House cannot present such an array of diamonds as here dazzles the eyes. As for pearls, Monte Carlo itself, it would seem, could show no more wonderful ones. Probably the most exquisite and valuable ones are those worn by Mrs. John Hamilton Rice, the former Mrs. George Widener, and those of Mrs. Edward T. Stotesbury..."

"...The Quaker City surpasses New York this season, as far as jewels are concerned, for Mrs. Rice, Mrs. Stotesbury, Mrs. Barclay H. Warburton, and Mrs. L. Harrison Dulles all have notable collections..."

There's another Titanic connection in this article. The Vincent Astors are photographed at Lake Worth with their yacht "Noma" in the background. The caption says "they will spend the spring crusing among the West Indies..."

One might say these people led a charmed existence but that would really only be true if one doesn't count the terrible part Titanic played in their lives.
 
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Hello Randy, Did you ever see the moving film footage of Mrs Rice and her husband during one of their frequent trips into previously practically unchartered territory? There was a television programme on some years ago containing footage - Eleanor surely was an interesting lady! First time I've seen one in jungle attire topped off with a picture hat! On one trip they had to run for their lives from head hunting "locals"!

Regards

Geoff
 

George Behe

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>On one trip they had to run for their lives from >head hunting "locals"!

Yes, those Liverpudlians can be pretty ferocious. :)

Where did you see the film footage of Mrs. Rice, Geoff?

You know, it might be interesting to compile a short list of moving picture footage that shows Titanic passengers and crewmen (aside from the widely-known Blackhawk Films Titanic newsreel footage, that is.) I know of a very brief film clip which shows Theodore Roosevelt and -- for one or two precious seconds -- Major Archibald Butt in the background.

Any others?

All my best,

George
 
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Hi George, It was one of those old "early explorer" type films on t.v. They did a series years ago with Livingston/Stanley etc. plus this short footage of the Rice couple. If my memory serves me, there was a very brief article in one of the t.v. magazines to accompany it which made reference to Eleanor having been on the Titanic - there was no mention of it during the documentary, simply referred to her as "the former Mrs Widener".

Geoff
 

Kyrila Scully

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Randy, as I live in West Palm Beach, I would be very interested in seeing this article and locating some of the places it may describe. I would be happy to exchange any information pertaining to your research that I can do the footwork here in town for you.
 
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Geoff,

No I haven't seen that film but would love to! Eleanor is already a favorite with me. As to her safari outfit with picture hat - I am getting visions of Mrs. Howell on Gilligan's Island!

Kyrila,

The places mentioned in the article aside from Bradley's and Lake Worth are: the Breakers, the Poinciana Palm Room, Cocoanut Grove, the Garden Grill, and the Sailfish Club. By the way, it mentions that Bradley's was what the "in" crowd called the Beach Club.

As we've been speaking of films - I note in this piece that a 7 reel movie called "The Isle of Happiness" and starring Billie Burke was being shot in West Palm Beach that spring of 1916. It mentions that many society ladies took small parts and that members of "the younger set" danced in some of the scenes. So if this film can be located in the archives we may have even more footage of Mrs. Widener (Rice) and friends.

Randy
 
Dec 7, 2000
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On the subject of footage, I heard that there was 1920's footage of Mrs. Rothschild. There would surely be post 1950's footage of Titanic's survivors, as interest in Titanic grew after 1953 and 1958. Edith Russell gave several interviews in the 1960's, some of them on TV. I've not seen any of these though.

Daniel.
 
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Daniel,

From what I've been able to find out, Edith R was interviewed on British television in 1957, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1970 and 1972 and on German TV in 1962. The 1970 interview (with Sheridan Morley)is the most in-depth and best known. It is available for commercial use through BBC. So far as I know only the audio of it has been used in recent years. The 1962 German TV show is available on VHS. Thanks to Arne Mjaland for info on that. There were also several BBC Radio interviews with her in this time period.

I have not been able to trace it, but people close to "Edy" say a television news crew came to visit her early in 1975, the year of her death. At this time she was, to quote one source, "exceedingly uncooperative" so it's possible the interview was never taped or, if so, was never aired.

Randy
 
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George,

Where is the film that shows Archie Butt??

Geoff and Randy,

I would also like to see film images of Eleanor "Lovie" Widener Rice, particularly if they show her running through the jungle pursued by hostile natives!

Randy,

I'd love to see the unusable footage of an "exceedingly uncooperative" Edith Russell, wouldn't you?

Doug

Doug
 

George Behe

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Hi, Doug!

>Where is the film that shows Archie Butt??

I wish I could tell you, old chap. I saw the (completely unexpected) film clip about fifteen years ago in the middle of a TV documentary about Theodore Roosevelt. If memory serves me correctly (quiet, Geoff!) the film was taken as Roosevelt descended the gangplank in New York following the conclusion of his African hunting expedition.

I'll be sure to let you know if I find out more about it.

All my best,

George
 
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Hi, George!

Archie was there. It's covered in his published letters. He and Taft deliberated over the appropriateness of the sitting President's aid meeting the former President, with whom Taft had become disenfranchised, at the New York pier on his return from Africa. Taft was still trying to repair the rift with his former political mentor, but didn't know quite how to do it without losing the dignity of his office.

My heart breaks for Archie and his dilemma--especially since his upcoming vacation ended the way it did.

I'm sure that if I could watch the existing newsreel footage of Theodore Roosevelt and Wm H. Taft, at least the years 1908-1912, I or you could spot an otherwise unidentified Archie in the background.

Thanks, George!

Regards,
Doug
 
Dec 7, 2000
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Randy,

I bought "A Night To Remember" DVD a couple of days ago, and it has the making of ANTR. There is some footage of Eddy visiting the stets, in fact there was quite a bit of footage of Eddy, it was remarkable seeing her move and laugh!

Daniel.
 
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All,

I was contacted lately by a visitor to this site, David Whitmire, who is conducting research into the life of Eleanor Elkins Widener. It is his hunch that the 1930 Newport Beach photo of Mrs. Widener, which I posted to the new ET image bank, is in fact Jessie Sloane Widener, Eleanor's daughter-in-law.

The caption to the magazine reproduction that I own does state that the lady on the right is "Mrs. George D. Widener." Even taking into account the press' habit of calling Eleanor by her first husband's name after her marriage to Dr. Alexander Hamilton Rice, David feels that there is a good possibility that the caption contains a misattribution.

Corbis.com, which owns a negative of the original image, is looking into their records for confirmation of the identity of the woman pictured.

I thank David for pointing out this likely error. If it should turn out that the lady is not Eleanor Elkins Widener, I will ask Phil to remove the photo or adapt the cutline as he wishes.

Best of luck to David in his research.

Randy
 
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Hey Daniel -

Just caught your post above. Wow. talk about a belated reply. Sorry!

Yes I have that ANTR DVD with "The Making of..." documentary. Great interview with Bill MacQuitty. And those scenes of Edy strolling the decks of Titanic again (or sort of)were fun. What a fantastic smile she had. I think she must have been a real treat - if you were lucky enough to pass her inspection. Don Lynch has told me that she could really test people - Eva Hart being one who had a hard time dealing with her.

Randy
 
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A few more tidbits on Mrs. Widener from the society and fashion columns of "Vogue" magazine.

From the April 1, 1915 issue, in an illustrated article called "America at Palm Beach" (pp. 28-32ff), a gossipy overview of the season is given with sidelights on the comings and goings of the glitterati. The fluffy subheading for the piece says it all:

"... 'If the Mediterranean Be Not Fair for Me, What
Care I How Fair It Be?' Says Society, and Repairs
to Palm Beach to Dance in the Cocoanut Grove, to
Dine at Bradley's and to Flirt Discreetly Everywhere ..."

The writer of this article, who is at pains to inform the reader that he's a coveted part of the elegant activities afoot, follows the chic set from party to party, from restaurant to restaurant, making notes of what they do, what they say, and of course (all importantly!) what they wear.

"Promptly at 12:45 society goes to the colonnade at The Breakers for the aperitif and dance," he tells us and, to back up his claim, proceeds to tick off a series of gilt-edged names - Mrs. Ogden Mills, Mrs. Oliver Harriman, and assorted Vanderbilts and Astors for good measure.

Of the lovely subject of this thread, our fashionable correspondent writes:

"....Mrs. George Widener was in black tulle, cut rather low, and wore a rope of large pearls that fell almost to her waistline; her hat was of black tulle...."

Next we are informed by our elegant guide that "after the aperitif and dance, it is the thing to go over to Bradley's and lunch in the open air and it is here that some of the smartest luncheons are given."

He says that "everyone in society" with their "sunburn and pearls" is seen at Bradley's. However, he cautions us that "unless the magic password is known, the Palm Beach guest will never see the promised land."

Our man in the know assures us that "lunching on Bradley's veranda is wonderfully like lunching on Ciro's terrace," moreover that "nowhere on the whole Riviera are such pretty women to be found as at Palm Beach."

In this rarefied set again we find the resplendent Mrs. W. This time, it's her earrings that are specially described. We're told they were of "large black pearls" as was her necklace. We are even treated to a charming little sketch of Titanic's most elegant widow. She is drawn in profile so as to show her new hairstyle - "a low coiffure with a fringe on her forehead."
 
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Mrs. Widener, wearing her famous pearls in a portrait taken before the trip that changed her life. She must have looked similarly regal on Titanic's fateful last night afloat, when she presided over the supper party in honor of Maj. Archie Butt, an occasion marking the social height of the maiden voyage.

85530.jpg

ELEANOR ELKINS WIDENER
1909
(Randy Bryan Bigham Collection)
 
Mar 20, 2000
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"Mrs. Widener's Pearls" refers to her COLLECTION of pearl jewelry rather than a single piece. She was known for her vast array of exquisite pearl necklaces, earrings, bracelets, etc. (of varying types, sizes and strands).
 
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Not specifically Widener-related but to do with jewellery nevertheless. In what is widely considered to be the standard text on the subject, Hans Nadelhoffer, in his book 'Cartier', mentions that the firm were, by 1912, producing mourning jewellery in diamonds and onyx and that this was handy, because many patrons of Cartier were lost in the sinking of the 'Titanic'. In a footnote, he mentions four by name - Colonel Astor (not surprising), both George and Harry Widener (again, not surprising, particularly in view of Eleanor's penchant for glittery baubles!) and then - intriguingly - Edgar Meyer. Now, Meyer is not as well-known as either Astor or the Wideners - one might say he is a little obscure. Yet he was evidently wealthy enough to patronise a very, very elegant and highly expensive jeweller. Nadelhoffer's research is sometimes a bit creaky - for example, he has Edward VII and Queen Alexandra visiting India in 1906. But I see no reason to doubt the Meyer reference, presumably derived from the firm's order books for the period. Maybe Leila Meyer had a good collection of jewellery too?
 
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