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.
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.
Daily Kebbenac Journal
The Washington Post,
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
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.
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 WASHINGTON POST
STORY OF MRS ASTOR
Parted From Husband
Had Faith in Vessel, She
Here is Mrs. John Jacob Astor's story of
the sinking of the Titanic and the scenes attending her rescue.
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
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
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
Life between 1912 and
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
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.
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 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.
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.
Madeleine died on 27 March 1940 of a heart complaint. She was buried in Trinity Cemetery in New York.
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.
New York Burial.
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