Although Starr Faithfull lived for only 25 years, she inspired several authors to write about her. Born January 26, 1906 in Evanston, IL, Starr died in June 1931 after a Long Island boat party.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Starr Faithfull: Strange
The second issue [May 1952] of Strange: The Magazine of True Mystery, fighting to establish an audience, featured Starr Faithfull on the cover. Inside their readership could peruse this article by Tony Field:
The tragic fate of Starr Faithfull
Sunday, January 01, 2006
Starr's 100th Anniversary
On January 31, 1905 John O'Hara was born in Pottsville, PA.
And born on January 26, 1906 in Evanston, Illinois was the beauty who inspired O'Hara to write his 1935 bestseller: Butterfield 8.
Though O'Hara may have called it a roman a clef, the truth really took a beating.
"ON THIS SUNDAY morning in May, this girl who later was to be the cause of a sensation in New York, awoke much too early for her night before. One minute she was asleep, the next she was completely awake and dumped into despair. . . ."
On June 8, 1931, the dead body of a 25-year-old woman named Starr Faithfull was found on a Long Island beach, clad in expensive clothes, her nails manicured, her neck bruised and broken. Was it an accident, a murder, a suicide? Though the circumstances of her death were never resolved, the official inquest kept Jefferson Market Court buzzing for almost six months. Widespread coverage in the daily newspapers mesmerized Americans as well as the British. When the reporters finally tired of the sensational headlines, the novelists jumped aboard. OHara [1905 - 1970] was the first author to spin Starr's fatality into self-advancement; others followed the Benjamins.
Let's celebrate the 100th anniversity of Starr's birth [26 January 2006] by revealing the truth. BUtterfield 8 would never have been her telephone exchange. Starr was a Greenwich Village girl.
She lived with her mother, sister, and step-father at 35 West 9th Street, then at 12 St. Luke's Place.
Starr liked to drink and party, which is how O'Hara met her: at a literary affair.
When young, she was sexually molested by the Mayor of Boston [a trusted family friend], but Starr was NEVER a callgirl, a thief, nor attached to a brothel.
O'Hara took as many liberties with Starr in death as the Mayor had in her youth, ruining her reputation perhaps to stoke his.
Jefferson Market Court, where her autopsy photos were passed around to the media like potato chips, was the hottest place in town during the summer of 1931 - - a spectacle for gawkers and rumor-runners.
It will take more than this, Starr Faithfull, to clear your name. But you are not forgotten.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
The paucity of essential facts
- an excerpt: Time Magazine 29 June 1931 -
. . . But the paucity of essential facts was more than made up for to the Press by Starr Faithfull's background and home life. The family, occupying one floor of a brownstone house, consisted of Starr, her sister, her mother and stepfather, Stanley Faithfull, a not prosperous chemist and salesman for a pneumatic mattress concern. Lean, gimlet-eyed, red-whiskered, bewildered, he talked and talked to the thronging news hawks who came away with many conflicting stories and white lies. For some reason his daughter was made an "heiress" by the first sensational stories, a description soon dropped by all but the tabloids. But other newspapers kept the family endowed with an air of gentility, apparently as an excuse to give the story special attention.
Officials of the United Press, impressed by the national demand for the story, set out to get all they could of it. Believing that reporters on the case were using wrong strategy, they simply asked for, and with the immediately parents. obtained, a They won private Faithfull's interview confidence, persuaded him that a full explanation of Starr's makeup would mitigate the impression of promiscuity which had gone forth. The result, an "exclusive" for the U. P., was the full details of how the girl had been induced to unnatural sexual antics at the age of eleven by the elderly man, a trusted friend of the family; how he had repeatedly over a period of years taken her on automobile trips, stopping at hotels, with knowledge and consent of the parents who never dreamed that his interest was other than fatherly: how Starr, who was emotionally unbalanced as a result, finally made known the facts to her parents; how they obtained a $20,000 settlement from the despoiler to pay for treatment of Starr by psychiatrists and neurologists. For all their effort, they said, Starr never fully recovered normality. With their full knowledge if not their consent she had run around with (and after) all kinds of men in all kinds of places "looking for happiness." In return for the story, Faithfull insisted only on a letter which would prove that no payment was being made for it to him or his family.
The New York World-Telegram and other United Press subscribers embellished Father Faithfull's sad story with facsimiles of erotic pages from Starr's memory book, letters, telegrams. Star writers were put on the lurid story to treat it as an epic of injured innocence, a cause celebre of the decade. Fresh interest, fresh front-page stories (again including the Times) were supplied by the arrival from England of a Cunard Line doctor who revealed that Heroine Faithfull had come to see him on shipboard just before she disappeared from home, that he had sent her away because she was drunk, that she had written him she was going to commit suicide. The doctor's picture now made display material as the epic passed into its third week. Observers marveled at what the great U.S. Press could do with the conjunction of a perfect front-page name, a sexy death mystery, and a spell of hot weather. ...
- - from "The Press: Five Starr Faithfull"
- - excerpt: Time Magazine 29 June 1931 - -
Monday, December 05, 2005
Starr Faithfull: Unknown
Ellen: Of all your books, do you have a favorite? Which one and why?
Sandra: Some Unknown Person. That was published in 1977. It's also based on a true case. The victim was named Starr Faithfull. I did a lot of research because the book takes place between 1901 and 1930. This case was never solved and I solve it fictionally. Half the book is based on my father's family, the other half is the Faithfull story. I've never written an autobiographical novel and this was a way to write about my parents and their families without writing about me, although I make a cameo appearance. I'd written some of my Young Adult novels already but this was my first for adults. . . .
Monday, October 17, 2005
Starr's Saga Told at Harvard
Pforzheimer Student Fellowships Awarded to 14 Undergraduates
Carol K. Pforzheimer Student Fellowships have been awarded to 14 undergraduates to conduct research at the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America. The students will research their senior honors theses or independent projects during this academic year.
The recipients and their topics are:
Leah Newkirk of Adams House and Albany, N.Y.: "Telling the Faithfull Story: Historical Definitions of Violence Against Women and the Assault of Starr Faithfull"; . . . etc.
The Pforzheimer Student Fellowship Program is administered by the Schlesinger Library. The awards are supported by an endowed fund given to Radcliffe College by the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation, Inc., in honor of Carol K. Pforzheimer, who attended Radcliffe College from 1927-1930, and received a bachelor of arts from Barnard College in 1931. A director of the Radcliffe College Alumnae Association from 1964 to 1967, Carol Pforzheimer was a trustee of the College from 1967-1979. She and her late husband, Carl H. Pforzheimer Jr., '28, MBA '30, received Harvard Medals in June 1987 for their extraordinary service to the University. . . .
* * The awards, which range from $100 to $2,500, can cover expenses, or beused as a stipend in lieu of term or summer employment. Projects on women's work and the family, women and health, the history of community service and volunteer work, and the culinary arts are of special interest. These topics reflect the interests of Pforzheimer and those of five of her grandchildren who studied at Harvard and Radcliffe.
Excerpt: The Harvard University Gazette
Printed: December 11, 1997
Copyright 1998 President & Fellows of Harvard College
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Starr Residence: 12 St. Lukes Place
In the summer of 1931, Starr's mother and step-father were dogged by news men, who hung around their Greenwich Village residence - - 12 Saint Lukes Place - - hungrily awaiting a scrap of gossip that could be stretched into a meal fit for a hungry City Room editor.
Friday, September 02, 2005
Title: WOMAN IN THE CASE [London: Robert Hale, 1967]
Hardcover: 2nd Edition, 188pp + illus.
WOMAN IN THE CASE is a study of nine women involved in some of the most infamous crimes. Includes Starr Faithfull; Charlotte Bryant; Gay Gibson; Marguerite Diblanc (Belgian cook and murderess); Jeannette Edmonds, who set off a sex and murder scandal in Gloucestershire in 1871; Valerie Storie and the A-6 murder for which James Hanratty was hanged, etc. [True Crime. First published 1963.]