Episode 179: Marjorie Merriweather Post, Part Two

Posted 25 June 2021 by

Portrait of Marjorie that hangs in the Marjorie Merriweather Post parlor in the Women’s Democratic Club in Washington, DC. (If you donate enough money to refurbish and furnish a mansion, you get a room named after you.) photo credit, us

When we left Marjorie, she was on her second marriage, this one to E.F. Hutton, and they were moving and shaking up New York and Palm Beach society. Marjorie had “strongly suggested” that the Postum Company should buy a new frozen food company, owned by one Clarence Birdseye, despite most homes and grocery stores not having freezers– and she had begun work on a very unique home in Palm Beach she named Mar a Lago.

Front gate to Mar a Lago, circa 1967 via wikicommons

Marjorie was quite the visionary…a very, very wealthy visionary!

Eventually, Postum did buy Birdseye (and a whole bunch of other prepared food companies) and became General Foods. Mar a Lago was joined on the Marjorie Property List by another estate in Washington, D.C. that she named Hillwood. She had a third daughter, helped feed the hungry in style during the Depression, did a great deal during WWII…and had another couple of husbands. Her third, Joseph Davies, enabled her to become the first American Ambassadress to Russia, and her fourth, Herbert May…well, that marriage probably shouldn’t have happened in the first place and wouldn’t have, if being gay wasn’t the social stigma that it was at the time.

Marjorie and Joe Davies onboard the Sea Cloud circa 1948

For the majority of her life, Marjorie spent her time and money on hosting society events, philanthropy, and philanthropic society events in Palm Beach, upstate New York, and Washington, D.C. She supported the arts in general and youth in the arts, specifically; she wrote large checks to help the Boy Scouts of America and threw garden parties for Vietnam veterans, and earned a library worth of awards for her many contributions.

And she did it all with such style, sincerity, generosity, and gracious warmth that she was able to maintain her standing in society until her death on September 12, 1973, at 86 years old.

 

 

Time Travel With The History Chicks

Books!

By Nancy Rubin

 

 

By Stella Chung

 

By William Wright

To learn about Marjorie’s life through different lenses:

Kate Markert and Erik Kvalinsvik

 

By team from Hillwood Estate

By Stella Chung

 

By the fine folks at the Hillwood Estate

Web!

The Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens in Northwest Washington, DC houses all things Marjorie from her maaaany art collections to her expansive gardens, Hillwood is an immersive Marjorie experience! Can’t get there? The museum has you covered not only with an exceptional online visit but also with an extraordinarily impressive app that will give you guided tours from wherever you are (or to walk you through the estate if you’re fortunate enough to be there.)

Travel on the Sea Cloud (the ship formerly known as Hussar V!) She’s part of a luxury yacht cruise fleet, although it’s advertised through two businesses– Sea Cloud Cruises and Lindblad Cruises. The ship formerly known as the Hussar IV was renamed the Mandalay and was also a cruise ship in the Caribbean, but that business close this year. Perhaps she will be put up for sail…we mean sale.

Moving Pictures!

The History Channel series, The Food That Built America, season one, is a multi-story documentary series. The first three episodes focus on from Henry Heinz to the McDonald brothers and Harland Sanders of KFC fame…within that are the stories of CW and Marjorie. You can watch it on the History Channel website or Hulu. You should watch it.

 

Break music: Oatmeal Cereal by The Park Street Trio; End Music: In The Hands of Money by The Spoons used with permission from iLicensemusic