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Astor, Brooke (30 March 1902–13 August 2007), philanthropist and socialite, was born Roberta Brooke Russell in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the only child of John Henry Russell, Jr., a major general in the U.S. Marine Corps, and Mabel Cecile Hornby Howard. Her father, who ultimately became commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, rose in professional responsibility while serving in several important assignments after his daughter’s birth, beginning with his command of the battleship USS ...

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Caldwell, Mary Gwendolin Byrd (21 October 1863–05 October 1909), philanthropist and socialite, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the daughter of William Shakespeare Caldwell, a plant operator, and Mary Eliza Breckenridge. Soon after the death of Caldwell’s mother, her father, who had made a fortune constructing and operating gas plants in the Midwest, moved the family to New York City where, shortly before his death in 1874, he converted to Roman Catholicism and enrolled his two daughters in the Academy of the Sacred Heart, their primary source of education. Under the terms of his will, Caldwell and her sister, Mary Elizabeth, were made wards of Catholic friends and, on their twenty-first birthdays, were to donate a third of their vast inheritance to the Catholic church....

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Duke, Doris (22 November 1912–28 October 1993), heiress and philanthropist, was born in New York City, the daughter of James Buchanan “Buck” Duke, a tobacco and real estate tycoon and philanthropist, and his second wife, Nanaline Lee Holt Inman, a widow. Buck Duke, the founder and president of the American Tobacco Company, the maker of Lucky Strike cigarettes, spoiled and protected Doris (his fear of kidnapping and germ infection led him to build her a private Pullman car, the ...

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McCormick, Edith Rockefeller (31 August 1872–25 August 1932), philanthropist, socialite, and patron of the arts and psychiatry, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., an industrialist, and Laura Celestia Spelman. She spent her youth in Cleveland and New York City, where the family moved in 1880. In addition to attending the Rye Female Seminary, Edith received private tutoring and learned to play the cello. Unusually gifted and endowed with a strong scholarly inclination, she had mastered three foreign languages by the time she was ten years old....

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Post, Marjorie Merriweather (15 March 1887–12 September 1973), business owner, entertainer, and philanthropist, was born in Springfield, Illinois, the daughter of Charles William Post, founder of Postum Cereal Company, and Ella Letitia Merriweather. After several of Charles Post’s entrepreneurial ventures failed, his family entered him in a sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1891. The sanitarium’s doctor, ...