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[disambiguation needed], from which he was expelled at age 17, Donahue was the first cousin and confidante of Barbara Hutton (1912 – 1979), the 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. In those days he was known as "Jeem".[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 (Article is blank)
  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.