American Empress: The Life and Times of Marjorie Merriweather Post

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Her father was C. W. Post, the breakfast-food magnate. Her four husbands included the broker E. F. Hutton and Joseph Davies, U.S. ambassador to Stalin's Soviet Union. Her circle of friends ran the gamut from Florenz Ziegfeld and Billie Burke to the duke and duchess of Windsor, her niece by marriage was that poor little rich girl Barbara Hutton, and her youngest daughter is the film actress Dina Merrill. But hers was not merely a life of reflected glory, and in American Empress: The Life and Times of Marjorie ...
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1995 Hardcover Second Printing New in Fine dust jacket 0679413472. Book is New, DJ is Fine, 2nd printing, Slight abrasion on one corner of DJ, S-107, ; 9.70 X 6.80 X 1.70 ... inches; 445 pages. Read more Show Less

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New York, NY 1995 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 445 p., index. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade. "A sweeping social history ... that readers of bestsellers will love, American Empress chronicles the story of Marjorie Merriweather Post--the force behind the growth of General Foods--in an irresistible rags-to-riches saga that captures the age of opulence. 16 pages of photos. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Her father was C. W. Post, the breakfast-food magnate. Her four husbands included the broker E. F. Hutton and Joseph Davies, U.S. ambassador to Stalin's Soviet Union. Her circle of friends ran the gamut from Florenz Ziegfeld and Billie Burke to the duke and duchess of Windsor, her niece by marriage was that poor little rich girl Barbara Hutton, and her youngest daughter is the film actress Dina Merrill. But hers was not merely a life of reflected glory, and in American Empress: The Life and Times of Marjorie Merriweather Post, author Nancy Rubin chronicles nine decades of American history as lived and influenced by one of this country's most dazzling, formidable women. Marjorie, who as a child glued together Postum boxes in her father's barn, was soon a millionaire's ambitious daughter. After the suicide of her father, to whose memory she would remain idolatrously devoted, Marjorie oversaw the explosive growth of the company that eventually became General Foods, adding such gems as Jell-O, Sanka, and Birds Eye "frosted foods" to the corporate diadem. America's first female tycoon also plunged headlong into the high life of the 1920s and '30s, electrifying Palm Beach with the construction of her fairy-tale estate, Mar-A-Lago, taking the lead in New York society goings-on, and sailing the world in search of pleasure.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This entrancing biography of Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887-1973)-socialite, businesswoman, Palm Beach, Fla., pacesetter, opulent Washington hostess, philanthropist-is full of high drama, gossip, scandal and international political intrigue. Her father, C.W. (Charles William) Post, cured of ``invalidism'' at the Battle Creek, Mich., sanatorium of Dr. John Kellogg (inventor of packaged breakfast cereal), went on to develop Postum, a coffee substitute, and Post Toasties cereal. When C.W. killed himself in 1914, Marjorie, his only child, became sole heir of the Postum Cereal Co. With her sexually unfaithful second husband, stockbroker E.F. Hutton, Postum acquired Clarence Birdseye's frozen foods company, General Foods, which, partly through Post's influence as a board member, diversified into a food empire. Her third husband, Washington lobbyist Joseph Davies, became FDR's ambassador to the Soviet Union and helped cement the Soviet-U.S. alliance against Hitler. While living in Russia, Post was appalled at the Soviet police state. She divorced fourth husband Herbert May, a Pittsburgh executive, after a blackmailer's photographers revealed his homosexuality. Rubin, a frequent contributor to the New York Times, limns a warm, generous Christian Scientist, an imperious, perfectionist mother of three daughters, a down-to-earth woman who held square-dance parties and peppered her speech with expletives. Photos not seen by PW. First serial to Town & Country. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Rubin (Isabella of Castile, LJ 10/15/91) here delivers a sympathetic yet balanced biography of one of the 20th century's wealthiest women. Post inherited her fortune at the age of 27 from her father, C.W. Post, an early leader in the dry cereals industry. Her event-filled life, which included four marriages and dealings with many of the world's business and political leaders, was characterized both by generosity and extravagance. By contemporary standards, the role she played in shaping the development of General Foods seems less than extraordinary but was progressive by the standards of her day. Rubin successfully portrays the many facets of Post's life (philanthropist, socialite, mother, wife) and the high-society world in which she lived. A work with general appeal; recommended for popular history and business collections.-Mark McCullough, Heterick Lib., Ohio Northern Univ., Ada
Donna Seaman
Marjorie Post came "as close to royalty as you can come in America," says Rubin, and her spellbinding portrait of this munificent, intelligent, elegant, and independent woman substantiates her claim. But before anyone can begin to understand the American Empress, they must learn about her father, the brilliant Christian Scientist entrepreneur, C. W. Post. A high-strung man with digestive ailments, C. W. came to Battle Creek, Michigan, for the Kellogg cure but ended up inventing a coffee substitute, Postum, and building an empire, a success story based in great part on his revolutionary use of national advertising. As his fortune grew, C. W. realized that his only child, the tall, statuesque, and beautiful Marjorie, was poised to inherit an estate of enormous value. Aware how vulnerable this asset would make her, C. W. bucked the trends of the times and made sure Marjorie understood the business and could hold her own in the corporate realm. Thus Marjorie had it all: an unquenchable appetite for luxury and the taste and looks to carry it off, a strong philanthropic streak, and enough business acumen to protect her fortune through four marriages, including her union with the love of her life (after her incomparable father), E. F. Hutton. The older she got, the more confident and innovative Post became, ultimately helping countless people through her philanthropic organizations as well as playing a key role in establishing a cultural life in the nation's capital.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679413479
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/31/1995
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 445

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