New York Times

Former Madeleine Force Was Married to Col. Astor, W. K. Dick and Italian Boxer
Gave Up Fortune to Marry Again, Then Got Divorce to Wed Pugilist
PALM BEACH, Fla., Thursday, March 28 (AP)---The household of Mrs. Madeleine Force Astor Fiermonte stated early today that she was dead.

Mrs. Madeleine Force Astor Dick Fiermonte was married three times, and divorced twice.

Her first marriage to Colonel John Jacob Astor, head of the Astor family in this country, was of short duration, ending when he lost his life in the Titanic disaster. Her second union, that with William K. Dick, member of a family whose fortune was made in the sugar refining business, terminated when she divorced him in Reno.

As a woman past 40 she made her third matrimonial venture, becoming the wife of Enzo Fiermonte, then Italian middleweight pugilist, many years her junior. Five years later she divorced him in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Mrs. Fiermonte first came into public notice when, as Miss Madeleine Talmage Force, her engagement to Colonel Astor was rumored. Some months previously Colonel Astor had been divorced by his wife, Mrs. Ava Willing Astor, who subsequently was married to Lord Ribblesdale of England.

Met Colonel Astor as Schoolgirl

Mrs. Fiermonte was a schoolgirl when she first met Colonel Astor at Bar Harbor, Me. The next Winter she made her debut in society. As she and Colonel Astor were often together at dances during that season, many rumors arose coupling their names. The fact that Colonel Astor was one of the richest men in the world, head of one of the most distinguished families in the city and recently divorced, and many years the senior of this hitherto unknown and demure daughter of a New York merchant with Brooklyn family antecedents, naturally caused comment and keen social interest.

It was not until the late Summer of 1911 that their engagement was announced. The announcement was made by Miss Force's father, William H. Force, then head of the forwarding firm of W. H. Force & Co. at 78 Front Street.

Colonel Astor's son Vincent was then about the age of his father's fiancée, and his younger daughter, Alice, was still at school.

Colonel Astor and Miss Force were married on Sept. 9, 1911, at Beechwood, the Colonel's home in Newport, R. I., by the Rev. Joseph Lambert, pastor of the Elmwood Temple Congregational Church of Providence, R. I. By the terms of the decree obtained by Colonel Astor's first wife, he was not permitted to marry in this State except upon amendment of the decree. Just before the marriage it was reported Miss Force signed away her dower rights in a nuptial agreement by which Colonel Astor settled on her the sum of $5,000,000, with further provisions for her in his will.

In January, 1912, Colonel Astor and his bride went to Egypt, and on their return to England, several months later, took passage on the Titanic, bound for New York on her maiden voyage. Then came the great disaster that shocked and saddened the world, when, on the night of April 14, the big liner went down.

Colonel Astor was drowned. His body was recovered and buried in Trinity Cemetery. His widow lived in the Astor mansion on Fifth Avenue until after her child was born, on Aug. 14, 1912. To his posthumous son, John Jacob Astor 3d, a great-great-grandchild of the founder of the Astor fortune, was left a trust fund of $3,000,000 under his father's will. The widow was named as his legal guardian.

In 1918 Mrs. Astor relinquished that historic name and the bulk of her widow's share in the Astor fortune, $5,000,000 as well as the right to occupy the Astor mansion, to become the bride of William K. Dick, which caused another social stir.

Through this match there ran a thread of romance that dated from the early childhood of the two. The friendship of Mr. Dick, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Henry Dick and grandson of William Dick, a pioneer sugar refiner of Williamsburg, a section of Brooklyn, and his bride began when they were children and the Force and Dick families resided in Brooklyn. He was wealthy in his own right, having inherited a portion of his fortune, about $3,000,000, from his grandfather, the sugar refiner.

Married to Mr. Dick in Bar Habor [sic]

They were married on June 22, 1918, in Bar Harbor, Me. Among those at the wedding was the young son of the bride, John Jacob Astor 3d.

After an apparently happy married life with her childhood playmate, by whom she had two sons, Mrs. Dick caused another social sensation when she went to Reno, where an July 2l, 1933, she obtained her divorce. Her name was already linked with that of Enzo Fiermonte, the pugilist.

In September, 1933, she suffered a shoulder fracture when she slipped and fell on a highly polished floor in her home in Bermuda. In November she returned to New York and was taken on her arrival here to the Doctors Hospital.

There, on Nov. 27, 1933, while recovering from her injury, she was married to Mr. Fiermonte in a civil ceremony. Her third husband's age was 26. Present at the ceremony were her three sons, John Jacob Astor 3d and William and John H. Dick. The last two Mr. Fiermonte had taught to box.

In March, 1934, she relinquished her claim on her former husband, William K. Dick, to all her right of dower, in much the same manner as she had relinquished an income from $300,000 and other pecuniary benefits in her first husband's estate.

After five years of married life with the Italian pugilist, which was marked by frequent reports of estrangement and reconciliation, Mrs. Fiermonte received a decree of divorce on June 11, 1938, in West Palm Beach, Fla., on grounds of extreme cruelty.

Related Biographies:

John Jacob Astor
Madeleine Talmage Astor

Relates to Place:


Mark Baber

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