suicide freddy

In 1951, Time Magazine published a lot of purple prose such as this report on the death of Australian Freddy McEvoy, a swashbuckling legend in aristocratic British sporting circles. An expert in shooting, race-car driving, deep-sea diving, and boxing, he competed at the Olympics in 1936 as a bobsled driver. His professions were listed jewelry designer, public relations consultant, professional gambler, smuggler, black marketer, and gigolo.

Freddy in Maserati found here

At the Stork Club, in Paris, on the Riviera and in London’s West End, everybody who was anybody knew Freddy McEvoy. Born to obscurity, the tall, handsome, 44-year-old Australian had the gift of making friends, news, money, and marrying heiresses. His feats of derring-do on the high seas, in the game-filled jungles of Africa and on the icy ski runs of Switzerland gave the international set a vicarious sense of adventure, and earned him the nickname Suicide Freddy. His zesty approach to business matters—he launched the fashion of flowered shirts for men by selling his own right off his back to an Argentine millionaire for $2,000—made him several fortunes. His careless gallantry in the drawing room earned him the undying affection of many, including his first wife, oil heiress Beatrice Benjamin Cartwright. 

floral shirt found here

(He and Cartwright had lived together at the Badrutt Palace in St. Moritz for several winters, prior to their marriage. One year, McEvoy brought home a much younger model to “care for him,” explaining to Cartwright that he needed a younger bedfellow than her. The marriage lasted two years. When they were divorced, he married Irene Wrightsman, 18-year-old daughter of the president of Standard Oil of Kansas. That marriage also lasted but two years, and he spent most of 1944 going back and forth from Mexico City to Beverly Hills, smuggling arms, jewelry, liquor and other valuables into the United States)

Irene and her other boyfriend found here

When rollicking Errol Flynn was hauled into court in 1943 on charges of statutory rape, Freddy McEvoy stood by to say it wasn’t so; Errol was acquitted. When in 1949 Freddy married his third wife, 26 year old French model Claude Stephanie, Errol stood up as best man.

Errol and Freddy found here

Last week, heeding the call of the westering sun and the social season at Nassau, Freddy and Claude boarded their schooner, Kangaroo, and set sail for the Bahamas. A strong southwest gale was rising as the vessel rounded Cape Cantin off the Moroccan coast. The wind seized the yacht, drove it inshore and dashed it on the reefs. A surging wave flung a steward overboard to his death. Another knocked Claude’s French maid Cecile to the deck. McEvoy’s crewmen picked her up and lashed her to a mast for safety, but a moment later the wind tore her loose, and she was washed away.

French Maid found here

All night long winds and sea pounded the yacht while Claude clung desperately to a spar. Before dawn the ship’s cook went mad and drowned himself. At daybreak three sailors succeeded in swimming ashore. The last aboard the yacht, Freddy and Claude, both good swimmers, finally decided to chance it. Side by side they dived into the water. Freddy was within two yards of the beach when he looked back and saw his beautiful wife was in trouble; the playboy-millionaire turned seaward once again. The effort was too much. Just as he reached his wife, Freddy’s strength gave out. A great wave engulfed and drowned them both.

Warning: DO NOT watch Mad Cook if you have a weak stomach:

a trail of dull gold hairpins

Mabel “Nancy” Atherton was a striking divorcee who had sued a previous lover for breach of promise when, instead of marrying her, he ran off with a pretty young actress.

NOT this Nancy (Sinatra) found here

A year later, she in turn was named by Mrs Clara Stirling who sued her husband Jack, Laird of Kippendavie, on the grounds of adultery with Nancy.

NOT this Clara (Bow) found here

Jack counter-petitioned his wife for adultery with his friend Lord “Fatty” Northland, son of the Governor of New Zealand.

The judge Lord Guthrie could scarcely contain himself in the scorching glare of Nancy Atherton’s considerable charms. She was a lady, his Lordship drooled, ‘with gracious manners, the sort of fascination which captivates man indeed’

First to counter these judicial effusions was Nancy’s French maid who told the court she frequently saw her mistress with dashing Jack Stirling on the couch, and found one of his mongrammed handkerchiefs under her pillow. She also saw Nancy in a kimono wrap, her intentions betrayed by a trail of dull gold hairpins scattered in Jack’s bedroom.

French maids found here

Jack not only denied a romance with Nancy, he accused his wife Clara of throwing herself at Fatty Northland when the foursome swanned over to Paris together for the Grand Prix in 1908.

1908 Grand Prix found here

These four, punting by moonlight on the Thames during regatta week at Henley, flitting furtively in and out of restaurants while arranging nightly bedroom toings and froings, danced inevitably towards their own destruction. A divorce was granted to Jack, and Clara lost custody of her two year old son. I learned all this by reading Roger Wilke’s book “Scandal: A Scurrilous History of Gossip“.

But Roger omitted to tell me about the assault charge brought against Clara Stirling’s mother, Mrs Taylor. Because of Fatty Northland’s New Zealand connection, the Taranaki Times reported it in full

Taranaki found here

“Nancy Atherton was plaintiff in a case of alleged assault against 76 year old Mrs Taylor who took out a cross summons for assault. Counsel for plaintiff, Mr Freke Palmer, said the assault took place last Monday. In the past three weeks, Mrs Taylor had been constantly seen near Mrs Atherton’s house and servants had seen her looking in the dining room windows.

image by Bruce Mozert found here

Shortly after 1:00 pm, Mrs Taylor called upon Mrs Atherton and was shown into the drawing room where she asked Nancy a series of delicate questions. When Mrs Atherton refused to answer, Mrs Taylor allegedly jumped from her chair and put her fingers around Nancy’s throat, doing her best to choke her. 

Nancy managed to throw her off and Mrs Taylor rushed downstairs to the dining room when she found the front door was shut. Two servants prevented her from escaping out the window. 

Mrs Taylor alleges she was locked in the house but made no threats and contemplated no violence. After waiting some time, she was frightened by Mrs Atheron’s eyes which blazed like a tiger’s. She opened the window and called to her cabman that she was being held against her will. While trying to escape, two servants pulled and tore at her clothes until they were nearly off.

cat’s eye contact lenses found here

Mrs Taylor was fined two securities of £25.00 each and Mrs Atherton fined £10. They were both ordered to keep the peace for six months.

Another interesting article on the death of Nancy Atherton can be read here