Friday, June 8, 2012

Part XVI: Resort Life, November 1959 - April 1960

Ellen Ordway and Muriel "Molly" Lane Phipps photographed by Mrs. Phipps's daughter Nonie at the Ordways' Villa Bel Tramonto. "Bombay girl marries polo player" read a headline when Muriel Lane married Michael Phipps at Casa Bendita in 1936.
Part XVI: Resort Life, November 1959 - April 1960
Palm Beach

By Augustus Mayhew

By the late 1950s and early 1960s, Palm Beach was a dusk till dawn celebrity playground. The press reported every sneeze inside the Kennedy family compound. The Duchess of Windsor’s Worth Avenue shopping sprees made international news. The Royal Poinciana Playhouse’s opening nights attracted Broadway stars and Hollywood legends who mingled with the resort’s own brew of long-on-name old money swells and mink-wrapped showgirls-turned-socialites.

Following the December 1959 publication of the International Celebrity Register by Earl Blackwell, edited by Cleveland Amory, Blackwell reigned as café society’s most influential arbiter of chic, making the staid Social Register seem as quaint as Elsa Maxwell. By adding fame to society’s gold standards of family and fortune, Mr. Blackwell’s roll call of more than 2,000 personalities became the era’s 400. The following year, Cleveland Amory’s non-fiction mystery Who Killed Society? secured the author’s position as the who’s who teller of whodunit.

Amory’s page-turner could be found in Fifth Avenue penthouses, Santa Barbara ballrooms, St. Moritz’s chalets, and St. Tropez’s clubs, even though the book determined society really wasn’t DOA but its recognizable manners and morals were only evolving, ever-changing. The book’s sub-title was, “The Warfare of Celebrity with Aristocracy — from the “First Families” to the “Four Hundred” to “Publi-ciety.”

Nonetheless, for Ellen and Lou Ordway, despite the surrounding blitz-and-glitz as well as Mr. Amory’s speculative intellectual pursuits, the Palm Beach season revolved around the same familiar faces and private places that had been a part of both their lives for more than 30 years. Except for new family members, the Ordways’ guest lists were made up of friends who shared a common past. In between cruises, fishing trips, and family gatherings, they shuttled between tee times at the Everglades Club and Seminole Golf Club, casual poolside luncheons, family celebrations, and at-home black-tie dinners. Here are some of Ellen Ordway’s images and excerpts of Palm Beach life from her perspective as the nation began the “Start of a New Era.”

November 1959 – April 1960
Villa Bel Tramonto

“Dinner for the latest Palm Beach bride ... Dawn Soles and George Coleman are married.”
Lou Ordway seated at the head of the dinner table, celebrating George and Dawn Coleman's marriage. An Oklahoma mining and oil tycoon, George Coleman (1912-1997) was chairman and president of the First National Bank of Miami, as well as, and most importantly, a passionate golfer and sportsman. Mr. Coleman was formerly married to Elizabeth Fullerton whose third husband was the Duke of Manchester. Dawn Coleman's ex was Louis Soles, a prominent Santa Barbara businessman. The Colemans lived on North Ocean Boulevard before moving to Hobe Sound.
On the left, Chris Dunphy and Edith Huntington, join other guests at Lou and Ellen Ordway's dinner for the George Colemans.
December 1959

"The Warren Pershings drop by for a drink ... then, dinner in Hobe Sound with Tom Evans."
Above, left: Muriel "Momo" Bache Richards Pershing. Granddaughter of financier Jules Bache, Momo and F. Warren Pershing, the only son of General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing, were married in 1938.

Above, right: F. Warren Pershing (1909-1980). Named for his maternal grandfather, US Senator Francis Warren, in 1915 Mr. Pershing was the only survivor of a tragic fire that claimed the lives of his mother and three sisters. Mr. Pershing was a stockbroker, principal of the Pershing Company. In 1968, his son Richard Warren Pershing was killed in Vietnam.
Ellen Ordway and Lou Ordway.
December 1959

"The Phipps family comes for dinner ..."
Elaine "Nonie" Lane Phipps and Susan "Susie" Grace Phipps.
Mike Phipps, Ethel Roche, and Lou Ordway. Mrs. Roche was the widow of prolific author Arthur Somers Roche. In 1960, two years after his father John S. Phipps died, Mike Phipps and family members sold Casa Bendita and the estate's oceanfront parcel to a developer, keeping the 20-acre parcel west of County Road. On the property between North Lake Way and County Road, he and his wife built a house designed by John Volk, now owned by his daughter Susan Phipps Eigelberger. For an NYSD showcase of the existing Phipps estate and reflections on Casa Bendita, click on Garden Grandeur endures at Casa Phippsberger.
Susie Phipps, Lou Ordway, Nonie Phipps, Ethel Roche, and Mike Phipps.
At table, Molly Phipps, Lou Ordway, Nonie Phipps, and Ethel Roche.
The artichoke is served. Susie Phipps, Molly Phipps, Lou Ordway, and Mike Phipps.
December 1959

"Lessie and Bess Armour come for dinner."
Lester "Lessie" Armour Jr.
Sally Armour and her mother Bessie Armour.
Susan Armour, Sally Armour, and Lester "Red" Armour III.
Villa Bel Tramonto. Christmas, 1959.
Master Lucius Ordway Frazer surveys his domain at the front door of his grandmother's Palm Beach house. Jane Marvel Scott.
Leslie Ordway.
Lois Wickson.
John Ordway.
February 1960
Gladys Agnes "Gaggy" Quentell Reed. Grover Loening. Mr. Loening was the author of Takeoff Into Greatness: How American Aviation Grew So Big So Fast, published in 1968.
Grover Loening, Lucius Ordway, and Verner Z. Reed.
March 1960
Gertrude Legendre and Grover Loening.
Molly Phipps and Diana (Mrs. Harry) Phipps. In 1957, Molly Phipps's nephew Henry "Harry" Ogden Phipps and Diana Sternberg were married in Kingston, Jamaica. Five years later, Mrs. Phipps's husband Harry Phipps was found dead in a New York hotel suite. The cause of death was "narcotism," according to several contemporaneous reports published in the early 1960s. He was the son of Ogden Phipps and his first wife Ruth Pruyn, later Mrs. Marshall Field III. Described by the press as " a Czech noblewoman," Diana Phipps was the daughter of Count and Countess Leopold Sternberg.
Missy Duryea and Archie Peck.
"Final get-together of the season with the Reventlows, Reeds, and Stearns." Court Reventlow, Gladys Reed, and Alice Stearns.
October 1960

"Lulu Balcom's birthday party."
Chris Dunphy and Lulu Balcom.
Chris Dunphy. In 1960, a Sports Illustrated magazine article ("Who are You?") attempted to solve the "mystery surrounding the origins of Chris Dunphy."

At the same time Mr. Dunphy was a ubiquitous presence on the most exclusive golf courses in Palm Beach, Newport, and at The Greenbrier, apparently no one knew anything about his family or from where he came.

According to the SI reporter, Mr. Dunphy was working in a hotel in New Hampshire where Ned McLean was a guest. Impressed by Dunphy's golf game, McLean brought him to Washington to play golf with him and to work as an executive at the Washington Post.

Later, Dunphy worked in the publicity department at Paramount Studios. He was briefly married to Philadelphia socialite Rebecca Thompson. Chris Dunphy was a favored golf partner of the Duke of Windsor and President Kennedy.

In 1975, Dunphy died at Palm Beach, leaving Howell Van Gerbig, the personal representative of his estate.
Lulu Balcom, Ronald Balcom, and Court Reventlow.
Van Johnstone and Edie Huntington.

"The Ilyinskys come for dinner."
Paul "Pauli" Ilyinsky and Audrey Emery. The popular three-time mayor of Palm Beach, Paul Romanov Ilyinsky was the only son of Grand Duke Dmitri, one-time heir to the Russian czardom. Ilyinsky's mother, Cincinnati heiress Audrey Emery, was a double royal from her two marriages, living on El Vedado before moving to South Ocean Boulevard. Her sister Lela Emery, known as the Duchess of Talleyrand, lived at Pavillon Colombe in Paris.
Angelica Kauffmann Ilyinsky. Born in Paris, Mrs. Ilyinsky attended Graham-Eckes School on Palm Beach. She and "Pauli" married in 1952.
Audrey Emery and a casual Paul Ilyinsky.
2 December 1960

"Lou's birthday dinner."
Lou Ordway, Lulu Balcom, and Jack Stearns.
Dorothy Hutton, Tom Shevlin, and Bob Huntington.
Carrie Waterbury, Chris Dunphy, and Dorothy Hutton.
Edie Huntington and Reggie Boardman.
"Lou's birthday dinner."
David Frazer, Ellen Ordway's grandson, photographed with his father's new Polaroid 900.

"Pauli and Angie come for dinner."
Lou Ordway and Paul Ilyinsky. In 1962, Paul and Angie Ilyinsky moved back to Cincinnati for a time when Mr. Ilyinsky was to "manage some family enterprises."
Angelica Ilyinsky.
December 1960

"For the first time in 15 years, the Ordway family is together for Christmas."
Front: Gloria Ordway, Ellen Ordway, Betty Ordway Dunn, and Leslie Ordway.
Peter Ordway, Lucius P. Ordway, Richard Dunn, and John Ordway.
November 1959 – April 1960
Palm Beach Gallery
Edith "Edie" Taylor Huntington (1903-1971). A great-grand of Moses Taylor, considered "among Newport's wealthiest men of the 19th century," Mrs. Huntington was named for her mother Edith Bishop Taylor. Married in 1925, Edie and her husband Robert Dinsmore Huntington were the Ordways' neighbors on Palm Beach, in residence at 300 El Brillo Way.
On board, Edie Huntington.
Robert and Edie Huntington. Mr. Huntington and Lou Ordway served on the Seminole Golf Club board of directors.
E. F. Hutton and his wife Dorothy Dear Hutton were featured in a 1959 article by Aime du Pont where Mr. Hutton "expounds on his beliefs about our national policy." Following Hutton's contentious publicized divorce from serial bride Marjorie Merriweather Post in 1935, Hutton and Dear married the following year. The Huttons' Palm Beach house named Four Winds, designed by Treanor & Fatio, would later become J. Patrick Lannan's showcase for his contemporary art collection.
Melissa (Mrs. Harry Payne) Bingham. Mrs. Bingham's sister Ellen Yuille was married to Wolcott Blair; her sister Nancy married Viscount Adare, the sixth Earl of Dunraven.
Bess McGrath. Ms. McGrath was a friend of the Phipps family.
Nonie Phipps and Bess McGrath. In 1965, Nonie Phipps (1939-1973) married noted orchestra conductor Thomas Schippers (1930-1977). In a series of family tragedies, Nonie's mother Molly died in 1968; Nonie passed away in 1973; three months later, Michael Phipps suffered a heart attack at his North County Road estate and later died.
Loel Guinness and Nonie Phipps. Loel Guinness (1906-1989), "a socialite on several continents" and a member of Parliament, was heir to the banking branch of the Benjamin Guinness family. During the mid-1950s, Mr. Guinness and his third wife Gloria Guinness bought Gemini, the legendary ocean-to-lake estate in Manalapan.
Susan "Susie" Grace Phipps and John Cochran were married in December 1960. Mr. Cochran, a photographer, was the son of Drayton Cochran and Mrs. Winston Frost, the grandson of Princess Hohenlohe-Schillingfurst, and the godson of Michael Phipps, who then became his father-in-law. The Cochrans lived in Oyster Bay. Susie Phipps's second marriage to Michael Santangelo ended in divorce before she wed Robert Eigelberger in 1990.
Ellen Ordway, Peggy Reventlow, and Lou Ordway. Everglades Club.
Peggy Reventlow's sculpture being installed by the Ordway's pool.
Fountain sculpture by Peggy Reventlow.
Sports Illustrated, 1959. Manalapan resident Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt, pictured above, on a Country Club of Florida fairway at the Village of Golf.
Above, left: Mrs. Frederick Melhado, the former Lydia Buhl, later Mrs. Francis B. Farr and Mrs. William Mann, wearing a Florence Lustig gown. In 1989, she and her brother contested their mother's will in highly-publicized court proceedings. Mrs. Mann was the principal benefactor of Pan's Garden at the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach.

Above, right: Everglades Club. Lou and Ellen Ordway.
Mary Duncan Sanford. The ever-likable understated Mrs. Stephen Sanford was a part of Palm Beach's social sanctum for more than 50 years. Sir Cecil Boyd-Rochford, the noted thoroughbred horse race trainer who was HM Queen Elizabeth's royal trainer, and CZ Guest.
Verner and Gladys Reed house, 770 South County Road.
Bob Sweeney, Walter Shirley, and Margaret "Peggy" Scott-Duff. A close friend of Nonie Phipps, Peggy Scott-Duff married Salomon Brothers partner Hans Kertess in 1972.
The always-fashionable Gloria Guinness and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. The Mexican-born Gloria Rubio married Loel Guinness in 1951.
Gloria Guinness. While the circumstances surrounding her death in 1980 remain clouded to some, there is no doubt Gloria Guinness was among the 20th century's best-dressed women of the world.
New Year's Eve 1959-1960
The Coconuts party at Taboo
Guess who? Chris Dunphy? A Palm Beach tradition for more than 40 years, the annual Coconuts party was held on New Year's Eve, having begun as an end of season event given by the resort's most notable bachelors to thank their hosts for the many invitations during the season. Here is a look at Palm Beach artist Vincenzo Zito in a feature I wrote several years ago for The Shiny Sheet. Zito's life was as spirited as his caricatures of island personalities.
Ellen Ordway, Schuyler Parsons, Isabel Dodge Sloane, and Don Newton.
Nonie Phipps, Michael Phipps, and standing right, Lou Ordway.
Ellen Ordway, second from left, and Lou Ordway, far right, with friends at the Coconuts party. One of the few photographs Ellen did not caption.
Yul Brynner, Doris Brynner, Gloria Guinness, and Loel Guinness.
John Fell, Peggy Scott-Duff, and Nonie Phipps.
Newporters dance the night away. Anita Young and Beverley A. Bogert. Along Newport's Cliff Walk, the Bogert family's estate Anglesea was next door to Mrs. Young's cottage Fairholme.
This AP newspaper story reminds us of the era's presidential priorities.
Ellen Ordway's photographs are from the Collection of
Gayle Abrams©.
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