Titanic

 

Early Life

Madeleine Astor was born on 19 June 1893 in New York. She was the youngest daughter of William Hurlbut Force and Katherine Arvilla Talmage. Madeleine had an elder sister, Katherine Emmons Force born in 1891.
Mrs. Force was a very ambitious mother, soon her husbands business was bringing in enough money for the family to have social status, her daughters were also growing into beautiful young women. Mrs. Force encouraged her daughters to play tennis, and to play it well, as she knew that the tennis court is where they looked best. 
            
The Washington Post 15 Aug 1908
Vaudeville At Bar Harbor.

"....First on the program was "The Bells," in which young women under direction of Miss Christine Baber played charmingly a melody on bells. The players were Misses Madeline Force, Gladys Endicott, Katherine Force, Louise Frith, Lillian Endicott..."

Madeleine was brought up well.

She attended Miss Spencer's finishing school in Brooklyn. She was well known in New York society. She was a member of the fashionable dance classes at the time of her debut. By the time of her engagement she had distinguished herself as an amateur actress, taking part in many amateur performances during the winters of 1909 and 1910. She was also a keen sportswoman, In September 1910, she competed in the semi final rounds of the ladies tennis doubles, which was held on the swimming club courts in Bar Harbor, Maine. However, she and her partner Ethel DeKoven were defeated by by Pauline Davis and Susette Davis.

September 1910,

 Daily Kebbenac Journal

"Ladies Tennis at Bar Harbour
Bar Harbour Me Aug 21 - The semi final rounds of the ladies tennis doubles was played on the swimming club courts today. Lanine Davis and Susette Savis defeated Madeline Force and Ethel DeKoven 6 3 6......"

It was her hope that her eldest daughter, Katherine would become the bride of the recently divorced John Jacob Astor. However, John took a shine to her youngest daughter, Madeleine.

Madeleine fell in love with John Jacob Astor. On 4 September 1910, The Washington Post reported that Madeline, along with her mother and sister, were guests at a dinner party hosted by Mr. Astor. after the meal they enjoyed a theater performance in the evening.

Wednesday December 14 1910.

The Washington Post,
Social Sets of Other Cities
"There were many debutantes at the first junior cotillion in New York last week, and charming frocks were worn by the
".......Miss Madeline Force wore a blue frock, with a silver lace top and flame-coloured girdle, and as she is a blonde the effect was excellent...."

 

John Jacob Astor

JJ ASTOR IVJohn Astor had been married before, and was now divorced. However it was part of the divorce terms that he could not remarry in New York.

The engagement was made official by her father. He said to one newspaper in August 1911:

"The engagement has been rumoured in social circles for several months. Therefore I insisted on making the formal announcement. I called Mr. Astor on the telephone today. He accepted my point of view and it was agreed that I should make the announcement."

On 6 August 1912, Madeleine, along with her father and fiance, entered into society when she attended a dinner party given by Mr. and Mrs. Ogden Mills. The dinner was in honour of their daughter, the countess of Granard. Madeline, Mr. Force and Mr. Astor arrived in the morning on the Astor yacht "Noma". They had breakfast aboard and then went to Beechwood, the summer home of Colonel Astor. They were later joined by Madeleines mother and sister.

Madeleines engagement and pending marriage to Col. Astor caused a national sensation. Madeleine, her father and John Jacob Astor went on a cruise for four days aboard the Noma, However, when they returned, the strain of all the media attention took a toll on Madeleine. in the afternnon of 24 August, she collapsed and was put intot he care of the Foce family physician, Dr. Reul B Kimball. She was told to have complete rest and quiet while recovering at her father's house. No. 18 East Thirty-Seventh Street. Dr. Kimball said that Miss Forces "nervous and physical strain" was caused by her suddenly being thrust into the lime-light, and for more than two weeks, since her engagement was made official, she had been subjected to the closest scrutiny whenever she appeared in public.

In New York, she had been continually on the go automobilling, playing tennis, going to the casino and dining. Madeleine made a quick recovery, She, along with her finace and father took another yacht trip to help her recover.

Two days before the wedding, William H Force made it into the papers when he chased a photographer. The eldery prospective father of col. Astor, was about to enter a jewelers shop when a photographer made an attemp to snap him. Force waved his cane and rushed towards the photographer, but the young man was too quick and ran away.

They were married early in the morning on 9 Septemeber 1911. The Syracuse Herald gave this account of the marriage:

As devoted lover,

Astor takes bride

"I don’t care" says Astor, now married

-----------------------------

"Now that we are happily married, I don’t care how difficult divorce and remarriage laws are made"

"I sympathize heartily with the most straight-laced people in most of their ideas, but believe remarriage should be made possible, as marriage is the happiest condition for the individual and the community"

Statement of Col. John Jacob Astor, made immediately after his marriage.__________________________________________________________

Dr. Straight angry

Providence R. I Sept. 9--The Rev. Edwin Straight, the "carpenter preacher" who went to Newport last night to be in readiness to perform the ceremony, is chagrined over what he declared was bad treatment. He arrived home at noon. He had been at Newport all night, staying at a hotel waiting to be called to the Astor residence.

"I am pained, humiliated and distressed over the treatment accorded me," said Mr Straight, "I shall have something to say later about it too. I feel that I have been made a cats paw,"

------------------

Pastor in disgrace

Providence R. I Sept. 9--Congregational church circles in this city are greatly stirred over the announcement that Mr Lambert tied the wedding knot. The Rev. Edward T. Root, head of the Rhode Island federation of churches, said:

"I think the whole matter is disgraceful. I suppose it was the question of $1,000. It must have been the money that made him do it."

Mr Lambert may be asked to resign.

__________________________________________________________

 

Guarded secrecy marks bridal of Madeleine Force___ ___

Col. Astor’s shifty preparations

for marriage reach climax

At ceremony.

_____________

Two reserve ministers and emergency chapel

___________

Multi-millionaire and beautiful young girl wedded in his Newport palace with half a dozen witnesses --- Elderly bridegroom hugs and kisses Miss Force as he adjusts the wedding ring.

______________

 

Special to the Syracuse Herald.

Newport, Sept. 9.--Miss Madeleine Talmage Force of New York became the bride of Col. John Jacob Astor, head of the famous American family of his name a few minutes after 9 o’clock this morning.

Although the ceremony was performed at Newport in the midst of the famed society leaders not one was present at the service. The marriage was performed in the beautiful white and gold ball room of Beechwood, the famous Astor show place.

The secrecy which marked the courtship and subsequent pre-nuptial arrangements of Miss Force and Col. Astor reached it’s climax in the carrying out of the wedding plans. Extra "chapel" engaged.

So carefully were the "inside" plans made that a room had even been engaged in an obscure hotel, where the ceremony would have been performed, if by some chance the Beechwood arrangements been revealed.

The clergyman who dared public opinion and displayed his independence by performing the ceremony is the Rev. Dr. Joseph Lambert, pastor of the Elmwood Temple Congregational Church, Providence. R. I.Seemed devoted lovers.

The wedding scene impressed the witnesses with the belief that Colonel Astor and Madeleine Force were a pair of devoted lovers. As they met in front of the beautiful white marble fire place of the grand ball-room Miss Force was attended by her father, and Colonel Astor by his son Vincent. Her fiance fairly jumped to take her hand and they turned to face the minister, who stood there upon a huge red rug and underneath a great cutglass chandelier.

As Dr. Lambert began the ceremony, Colonel Astor dropped to his knees, gently drawing Miss Force with him. And in that posture they remained during the brief service. Clasps bride tightly.

As Colonel Astor slipped the ring upon the finger of his new wife he lost his composure, slipped his arm about the girlish figure at his side and then clasped her tightly and kissed her.

Following the marriage the brides father made the following statement, carefully weighing each word as it was spoken and pleading that he be quoted exactly:

"In this marriage only the happiness of my daughter was considered. She and Colonel Astor are and have been very much in love. If they were not in love this marriage would not have occurred."

Immediately after the ceremony Colonel and Mrs. Astor boarded the Noma which quickly sailed. Reserve clergy not needed.

The Rev. Edward S. Straight, known as the "carpenter preacher" was on hand, ready to act if required, but he was sent away just after the Rev. Mr. Lambert reached Beechwood. Another clergyman was also in reserve, the Rev. Mr. Roberts.

Immediately after the marriage, as he was rushing away to board his yacht Noma for his honeymoon voyage, Colonel Astor said: "Now that we are happily married I don’t care how difficult divorce and remarriage laws are made.

"I sympathize heartily with the most straight laced people in most of their ideas, but believe remarriage should be possible, as marriage is the happiest condition for the individual and the community."

As Colonel and Mrs. Astor sped away in the huge swift gray automobile toward the yacht landing, where the special launch was waiting to bear them across the bay to the yacht, he waved aside all questioners with the statement that W. A. Dobbyn, his confidential and business secretary would make public all the details.Official statement issued.

Mr. Dobbyn then issued this formal statement:

"Colonel John Jacob Astor and Miss Madeleine T. Force were married at Newport to-day by the Rev. Joseph Lambert of the Elmwood Temple Congregational church of Providence.

"The bride was given away by her father, William H. Force. Miss Katherine Force, sister of the bride, acted as maid of honor and Vincent Astor was the best man.

"Those who witnessed the marriage were Mr. and Mrs. William H. Force, parents of the bride, Miss Katherine Force, sister of the bride, Mrs. Elder Vincent Astor, William P. Sheffield of Newport and W. A. Dobbyn of New York."

On board the Noma.

Within less than an hour from the time that they had gone ashore to be married Colonel Astor and his beautiful bride were aboard the Noma headed for the open sea.

Although everyone closely connected with Colonel Astor or the bride disclaimed any knowledge of the probable destination of the yacht it is generally believed that the honeymoon will be spent in the quietness of Ferncliff on the Hudson, the secluded ancestral estate of Colonel Astor.

It was shortly after 2 o’clock this morning when the Noma from New York, carrying Colonel Astor, Miss Madeleine Force, her sister, Miss Katherine Force, and William H. Force, the brides father, dropped anchor in the bay.

Mrs. Force, the brides mother, accompanied by Mrs. P. T. Elder, a personal friend, slipped into Newport and were driven to the Munchinger-King Inn.Day chilly and overcast.

Those aboard the yacht were astir early. The sky was heavily overcast with dark gray clouds and the old adage "Happy is the bride that the sun shines on" seemed likely to lack fulfilment for Madeleine Force. There was a cold penetrating twang to the salt air during the early morning that called for the overcoats and sweaters.

Whether the question of luck was involved or not, there went out from shore Deputy Sheriff Frank P. King, headed for the Noma just as the Astor-Force party sat down to breakfast at 8 o’clock. As soon as Colonel Astor was informed that he was sought by the process server he said he was ready to accept service.Served with summons.

A summons was given him in a damage suit for $30,000 brought by Bridget McCrohan and her children. The action grows out of the death of Eugene F. McCrohan son of the woman who was killed at Beechwood in the summer of 1910, while doing some electric wire work on the estate at Beechwood.

Just a few minutes before 9 o’clock Colonel Astor, Miss Force and the others of the party went ashore. From an obscure spot two limousine automobiles dashed up, the party got in and hurried away. The carefully planned strategy worked out just as was intended and the newspaper men were left behind. Colonel Astor and party drove direct to the office of the town clerk.Bride was flurried.

Colonel Astor appeared agitated, Miss Force somewhat unconcerned in appearance, kept her head in the air, apparently seeing no one. City clerk Fullerton had the licence all ready. This had been arranged by the Newport attorney.

It was not until the house was reached that the change as to the clergyman was known. The Rev. Dr. Lambert had been rushed from Providence.

The most striking feature of this marriage was its democratic simplicity.

Surrounded by all that is typical of the lavish display of wealth, in the one center of pleasure and fashion that American society has adapted, the bride and bridegroom and all with them brushed aside every convention. No new clothes.

Miss Force wore a semi-hobble travelling gown of dark blue material. It was not new.

Colonel Astor wore the same business suit of blue chevlot, varied only by a thin pin stripe, by which he was so frequently recognized while making daily calls upon his fiancee.

Witnesses of the ceremony to-day all noted that the only gem worn by the bride was the huge solitaire diamond in her engagement ring. All members of the little wedding party wore their street clothes.

Miss Katherine Force, sister of the little bride, was dressed in black which fitted closely to her trim figure. She wore a huge white polo coat and a wide brimmed velvet hat to match. Mrs. William H. Force, the mother, wore black lace over white silk and a large black hat. Mrs. Elder, a friend of the brides mother, was attired in a gray walking suit.

 

Titanic

In April 1912, the Astor party decided to travel back to the United States. They travelled to Paris where they boarded the Titanic on Thursday 12 April.

First Class stweardess, Violet Jessop was suprised by young Mrs. Astor's appearence. ...."Instead of the radient woman of my imagination, one who had succeeded in overcoming much opposition and marrying the man she wanted, I saw a quiet, pale, sad faced, in fact dull young woman arrive listlessly on the arm of her husband..."

On the night of the sinking:

According to Colonel Archibald Gracie, Madeline was placed into lifeboat number 4 by himself and Colonel Astor.."As she took her place, Colonel Astor requested permission of the second officer to go with her for her own protection. 'No, Sir,' replied the officer. 'not a man shall go in a boat until the women are all cared for.' Colonel Astor then inquired the number of the boat that was being lowered and turned to the work of clearing the other boats and reassuring the frightened and nervous women."

Madeleine was rescued in boat 4. Her husband was lost int he sinking.

The following account appeared in the Washington Post on 22 April 1912

THE WASHINGTON POST

STORY OF MRS ASTOR

Parted From Husband Expecting
He Would Join Her Soon.
CHEERED BY HIS BRAVERY

Had Faith in Vessel, She Says,and
Sought to Reassure Her—Denies He
Made Any Attempt to Get Away in
Lifeboat—Narration Has Been Told
Bit by Bit to Members of Family.

Here is Mrs. John Jacob Astor's story of the sinking of the Titanic and the scenes attending her rescue.
She did not tell it at any one time, but bit by bit as her strength permitted. Since she landed from the rescuing steam ship Carpathia last Thursday night. Her physicians forbade her talking very much at any one time, in fact, they would have preferred that she say nothing until she was strong, but that was too much to ask after the experiences of that awful night and little by little she has related the facts that go to make up the story of the foundering of the White Star Steampship.
To her mother and father, Mr and Mrs. W.H Force, to her sister, Miss Katherine Force and her physician, Dr. Reul Kimball it is known that she has told of being awakened from sleep by the shock and of being reassured by Colonel Astor, of the preparations for leaving the ship, of his showing solicitude for her as she left in the lifeboat, one of the last to leave the foundering ship of his promise to rejoin her in the morning.
Saw Titanic Go Down.
She has told how she saw the Titanic take her final plunge, and of how half a score of drowning men were pulled into the boat, some of them only to die before they were taken aboard the rescuing steamship.
Mrs. Astor's experience was as tragic as that of any of the women whose stories have been heard, and more so than most of them. If it is lacking in details it is because no one has cared to question her or risk adding to her grief, which is of the deepest kind.
The Astor party consisted of Col. and Mrs. Astor, a trained nurse for Mrs. Astor and her French maid' the Colonel's valet, Robbins who had been with him for fifteen years or more, and the chauffeur. Then there was Kitty, Col. Astor's favourite Airdale terrier, that had travelled all over the world with him.
The two had been inseperable companions for years and they were not to be seperated, for Kitty went down on board the Titanic with her master.
Mrs. Astor spent a good deal of the time in her room, and was hardly of the one deck until the accident. Col. Astor and she took frequent walks and he romped with Kitty a great deal. He was interested in the maiden performance of the new Titanic, for anything mechanical interested him, and he frequently consulted the log and heard from Capt. Smith and Mr. Ismay of how the great ship was behaving.
Voyage Had Been Uneventful.
But no unusual incident marked the voyage until the collision that sent her to the bottom. Col. and Mrs. Astor had both retired when the great ship struck. Whether he was awakened by the shock or not Mrs Astor has not said, but at any rate, he went to his wife's bedside and awakened her.
Gently he told her that something was wrong and that he thought she had better get up and dress. He dressed before she did and said he would go and find out the extent of the ship's injury.
But all the time he was getting ready, he was reassuring his wife' saying not to be afraid, the Titanic could not sink.
Loud talking in the companionways near Mrs. Astor/s room, the cries of stewards awakening the passengers slarmed her, but she remained calm as she had the utmost faith in Col. Astor's knowledge of the sea. He said he would fo and see Capt. Smith and find out just what had happened.
When he returned his face was graver than it had been, but still he was sure there was no danger. Mrs. Astor did not know at the time, but since she has come to believe that her husband must have known that the Titanic and all her passengers were in peril.
Assisted Her in Dressing.
The Colonel told his wife that the Titanic had struck a submerged iceberg and was apparently resting on it. He assisted her in the final details of dressing but without hurry and his calmness encouraged her greatly.
Mrs. Astor did not have all of her jewellry with her. Of course, she had her engagement ring, a magnificent oblong diamond, and a string fo superb pearls. Col. Astor stood by as his wife took these from a jewel case and put them on, along with other less imporant pieces, a beautiful pin, among other things that he had given her.
When she was ready they went to another deck, probably the boat deck. There were a few other persons there at the time. All put on life preservers. This contradicts the report that Col. Astor would not or did not at least that this precaution. He saw particularly that his wifes belt was adjusted properly.
His silcitude for Mrs. Astor was then shown in another way. She shrank from the cold and noticed it. He said:
"You are not dressed warmly enough, my dear, that suit you have on is too light." and then she noticed that she had put on one of the lightest costumes in her wardrobe. Col. Astor then ordered Robbins, the valet to return to their suite and get one of Mrs Astor's heaviest dresses.
Returned With Warmer Gown.
The faithful Robbins quickly returned with the garment, and there in the cold of the deck Mrs. Astor changed her gown, putting on the heavier dress. The nurse and the maid and COl. Astor all assisted her in this operation.
Emphatically, she denied the report that Col. Astor got into or made any move to enter the lifeboat in which she was. He was the calmest man on the Titanic deck, so far as she could see. He said, "The sea is calm and you will be all right. You are in good hands, and I will meet you in the morning." The boat was launched and got away without accident.
Mrs. Astor is still in bed, but her physician says there is no reason to expect serious results.

 

On 23 April, John's body was identified by the crew of the cable ship, Mackay-Bennet, arrangements were made for his body to be returned to the family.

John's funeral was performed in the little Episcopal church of the Messiah, at Rhinecliffe. Dr. Rev Saunders officiated.
He was buried in Trinity Cemetery on Washington Heights. Madeleine went to the grave with the other mourners.

According to the Oakland Tribune, after Colonel Astor's buriel, Madeline spent everyday at his tomb.

Madeleine was left the following, according to John Astor's will:

To his wife, Madeleine Talmage Force Astor, He left the Town house and stable at Fifth Avenue and Sixty-fifth street, together with the books, paintings, pictures, engravings, marbles, bronzes statuary and objects of art plate and silver-plated ware linen, china glass, household effects useful and ornamental therein contained and now herein above disposed of to have and to hold the same for so long during her life as she shall remain his widow. Upon her death or remarriage all this property is bequeathed to the testator's son, William Vincent Astor.

Also for his wife, he left a trust fund of $5,000,000 she was to have this for the rest of her life so long as she remained his widow. Upon her death or remarriage, the money would go to William Vincent Astor.

 

John Jacob Astor VI is born 
La Crosse Tribune 1 August 1912

Awaiting the Stork

Mrs. Madeleine Force Astor To Become Mother Within Week; Hopes For A Son

New York, Aug 1. -- A long unused apartment of the Astor mansion in Fifth avenue, the nursery, has been renovated and refurnished and today was ready for occupancy. Mrs. Madeleine Force Astor, girl widow of Colonel John Jacob Astor, Titanic victim, expects a visit from the stork within the week.

No longer does the residence have a sombre look. The curtain, tight drawn since April, are now opened to the sunlight. Two physicians and three trained nurses have been added to the retinue of the young widow, for the posthumous child of Colonel Astor will be a prize in more ways than one. By the Astor will, the expected heir will inherit $3,000,000 and further legal complications are said to be possible. Entirely recovered from the effects of her Titanic experience, Mrs. Madeleine Astor is said to be cheerful and in the best of health. She hopes she may have a son to perpetuate the name of John Jacob Astor.


On 14 August 1912, Madeleine gave birth to a son, whom she named John Jacob, after his father.

Below is an article which appeared in various papers in January of 1914.

John Jacob Astor who is seventeen months old and the sixth of his line to bear the name, has just had his first picture taken. He turns out to be the "living image" of his mother, who was Miss Madeleine Force before her marriage to the late colonel Astor. The picture was taken in the nursery of the Astor home, in New York City, where the youngster was having a fine time among his toys.
The photographer did not have to coax him into "looking pleasant" He laughed and chatted baby talk all through the operation. The only difficulty was in keeping his plump, wriggling body still long enough to pose him. As the picture shows, he bears little resemblance to his father. There is a suggestion of the Astor jaw and mouth but the rest of his features are his mothers.
Born after the death of his father in the sinking of the Titanic and the saving of his mother in a lifeboat he was said to have been a delicate infant, but there is no suggestion of ill health in the rugged lines of his arms and legs today. He is a "Fresh air baby. He sleeps on a balcony outside his nursery, where the night breezes play about his fuzzy yellow head in the coldest weather. He is so active he keeps the servants busy watching his movements, and he has begun to talk volubly.

 

Life between 1912 and 1916
In 1913, Madeleine made the papers, when she turned the upper quarters of the Astor mansion into a beauty parlour for herself.

The suite of guest rooms at the south and facing on Fifth avenue were fitted as elaborately as any of the expensive beauty parlors in town. The private beauty parlors were only used by Madeleine, her mother and sister. The Oakland Tribune reported:

"...There is a long couch, hard and flat, on which the subject lies while a skilled masseuse gives her the bodily treatment. Still reclining in perfect relaxation, she also receives a facial massage by the second of Mrs. Astor's personal maids. There are big electric bulbs of different colors dangling by long ropes from the fixtures for driving [unreadable sentence]...
There is an electrical apparatus with positive and negative poles for going over the skin to clarify and tighten the pores. An hour and a half is devoted to the work of massafing face and body every other day, and an hour every day for Mrs. Astor's face.
In another room every equipment is arranged for taking care of the hair and arranging it. A long mirror attached to the wall is flanked by side mirrors slightly [unreadable]....as well as the front view. At the rear of the room is another mirror, reflecting likewise the back which Mrs. Astor can watch all during the process of constructing her coiffure, so that if one little loop is placed by the fraction of an inch out of place she desires she can speak of it before the entire hair arrangement is completed...."

Madeleine took great care in her personal image. In times gone by, the previous Mrs. Astor's had left the work to their French maids, content with the thought that everything in the way of taste that came from France was perfect. Madeleine, however, was different. Everything from her clothes, her hair down to the ornaments she arranged on her babies coat were all her oen design or selection.

In the room devoted to the treatment of hair, where was also equpment for manicuring fingers and toes. The tools were assembled on a white enamel table.

Madeleine's beauty parlor was decorated in brown, with pink and flesh coloured figures of women in various stages of beautifying their appearence.

Four beauty experts were employed by Mrs. Astor to administer the beauty treatments. There were two maids, a nurse who was a professional masseuse and a woman who specialised in treating hair.

On 1st August 1914, It was reported by the Washington Post that Madeline had played, and won the Womens tennis tournament in Bar Harbour.
"Mrs John Jacob Astor won the womens tennis tournament for the championship of Bar Harbor from Mrs. Edgar B Howard, of Philadelphia, Thursday afternoon at the swimming club before the largest crowd that has assembled there this season.
From the start Mrs Astor had the better of it. She won six consecutive games in the first set without even letting her opponent get as close as deuce in any one. At the beginning of the second set, Mrs. Howard put up a good fight, and for a while it looked as if she might win the set but cool steady playing by Mrs. Astor turned the tide, and Mrs Howard seemed to tire losing the set by 6-2. Mrs Astor seemed to be as fresh at the finish as at the start. She shook hands with her competitor before leaving the court, and later sat with her mother and others on the lawn. In the entire series she lost only twelve games and wom 48. She won every set. She defeated successively Miss Helen Draper, of Boston, Miss Elizabeth POrter, of Washington, Miss Mary S Millet, of New York, and Mrs. Howard. Mrs. Astor's tennis costume is simplicity itself, a plain black straw hat, plain white waist and skirt with a black bow tie black stockings and white cloth shoes with black leather trimmings."

The Syracuse Herald, January 5th 1915 

The caption below the picture reads: "Beginning yesterday, New York Debutantes and matrons started making 5.500 kits for the Lafayette fund, which is evidence that Americans have not forgotten our debt to France. This movement also gives employment to girls who make the articles sent to French soldiers.

In May of 1915, there were rumours as to wheter Madeleine would marry Clarence Mackay. a wealthy divorced man and father of three.

"MADELEINE ASTOR TO WED?
Vincent Doesn't Know, Because He Hasn't
Seen Her for Several Weeks.
Special to The Washington Post
Boston, April 28-

Vincent Astor said today that he did not know whether or not his stepmother Madeleine Force Astor, widow of John Jacob Astor is engaged to Clarence H Mackay. Mr. Astor was shown a New York dispatch reporting the engagement. He said: "I haven't seen Mrs Madeleine Force Astor for several weeks, so I cannot comment on this report I do not know whether she is engaged to Mr. Mackay or not, nor do I know whether anything of that sort is probable So far as I know they are merely friends."

 

William Karl Dick

on 22 june 1916, Madeleine married her childhood friend, Mr. WIlliam Karl Dick in Bar Harbor, Maine.

William was twenty-eight years old, and Vice - president of the Manufacturers Trust Company of New York and a part owner and director of the Brooklyn Times.

After the marriage, the couple went West for a month's honeymoon. Upon their return, they made their home in Islip, Long Island. (Mr. Dick was one of the 260 guests invited to dinner at the Astor mansion in 1915)

Madeline and William had been friends for over ten years before their marriage. As children, both their families lived in Brooklyn, however in 1906/1907 the Force family moved to New York.

Warren Evening Mirror  1918

in 1933 Madeleine obtained a reno divorce. Although reports of the couple's separation were reported as early as 1920.

 

Vincenzo "Enzo" Fiermonte

While young John Astor was at Harvard, Madeleine employed the help of Enzo Fiermonte to train her teenage son to box. Enzo was a prize fighter, only four years older than young John Jacob Astor VI.

A couple of years later, in 1933 Madeleine went to Reno to divorce her husband, and Enzo also divorced his wife who was still living in Italy with their young son, Giovanni.

When gossip spread of the upcoming engagement, a woma named Kay Reese went to the papers, claiming that Enzo had promised to marry her after he divorced his first wife.

John Astor was opposed to the match, and publicly said so. When asked if it was true that his mother was to marry Fiermonte, he said "Unfortuneatley, it's true." The marriage to Enzo caused a rift between Madeleine and John. However, the hatchet was buried by the time of his own marriage to Ellen French.

 

Infact, most people were opposed to the match, except Enzo's manager, Mr. Johnson who was forthcoming in his approval of the match. He was quoted as saying

"Sure, I've seen photos of this Astor-Dick dame. Looks like a real swell to me.
She ought to handle my kid like a mother. keep him out of trouble with Broadway gold-diggers and all that. I'm all for it."

On November 3 1933, Madeleine reutrned from a trip to Bermuda. She was taken straight to hospital to be treated for a broken arm and shoulder. While there she married Vincenzo Fiermonte on Monday November 27 1933. The wedding was attended by her three sons and a few close friends. They left on November 29 for their honeymoon in Palm Beach, Florida.

The marriage, however did not work as Mr. Johnson had hoped, for Enzo dropped his career a while after his marriage. However, the managaer stayed friendly.

1935 saw the birth of Madeleine's first grandchild, baby William Astor, son of John Jacob Astor VI and Ellen "Tucky" French. Baby William was named after his great grandfather, husband of "THE" Mrs. Astor. The birth of this baby helped to bring Madeleine and her son close together again, and she and Enzo stayed at her son's home("Chetwode, in Newport") shortly after the baby was christened. She was a doting grandmother.

While in Newport, Madeliene and Enzo were guests at her sister, Mrs. Lorrilard Spencer's home. They attended several dinner parties and Enzo played tennis with Mrs. Oliver Eaton Cromwell. Mrs. Cromwell was extremely popular socially and if she accepted Enzo, then so did the rest of Newport society.

 

Death

Madeleine died on 27 March 1940 of a heart complaint. She was buried in Trinity Cemetery in New York.

Obituary

The Modesto Bee And News-Herald 28 March 1940.

MUCH MARRIED ASTOR WIDOW DIES IN FLORIDA

Palm Beach Fla. - March 28

Mrs. Madeline Talmadge Force Astor Dick Fiermonte, widowed as the bride of  John Jacob Astor IV by the Titanic disaster of 1912 and twice wed and divorced afterward, died at her winter residence last night from a heart attack.
With her at the time of death was William Dick, son by her second marriage to William K Dick, whom she divorced in 1933, four months before she married Enzo Fiermonte, handsome young Italian puglisit.

New York Burial.
Lyndon Dodge, a relative who flew here from New York this morning, announced the body would be sent to New York.
Neither John Jacob Astor, born after his father's death on the Titanic nor John Henry Dick, another son by the second marriage, will come here, Dodge said. He said both were in New York. Death occurred at 7:30 P.M. Mrs Fiermonte had been ill for several months, members of the household disclosed.
Mrs. Fiermonte formerly was Madeline Talmadge Force of New York, she married the fourth John Jacob Astor, scion of the wealthiest family of America, in 1911. They honeymooned on the Astor yacht Nourmahal, which Astor later donated to the United States Navy. They toured Europe on a prolonged honeymoon, took the Titanic home, some of the 712 survivors Among the 1,424 aboard the ill fated ship recalled having seen Colonel Astor gallantly escort his bride to a life boat, tip his hat in farewell, and retire to join the men waiting in the smoking room to drown.
The disaster was a shock from which the bride, then with child, did not recover for years, her friends said. Later she married, and divorced William K. Dick and in 1933 she married Fiermonte, who had been middleweight boxing champion of Italy.

 

Sources and References

1900 United States Census

1910 United States Census

1920 United States Census

1930 United States Census

The Washington Post, Various years

The Syracuse Herald, Various Years

The New York Times, Various Years

The Astors by Lucy Kavaler. ISBN 978-059505674

 

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