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Evelyn Nesbit

February 15, 2010

That’s right, Evelyn. She was, to my knowledge, the very first bombshell, the Florodora girl who famously got herself involved (at the scandalous age of 16) with the much, much older architect Stanford White, then dated John Barrymore, then married millionaire Harry K. Thaw, who killed White during a crowded theater performance (by shooting him in the face!). That’s the abbreviated version, but I imagine anyone reading this knows all about it. If you don’t, you can start here and here, and then get the full story here or any number of other places.

Evelyn’s beauty became legendary (she was said to be the inspiration and model for Charles Dana Gibson’s Gibson Girls, and was Lucy Maud Montgomery’s model for her character Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables), and she was still very young when her husband killed her old boyfriend (yes, she testified that he raped her, but she also said that he was the only man she ever loved) and kicked off the very first “trial of the century.”

This “video” (still photos of Evelyn and the men in her life set to a Scott Joplin tune) was posted to YouTube by the author of the book I linked to above, American Eve.

You can find several fictional accounts of the sensational story, notably E. L. Doctorow’s Ragtime (the book, the movie or the musical – I can personally vouch for the musical being enjoyable) or the 1955 movie starring another beauty, Joan Collins, The Girl In the Red Velvet Swing, linked in its entirety below.

Interesting side note: here is a picture of Joan Collins sitting with Evelyn herself during the filming of the movie, on which Evelyn served as technical advisor. Joan looks slightly uncomfortable, and strangely, Evelyn looks like Minnie Pearl on her way to church. I have a million questions about this picture.

From the cast of Ragtime, The Crime of The Century

From 1903, Scott Joplin’s Weeping Willow Rag; this would have been popular at about the time she was just getting involved with Harry Thaw.


Evelyn died in 1967 and was buried in Culver City California’s Holy Cross Cemetery.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 23, 2010 12:58 am

    There is something about Evelyn… I like this photo of her when she was a little bit older.

  2. Dane permalink
    February 23, 2010 1:27 am

    She’s one of my favorite historic figures. Such a fascinating life. That’s a great photo – it’s not easy to find pictures of her in her 20s or older. She was very stylish, and prettier, I think – she had a more interesting face by then.

  3. Sharon H permalink
    March 15, 2010 9:31 pm

    Funny I read this in your blog…I just re-watched THE GIRL IN THE RED VELVET SWING about a month ago!
    The photo of her and Joan Collins frightened me. Why would a formerly glamourous lady get all dressed up for the Grand Ole Opry like that?!

    • Dane permalink
      March 23, 2010 9:15 pm

      It’s such a good movie! And I know, I will never understand how such a sharp-minded fashion plate could turn into that!

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