The "Astor baby" John Jacob Astor VI


Jayne Rantall

Hi. Does anyone know anything about Madeline Astor's child? I would be very grateful for any info. Thanks!

The "Astor baby" was born to Madeleine in New York as John Jacob Astor, VI, on August 14, 1912. Later, due to a tiff with other family members (and the fact that his mother left him only some scant pieces of jewelry in her will), he simply used the name "John Astor." He was never really employed in a particular job but lived off investments made with the family money. He married first to Ellen Tuck in 1934 and after a divorce he married Gertrude Gretsch. They too divorced and Gertrude remarried and just died in 1999 (she was the final survivor of his three wives). Then he married Sue Sandford and remained married to her until she died. He lived out his last years in Miami Beach, Florida at 3115 Pine Tree Drive and died there on June 26, 1992 at the age of 79.

He had two children, a son and a daughter (William and Jackie) and there are three grandchildren
as well who still live in Manhattan and elsewhere.

In his teens he was tall and lanky and photos I have of him then show him to be a normal looking
adolescent (better looking than most of the other Astors--he didn't seem to have that harsh
countenance that his father and half-sister had). But by the time he was in his 20's he had gotten fat and remained a very large man the rest of his life. In later photos of him he is wearing horn-rimmed glasses and does look more like the Astors.

He had two half-brothers thru his mother's later marriage to William Karl Dick--one of them is still living in suburban Charleston, South Carolina.

After John Astor died his body was taken back to Trinity Cemetery/Mausoleum in New York for

I hope this is some of what you wanted to know.


I have some pictures of Vincent Astor in his teens and 20s and he, as you know, was very good looking. He must have gotten his softer, or at least more regular, features from his extraordinarily beautiful mother Ava, of whom I also have several portraits. If there was ever a case of a woman getting more attractive as she aged, it was definitely Ava Astor.

Hey Randy,
I have some "never-before-seen-outside-the-family" photos of Vincent as well--3 or 4 of them when he was in the 20-30 age range and you are right that he didn't seem to inherit the harsh look. Ava Alice Muriel Astor Obolensky Rachmaninoff :)-)) Harding Pleydell-Bouverie really looked rough--(though she was a fairly pretty child)--when she was middle-aged (she didn't live to be old-54 I think). Vince was very tall like his father and resembled him but the Willing genes must have softened the blow. I personally don't think Madeleine was a beauty either. Vince's third wife ("Pookie") was a goodlooking woman but of course she is only an Astor by marriage. She must be about 99 now and from all I've ever read about her, she is the classiest of all the "Mrs. Astors." I read an article about her a few years ago which really was a nice bio type assessment of her life. Some poor woman had recently done her a favor of some sort and Pookie got her address, made some cookies herself, and had her chauffeur take her to the woman's house in a poor part of the Bronx. Pookie personally gave the cookies to the woman and spent the better part of the afternoon visiting with her-- while the chauffeur waited outside--gawked at in a neighborhood that never dreamed of such a presence.


Great story. Pookie must be a real lady.

And aren't you the one - hobnobbing with the Astors! I'll say!

Was it the FBI badge that got their attention or just your own smooth talking? Hmmm...

Hi, Randy!

I'll bet Phil's investigative background forces him to go into his "Joe Friday" mode when he contacts these survivor families in person.

(Family member): "Mr. Gowan, before we start discussing my father would you like some cookies and...."

(Phil): "Just the facts, Ma'am -- just the facts." :)

I wonder if Phil ever changes the names to protect the innocent? :)

All my best,


Tracy Smith

Maybe I just don't have any taste, but I've always thought that JJ Astor was a handsome man.
(Of course, I'm visualising him with an updated hairstyle; that old fashioined slicked down hair doesn't quite get it).

I agree, however, that Madeleine was merely average looking, but I'm sure she had other redeeming qualities.

Actually, I think time and plenty of money helped Madeleine improve her appearance as she aged. The Titanic period photos do not do her justice in my opinion. She was only 19 - a factor I think J.J. found more appealing.

J.J. clearly detested Ava - who constantly hounded him, and in many instances, publicly embarrassed him.

The Astor tales are fascinating and scandalous. A new book is soon to hit the bookshelves on the Titanic and its connection to Newport, Rhode Island. The Astor troubles paled in comparison to the scandals that rocked the Carter and J. Clinch Smith families. Tales of love triangles, suicides etc.

Now who said the first-class had it so good?



Jayne Rantall

Hey everyone, thanks for al your replies, I am sooooooooo grateful for them. Yes, Andrew, could you please e-mail me with more info, anyone else may also e-mail me, as long as it is about 'Titanic' only.

Tracy Smith

People then were just as human as we are today. I know a lot of people get it in their minds that people years ago were, for the most part, a bunch of goody-goodies who never strayed from the straight and narrow...

So far as Madeleine goes, there wasn't anything "wrong" with her appearance when she was married to JJ; she just simply wasn't glamorous. Perhaps JJ found that refreshing.

Mark Pidgeley

Hi Darren,

Firstly, yes there is a spell checker here. I have come across it before, but for the life of me, I can't remember where. Not a lot of help I know-try looking in your profile or options, somewhere near the bottom of the page is a spellchecker box you need to tick.

Secondly about the Astors-here's the webpage-I think it should be of some help.

http://www.astors-be html


While my mind is on the Astor family, I thought I would share an article I found in an old newspaper I found at an antique shop.Here is the article that was in the New York American dated November 14, 1911- GREAT ARRAY OF GOWNS AND GEMS- Society Gets First Chance at Opera To Look Over The Season's New Leaders
By Cholly Knickerbocker.
In a blaze of social glory the Metropolitan Opera House began its season last night and also that of New York's fashionable world as well. The opera "premiere" is always quite as much of a society event as it is musical, and while the "400" listened spellbound to Caruso's "Celeste Aida",applauded Emmy Destinn again and again, welcomed Matzenauer as a great "Amneris" and enthused over Amate and the other members of the star cast, still they had eyes for one another, time to see the new faces and the display of dresses and jewels, for it was the first gathering together of the social clans, the first appearance of the Winter of the leaders of the smart set in all their wonderful array of gems and gowns. The scene was a gorgeous one, which only a painter like Pierre Loti could describe, only such a wizard of color as Gerome, picture. Who was there? you ask. Everybody, the Astors, the Millses, the Vanderbilts, Goelets, Whitneys, Gerrys, Warrens, all those with whose society conjures were on hand, and every box in the great golden horseshoe glistened with gems and gold. True, we have no crowned heads, but there were few in the charmed circle uncrowned last night, and such tiaras as were on view, such coronets, headdresses of different kinds! And the chains of diamonds and ropes of pearls, the jewelled necklaces and stomachers! Kings' ransoms they would have paid over and over again, for their united value would be almost impossible to compute.MRS. ASTOR LOOKS GIRLISH. Interest was naturally centred in Mrs. John Jacob Astor, Colonel Astor's bride, who had her sister, Miss Katherine Force, and Miss Edith Starr Miller with her. Colonel Astor was also in the party. Mrs. Astor looked charming and very girlish, I should add, in her simply-made gown of white satin, with a crystal net forming part of the bodice and sleeves, on which bands of sable lent a bit of dark color. She wore a band of silver lace around her hair, with a silver brush aigrette at one side, and a superb diamond necklace. Miss Force was in white satin and tulle. Miss Starr Miller was in vivid rose satin and chiffon. Mrs. August Belmont had Mrs. August Belmont, Jr. with her and wore turquoise satin with a single rose on her bodice. Her ornaments were pearls. Mrs. August Belmont, Jr. wore a pale pink velvet veiled with smoke lace and roses. Mr and Mrs. William Kissam Vanderbilt, in box 6, had Mrs. Vanderbil's son-in-law and daughter, Mr and Mrs. Ogden Livingston Mills, with them. Mrs. Vanderbilt was in white satin with gray embroidery, and wore a pearl band around her hair and an aigrette. Mrs. Mills was in cerise velvet with clouds of gray tulle on the bodice. She wore long diamond earrings and a diamond collar fastened with a bow-knot of diamonds at one side. She also wore a string of superb pearls and a gardenia on her bodice. Mrs. George F. Baker had her daughter, Mrs. W. Goadby Loew with her. Mrs. Baker wore custard satin with Venetian lace and diamond ornaments. Mrs. Loew was in royal purple velvet, with bodice of white lace, and wore diamonds. In her hair was a white aigrette. Mrs. F. Egerton Webb and Mrs. James Speyer were together, the former in in white crystal lace and diamonds and Mrs. Speyer in black velvet and white lace with black tulle. She wore a diamond bow knot and diamonds in her hair. Mrs. Ogden Mills had her sister Ms. Cavendish Bentinck, with her in box 20, Mrs. Mills wore a gray-blue velvet, with a high tiara of diamonds and diamond collar, while Mrs. Bentinck was in black velvet with a collar of diamonds over black velvet and a diamond tiara.