Gertrude Sanford Legendre
|Gertrude Sanford Legendre|
Gertrude Sanford (William Orpen, 1922)
|Born||Gertrude Ellen Sanford
29 March 1902
Aiken, South Carolina
|Died||8 March 2000
Berkeley County, South Carolina
|Known for||Hunter, spy, socialite|
|Spouse(s)||Sidney J. Legendre
Gertrude Sanford Legendre (1902–2000) was an American socialite who served as a spy during World War II. She was also a noted explorer, big-game hunter, environmentalist, and owner of Medway plantation in South Carolina.
Born in Aiken, South Carolina, she was the daughter of New York rug magnate and member of the United States House of Representatives from New York's 20th congressional district, John Sanford (1851), and the granddaughter of Sarah Jane Cochrane (1830–1901) and Stephen Sanford (1826–1913), an American businessman and president and CEO of the Bigelow-Sanford Carpet Company, who also served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from New York's 18th congressional district.
She was also the daughter of Ethel Sanford, the daughter of Gertrude Ellen Dupuy and the Hon. Henry Shelton Sanford, an accomplished diplomat and successful businessman and the founder of Sanford, Florida.
During World War II, Legendre worked for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), essentially as a spy. She was the first American woman captured on the western front in France by the Germans. Legendre was held as a prisoner of war for six months and then escaped into Switzerland.
She spent 1923 to 1929 travelling the world as a big-game hunter in South Africa, Canada, and Alaska.
Shortly after exploring Abyssinia for the American Museum of Natural History as part of the Sanford-Legendre Abyssinia Expedition, Gertrude Sanford married the expedition's co-leader Sidney J. Legendre on 17 September 1929; he died in 1948. They had two daughters, Bokara and Landine. Landine was married to Peter Manigault, chairman of The Evening Post Publishing Company in Charleston, South Carolina.
Katharine Hepburn’s character of Linda Seton in the 1938 version of Holiday was loosely based on her. She lived to be 97 and wrote two autobiographies, one in 1948 and another in 1987. Regarding the trajectory of her life, she once said, "I don't contemplate life. I live it.".
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- Sanford Historical Society, "General Henry S. Sanford." http://sanfordhistory.tripod.com/id18.html
- Shavit, David (1990). The United States in Asia: a historical dictionary. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 300. ISBN 0-313-26788-X.
- "Gertrude Sanford, Explorer, To Marry" The New York Times, 20 August 1929
- A Life Less Ordinary: The Legendary Adventures of Lowcountry Socialite Gertrude Legendre, Charleston Magazine, October 2005, pp. 70-74.
- Nemy, Enid (March 13, 2000). "Gertrude Sanford Legendre, 97, Socialite Turned Hunter and Prisoner of War". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
- Deadly prose - Salon.com