ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD
Are Diamonds Really A Girl’s Best Friend?
The lives of the women listed below prove that wealth and fame alone cannot make you happy. René, the ultimate raconteur presents these tragic stories in his inimitable fashion, using dozens of glamour shots and newsreel clips while proving the adage all that glitters is definitely not gold.
Venues can choose any stories of our line-up that they feel their membership would like and combine them. We can then let you know how long your chosen presentation will be.
Few people know about Queen Elizabeth’s mother-in-law, Princess Alice of Battenberg. As Queen Victoria’s great-granddaughter, Alice was born in Windsor Castle (1885) and died in Buckingham Palace (1969). Misdiagnosed as schizophrenic, she was hospitalized against her will and subjected to cruel and primitive medical experimentation. During WW2 she sheltered countless Jewish refugees and, later, founded a Greek Orthodox nursing order of nuns in Athens. Her amazing inner strength, desire for frugality and deep faith make her one of the twentieth century’s most obscure but fascinating royals.
Known as the “poor little rich girl” Barbara Hutton was heir to the Woolworth fortune. She married and divorced 7 men, never finding happiness. Her only son, Lance Reventlow, died tragically at age 36. By the time of her death in 1979, she was alone and nearly penniless. René visited her shortly before her death and was one of the last people to spend any meaningful time with her.
Known as “the little Sparrow,” Edith Piaf was raised by prostitutes in Paris. She was discovered singing on a street corner and became one of the most recognizable voices of the 20thcentury with songs like ”La vie en rose”, “Milord” and “Non je ne regrette rien.” Years of alcohol abuse and copious amounts of medications, as well as a series of car accidents, led to her death at age 47 in 1963.
René’s family was intertwined with the Woodwards. Heir to a banking fortune, William (Billy) Woodward Jr. married the infamous Ann Crowell, a Manhattan showgirl. In what Life Magazine called “the shooting of the century” Ann fatally shot Billy in 1955. She, as well as both their sons, eventually committed suicide. The widowed Ann had an on-again, off-again relationship with René’s father. The story is the subject of Dominick Dunne’s book, The Two Mrs. Grenvilles.
Leona Helmsley was known as “the queen of mean.” She married real estate magnet, Harry Helmsley in 1972, after her real estate license was revoked. Helmsley was both a friend and competitor of Donald Trump’s. In 1973 Leona was stabbed in their Palm Beach Towers condominium. The most commonly accepted theory is that Harry stabbed Leona, while they both tried to blame the crime on a housekeeper. Leona led a tumultuous life, including 19 months in prison, convicted on tax evasion charges. She died lonely and secluded in Greenwich, Connecticut at the age of 86. She left $12 million to her dog, Trouble.
The blonde bombshell who cooed that “diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” became the epitome of a striking and glamorous performer surrounded by tragedy. Her death at age 36 has been steeped in mystery ever since 1962, when it was initially deemed a suicide by a barbiturate overdose.
Princess Margaret was Queen Elizabeth’s only sibling. After several failed relationships, the once second-in-line of succession to the British throne, led a lonely life, rife with illness. As a hospital administrator, in 1980 René opened the famous Princess Margaret Hospital in Windsor, UK. Through this endeavor he became friends with her. After several strokes, Princess Margaret died at age 71 in 2002.
Tragedy surrounded Sunny von Bülow, the only child of utilities magnate George Crawford, who left his infant daughter $100 million in 1935. After her husband, Claus von Bülow, allegedly tried to kill her twice with an insulin overdose, she spent 28 comatose years in a nursing home before dying in 2008 at age 76.
Christina Onassis was the daughter of the shipping magnate Aristotle and Tina Livanos Onassis. She was heir to two huge shipping fortunes. Her mother Tina died under mysterious circumstances in 1974. “The Golden Greek,” as Onassis was known, was then married to Jackie Kennedy. Ari died in 1975, a broken man after the tragic death of his only son, Alexander, a classmate of René’s. René was closely involved with the family during Onassis’ last illness and death at a hospital René was running in Paris.
Few people know details of New York socialite and wealthy pharmaceutical executive Gigi Jordan. René’s late partner was Ms. Jordan’s Chief Operating Officer prior to selling the company to Quest Diagnostics. In 2010, Gigi killed her 8-year old autistic son. Her attempted suicide having failed, she claimed her son’s death was a mercy killing. Ms. Jordan is currently serving an 18-year prison sentence.
Whitney Houston grew up with music in her family. Dionne Warwick was her aunt, and Aretha Franklin a close family friend. In the 1980s Whitney’s star rapidly rose to great fame. Unfortunately, fame and fortune took their toll on her, and she died in a bathtub from a cocaine overdose at 48 years old.