July 22, 1908
Staten Island, New York, U.S.
|Died||December 27, 1974
New York City, New York, U.S.
Amy Vanderbilt (July 22, 1908 – December 27, 1974) was an American authority on etiquette. In 1952 she published the best-selling book Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Book of Etiquette. The book, later retitled Amy Vanderbilt's Etiquette, has been updated and is still in circulation. The most recent edition (ISBN 0-385-41342-4) was edited by Nancy Tuckerman and Nancy Dunnan. Its longtime popularity has led to it being considered a standard of etiquette writing.
She is also the author or collector of cooking materials, including the 1961 book Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Cook Book illustrated by Andy Warhol. This cookbook's illustrations are attributed to "Andrew Warhol", and predate Andy Warhol's first New York solo pop art exhibition. His illustrations are simple line drawings in pen and ink.
Amy Vanderbilt descended from either an uncle or a brother of Cornelius Vanderbilt. She was born in Staten Island NY and worked as a part-time reporter for the Staten Island Advance when she was 16 while attending Curtis High School. She was educated in Switzerland and at the Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn before attending New York University. She worked in advertising and public relations, and published her famous book after five years of research. From 1954 to 1960 she hosted the television program It's in Good Taste and from 1960 to 1962 she hosted the radio program The Right Thing to Do. She also worked as a consultant for several agencies and organizations, including the U.S. Department of State.
On December 27, 1974, she died from multiple fractures of the skull after falling from a second-floor window in her townhouse at 438 East 87th Street in New York. It remains unclear whether her fall was accidental (most likely due to the medications she took for hypertension, which friends and relatives (including Paul Knopf) later said caused her to have severe dizzy spells) or whether she committed suicide. She was buried at the Cemetery of the Evergreens in Brooklyn, New York.
- Amy Vanderbilt, arbiter of social graces, began her career at the Staten Island Advance. Staten Island Advance March 26, 2011. Accessed December 1, 2014
- "Milestones", Time, Mar. 8, 1968.
- "Amy Vanderbilt killed in fall", Calgary Herald, December 28, 1974, p1; "AmyVanderbilt,66, Falls to Death Here", New York Times, December 28, 1974, p47
- Amy Vanderbilt at Find a Grave