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Since appearances were critical, they dyed their hair constantly and changed clothes multiple times a day based on whether activity they were doing at the time. Caroline Astor's social strata would soon be interrupted by a new group of female socialites, including Alva Vanderbilt, an early suffragette whose divorce and subsequent relationship with a younger bachelor made tabloid headlines at a time when such "scandals" were rare. The genteel way of life that had characterized the city soon gave way to excess, even recklessness, by the turn of the 20th century, according to the book.

A chapter is dedicated to Harry Lehr, a socialite who ingratiated himself to rich hostesses but was scorned for ridiculous tastes. He once hosted a party featuring a monkey dressed in full evening attire, and another celebrating the birthday of his wife's Pomeranian, Davis writes.

Gilded: How Newport Became America's Richest Resort

The mansions were losing their luster by , thanks to World War I and a new federal income tax that hit Newport's millionaires hard. The homes became too expensive to maintain and were eventually put on the market. Today, they're mostly operated by the Preservation Society of Newport County and rank among New England's most-visited tourist attractions. John F.

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Kennedy married Jacqueline Bouvier here in , and reporters descended here in the s after financier Claus von Bulow was accused of trying to kill his wife Sunny in what became a blockbuster trial. The book gives minimal attention to the less glamorous side of Newport, where 12 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, census data shows. I'm writing about the rich. That ties into the myth. It ties into the wonderful history," Davis said.

John Tschirch, the Preservation Society's director of academic programs, praised the book for its relevance. Local Search Site Search. Home Delivery. New book chronicles Newport's rich and glamorous By Eric Tucker. E-mail this article. Sending your article.

Your article has been sent. The husbands formed social clubs, where they swam, played billiards and lazed on the beach. All rights reserved. Summary "Deborah Davis reveals and explores the heritage of the Newport elite with extraordinary stories ranging from the island's first colonists to the newest of its new millennium millionaires.

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