Mary Benedict Cushing

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Mary Benedict Cushing
Born (1906-01-27)January 27, 1906
Died November 6, 1978(1978-11-06) (aged 72)
Residence 32 East 64th Street, Upper East Side, Manhattan, New York City
Nationality American
Spouse(s) William Vincent Astor
(m. 1940; div. 1953)

James Whitney Fosburgh
(m. 1953; his death 1978)
Parent(s) Harvey Williams Cushing
Katharine Stone Crowell
Relatives William Harvey Cushing (brother)
Henry Kirke Cushing (brother)
Betsey Cushing (sister)
Barbara Cushing (sister)

Mary Benedict "Minnie" Cushing (January 27, 1906 – November 6, 1978) was an American socialite, philanthropist and art collector.

Early life[edit]

Mary Benedict Cushing was the eldest daughter of Harvey Williams Cushing (1869–1939) and Katharine Stone Crowell. Her father, a pioneering neurosurgeon, was the first person to describe Cushing's disease, and who, along with Ernest Sachs, is known as the "father of neurosurgery."[1]

Her two sisters, also prominent socialites, were Betsey Maria Cushing (1908–1998), who was married to James Roosevelt II and later to John Hay Whitney, and Barbara Cushing (1915–1978),[2] who married Stanley Grafton Mortimer, Jr. and later William S. Paley.[3] She also had two brothers, William Harvey Cushing and Henry Kirke Cushing.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Cushing lived at 32 East 64th Street in Manhattan[5]

In 1940, she married for the first time to William Vincent Astor (1891–1959), son of Colonel John Jacob Astor IV and Ava Lowle Willing. It was Astor's second marriage, his first to Helen Dinsmore Huntington, ended in divorce, also in 1940.[2][5][6][7] They were divorced in 1953.[5]

Later in 1953, she married her second husband, the painter James Whitney Fosburgh (1910–1978).[8] Together, they amassed a significant art collection known for its notable paintings, including works by Paul Cézanne, Winslow Homer, William Nicholson, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Walter Sickert, and Pavel Tchelitchew.[9]

Mary died on November 6, 1978.[5]


She was a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York City Center, and was on the board of the Yale Art Gallery. She was also a major supporter of the American National Theater and Academy and the Henry Street Settlement. During World War II she was a leader in the Ship Service Committee and New York City War Fund.[5]


  1. ^ Witters, Lee A. (Winter 2007). "A Diligent Effort". Dartmouth Medicine. p. 3. Retrieved May 31, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Elisabeth Bumiller (January 3, 1999). "Betsey Cushing Whitney; The Last Princess". New York Times Magazine. Retrieved 2010-06-06. Mary (Minnie), the eldest sister, married Vincent Astor and then James Whitney Fosburgh, an artist. ... 
  3. ^ "Betsey Cushing Roosevelt Whitney, 89, Socialite". New York Times in the Chicago Tribune. March 29, 1998. Retrieved 2010-06-06. Her older sister, Mary "Minnie" Cushing, was married to Vincent Astor, the wealthy real estate owner, and after a divorce, to artist James Whitney Fosburgh. She died in 1978 at 72. 
  4. ^ "Dr. Cushing Dead; Brain Surgeon, 70. A Pioneer Who Won Fame as Founder of New School of Neuro-Surgery. Discovered Malady Affecting Pituitary Gland. Was Noted Teacher and Author". The New York Times. October 8, 1939. Retrieved March 21, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Mary Fosburgh, 72. One of Cushing Sisters And a Leader in Arts. Raised Funds During War". New York Times. November 8, 1978. Retrieved 2010-03-21. Mary Gushing Fosburgh, the eldest of the socially prominent Cushing sisters and widow of the painter James Whitney Fosburgh, died Saturday at her home in Manhattan after a long illness. She was 72 years old and lived at 32 East 64th Street. 
  6. ^ "Vincent Astor Dies In His Home at 67". New York Times. February 4, 1959. Retrieved 2010-06-06. Later that year he married Mary Benedict Cushing, daughter of Dr. Harvey Cushing, Boston brain specialist. That marriage ended in divorce in 1953. 
  7. ^ "Mary Cushing Wed to Vincent Astor. Daughter of Surgeon Becomes His Second Wife in Ceremony at Long Island Estate. No Advance Announcement Is Made and Few Are Present. Couple Sail on Yacht. Only Relatives at Wedding. Bride's Dress of Soft Wool". New York Times. September 28, 1940. Retrieved 2010-06-06. Vincent Astor, head of the Astor family, and Miss Mary Benedict Cushing, daughter of the late Dr. Harvey W. Cushing, noted surgeon, and Mrs. Cushing, were married here today at noon at Heather Dune, the Summer home of the bride's mother. 
  8. ^ "Married". Time magazine. November 2, 1953. Retrieved 2010-06-06. Mary Cushing Astor, 47, eldest of the late Brain Surgeon Harvey Cushing's three beautiful, millions-marrying daughters (her sisters' husbands: CBS Board Chairman William Paley, Financier John Hay Whitney); and James Whitney Fosburgh, 43, Yale-educated Manhattan artist and World War II Army glider pilot; he for the first time, she for the second (her previous marriage, to Manhattan Millionaire William Vincent Astor, ended in divorce in September); in Manhasset, N.Y. 
  9. ^ [1], Russell, John. "James W. Fosburgh, 67 Painter, Collector and Art Adviser, Is Dead." The New York Times (April 25, 1978): 40.