Monthly Archives: April 2019

Irene and her prince

Here’s a photo from the May 19 1925 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that yielded a fascinating story:

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Irene Marcellus, who was apparently considered “the girl with the most beautiful figure in America” at one time, was working as an artist’s nude model when she met Sarath Kumar Ghosh, also calling himself Prince Sarath Ghosh of Ghoshpara, who was travelling the United States giving lectures about India. Ghosh befriended Ms. Marcellus and her sister; he apparently fell in love with her, but she refused to marry him.

When Mr. Ghosh passed away unexpectedly in 1920, he left his estate to the two Marcellus sisters and to Annabelle Stretch, who worked as a stenographer, on the condition that they “abandon their present work of posing as artist models in the nude and to use their respective legacies to fit themselves to earn their livelihood in another manner.” Ms. Stretch had never worked as a model, but whatever.

Ms. Marcellus continued on the stage for a while, appearing in the Ziegfeld Follies between 1920 and 1923. She then gave it up to concentrate on sculpture, and apparently to hope that there was more money in Mr. Ghosh’s estate than the $5,000 that was known about.

A Google search turned up a long article on Ms. Marcellus and Mr. Ghosh in the July 12, 1925 edition of the Helena Daily Independent, which was the source of much of this material. It’s fascinating (if somewhat overblown) reading. I could find no record of her after this, so I have no idea whether she got any more money or had any success as a sculptor.

Among other things, Mr. Ghosh (or perhaps Prince Sarath) was a writer. His two-part series titled The Wonders of The Jungle (published in 1915 and 1918) is available on the Project Gutenberg website here and here; I haven’t read any of either book. The Secret Desi History and Pulp Flakes websites have a lot of information on this self-styled prince.

Wikimedia Commons has photographs of Ms. Marcellus, some of which may be NSFW.

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The Countess of Seafield

The May 19 1925 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a photograph of the Countess of Seafield, a Scottish peeress who was extremely wealthy:

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The Countess of Seafield had held her peerage since the age of nine. In 1915, her father, James Ogilvie-Grant, had been killed in the First World War, so she inherited his title. Her father had also been Baron Strathspey, Baron Colquhoun, and the chief of Clan Grant, but these honours could go to male heirs only, so they went to his younger brother.

The Countess was born Nina Ogilvie-Grant, and then became Nina Studley-Herbert when she married her husband in 1930. She later became one of the seven godparents of Antony Armstrong-Jones, who was eventually Princess Margaret’s husband. That’s a lot of hyphenated names.

As it turned out, she got to keep her title; she held it until her death in 1969. At that time, she was the second-richest woman in Britain; Queen Elizabeth II was first.

Rent-a-lion

From the “I’m not sure this is a good idea department”: the May 19 1925 edition of the Toronto Daily Star mentioned that anyone in New York could rent a live lion from the Central Park Zoo.

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I suppose that the lions had long since become habituated to humans and were no longer dangerous, but this just seems like a bad idea on so many levels.

How Nancy looks now

The April 17 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star included a photograph of a woman from Seattle who had become the wife of the former Maharajah of Indore.

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Google searches turned up the following:

  • The former Maharajah, Tukojirao Holkar III, abdicated in favour of his son in 1926, having reigned for 23 years.
  • Press reports of the time claim that the former Maharajah tried to kidnap a dancer and abdicated to avoid being tried by the British for the crime.
  • The former Maharajah already had two wives when he met Ms. Miller, and threatened them and his parents with suicide if he could not marry her. He also apparently kidnapped a woman and her daughter and was swindled by his butler, who stole his car collection in 1922.
  • The couple had four daughters.
  • He passed away in 1978, and she remained at Indore until she passed away in 1995.

Principals in romance

The April 17 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a photograph of a principal and a kindergarten teacher who had gotten married:

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Out of curiosity, I traced Mr. Watson in the Toronto city directories (the directories only list heads of households, so I couldn’t trace her). He and his wife didn’t live on Glenholme Avenue very long – he is listed in the 1928 directory as rooming on Atlas Avenue, I couldn’t find him in the 1929 directory at all, and the 1930 directory lists a J. R. Watson working as a teacher at Humewood School and living on Winona Drive.

He is listed as either a teacher or a principal at Humewood School until 1939, moving at least twice more. I couldn’t find him or his wife after that; I assume that they moved out of the city. Humewood School still exists.

Titled smith marries actress

The April 17 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this brief notice about a British aristocrat who had married a young actress:

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Hermione Baddeley (1906-1986) went on to have a distinguished career in movies and television. Among other roles, she played Mrs. Cratchit in the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol, and a housekeeper in the TV series Maude. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in Room At The Top (1959), despite her part lasting only 2 minutes and 32 seconds.

The article on the marriage of David Tennant (misspelled in the article) and Ms. Baddeley doesn’t mention that she was an hour late for the wedding, having misremembered the time of the ceremony. This might have been foreshadowing: the couple divorced in 1937, but apparently remained good friends.

Claims record

Here’s a bit of filler from the June 15 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

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Since the Guinness Book of Records was not founded until 1954, we have no way of knowing whether this was, in fact, a record. I also have no idea why young David would have wanted to do this.

A Google search for David Deweese turned up nothing. The Deweese surname seems to be reasonably common in the area of New Albany, Indiana, but I couldn’t find anything on him or anyone who was related to him.