Peggy Hopkins Joyce

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Peggy Hopkins Joyce
Peggy Hopkins Joyce in 1925
Born Marguerite Upton
(1893-05-26)May 26, 1893
Berkley, Virginia
Died June 12, 1957(1957-06-12) (aged 64)
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
New York City, New York
Cause of death
Throat cancer
Resting place
Gate of Heaven Cemetery
Education The Chevy Chase School for Girls
Occupation Actress, artist model, dancer
Years active 1916–1926
Spouse(s) Everett Archibald, Jr. (m. 1910–10)
Sherburne Hopkins (m. 1913; div. 1920)
J. Stanley Joyce (m. 1920; div. 1921)
Gustave Morner (m. 1924; div. 1926)
Anthony Easton (m.1945; div.?)
Andrew Meyer (m. 1953–57)

Peggy Hopkins Joyce (May 26, 1893 – June 12, 1957) was an American actress, artist model and dancer. In addition to her performing career, Joyce was known for her numerous engagements, six marriages to wealthy men, subsequent divorces, scandalous affairs, her collection of diamonds and furs and her generally lavish lifestyle.

Early life[edit]

Born Marguerite Upton in Berkley, Virginia, she was known as "Peggy", a traditional nickname for Margaret or Marguerite. "Hopkins" and "Joyce" were the surnames of her second and third husbands, respectively (of six overall). Upton left home at the age of 15 with a vaudeville bicyclist. While the two were en route to Denver on a train, she met millionaire Everett Archer, Jr. She dumped the bicyclist and married Archer in 1910.[1] Archer had the marriage annulled after six months when he discovered Joyce was underage.[2] Joyce later claimed she divorced Archer because the life of a millionaire's wife "was not at all what I thought it would be, and I was bored to death."[3] Using the settlement money she received from Archer, Joyce attended The Chevy Chase School for Girls in Washington D. C. where she met Sherburne Hopkins. Hopkins was a lawyer who was also the son of a prominent and wealthy lawyer. They were married on September 1, 1913.[3] Joyce left Hopkins in 1917 to pursue a career in show business in New York City.[2] They eventually divorced in January 1920.[4]


She debuted on the Broadway stage in 1917 in the Ziegfeld Follies, following this up with an appearance in the Shuberts' A Sleepless Night. Joyce would later have an affair with producer Lee Shubert for a time.[5] In January 1920, she married her third husband, millionaire lumberman J. Stanley Joyce.[4] In the spring of 1920, the newly married Mrs. Joyce drew attention for a $1 million shopping spree over the course of a week's time. By 1922, Joyce's romantic escapades had made her one of the most written-about women in the American press. She would grant any interview, sometimes receiving reporters in her bedroom while wearing a sheer negligee. Cole Porter and Irving Berlin both used her name in their lyrics, The New Yorker ran cartoons mentioning her, and Will Rogers could get a laugh by invoking her reputation.

Joyce caused a sensation in the 1923 installment of the annual Earl Carroll's Vanities. She made her film debut in 1926's The Skyrocket, which provoked the Wisconsin state legislature into introducing a bill that would allow for the censorship of all movies entering the state; in any event, the film was a box office failure. In 1930, Joyce released a ghostwritten tell-all book reputedly taken from her steamy diary entries. Men, Marriage and Me advised, "True love was a heavy diamond bracelet, preferably one that arrived with its price tag intact."

In 1933, she played herself in the ramshackle film, International House, which contained some good-natured joshing about Joyce's love life. A W.C. Fields punchline about Joyce sitting on her pussy (revealed to be an actual cat) upset the Hays Office, which began censoring films the following year in response to such material.

Joyce: I'm sitting on something! I'm sitting on something!
Fields: I lost mine in the stock market!
Peggy Hopkins Joyce (ca. 1922)

She owned the Portuguese Diamond, one of the most expensive in the world, that she sold to Harry Winston and which is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Recounting a meeting with Joyce that occurred in the late 1920s, Harpo Marx reported that she was illiterate.[6] Nonetheless, she was credited with a column for several years in the early 1930s to the spicy New York publication Varieties (not to be confused with the show business trade publication Variety). The column gave racy news about hijinks and goings-on in both New York and London.

Personal life[edit]

Marriages and affairs[edit]

Joyce was married six times and claimed to be engaged fifty times.[1]

Joyce's first marriage was millionaire to Everett Archer, Jr. in 1910. Archer had the marriage annulled after he discovered that Joyce was underage. Her second marriage was to lawyer Sherburne Hopkins, the son of a wealthy prominent and wealthy lawyer. They were married on September 1, 1913.[3] In 1917, Joyce left him to pursue a career.[2] While traveling with the Ziegfeld show in May 1919, she met wealthy Chicago lumberman J. Stanley Joyce.[3] J. Stanley Joyce paid for Peggy's divorce from her second husband Sherburne Hopkins. Their divorced was granted on January 21, 1920.[4]

Two days later, on January 23, Peggy and J. Stanley Joyce were married.[7] On their wedding night, Peggy Joyce locked herself in the bathroom of the couple's hotel room and refused to come out until J. Stanley Joyce wrote her check for $500,000.[2] Within the year, she left Stanley Joyce for Parisian playboy and multimillionaire newspaper owner Henri Letellier. She sued J. Stanley Joyce for divorce and asked for $10,000 a month in alimony and asked that he pay her attorney fees of $100,000. J. Stanley Joyce counter sued claiming that the marriage was part of a conspiracy to defraud him out of money. He also accused Peggy of having multiple adulterous affairs, being a bigamist (Stanley Joyce claimed that Peggy was not divorced from her first husband before she married her second thus making their union invalid) and for driving a United States Army lieutenant with whom she had lived in New York City in 1917 to suicide. J. Stanley Joyce's lawyer claimed the man shot himself in a Turkish bath after going broke trying to keep Peggy happy and after Peggy had racked up numerous debts in his name.[8][9] During the couple's well publicized divorce trial in 1921, it was revealed that J. Stanley had gifted Peggy with a reported $1.4 million in jewelry, a $300,000 home in Miami, furs and other properties during their marriage.[2][7] Joyce was awarded $600,000 in the divorce settlement from J. Stanley. She was also allowed to keep all the jewelry she acquired during the marriage and was given stock in J. Stanley Joyce's lumber company that allotted her a $1,500 paycheck every month for the rest of her life.[3]

While there were reports that Joyce had eloped with Henri Letellier, the two never married. Joyce later said she chose not to marry Letellier because, "Frenchmen understand women too well. A girl should never marry a man who understands women." After her third divorce, Joyce declared that she would never marry again.[10] For the next few years, Joyce had numerous affairs with wealthy men including W. Averell Harriman, Prince Christopher of Greece and Denmark, Hiram Bloomingdale (son of Lyman G. Bloomingdale), Sayajirao Gaekwad III, Charlie Chaplin (who based part of his film A Woman of Paris on stories Joyce told him about her previous marriage) and producer Irving Thalberg.[2][5] One of her more scandalous affairs was with the attache of the Chilean Legation Guillermo "William" Errázuriz, brother of the equally scandalous Blanca Errázuriz. Joyce began an affair with Errázuriz while she was still in a relationship with Henri Letellier.[11] Errázuriz was married with a child but Joyce claimed he wanted to marry her. On June 30, 1922, Errázuriz shot himself in Joyce's Paris hotel room. He died the following day of his injury. Joyce claimed that he committed suicide after she refused to marry him. Errázuriz's family however denied this assertion claiming that Errázuriz killed himself due to financial problems.[12] On May 4, Joyce accidentally overdosed on sleeping pills. While she was recuperating, she gave an interview to the claiming that she was "...through with men." Joyce went on to say that she was in love with William Errázuriz but admitted that she "...played with him. I dangled him on a string just as I did many others. Oh, why did I do it?" When asked why numerous men were seemingly fascinated by her, Joyce stated, "I don't know why men run after me. I cannot tell you the secret of my fascination. [...] I never meant to ruin their lives."[13] Nine days after Errázuriz's death, another attache of the Chilean Legation, Lt. Rivas Muntt, attempted suicide by overdosing on Veronal. Muntt also reportedly became despondent when Joyce spurned his advances and was found clutching a newspaper clipping in which Joyce declared her love for Errázuriz.[14]

Despite her declaration to never marry again and that she was through with men, Joyce married Swedish Count Gosta Morner on June 3, 1924.[15] Upon their marriage, Joyce told the press that "All my other marriages meant nothing. This is the first time I have ever been truly in love." Count Morner told reporters that Joyce would give up her career in order to be his wife.[10] By the end of July 1924, Joyce had decided to resume her career and left Count Morner.[16] They divorced in February 1926.[17] Joyce remained single for the next nineteen years but continued dating wealthy men. In the early 1930s, she began an affair with Walter Chrysler who was married at the time. Chrysler reportedly gave her $2 million in jewelry (including a 134 karat diamond necklace which cost a reported $500,000) and two Isotta Fraschinis – a canary yellow roadster and a Tipo 8B – worth $45,000.[18] She later had a relationship with British astronomy professor Charles Vivian Jackson. Jackson was killed while the couple were sleighing in St. Moritz in 1937. Joyce would later say that Jackson was "the only man I ever loved."[1]

On December 3, 1945, Joyce married for the fifth time to consulting engineer Anthony Easton.[19] News of the marriage made headlines when Joyce refused to include the word "obey" in the marriage vows. Although there is no record of a divorce, Joyce and Easton's union ended sometime before 1953.[1] In 1953, Joyce married for the sixth and final time to Andrew C. Meyer. Meyer was described as a "retired official of the Bankers Trust Company".[20] In reality, Meyer was a retired bank teller whom Joyce met while he was working at a bank that Joyce frequented. They remained married until Joyce's death.[1]

Later years and death[edit]

After marrying her sixth husband in 1953, Joyce moved to Woodbury, Connecticut where she spent her remaining years. On June 1, 1957, she was admitted to Memorial Hospital for Cancer and Allied Diseases in New York City after being diagnosed with throat cancer.[20] Joyce died there on June 12, 1957 at the age 64.[21]

Joyce is buried at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York.

References in popular culture[edit]

Her name was frequently incorporated into song lyrics of the 1920s and 1930s to invoke images of excess and naughtiness.

For example:

  • In Cole Porter's "Why Shouldn't I?" (from Jubilee), referring to love, the Princess sings "Miss Peggy Joyce says it's good, and every star out in far Hollywood seems to give it a try, so why shouldn't I?"
  • In Cole Porter's "They Couldn't Compare to You" (from Out of This World), the god Mercury sings of his affairs with women real and fictional through history: "... When betwixt Nell Gwyn / And Anne Boleyn / I was forced to make my choice, / I became so confused / I was even amused / And abused by Peggy Joyce..."
  • Cole Porter's "Which" asks, "Should I make one man my choice/and regard divorce as treason/or should I like Peggy Joyce/have a new one every season?"
  • In Cole Porter's "Let's Not Talk About Love" from 1941's Let's Face It!, Maggie Watson sings, "I've always said men were simply deevine/(Did you know that Peggy Joyce was once a pupil of mine?)"
  • Eddie Cantor sang, "Take Peggy Joyce / With little voice / She soon became the nation's choice! / I tell you, buddy / She's made a study / Of makin' whoopee."
  • Zora Neale Hurston refers to Peggy Hopkins Joyce in her essay entitled "How It Feels To Be Colored Me".[22] Hurston compares her own positive self-image to Joyce as "aristocratic" and declared that Joyce has "nothing on me".
  • In the 1925 novel Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Anita Loos wrote, "And all of we girls remember the time when he was in the Ritz for luncheon and he met a gentleman friend of his and the gentleman friend had Peggy Hopkins Joyce to luncheon and he introduced Peggy Hopkins Joyce to Mr. Spoffard and Mr. Spoffard turned on his heels and walked away. Because Mr. Spoffard is a very very famous Presbyterian and he is really much too Presbyterian to meet Peggy Hopkins Joyce."
  • Arthur Train had her make an appearance in his 1930 Wall Street novel Paper Profits. Under the name of "Miss Boyce", she gives vapid sex lectures on the topic of "Why You *Should* Marry", and wiggles her torso a lot. This is one of several vignettes meant to show the wild side of life in the 1920s before the great Stock Market Crash of 1929.[23]
  • In Damon Runyon's short story "The Lily of St Pierre", when the narrator criticizes the quality of the hostesses in Good Time Charley Bernstein's speakeasies, Charley "admits that I may be right, but he says that it is very difficult to get any Peggy Joyces for twenty-five bobs per week".
  • In the 1932 film Two Seconds, there are two references to Peggy Joyce. Bud Clark (Preston Foster) is setting up John Allen (Edward G Robinson) with a blind date. Bud: "She's got class, works in a laundry" John: "Well I hope she's got class" Bud: "Hey listen remember now, I aint promisin ya no Peggy Joyce". Later, Bud to John: "While we go chasing around tryin a find a Peggy Joyce for ya, what do you do? You go out and get yaself hog-tied to a dance hall dame".

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Freudenheim, Milt (June 23, 1957). "The Legend of Peggy Hopkins Joyce: She Collected Men, Chinchilla, Diamonds". The Toledo Blade. p. 2. Retrieved March 23, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Parramore, Thomas C. (2000). Norfolk: The First Four Centuries. University of Virginia Press. p. 308. ISBN 0-813-91988-6. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Peggy Hopkins Files a Suit Against Millionaire Hubby She Married in Magic City". The Miami News. June 17, 1921. p. 10. Retrieved March 23, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c Waterbury, Ruth (July 29, 1923). "Peggy Hopkins Joyce Gets Fourth Divorce". The Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 3. Retrieved March 23, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Feller, Leslie Chess (April 9, 2000). "Diamonds Were Her Best Friend". New York City: New York Times. 
  6. ^ Harpo Marx, Harpo Speaks! (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1961; Freeway Press, 1974) p. 257-8
  7. ^ a b "Whose Wife Is Pretty Peggy Hopkins". The Pittsburgh Press. March 21, 1921. Retrieved March 23, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Third Money King Would Quit Peggy". The Southeast Missourian. April 12, 1921. p. 1. Retrieved March 23, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Says "Peggy" Hopkins Drove Soldier To Suicide". The Lewiston Daily Sun. June 1, 1921. p. 1. Retrieved March 23, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Getty, Frank (June 2, 1924). "Peggy Hopkins Joyce Marries Fourth Time". The Florence Times Daily. p. 5. Retrieved March 23, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Girl Assumes Suicide Blame". The Bend Bulletin. May 2, 1922. p. 1. Retrieved March 23, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Relatives of Chilean Deny That He Killed Himself for Her or That He Hoped to Wed". The New York Times. May 2, 1922. p. 11. 
  13. ^ "Peggy Joyce Now Is Sure She Is Through With Men". The Cape Girardeau Southeast Missourian. May 5, 1922. p. 4. Retrieved March 23, 2014. 
  14. ^ De Gandt, John (March 10, 1921). "Chilean Attache Takes Poison". The Pittsburgh Press. p. 1. Retrieved March 23, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Peggy Hopkins Joyce Gets Fourth Divorce". The Milwaukee Journal. February 20, 1924. p. 2. Retrieved March 23, 2014. 
  16. ^ Kilgallen, James L. (July 31, 1924). "Reconciliation With Count? Never, Assets Peggy, But She Admits She May Wed Again". The Pittsburgh Press. p. 1. Retrieved March 23, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Much Married Actress Free". The Florence Times-News. February 21, 1926. p. 1. Retrieved March 23, 2014. 
  18. ^ Curcio, Vincent (2001). Chrysler: The Life and Times of an Automotive Genius. Oxford University Press. p. 641. ISBN 0-195-14705-7. 
  19. ^ "Maritime Union, Here and New York, Urges Veterans' Return - Peggy Joyce a Bride Again". The Milwaukee Journal. December 4, 1945. p. 1. Retrieved March 23, 2014. 
  20. ^ a b "Throat Cancer Is Fatal to Peggy Hopkins Joyce". The Spokesman-Review. June 13, 1957. p. 3. Retrieved March 23, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Throat Cancer Kills Peggy Joyce Hopkins". Kentucky New Era. June 13, 1957. p. 1. Retrieved March 23, 2014. 
  22. ^ "How it Feels to Be Colored Me"
  23. ^ Train, Arthur (1930). Paper Profits. 


External links[edit]