James Paul Donahue, Jr.

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Jimmy Donahue
Born James Paul Donahue, Jr.
Died December 6, 1966
Education High school dropout
Occupation Heir; socialite
Relatives F.W. Woolworth

James Paul Donahue, Jr. (1915—1966),[1] known professionally as Jimmy Donahue,[2][3] was an heir to the Woolworth estate and a noted New York gay socialite.[4][5]

Early life[edit]

Jimmy Donahue was born the second son of James Paul Donahue, an Irish American whose family had made a fortune in the fat rendering business, and Jessie Woolworth Donahue, one of three daughters of Frank Winfield Woolworth, the founder of the Woolworth retail chain.[6]

He was the nephew of Edna Woolworth (1883–1917),[7] and by marriage Franklyn Laws Hutton (1877–1940), a co-founder of the brokerage firm E. F. Hutton & Co..

A high school dropout, who attended the Hun School at Princeton, and Choate, from which he was expelled at age 17, Donahue was the first cousin and confidante of Barbara Hutton (November 14, 1912 – May 11, 1979), an American socialite. Following his expulsion from Choate he took tap dance lessons with the tap dance master Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.[8]

Claimed affair with Wallis, Duchess of Windsor[edit]

Although openly acknowledged as gay, Donahue claimed he had a four year affair with Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, the wife of the Duke of Windsor, the former King Edward VIII. However, Donahue was notorious for his inventive pranks and rumor-mongering.[9]


  1. ^ http://www.paulbowles.org/photosjanebowles.html
  2. ^ http://www.paulbowles.org/photosjanebowles.html
  3. ^ Wilson, Christopher (2001), Dancing with the Devil: The Windsors and Jimmy Donahue, London: St. Martin's Press, pp. 22–45, ISBN 0-312-27204-9 
  4. ^ http://www.sgn.org/sgnnews34_01/page16.cfm
  5. ^ http://www.zimbio.com/Marlene+Dietrich/articles/10/Cruise+History+1930s+home+movies+aboard+liner
  6. ^ Wilson 2001, p. 16
  7. ^ New York Times, May 3, 1917
  8. ^ Wilson 2001, pp. 16, 39–51
  9. ^ Wilson 2001

Further reading[edit]

  • Charles Higham. The Duchess of Windsor: The Secret Life. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co. 482 pp 1988: 370-2, 394-5.