Brooke Astor

Brooke Astor

American socialite and philanthropist
Date of Birth: 30.03.1902
Country: USA

Content:
  1. Biography of Brooke Astor
  2. Early Life
  3. First Marriage and Divorce
  4. Second Marriage
  5. Later Life and Legacy

Biography of Brooke Astor

Brooke Astor, an American socialite and philanthropist, was the chairwoman of the Vincent Astor Foundation, established by her third husband Vincent Astor, the son of John Jacob Astor IV and the great-grandson of one of America's first multimillionaires, John Jacob Astor.

Brooke Astor

Early Life

Brooke Russell was born on March 30, 1902, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA. She was the only child of John Henry Russell Jr., the 16th Commandant of the Marine Corps, and his wife Mabel Cecil Hornby Howard. Her paternal grandfather, John Henry Russell, held the rank of Rear Admiral in the United States Navy. She was named after her maternal grandmother, Roberta Trail Brooke McGill Howard, and was known by her friends and family as Bobby. Due to her father's career, Brooke spent much of her childhood in China, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and other places. In 1919, she briefly attended the Madeira School but ultimately graduated from the Holton-Arms School for girls.

Brooke Astor

First Marriage and Divorce

At the age of 17, Brooke married John Dryden Kuser on April 26, 1919, in Washington, D.C. Her first husband was the son of financier and environmental conservationist Anthony Rudolph Kuser and the grandson of U.S. Senator John F. Dryden, who later became a member of the New Jersey Republican Party and served in the state legislature and as a senator. Reflecting on her turbulent first marriage, Brooke succinctly stated, "The worst years of my life." Her husband subjected her to physical abuse, alcoholism, and infidelity. According to one source, while she was six months pregnant, Brooke received such a strong blow from her husband during a family argument that her jaw was broken. Faced with such treatment, Brooke told The New York Times, "I found out about the dreadful manners in my first husband's family... They had no notion how to treat people." However, it was Dryden who initiated the divorce. He began to restrict her involvement in public activities, claimed to no longer love her, and deemed their marriage a failure. Their son, Anthony Dryden Kuser, was born in 1924, and on February 15, 1930, after Dryden's successful 1929 Senate campaign in New Jersey, Brooke filed for divorce.

Brooke Astor

Second Marriage

In 1932, Brooke married Charles Henry "Buddy" Marshall, a senior partner at the investment firm Butler, Herrick & Marshall and a descendant of James Lenox, the founder of the Lenox Library. Happy in her second marriage, Brooke raised Marshall's two children, Peter and Helen Huntington, as her own. In 1942, their 18-year-old son, Anthony Dryden Kuser, changed his last name to Marshall, although he was not formally adopted by Charles. Brooke Marshall worked as the editor of "House & Garden" magazine for eight years and briefly served at the "Ruby Ross Wood" company. Eleven months after Charles Marshall's death, she married Vincent Astor, the chairman of "Newsweek" magazine. Reflecting on her third husband, Brooke said, "He had a terrible childhood, which led to deep moments of melancholy... But I believed I could make him happy. This is what I decided to do. I literally danced with his dogs, sang, played the piano, and made him laugh, something no one had ever done before. Because of his money, Vincent was a very distrustful person. That's what I tried to cure him of." During their marriage from 1953 to 1959, Brooke, who referred to her husband as "Captain," participated in his business empire and charitable endeavors. Although she received marriage proposals after his death, she decided not to remarry. Despite the dissolution of the Vincent Astor Foundation in 1997, Brooke remained actively involved in philanthropy and the social life of New York City.

Brooke Astor

Later Life and Legacy

Brooke Astor passed away on August 13, 2007, at the age of 105, from pneumonia at her home in New York City. She chose the epitaph "I have had a wonderful life" for her tombstone. In addition to her philanthropic work, Brooke was a novelist and authored two volumes of memoirs.

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