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                                         Gloria Wondrous, Starr Faithfull and Butterfield 8

Yesterday one of our members mentioned Starr Faithfull, so I did some overdue research.

John O'Hara had seen Starr Faithfull around speakeasies but didn't know her well. He admitted she inspired the Gloria Wondrous of Butterfield 8 (1935) - that dark, perhaps black, brilliant sordid novel.

The older Dr. Reddington's abuse of the pre-adolescent Gloria eventually caused her self-destruction (in my opinion).

Here's the real-life background.

Andrews James Peters (1872-1938), whose family had been in Massachusetts since 1657, was a Back Bay Boston Brahmin, Harvard College and Harvard Law School graduate, U.S. Congressman (1907-1914), Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Woodrow Wilson, Mayor of Boston (1918-1922) during the 1919 famous police strike when Calvin Coolidge was Governor. He was married, the father of six.

Mrs. Peter's had a young cousin, Starr Faithfull. In 1917, when Peters was forty five and Starr eleven, he molested her. Just like Dr. Reddington, Peters gave her ether to break down her resistance. It's unclear how long this lasted, but when Starr's family found out, Peters was forced to pay hush money.

Starr never recovered. She led a dissolute life of heavy partying, alcohol, drugs, promiscuity - just like Gloria; and on June 8, 1931 her drugged and bruised body washed up on a Long Island shore.

There's a lot on the web about Starr. Butterfield 8 is not the only book about her.

In the 1960 Butterfield 8 movie, Elizabeth Taylor, who plays Gloria, admits to her mother (Mildred Dunham) a one week affair she had with an older man when she was thirteen and how she loved it. Compared to the novel and the real-life events, the movie is lame, and it's not just the censorship restrictions of the time.

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