Ponder this:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Marie Louise Schroeder

About once a year, when Saratoga's in season, I get taken up by a fascination with Mary Lou Whitney (née Marie Louise Schroeder, Kansas City, MO). She's rich, her wardrobe and jewelry are gorgeous, and, you know, even now at eighty-something, she has an interesting face. Her decades-younger husband is, from all accounts, just crazy about her. Hers is a pretty classic Cinderella story, although I gather she was no blushing maid shyly offering her foot to a glass slipper held by a supplicating prince. Marie Louise' mama diddent raise no fool.
Marylou graduated from Southwest High School and went to the University of Iowa, but had to come home and get a job after her father died. She got the perfect one: flirtatious wartime disc jockey at station KCKN. "I created a show for servicemen called 'Private Smiles,' " she says. "We played Tommy Dorsey and Frank Sinatra, and it was very popular and made me kind of a star."
 "Marylou wooed Sonny with her cookbook," claims one longtime friend. "She played the role of the simple girl from the Midwest who loved to cook. He wanted to be fussed over."~Driving Mrs. Whitney
The handsome prince in 1949, nine years before he married Marylou:
US Undersecretary of Congress Cornelius Vanderbilt (Sonny) Whitney

Marylou and C.V. Whitney.jpg

“When I first came here, I made a statement that made the town furious. I said to (late husband C.V. Whitney) Sonny, ‘Goodness, this is a dead town.’ You could roll a basketball down the center of town and not hit anyone. There was a bank and a drug store and there were a few places open … Skidmore was the only thing going. It was very hard to buy anything and most people went to Glens Falls or someplace else. I said, ‘We’ve got to do something about this town, get the shops open and get it busy.’ Sonny said, ‘You can do it.’ I said, ‘How?’ We knew it was the top place to go in the summer. I decided I would make it better. We started to have parties and brought people up here. In one of my first interviews here, I said ‘Saratoga is the summer place to be.’ Now, everyone uses it. No one gives me credit, and I don’t want it. I am glad they use that line. I just love it here.”   ~Marylou Whitney
"A coterie of fine artists and society leaders create an atmosphere of elegance ..." according to the caption below this Palm Beach Daily News photo at Wally Findlay Galleries, perhaps more than 35 years ago. L. to r., Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Simone Karoff, Wally Findlay, artist Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt "Marylou" Whitney, whose artwork was being showcased, and Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney.~12/16/2009 New York Social Diary

~from The Saratogian newspaper, 7/11/2010, 
but that picture of Marylou looks a lot earlier than 2010.

From 1960 until 2006 she hosted annual summer galas . . . celebrities galore . . . 
her entrances were always the stuff of fantasy...File:Marylou Whitney's arrival to the Whitney Gala 001.jpg

Marylou Whitney arrives to the Wizard of Oz. (Courtesy Marylou Whitney) / AL
In 1992 Sonny passed away. 
Five years later 1997 Marylou, 72, married John Hendrickson, 32. 
It was quite the news story, but God bless her, I feel as if she's like our own homegrown queen.  
"Pink roses especially remind me of Marylou and this one is classic and beautiful, like my beautiful wife." ~John Hendrickson
11/18/2009 Albany Times Union

I was going to joke about how her voice and speech changed from what I imagine they were in her midwest girlhood to the old money drawl, but she's so brave in this video of her January 2011 Eclipse Award acceptance speech, despite the apparent remaining effects of her 2006 stroke, that
I simply cahn't do it.


Friko said...

That's how a lot of people in this country speak, certainly the ones who have no regional or local accent.

That's how I speak too, so could I please have the outfits and jewels to go with it?

threecollie said...

Thirty or so miles from Saratoga and I hardly knew any of that. Thanks!

Barb said...

So that's what money, style, and a good face lift can do!

Morning Bray Farm said...

I couldn't help but think how dashing Bernard would look pulling that pumpkinmobile. :)

Joey said...

For goodness sakes. I've always wondered if there really are people like her.

Thank you for sharing!

Vicki Lane said...

Quite a fascinating story! And I love the pumpkin carriage!

Anonymous said...

And she has left us on Friday, July 19, 2019. A class act from the very beginning to the very end.