John Jacob Astor VI
|John Jacob Astor VI|
August 14, 1912|
New York City
|Died||June 26, 1992
Miami Beach, Florida
|Education||St. George's School|
|Occupation||International Mercantile Marine Company|
|Known for||"Titanic Baby"|
|Spouse(s)||Ellen Tuck French
(m. 1934—1943; divorced)
(m. 1944—1954; divorced)
Dolores Margaret Fullman
(m. 1954—c. 1954/1955; divorced)
(m. ?—c. 1985; her death)
|Children||William Backhouse Astor III
Mary Jacqueline Astor
|Parents||John Jacob Astor IV
Madeleine Talmage Force
John Jacob "Jakey" Astor VI (August 14, 1912 – June 26, 1992) was an American socialite, shipping businessman, and member of the Astor family. Dubbed the "Titanic Baby", he was best known for his affiliation with the RMS Titanic, being an unborn survivor of the sinking. He was born four months after his father, Colonel John Jacob Astor IV, died in the sinking of the Titanic.
Astor was born in New York City on August 14, 1912. His parents John Jacob "Jack" Astor IV (1864—1912) and socialite Madeleine Talmage Force (1893—1940) had married on September 9, 1911. Their union sparked much controversy not only due to their 29-year age difference but also since Colonel Astor had only previously been divorced from his first wife socialite Ava Lowle Willing (1868—1958) two years earlier in November 1909. The couple was returning home aboard the Titanic after about three months of honeymooning in Egypt and Europe. Madeleine was five months pregnant with Jakey when her husband put her in one of the ship's lifeboats. She was rescued eight hours after her husband went down with the ship. Jakey's godmother was Colonel Astor's sister philanthropist Caroline Schermerhorn "Carrie" Astor (1861–1948) while his godfathers were Carrie's son Marshall Orme Wilson, Jr. (1885–1966) and Madeleine's cousin Philip Lyndon Dodge.
After Jack's death, Madeleine raised their son as part of the Astor family. She would later remarry to banker William Karl Dick (1888–1953) in 1916 and boxer Enzo Fiermonte (1908–1993) in 1933. Fiermonte had taught her sons boxing. Through Dick, she would have two more sons: William Force Dick (1917—1961) and John Henry Dick II (1919—1995). Jakey highly opposed the union with Fiermonte and repeatedly tried to convince his mother to end the relationship. He and his mother frequently argued over the union though later reconciled.
Under the terms of Colonel Astor's will, Madeleine received relatively little from her husband's estate, estimated to be around $100 million (equivalent to approximately $2,418,965,517 in 2013 dollars). This value included his estate in Rhinebeck and his yacht, the Noma. William Vincent Astor (1891–1959), the Colonel's son from his first marriage, received $69 million, while the Colonel's daughter from his first marriage, Ava Alice Muriel Astor (1902–1956), received a $10 million trust fund.
The Colonel's 19-year-old widow Madeleine received the annual income from a $5 million trust fund, sweetened by an annual payment of $500,000, as well as use of his New York mansion 65th & Fifth Avenue, all its furnishings, and his Newport mansion Beechwood and all of its furnishings, the pick of whichever luxury limo she wanted from his collection, and five of his prized horses, provided that she did not remarry. While not listed by name, his father's will mentioned that any surviving child other than his children Vincent and Ava would receive a bequest of $3 million, to be held in trust until the child reached age 21. Jakey inherited the $3 million on his 21st birthday, which by that point had grown to $5 million (equivalent to approximately $90,167,095 in 2013 dollars). When Madeleine died in March 1940, she left him a diamond solitaire ring worth $50,000 and a pearl necklace worth $1,525.
Elder half-brother Vincent's contempt for Madeleine led him to believe that Jakey was not even a biological Astor. Having depised his younger half-brother since birth, Vincent left him nothing in his will. Jakey felt cheated and resentfully stated Vincent "had the legal, not the moral right to keep all the money". After Vincent died childless in February 1959, Jakey sued Vincent's widow Roberta Brooke Russell (1902—2007) to inherit his money. He was certain that Vincent was "mentally incompetent" when signing his last will in June 1958 due to frequent smoking and alcoholism, though Brooke insisted otherwise. While Vincent was hospitalized, Brooke would often bring him liquor. Jakey accused her of using the liquor to influence the will in her favor. Jakey ended up settling for $250,000. The rest of money remained with the Vincent Astor foundation and Brooke.
Astor was engaged to Eileen S. S. Gillespie (December 21, 1915 — July 27, 2008), the elder daughter of Lawrence Lewis Gillespie and Irene Muriel Sherman, in early December 1933. They planned to marry on February 6, 1934. However, she called off the wedding on January 22, 1934 after a bitter argument. Heartbroken, he went to Shanghai shortly afterwards to sulk, returning to America in May 1934. Astor blamed her parents for interfering with the relationship. He once suggested they could potentially reconcile, stating "I was willing to marry her, and if I were to think about it, I might still be willing to marry her." Eileen's daughter Margy Slocum Quinn said of him: "She felt that he had grown up lonely..... He was a bit eccentric, and she felt he wasn't mature enough to get married."
A few weeks after returning from Shanghai, he became engaged to Eileen's close friend socialite Ellen Tuck "Tucky" French (December 10, 1915 — September 5, 1974), a daughter of Francis Ormond "Frank" French II (November 27, 1888 — June 17, 1962) and Eleanor Livingston Burrill (August 2, 1891 — December 18, 1974). They married on June 30, 1934 at Trinity Church in Newport, Rhode Island on June 30, 1934. Tucky was a first cousin of Rhode Island Governor William Henry Vanderbilt III (1901—1981), and had previously been attracted to Jakey while he was engaged to Eileen. Along with Eileen's sister Phyllis, Tucky was scheduled to be a bridesmaid at Jakey and Eileen's wedding. The couple had one son, William Backhouse Astor III (1935—2008), and divorced in May 1943. At the time of their son's birth, Jakey was working at the International Mercantile Marine Company. Her sister Virginia Middleton French would marry William Force Dick on December 18, 1941. The two had respectively served as matron of honor and usher to Astor and Tucky's wedding. Astor served as an usher and Tucky was matron of honor to Virgina and William's wedding. Virgina and Vincent were appointed as the godparents of William Backhouse Astor III.
Jakey's second marriage was to Gertrude Gretsch (1923 — January 16, 1999), the daughter of Walter and Gertrude Gretsch, in New York City on September 18, 1944. The couple had a daughter, Mary Jacqueline "Jackie" Astor (born 1949). Their marriage ended in divorce on August 2, 1954 after being separated for four years, though the Mexican divorce was ruled invalid in 1956. An American divorce soon followed. In 1961, Gertrude Astor remarried to Sonio Coletti-Perucca.
His fourth wife was Sue Sandford; she predeceased him, circa 1985.
Astor died in Miami Beach, Florida, in 1992 at the age of 79. His body was returned to New York for burial with his parents in the Trinity Church Cemetery. At the time of his death, he was survived by his son, daughter, three grandsons, and youngest half-brother.
- William Backhouse Astor III (July 19, 1935 — September 24, 2008) served as president of New Vernon Fire Department from 1972—1974. He married and later divorced Charlotte Ann Fisk (April 22, 1936 — October 13, 2008), daughter of Earl Ellsworth Fisk and Florence Leavitt. They had 2 sons:
- William Backhouse Astor IV (born 1959)
- Gregory Todd Astor (born 1966) portrayed Colonel Astor in "Titanic the Musical" in April 2012. He married c. 1991 Robin Rhodes. They have three children:
- Mary Jacqueline "Jackie" Astor (born 1949), married in 1984 to John Rozet Drexel IV (born 1945), son of John Rozet Drexel III (1919—2007) and Mildred Sophia Noreen Stonor (1922—2012). He is a great-great-grandson of banker Anthony Joseph Drexel and a grandson of Ralph Francis Julian Stonor. They have one son:
Even though some sources refer to Jakey as John Jacob V, John Jacob Astor, 1st Baron Astor of Hever (1886—1971) was born first and therefore is actually John Jacob Astor V. Jakie Astor (1918—2000), youngest brother of David Astor, is John Jacob Astor VII, and the 3rd Baron Astor of Hever is John Jacob Astor VIII. Jakey is sometimes (incorrectly) referred to as John Jacob III.
References in popular culture
|Ancestors of John Jacob Astor VI|
- "Jack Astor, the Titanic Baby". The Ellensburg Democrat. Retrieved June 3, 1915.
- "WILLIAM DICK DIES; AN INDUSTRIALIST". encyclopedia titanica. New York Times.
- Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2013. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
- "Astor Bequests Have All Been Paid". New York Times. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
- "Son for Mrs. Astor; Named for Father" (PDF). The New York Times (NYTimes.com). August 15, 1912. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- "Astor Estate Goes To Son". The Evening News. 7 May 1912.
- "Part II: Vincent, the Astor Who Gave Away the Money". NewYorkSocialDaily. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
- Wilson, Andrew (2012). Shadow of the Titanic: The Extraordinary Stories of Those Who Survived. Simon and Schuster.
- Gordon, Meryl (2008). Mrs. Astor Regrets: The Hidden Betrayals of a Family Beyond Reproach. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
- Davis, Deborah (2009). Gilded: How Newport Became America's Richest Resort. John Wiley & Sons.
- Bruce Weber (1 August 2008). "Eileen G. Slocum, 92, Dies". New York Times.
- "Francis Ormond FRENCH/Eleanor Livingston BURRILL". pennock.
- Porter, Russell B. "JOHN JACOB ASTOR WEDS ELLEN FRENCH". Encyclopedia Titanica. New York Times.
- "Gertrude Versus Dolly 'Which Wife's Legal?' Astor Asks N.Y. Court". The Miami News. Retrieved 15 November 1956.
- Baber, Mark (20 July 1935). "MRS. JOHN J. ASTOR GIVES BIRTH TO SON". NY Times.
- "Virginia M. French Has Twelve Attendants At Her Marriage Here to William F. Dick". New York Times. December 19, 1941.
- "ASTOR INFANT CHRISTENED". New York Times. January 15, 1936.
- "Paid Notice: Deaths COLETTI, PERUCCA, GERTRUDE GRETSCH". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 January 1999.
- Gretsch, Fred. "Gretsch Family Connection to Titanic Passengers". Retrieved 6 August 2013.
- "J. J. Astor Marries Gertrude Gretsch. Son of the Late Colonel John Jacob Astor IV Weds Alumna of Finch at Her Home". The New York Times. 19 September 1944. Retrieved 2009-02-16. "..... of the Late Colonel John Jacob Astor IV Weds Alumna of Finch at Her Home The..... Mr. Astor is the son of the late Col John Jacob Astor IV, who lost his life....."
- "Astor Seeking Divorce. John J. Files Suit in Mexico Against Second Wife". The New York Times. July 3, 1954. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- "Astor's Name Taken from Social Register". St. Joseph News-Press (Missouri). United Press. 27 November 1954. p. 2. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- "Milestones: Married". Time (Time.com). 16 August 1954. "John Jacob Astor VI, 42, whose fortune, inherited from his great-great-grandfather, is estimated at $70 million; and Dolores Margaret "Dolly" Fullman, 26, blonde Miami divorcee; he for the third time, she for the second; in Arlington, Va."
- "Myth #3: There are a lot of Astors buried in the churchyard". Trinity Wall Street. 19 January 2012.
- "Obituaries: Charlotte A. Fisk". meaningfulfunerals.net. 13 October 2008.
- Hallenbeck, Brent (March 20, 2012). "Born to Play the Role". The Burlington Free Press.
- "William Backhouse Astor III". The Burlington Free Press (Vermont: Scroggin(s) Obituaries & News). 20 September 2008.
- "John R. Drexel III". Newport Daily News. Retrieved April 2007.
- Gorrow, Chelsea. "Astor family coming to city's birthday party". Seattle Times. Retrieved 8 August 2011.