those mmmarrying mmmen

In 1923 a General Zakhari Mdivani appeared in Paris. As a Mohammedan chieftain of the Caucasus, he was recognized as a Bey or Prince by the Russian Imperial Court which acknowledged all Georgian “Princes” possessed of a pair of shoes, a stone house, a flock of sheep and a rifle. Prince Mdivani (pronounced Mmmdivani) had little money, but he had his jewels; five children, three boys and two girls, all very good looking.

Ceremonial Men’s Dress of the Russian Imperial Court found here

First to arrive was David, the oldest and shaggiest. At that time Gloria Swanson had just married a French Marquis. Pouting blonde Mae Murray, then at the height of her career, decided that she too could afford a title. She took as her fourth husband Prince David Mdivani. With David married, brother Serge, the handsomest, promptly arrived, to be snapped up by Pola Negri.

David and Mae found here

As husbands, the two Hollywood Mdivanis proved an expensive luxury. With the first pinch of Depression, Pola Negri decided to get rid of her handsome Prince Serge. While Mae Murray was pondering whether to divorce David, he and Serge struck oil back of her bath house in Venice, California. They organized the Pacific Shore Oil Co. with Mae Murray putting up most of the cash. After he bankrupted her, she divorced him on grounds of “extreme cruelty, unreasonable jealousy and hostility toward her guests” in 1933. He was then involved with French actress Arletty for a time but ended up marrying Oil heiress Virginia Sinclair. They divorced in February 1964 with her claiming mental cruelty and continual harassment. 

Serge and Pola found here

Divorced by Pola Negri, Serge’s second venture was to marry Chicago Opera Singer Mary McCormic. But the indisputably most successful of the marrying Mdivanis was Alexis, the youngest and last to arrive in the U. S.  Shrewdly, he avoided Hollywood, confined himself to the hard money fortunes of the East, and got himself married to Louise Astor van Alen, great-granddaughter of the late, great Mrs. William Astor. When she divorced him, Alexis, undaunted, drifted over to Paris, then had the inspiration of marrying Miss Barbara Hutton, heiress to the Woolworth store millions.

Alexis and Barbara found here

He and Hutton divorced in Reno in 1935 and he moved on to Baroness Maud von Thyssen-Bornemisza. In August 1935, while driving his Rolls Royce en route to Perpignan he died in a car crash. He had careened into a culvert, turned over five times and was pronounced dead on the spot. His passenger Maud was reported as only slightly injured but also as having bit her tongue off and was rendered permanently speechless thereafter.

Baroness Maud found here

Reluctant to see the Astor Van Alen millions disappear from the Mdivani clutches, Serge married his former sister-in-law, Louise, in February 1936, but died in March in a polo accident in Delray Beach, Florida when his pony fell and kicked him in the head as Louise stood on the sidelines.

William Van Alen found here

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48 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’ve married four times, but never managed to nab a millionaire, I must be doing something wrong?

    • That’s fascinating Cindy. How long were your shortest and longest marriages?

  2. was that last pic taken at a fancy dress party ?

    • Oh no, Mr Van Alen always dressed that way.

      • He thought it made him look taller.

  3. Wasn’t Barbara Hutton good looking? All that and money too.

    I wonder how one strikes oil in the garden? Digging that new begonia in a bit too enthusiastically?

    • Barbara Hutton was really lovely when she was young

  4. Jesus! Doesn’t ANYBODY marry for love?!

    For the longest time, I thought that mental cruelty and continual harassment was foreplay.

    • exactly!

      • I married for love. I just fell out of it after a few years. Possibly something to do with the continual harrassment ;-)

    • Yes, you! :-)

      • He did, didn’t he? Lucky wife, lucky UB

  5. these are not marriages. these are bank acquisitions…

    • agreed, and they live in a community of their own.

      • never to mix with any hoi polloi

  6. Ah, the playground of the rich, not-so-rich and famous…

    I wonder if “hostility toward guests” is still grounds for divorce? That cracked me up. :)

    • It’s a playground with a strange set of rules

    • That one struck me too.

  7. Divorce and death….they seem an unlucky lot

    • But at least one of those things happens to us all eventually.

  8. Baroness Maude, aha. Else Zarske.

    • I can’t find much about her via google. Was she well known?

      • OH NOO – I shot my answer!
        Here’s the short one.
        Else Maud Zarske, adopted Feller, born in Thorn, Westpreussen, 17. April 1909; married to Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza (*1875) from 1932 until 1937 – the crash was 1935; died in Zürich, date unknown.
        Go here, here, here.

        I think it was a mesalliance. After the crash and the divorce she seemingly kept a low profile through the war. She could easily have lived into the 1980s or 1990s. It would be interesting to know which name she used after the divorce

        Where to look?
        Maybe Harry Graf Kesler knows something? But I doubt – in the mid thirties he was an old man, alone in French exile. Didn’t some Reventlow write something – this was also a interesting bunch. She seems to have died completely forgotten.

      • They married in Bruxelles.

      • I’ve already been to those links, nothing much there really. But thanks for the Kessler and Reventlow tips, I’ll investigate them further.

  9. Wow got to love van Alen’s costume!

    • It’s the best isn’t it?

  10. What is on Van Alen’s head? Is that a replica of the Chrysler building in New York City???

    • Yes, he designed it!

  11. I never knew “hostility to guests” was grounds for divorce.

    • Better watch that attitude bearman ;-)

  12. I’m 0-2. Bachelor since 1984. Too much drama as you have described.

    • I hate drama too though some people thrive on it

  13. “…a pair of shoes, a stone house, a flock of sheep and a rifle.”

    It’s not all you need, but it’s a start.

  14. I have to vote for the car crash death as preferable – a 5-time rollover! Outstanding! So much more sporting and, well, exciting than “fell off his horse and kicked to death by it”. That’s just depressing!

    • All that money, and they still die young.

  15. I’m starting to really enjoy my rather pedestrian life of contentment, good food, and love. I mean, when you marry and divorce so often, isn’t it hard to keep track of whose name you are supposed to be calling out in the throes of passion? Supposing there were actually any throes going on in that bunch.

    • I’d forgo passion for that hat.

      No I wouldn’t I lie. I lie badly.

  16. Love that Chrysler Building outfit. Want that hat. NEED that hat.Need it.Oh, and the Imperial boots are rather tasty, too. But that hat….

    • dinah, you’re talented enough to make a hat like that for yourself

  17. Now I’m humming “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” by the Crash Test Dummies.

    • Oh no. now I am too

  18. Polo would be so much safer if it were played on motorcycles.

  19. Those millions certainly seemed to have bought neither happiness nor immunity from bizarre accidents

  20. I wore a pair of those motocross boots before I ever knew they were designed to ride motorcycles.. . Yeah, had a blue jean jacket with Purple mushrooms ironed on the back.. then I discovered Motorcycles, and ripped them all to hell…
    Not intentionally of course…

  21. There’s quite a few people I’d like to see rendered permanently speechless. A lot of politicians, preachers and so-called comedians for a start.

  22. Yes, biting one’s tongue off could sure render one speechless. Bummer.

  23. Nursie I just had to share – have finished a book about Houdini and Conan Doyle and saw the name “Mdivani” mentioned at the end. One of Conan Doyle’s boys, Adrian, married Princess Nina Mdivani. Both the boys proved a bit flighty actually. Not what I expected!


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