Brooke Astor and Isamo Noguchi in conversation at Metropolitan Museum in the 1980s. Photo Copyright © DIana Mara Henry.
Excerpt from 'The Last Mrs. Astor'
By Frances Kiernan:
Brooke Russell Astor, who married Caroline Schermerhorn Astor's grandson, would never have made it through the first Mrs. Astor's door. At the time of her predecessor's death in 1908, she was all of six years old. Although she had not been born rich, she saw no reason to hide this fact. She was not connected to an old New York family and betrayed no twinge of regret about it. She made use of the Astor name, along with the Astor money—often for her own purposes but frequently for the benefit of those less fortunate than she was.
Like the first Mrs. Astor, she was always turning up in the pages of the city's newspapers. Unlike the first Mrs. Astor, she could be found outside the Society section. And, unlike the first Mrs. Astor, she felt no need to have anyone speak on her behalf. Words came naturally to her. And while she, too, cherished certain long held beliefs and lived by certain long held standards, she made it a point always to refrain from passing judgment. If she harbored serious reservations about her celebrated predecessor, she never gave voice to them in public. Her interests were diverse, her friends wide ranging. An invitation to one of her parties guaranteed a good time.
On November 18, 1998, ninety years after the first Mrs. Astor's death, Brooke Russell Astor was presented with the Edith Wharton Achievement Award for the "Complex Art of Civilized Living," named for one of her predecessor's bohemian dinner guests. Read more about Brooke Astor