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Encyclopedia > Evelyn Nesbit

Evelyn Nesbit (December 25, 1884January 17, 1967) was an artists' model and chorus girl, noted for her entanglement in the murder of her ex-lover, architect Stanford White, by her first husband, Harry K. Thaw. December 25 is the 359th day of the year (360th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 6 days remaining. ... 1884 (MDCCCLXXXIV) is a leap year starting on Tuesday (click on link to calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a leap year starting on Thursday of the 12-day-slower Julian calendar). ... January 17 is the 17th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1967 (MCMLXVII) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar (the link is to a full 1967 calendar). ... Stanford White, 1853 - 1906 Stanford White (September 11, 1853 - June 25, 1906) was an American architect and the celebrity partner in the architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White, the frontrunner among Beaux-Arts firms. ... Harry Kendall Thaw (February 12, 1871 - February 22, 1947), son of Pittsburgh coal and railroad baron William Thaw. ...

1901 photograph by Rudolf Eickemeyer (Larger version)
1901 photograph by Rudolf Eickemeyer (Larger version)


Evelyn Nesbit (1901 photograph) (crop of Image:ElizabethNesbitLarge. ... Download high resolution version (460x933, 57 KB)Evelyn Nesbit (1901 photograph - large) Blasted if I know how I found the article when I cant even get the name right. ...


Born Florence Evelyn Nesbit in Tarentum, Pennsylvania, her family was left destitute when her father, a lawyer named Winfield Scott Nesbit, died in 1893 leaving substantial debts. For years Evelyn, her mother, and younger brother lived in poverty, sometimes going without food, but fortunately by the time she reached adolescence Evelyn's beauty came to the attention of local artists, including John Storm, and she found gainful employment as an artists' model. Tarentum is a borough located in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. ...

In 1901, at the age 16, she and her mother moved to New York City where she continued to work as an artists' model, posing for Frederick Church and photographer Rudolf Eickemeyer and becoming the sole support of her family. Charles Dana Gibson reportedly used Evelyn as the inspiration for his illustrations of the "Gibson Girl." Frederic Edwin Church (May 4, 1826 - April 7, 1900) was an American landscape painter born in Hartford, Connecticut. ... Charles Dana Gibson (September 14, 1867 _ December 23, 1944) was an American graphic artist, noted for his creation of one of the first pin-up girls, the Gibson Girl. Woman Jurors by Charles Dana Gibson, 1902 He was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts. ...

Stanford White

[[Image:Swanson4715.jpg|left|thumb|Statue originally atop Madison Square Garden (Diana by Augustus Saint-Gaudens).

As a Florodora chorus girl on Broadway, Nesbit caught the attention of acclaimed architect Stanford White, then 47 to her 16. The fact that he was married and made a hobby of "befriending" young women was overlooked by Evelyn's mother, who encouraged White's patronage. In his lavish tower apartment at Madison Square Garden, (which he designed), he had installed a red velvet swing from which he derived sexual pleasure by watching countless young women - including Evelyn -- swing (Evelyn would later be sensationalized in the 1955 movie "The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing"). Florodora was one of the first successful Broadway musicals of the 20th century. ... Madison Square Garden, often abbreviated as MSG, known colloquially simply as The Garden, has been the name of four arenas in New York City, United States. ...

White allegedly took her virginity there, after getting her to try on a yellow kimino and plying her with champagne -- a claim she repeated to her first husband, although at the end of her life she claimed that the charismatic "Stanny" was the only man she had ever loved.

John Barrymore

At the time of her affair with White, Evelyn was courted by the young John Barrymore, by whom she became pregnant. She turned down his marriage proposal, however, due to her continued emotional involvement with White (in addition to her mother's dim view of the 22-year-old Barrymore's financial prospects), and White arranged to send her away to a New Jersey boarding school run by the mother of film director Cecil B. DeMille, where she had an abortion (or, possibly, the baby) -- under cover of being treated for "appendicitis". John Sidney Blythe (February 15, 1882 – May 29, 1942), better known as John Barrymore, became famous as a Shakespearean actor, lauded for his Hamlet, and was frequently regarded as the greatest actor of his generation, playing a wide variety of roles on stage and in films. ...

Harry Kendall Thaw

White and Barrymore were subsequently supplanted in her life by Harry Kendall Thaw (1871-1947) of Pittsburgh, the son of a coal and railroad baron. Thaw was extremely possessive of Nesbit (he reportedly carried a pistol), and was especially obsessive about the details of her relationship with White (whom he referred to as "The Beast.") Addicted to cocaine, Thaw was also a sexual sadist who subjected women -- including Evelyn -- to severe whippings. However, following a trip to Europe, Evelyn finally accepted one of Thaw's repeated marriage proposals and they were wed on April 4, 1905. April 4 is the 94th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (95th in leap years). ... 1905 (MCMV) was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ...

Murder of Stanford White

On June 25, 1906 Evelyn and Harry saw White at the restaurant Cafè Martin and ran into him again in the audience of the Madison Square Garden's roof theatre at a performance of Mamzelle Champagne. During the song, "I Could Love A Million Girls", Thaw fired three shots at close range into White's face, killing him instantly and reportedly exclaiming, "You will never see that woman again!" June 25 is the 176th day of the year (177th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 189 days remaining. ... 1906 (MCMVI) was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... Mamzell Champagne was a musical revue with book by Edgar Allen Woolf, music by Cassius Freeborn, produced by Henry Pincus, which opened June 25, 1906. ...


Evelyn had one child, Russell William Thaw, who was born on October 25, 1910 (he died in 1984). A noted pilot of World War II, as a child he appeared in the Hollywood films of his mother. The identity of his father, however, remains in doubt. While Harry Thaw swore he was not the child's father (he was born during Thaw's confinement), Evelyn testified that he was. Russell William Thaw (1910-2002) was a famous pilot who fought in World War II. Thaw was the son of Evelyn Nesbit and, officially, he was also the son of Harry K. Thaw. ... October 25 is the 298th day of the year (299th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 67 days remaining. ... -1...


Following the death of Stanford White, there were two murder trials. At the first, the jury was deadlocked; at the second, (in which Evelyn testified on his behalf) Thaw pled temporary insanity (this was the first time the insanity defense was used). Thaw's mother (usually referred to as "Mother Thaw") promised Evelyn that if she would testify that Stanford White had raped her and that Harry had only tried to avenge her honor, she would receive a quiet divorce and a one million dollar divorce settlement. Evelyn got the divorce -- but not the money, and was cut off financially by Thaw's mother.

Thaw was incarcerated at the Asylum for the Criminally Insane at Matawan, New Jersey, but enjoyed nearly complete freedom. In 1913, he strolled out of the asylum and was driven over the Canadian border into Sherbrooke, Quebec. He was extradited back to the U.S. but in 1915 was released from custody after being judged sane.

Late career

In the years following the second trial, Evelyn Nesbit Thaw's career as a vaudeville performer, silent film actress and cafe manager was only modestly successful, her life marred by suicide attempts. In 1916 she married her dancing partner, Jack Clifford (1880-1956, born Virgil James Montani). He left her in 1918, and she divorced him in 1933.

In 1926, (several months after she attempted suicide after losing her job as a dancer at the Moulin Rouge Café in Chicago), Nesbit gave an interview to the New York Times, stating that she and Harry K. Thaw were reconciled, but nothing came of the renewed relationship.

Death of Thaw

Thaw moved back to Pittsburgh, his life devolving into a series of public brawls, affairs, and lawsuits. He died of a heart attack in February 22, 1947 at his home in Miami Beach, Florida (his second home was the Villa Marie Antoinette, in Bolton, New York). His will stipulated that his former wife was to receive $10,000 of his more than $1 million estate -- if she did not survive him, the money was to go to her son, Russell William Thaw. Pittsburgh skyline as viewed from Mount Washington Pittsburgh is a city in Western Pennsylvania, United States, and the county seat of Allegheny County. ... Location of Miami Beach in Miami-Dade County, Florida. ...


Evelyn Nesbit overcome both alcoholism and an addiction to morphine, and in her later years taught classes in ceramics (in addition to being a technical adviser on the 1955 movie "The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing.") She died in a nursing home in Santa Monica, California on January 17, 1967, at the age of 82.

Popular culture

  • The author Lucy Maud Montgomery used a photograph of Evelyn -- clipped from an American magazine and pasted to the wall next to her writing desk -- as the model for the heroine of her book Anne of Green Gables (1906).
  • Nesbit was portrayed by actress Elizabeth McGovern in the 1981 movie version "Ragtime", based on E.L. Doctorow's best-selling book, Ragtime", and by actress Joan Collins in the 1955 movie, The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing.

Lucy Maud Montgomery Lucy Maud Montgomery, (always called Maud by family and friends) and publicly known as L. M. Montgomery, (November 30, 1874–April 24, 1942) was a Canadian author, best known for a series of novels beginning with Anne of Green Gables. ...


  • The Architect of Desire - Suzannah Lessard (White's great-granddaughter)
  • Glamorous Sinners - Frederick L. Collins
  • Evelyn Nesbit and Stanford White: Love and Death in the Gilded Age - Michael Mooney
  • The Murder of Stanford White - Gerald Langford
  • The Traitor - Harry K. Thaw
  • "The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing" - Charles Samuels
  • "The Story of my Life" - Evelyn Nesbit Thaw - 1914
  • "Prodigal Days" - Evelyn Nesbit Thaw - 1934

Fictional works based at least in part on the Thaw/White murder

  • The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (1955)
  • Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow; in turn was adapted to create two derivative works:
  • "Dementia Americana" - A long narrative poem by Keith Maillard - 1994
  • My Sweetheart's the Man in the Moon - Play by Don Nigro

Ragtime is a 1975 novel by E. L. Doctorow. ... Ragtime is a 1981 motion picture based on the historical novel Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow. ... Ragtime is a Broadway musical with book by Terrence McNally, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and music by Stephen Flaherty, based on the 1975 novel Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Story of Evelyn Nesbit and the Thaw-White Murder (0 words)
"The agony of Evelyn in the years of her girlhood formed the prelude to a long continuous drama of sorrow, the murk and gloom of which was never illuminated by a ray of sunshine until what occurred on the roof of Madison Square Garden and Stanford White fell dead."
Nesbit, Thaw and White enacted an archetypical tragedy of sex and violent death on a dark, urban stage.
The story is a disturbing marriage of the breaking of ancient taboos and the anxiety of life in an ultimately unknowable city; a tale of innocence lost in a myriad of ways.
The history of The Evelyn Lounge, the perfect location to unwind, or hold a special event (219 words)
Evelyn Nesbit Thaw was a notorious model and showgirl whose lifestyle and involvement in Stanford White's murder stunned the nation in the early days of the twentieth century.
Nesbit married Henry K. Thaw, a prominent son of a Pittsburgh Robber Baron, in early 1903.
It became the home of the Girl in the Red Velvet Swing and is today the Evelyn Lounge named in her memory.
  More results at FactBites »



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