Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Peggy Hopkins Joyce

You know how some of you have suggested that I write a book about the doomed starlets I've been profiling recently?

Well, if I take your advice, I've found the perfect inspiration.



Gold Digger is one of the most well-written biographies I have read in ages. It follows the life of Peggy Hopkins Joyce, an influential and much-forgotten American celebrity from the 1920s.



Peggy was the first tabloid-created celebrity in American history. (Think Anna Nicole Smith meets Kim Kardashian.) Peggy was beautiful, incredibly vain, disgustingly naive, materialistic, superficial, and shallow beyond belief.

America loved to hate her.



Peggy was born to a lower-middle class family in Virginia and obsessively dreamed of being a rich bitch since childhood.

When she was a teenager, Peggy gave the middle finger to her hometown and took off with a theatrical group, in hopes of being a star. She wanted to be a silver screen goddess, or at least find a millionaire to marry.



She ended up marrying a series of wealthy men, but it was a high-profiled divorce with her third husband during the early 1920s which made her an international tabloid sensation.



During the trial, it was revealed that Peggy lived a lifestyle most Americans couldn't even fathom. She was draped in $60,000 fur coats and wore diamonds worth millions. Her mansions and trips to Europe were laced with astounding luxury.



And her love life was scandalous enough to make even the most lecherous of men blush. A raging nymphomaniac, Peggy slept with hundreds of men, most who bought her jewels and designer clothes.



The public couldn't get enough. When the divorce was finalized, Peggy still made front page news around the globe, throughout the 1920s, for her indiscreet liasons, outrageous purchases, and fabulous fashion.



She is one of the first American celebrities to be a fashion icon, in fact. Almost every single newspaper article about her described in detail the exact outfit she was wearing. Women everywhere desperately tried to copy her glamorous style.

She was the most famous woman in the entire world.



When she wasn't busy spreading her legs for millionaires and granting interviews to an adoring media, Peggy dabbled in silent films and theater. But it got her nowhere because she had absolutely no talent.



Some of her most famous affairs include Charlie Chaplin (who described Peggy in his autobiography as being "crazy") and Walter Chrysler (the automobile legend was so obsessed with Peggy he bought her the most iconic diamond in the world).



Six of her former lovers were so distraught she dumped them, they committed suicide.

She received thousands of fan letters per day, mostly from worshipful teenage girls who adored her style and middle-aged men who begged her for one night of passion.

Unfortunately, however, the good life didn't last long for Peggy.



By the 1940s, she was getting older and a slowing metabolism took away her girlish figure. Her looks were fading. Men didn't find her appetizing anymore.

Since her beauty and youth were her meal ticket, Peggy found herself selling fur coats and diamonds to stay afloat. She was so depressed, she became an uncontrollable alcoholic.



By the late 1950s, she died of throat cancer in relative obscurity and with a modest savings.

Today, barely anyone knows she even existed.

You simply have to read this book.

49 comments:

Betty Manousos@ Cut and Dry said...

brilliant post and photos!

just stopping by to wish you and yours a very happy xmas!

hugs!
xx

Gayatri said...

Yes, I simply have to read this book. What is it about these women that just has me hooked!

Mouthwash said...

What an incredibly sad story! She lived fast and basically died young and forgotten. But, DANG! 6 men committed suicide?! What was she doing?!


Amber

Arielle said...

Wow, what an interesting book! I really want to read it now.

Shannon said...

Wow. You can't make this stuff up. She sounds like she would have made young Madonna blush...

Sarah said...

I love all the stories that you post! Merry Christmas my dear! :)
x

socialitedreams said...

wow, what a woman! made 6 men commit suicide? i so want to know what the heck was the draw! lol

KorasVictory said...

Great post, I loved the pics,and ill try to find the book in spanish, I really would like to read it.

Mabel said...

How have I not heard of this woman? Anna Nicole Smith meets Kim K. is right. What a bizarre life story!

Mabel
Mabel Time

Stephanie said...

Who knows...maybe someday I'll be reviewing one of your books. Love the photos and the stories!

David L Macaulay said...

you really should write a book about doomed starlets as you are so knowlegable on the issue

Rachel {Da Paura ♥} said...

So interesting, and how sad! By the way, you comment recently was really such a sweet compliment...so honored that you compared me to a Hitchcock blonde! :):)

xx
Rachel

Nicole✗✗ said...

Oh wow this was pretty intriguing!! I just might have to give the book a go. It's a bit sad how it ends but at the same time it's important to realize that looks only get you so far.

Julie @ ROJ Running said...

1. - It did her no good because she didn't have any talent....hahahahah forever. 2 - uncontrollable alcoholic, because luckily some people are the controllable kind of addict. I just love the way you write

btd. said...

It's crazy that she was so famous, even though she had no talent. I guess that's what being a bitch will get you! I'm going to track down that book now!

Meri said...

sounds like a fascinating book! The nymphomania part is a twist on the usual same old story like this!

Swarnali said...

That was a very informative post...I need to get that book ...thanks :)

A Heel in Mint said...

Great post. Very engaging and you take us down to her level with your writing with the right tone and personality. She sounds crazy :)

xx
Heel in Mint

French Girl in Seattle said...

Nicely written, Jenny. I can tell you did not care much for the gold digger, even though her life was crazy enough to become fascinating. She was beautiful indeed, quite mesmerizing in fact. You write, quite honestly, that she had no talent. Well, she had at least one: she was stylish and inspired many other women with her flair for fashion. I can't say the same about Anna Nicole Smith or one of these awful Kardashian girls! ;-) Interesting story. I had never heard about her. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

Josie said...

Jen, this book sounds AMAZING! We're always so fascinated with these women.
xo Josie
www.winksmilestyle.com

azu said...

Um.

I don't even know what to say. I'm still shocked that six of her past lovers committed suicide. That is probably one of the craziest things I've ever heard. She must have been talented at something...

I want to read that book now. Crazy people make the best stories.

PS. Her fur coat at the end is OUTRAGEOUS! LOL! What is that made out of? A grizzly bear??

Thanks for sharing :)

xo

Elisabeth. said...

Hi beautiful! a lot of tnks for ur comment (: amazing post!

xx from

http://www.princesuka.blogspot.com/

Esmeralda said...

I´ve enjoyed your post so much, I was actually telling my husband what your post was about, I really like reading those kind of stories although they are so sad...
Great post!!!

Gunel (Guni) said...

OMG great post! gotta read this book! I'm following you! Check my blog back and follow if you like! Have a great day! =}

http://www.artbyguni.blogspot.com

Julia, the Thanksgiving Girl said...

Wow, this is true, I don't think I've ever heard of her or if I did, then I must've quickly forgotten all about it. I love this pic of her in the furry dress with a train... Not even sure if it's a dress or a coat, but it looks fab.

And yep, you should totally give writing a book a try!! You have a way with words, especially when it comes to telling these women's stories. I love reading your posts on the subject :)

Fictitious Fashion said...

You described her so beautifully.. wenever u write anythng it seems like u have been der wid dat person.. :)
n i like ur sense of humor too :P
New post~ Christmas Nails: DIY

It's my first Giveaway.. thererfore it would mean a lot to me
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Shalini said...

SIX of her former lovers committed suicide? Whoa, that woman has some powers.

Sreckas said...

That's so interesting. Great post and photos. :)

http://sreckasfashion.blogspot.com/

Savvy Gal said...

interesting women. at least she is honest. : )

Tights Lover said...

Wow. That is an amazing story...although, I loved the line "she had absolutely no talent"...hahahaha!

It always fascinates me how celebrities were often no different back then than they are today, and yet we still can't get enough of them.

I always feel like no-talent celebs like the Kardashians are a recent phenomenon. I guess they aren't. I guess it's been going on forever.

Left Coast Guy said...

I enjoyed your post.

Sadly, the world today is replete with the same kind of person (male and female), you described. It seems there is an endless pitiable tide of lost souls bent upon finding a non-existent meaning in material riches.

Dean
http://leftcoastguy.com

Couture Carrie said...

Awesome bio and pics!
And yes you should totally write a book!

xoxox,
CC

Sam said...

Hi dear, I found this post so fascinating, I had no idea about Peggy until you comprehensively explained it here. Wonderful post! I do hope that you get to writing your book, the concept is interesting. I would be first in line to get a copy

Olga said...

It seems that she was a real "femme fatale". No wonder that she is remembered for her turbulent life more than for the incredible beauty.

azu said...

Hahaha...no worries. I already assumed that you followed. And if you didn't want to I wouldn't hold it against you or anybody else for that matter. But thank you for doing so :)

So, I think that movie is on Netflix. It has to be. If you know someone that has it you can also just burn it. The makers of the movie encourage you to make copies and give them away...which says a lot about them.

I was going to say "have a good weekend" and then I realized it's only Wednesday. LOL! So have a good wednesday!

:)

Christine Hopkins said...

wow I need to read this book now haha. Glad you've shared, I learned of a new fashion icon today!

xx christine

seoulandpfassion.blogspot.com

DaphYin said...

A great book recommendation! If I ever spot it I'll read it. Thanks for sharing all this. Didn't know who she was until now.

http://daphyin-makeupisart.blogspot.com

Mary said...

All that retro fashion is so inspirational to me!
thanks for sharing!

http://acupofmary.blogspot.com

Chic 'n Cheap Living said...

Wow, what a life (and especially in those times!)

It's going not the list!

xoxo,
Chic 'n Cheap Living

ASZIYA said...

love this old style its amazning!!

Audrey Allure said...

Wow, so interesting! And you should definitely write a book - your style is so engaging!

Under the Fluorescents said...

love all the vintage photos. the style back then is amazing

http://underthefluorescents.blogspot.com/

SassyUptownChic said...

What a story! She got what she wanted but had to struggle to hold onto it. Thanks for sharing the book. A must read definitely!
http://sassyuptownchic.blogspot.com/

Style Servings said...

Wow, it sounds really interesting, I really enjoyed reading this post!

http://styleservings.blogspot.com/

cocobloggers said...

such an amazing woman....gorgeous post...thanks for sharing...

merry christmas from
http://cocobloggers.blogspot.com/

Ray Cluce said...

You need to read the book to get the facts straight.

Maggie Brydges said...

I wrote a piece about. Peggy and another character from the same era (and same tiny Norfolk, Virginia neighborhood) for Virginia Living magazine a few years back. It was called "The Iron Forger and the Gold Digger" -- I'll send you the link if you're interested --

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your post and have been interested in Peggy since I saw "International House" as a child, an I love it when I find a reference to her from the period in a song or film, but I must point out that the 10th image down is NOT Peggy Hopkins Joyce, but popular singer Ruth Etting (she has the netting on her hip and the long tassel hanging down in back.) http://palruth.home.comcast.net/~palruth/Etting%20Cover%20(Final).jpg

Anonymous said...

Late post, but I found out recently from my grandmother that I'm related to this gold-digger. Fun stuff.