Phelan Beale

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Phelan Beale
Phelan Beale.png
Born(1881-05-23)May 23, 1881
DiedJune 12, 1956(1956-06-12) (aged 75)
Alma materUniversity of the South (1902)
Columbia University (1905)
Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale
(m. 1917; div. 1946)

Dorothy D. Durham
(m. 1947; his death 1956)
ChildrenEdith Bouvier Beale
Phelan Beale, Jr.
Bouvier Beale
RelativesJohn D. Phelan (grandfather)

Phelan Beale (May 23, 1881 – June 12, 1956) was an American attorney and sportsman in New York City who was married to Edith Ewing Bouvier, an aunt of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Beale is probably best remembered as the absent father chronicled in the Grey Gardens saga portrayed in a 1975 movie documentary, 2006 Broadway musical, and 2009 HBO Film, all of which were named for his home in East Hampton, New York.

Early life[edit]

Beale was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and grew up in Montgomery, Alabama. He was the grandson of John D. Phelan (1809-1879), an Alabama Speaker of the House and Alabama Supreme Court Justice.[1] Beale graduated from the University of the South in 1902 and from Columbia University Law School in 1905.[2]


He formed the law practice of Bouvier and Beale with Jacqueline Onassis's grandfather, "Major" John Vernou Bouvier Jr.[2]

Personal life[edit]

In 1917, he married Bouvier's daughter, Edith Ewing Bouvier (later nicknamed "Big Edie"). Ushers at the January 17, 1917, wedding at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City included Jackie's father John Vernou Bouvier III and W. Sergeant Bouvier.[3] Together, they had three children:

In 1924, Beale and his wife acquired the 28-room Grey Gardens mansion fronting the ocean (the oceanfront parcels were sold much later) in the Georgica Pond neighborhood. In 1926, Beale and his wife separated and were legally divorced in 1931, but continued his presence in East Hampton. As part of the divorce, Edith was given the East Hampton house, Grey Gardens.[4]

He owned the Grey Goose Gun Club of Cedar Point, a hunting preserve at what is now Cedar Point County Park in East Hampton. In 1937, he expanded it by buying the abandoned Cedar Island Light on an island next to his property.[2]

Washed up sand during the New England Hurricane of 1938 joined the island to the land via an isthmus. The lodge itself is now the park foreman's residence just north of the park's general store. In 1947, he remarried to Dorothy D. Durham of Poplarville, Mississippi. He died in Pass Christian, Mississippi.[2]


  1. ^ Profile of Phelan Beale Archived 2007-04-23 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed May 16, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d Phelan Beale, 75, Retired Lawyer, dies,, June 12, 1956.
  3. ^ Miss Bouvier Weds Jan. 17 - New York Times - January 6, 1917
  4. ^ Edith Bouvier Beale, 84, 'Little Edie' Dies,; accessed May 16, 2016.