Aggie Grey

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Aggie Grey
Born Western Samoa
Occupation Hotellier

Aggie Grey was born in Western Samoa in 1897 and died in 1988. She was a well-known hotelier and founder of Grey Investment Group and Aggie Greys hotel and resort.[1]


Aggie Grey was born Agnes Genevieve Swann,[2] the daughter of William Swann an English chemist and his Samoan wife Pele.[1] In 1903 her mother died and she was raised by her father and later by him and her step mother. Aggie Grey is the subject of two biographies by Nelson Eustis[3] and Fay Alailima,[4] was on several postage stamps of Western Samoa,[5] and was a pioneering figure of the Samoan hotel industry.[6]

Later she became popular on the Samoan social scene.[7] She founded her hotel in 1933,[1] and became one of Samoa's most popular and well known figures.[2] She hosted many notable actors, including Dorothy Lamour, Marlon Brando, Gary Cooper, William Holden, Raymond Burr and Robert Morley who stayed at her hotel. Her hotel was involved with the production and housing of the crew on the American film production of Return to Paradise (1953) starring Gary Cooper. She was friends with American writer James Michener and was widely believed to be one of the models for his character Bloody Mary that he created in Tales of the South Pacific (1947), which was subsequently adapted into Roger and Hammerstein's Broadway blockbuster South Pacific (1949).[8] Aggie Grey died in 1988.[7] The Aggie Grey Hotel is now three resorts, two on Upolu island in Samoa, in Apia and Aggie's Lagoon and one resort, Le Méredien in Tahiti.[9] In 2013 Aggie Grey's became part of the Sheraton chain.[6]

Aggie Grey and her sister Mary Croudace (Auntie Mary) are possible models for the character Bloody Mary in the book Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener (1946), which was made into the musical South Pacific by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and the 1958 film South Pacific. "Auntie Mary" ran "The Casino" a boarding-house in Apia, and was reputed to have been the lover of a Marine general in the war. Mr Croudace, reputed to have been a New Zealand official, was long gone. [10]


  1. ^ a b c Hotel in Apia (Upolu)
  2. ^ a b "AGGIE GREY'S" The hotel that became a legend in the South Pacific
  3. ^ Eustis, Nelson (1979). Aggie Grey. United States: Hobby Editions. ISBN 978-0-9595609-0-9. 
  4. ^ Alailima, Fay (1988). Aggie Grey: A Samoan Saga. United States: Mutual, USA. ISBN 978-0-935180-79-4. 
  5. ^ Stanley Gibbons Limited (2007). (2007). Stanley Gibbons Commonwealth Stamp Catalogue: Eastern Pacific, (1st ed.). London and Ringwood: Stanley Gibbons Limited. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-85259-644-9. 
  6. ^ a b "Samoan Observer". "Aggie's signs up to Global Hotel Group". 8 August 2013. Archived from the original on 12 August 2013. Retrieved 10 September 2015 – via 
  7. ^ a b The Samoans: A Global Family By Frederic Koehler Sutter Page 14 Aggie Grey: West Point Hotelier, Legend. Apia, Upolu, Samoa
  8. ^ Thompson, Kirsten Moana (April 2014). "The Construction of a Myth: Bloody Mary, Aggie Grey and the Optics of Tourism". Journal of New Zealand and Pacific Studies. 2 (1): 5–19. Retrieved 2015-09-09. 
  9. ^ "Aggie Grey's Company". Aggie Retrieved 10 September 2015. 
  10. ^ Hensley, Gerald (2006). Final Approaches: A Memoir. Auckland: Auckland University Press, NZ. p. 6. ISBN 1 86940 378 9.