The night of June 25, 1906 was swinging in New York. As had happened during the past decade and a half, high society came to cool on the fashionable terrace, in Madison Square Garden. The architect who rebuilt it in 1890 was. Stanford White grayed his red mustache already at fifty-two from his usual desk. He liked to be recognized. He was a star of his trade. Even from the elegant evenings of the Gilded age, the belle époque that followed the post-war period.
He came late. There were a few minutes till midnight. Although he was tired, he enjoyed the dinner and the songs playing on the stage. Then someone shot him three times in the back, in the head and at point blank range. Despite the sultry weather, the killer wore a long coat over his tuxedo. One of his shots, fired from only two feet, blew off half the face of the most sought-after architect in the United States.
The killer exclaimed loudly: “You have ruined my life!” But the witnesses, who were three hundred in number, did not listen to him properly. He might have said: “You have abused my wife!” ,You ruined my wife! En Vez de “… Life!, In any case, the said woman managed to quietly exit the premises before the reaction of the attendees and the arrival of the police. It all looked so dramatic that, at first, many were stunned to believe that the scene was part of the show. However, it was a real tragedy. It started years ago.
la primera it girl
It was the beginning of the 20th century, when a fatherless, poor and beautiful teenager arrived in Manhattan from her native Pennsylvania. Soon, painters, sculptors and painters and photographers followed Evelyn Nesbit as well. Her delicate features, framed by copious copper hair, were multiplied in oil paintings, sculptures, stained glass windows, and two media innovations that this pioneering supermodel helped to consolidate: fashion photography and advertising. Thus, it became the first this girlIn the opinion of his biographer Paula Uruburu.
Modeled as one of the famous Gibson Girls, present in works of art, covers, advertisements and calendars pin ups At the time, it “embodied all the conflicting impulses” of the Gilded Age, comments the author. “At times, he looked like a picture of Victorian sentimentality, but his bewitching smile held the promise of something forbidding.” This combination of divine grace and sex appeal will make her want to leap on stage.
On Broadway, playing small roles between 1901 and 1902, she met Stanford White. Despite their age difference, she immediately became the famous architect’s lover. He was about thirty-six years old. She was, in her own words, only fifteen years old, although her date of birth is unclear. Thus took place a scene that would become iconic, would bring infamy to a country that, at its very essence, cultivated puritanism.
rocked among pearls
The architect had a luxurious apartment for his bedroom adventures. There was a room decorated in green with a swing covered in red velvet. Evelyn Nesbitt rocked it, clad only in a pearl necklace. The originator of these erotic games would have seduced her one night in another room, with good manners, a stern face and too much champagne. She, she will testify at trial, turned up naked in her bed with no memory of how she got there. He certainly knew that she was no longer a virgin.
The relationship lasted for a few months. It was secret and open. They both used to hang out with other people. That, with a succession of beauties, his weakness. He, actor John Barrymore, publisher Robert J. Collier or with an extravagant millionaire. The son of a coal, railroad, and banking jar, Harry Kendall Thaw was a Pennsylvanian like him, and had enough money to light cigars with hundred-dollar bills. He was also linked to hang-ups and obsessions, and most disturbingly, he suffered from uncontrollable outbursts of anger.
Unpleasant stories circulated about this heir, such as how he killed his date with a pearl-adorned dog crop. These excesses, and other similar ones, are sometimes saturated with cocaine, morphine and laudanum. His mother quelled the rumors and complaints by distributing the money.
However, no one in New York’s wealthy circles was unaware of how Thaw Jr. spent them. In fact, they denied him access to the city’s most select clubs. Harry K. Thaw didn’t pair it with any of his eccentricities, like riding in one of those. In his paranoid delusion, he put down the fact that he came from outside Pittsburgh. What’s more, he was convinced that behind this persistent demonization of the local elite, there was a dark hand. A solid one: The New Yorker’s Stanford White.
it was really a lazy Like him, but kind, not pushy, and praised for his work, not daddy’s son. It may also be that the attraction that the millionaire felt for Evelyn Nesbitt was due above all to the desire to steal the girl from the enemy White had created in his mind. Time and again he had turned down Thaw’s advances. By 1903, an opportunity opened up for him.
The architect had enrolled his Lolita in a boarding school in New Jersey. He wanted to take her away from Barrymore, with whom the teenager had fallen in love. Shortly afterwards, she had to have emergency surgery, probably for a miscarriage. Thaw then doubled his visits. He overwhelmed the girl in the hospital with flattery and gifts. There he convinced her, or rather her mother, to travel to Europe together to promote his recovery.
a bride in black
During that visit, Thaw plots to separate mother and daughter. At the same time, he insisted on marrying Evelyn until, dazzled by luxury and flattery, she accepted. The young woman told him about her meetings with the architect so that no secret would remain. The psychopath’s response was to lock her in a German castle room, where he subjected her to his whims, some of them violent, for two weeks.
However, upon their return to New York, the model and actress went ahead with the wedding. She was estranged from her family and White, her career was on hold and she worried that their intimacy might fizzle out and no one would want to marry her. Reputation was everything for a middle class girl in those days of hypocrisy and double standards. The link was organized in 1905. The bride, curiously, wore black considering the groom. Months later they went to dinner on the terrace of Madison Square Garden before taking a cruise. He was very nervous and did not want to take off his coat.
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These details are known because they emerged during the legal proceedings for the murder of Stanford White. In truth, the so-called “test of the century” for the recently inaugurated XX, there were two. One in 1907 and the other in 1908. The initial one ended with the jury in a technical tie, evidence distorted by Thaw’s mother’s bribery and such brutal media pressure gave rise to the new custom of confining the jury. It was not for the following. The press, books and even songs, plays and an express short film from the Edison factory resulted in a loop on the matter.
peace under the sun
All the heroes of the cause were touched. Stanford White, apart from life, lost his good name. Pampered by elites, he became synonymous with mistrust because of his fondness for young girls. The killer wandered in psychiatric hospitals for twenty years, until his death in 1947.
For Evelyn, she had to revisit intimate affairs time and again under public scrutiny; And because the sexual details had been broadcast, she was released without a promise made by Thaws in exchange for favorable testimony. The couple had a son in 1910, when the husband was paroled, but with the right to a vis, before divorcing in 1916.
He briefly redeemed his celebrity by publishing his memoirs and starring in several silent films. After the interwar period, he seemed to find peace in California. There she raised her son, had grandchildren, and taught ceramics and sculpture for decades. He died in 1967, sheltered by his family and respected by the community. It was in sunny Santa Monica, far from the nights of New York that he stunned with her delicate beauty and the passion she ignited.
This text is part of an article published in issue 656 of the journal history and life, Do you have something to contribute? Write to us at email@example.com.