Evelyn Nesbit Biography


Birthday: December 25, 1884 (Capricorn)

Born In: Tarentum, Pennsylvania, United States

Evelyn Nesbit was an American actress, artists’ model, and a chorus girl in the early 20th century. She was an extremely popular face in newspapers, magazines, and pop culture. Soon after starting her career, she became a well known cultural celebrity of America. She started her modeling and acting career in Philadelphia before relocating to New York where she reached great heights of fame. Her prime distinction was being widely recognized as a ‘Live Model’, back in a time when fashion photography as a medium of advertising was taking its baby steps into the world of media and marketing. At the early age of fourteen, she had attracted the attention of a 47-year-old New York architect and socialite, Stanford White. White took great interest in Nesbit and initially warmed up to her and her family, impressing them in any way he could to gain their trust. She was later sexually assaulted after being made unconscious by White in his private apartment. Following this horrific incident, she went on to have relationships with several different men, mostly of high stature. The most significant of these was Harry Kendall Thaw, who was the son and heir of a Pittsburgh coal and railroad baron.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Florence Evelyn Nesbit

Died At Age: 82


Spouse/Ex-: Harry Kendall Thaw (m. 1905–1915), Jack Clifford (m. 1916–1933)

father: Winfield Scott Nesbit

mother: née Evelyn Florence McKenzie

siblings: Howard

children: Russell William Thaw

Born Country: United States

Actresses American Women

Died on: January 14, 1967

place of death: Santa Monica, California, United States

U.S. State: Pennsylvania

Childhood & Early Life
Florence Evelyn Nesbit was born on 25 December 1884 in Tarentum, a town near Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, to Winfield Scott Nesbit and his wife, Evelyn Florence McKenzie. She had a brother named Howard. Her father passed away when she was only 11.
Her mother tried to turn their home into a boarding house but with minimal success. They were frequently left with so little money that they were literally reduced to eating mustard sandwiches to survive.
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When Evelyn was fourteen years old, her mother moved their family to Philadelphia, and found work at Wanamaker’s department store. Evelyn’s lovely features and attractiveness soon caught the attention of a local artist, Mrs. Darragh, who was impressed by her beauty and asked Evelyn to pose for a portrait. He girl had the facial structure that artists simply loved to sketch.
She was soon sought out by well-known artists such as Carl Bender and F.S Church. After that, Evelyn met and posed for Carroll Beckwith who then introduced her to other New York artists such as Charles Dana Gibson and photographers such as Rudolf Eickemeyer. Before long, she became one of the most popular artists’ models in the city. Evelyn grew more famous as her pictures started to appear in newspapers.
She was also contacted by theatrical producers for features and shows, regardless of whether she actually had any real acting talent. She appeared in several films in her career, mostly in lead roles. Her film credits include ‘The Woman Who Gave’ and ‘Redemption’.
Major Works
Evelyn Nesbit published two memoirs, ‘The Story of my Life’ in 1914 and ‘Prodigal Days’ in 1934. She had acted in many films, such as ‘The Woman Who Gave’, ‘The Fallen Idol,’ ‘The Hidden Woman’ and ‘Redemption’.
Personal Life
Evelyn Nesbit’s first relationship was with Stanford White, the most famous architect in New York at the time. When they first met, Evelyn was just a teenager and Stanford was 47, married with a wife and son. Stanford used to take Evelyn and her mother out shopping and helped them financially as well. He also sent Evelyn’s brother to a military school. White helped the Nesbits move to a better apartment in New York.
Once when Evelyn was alone with Stanford in his private apartment, he intoxicated her with champagne that was drugged and sexually assaulted her. This was a traumatic incident; yet at the end of her life, Evelyn claimed that Stanford White was the only man she had ever loved. Following the rape, Evelyn became White’s mistress for about a year.
Evelyn was courted by several men; one of the notable ones was John Barrymore who she dated for a while.
Later on, she met Harry K Thaw of Pittsburgh. Harry was the heir to a multi-million dollar mining and railroad fortune. Thaw pursued her relentlessly, but Evelyn learnt that he was addicted to cocaine and morphine. Thaw was also prone to temper tantrums, fits, and violent outbursts.
Thaw had an instinctive hatred for Stanford White and constantly pressed Evelyn for information regarding their relationship. When he found what White had did to her that night, he flew into a rage and beat Evelyn with a whip mercilessly and sexually abused her.
Evelyn returned to New York and sought out Stanford and let him know what happened. At this point in time, Stanford had already found another young lover and Evelyn ended up returning to Thaw. Evelyn and Harry Thaw got married on April 4, 1905 in Pittsburgh; she was 20 and he was 33.
On June 25, 1906, Evelyn and Thaw were in New York. At the end of a show at Madison Square Garden where Stanford White was also present, Thaw approached him with a pistol and fired three shots into Stanford’s head and back, killing him instantly. Following this murder, the press went into frenzy. There were two long and arduous trials and Thaw was sentenced to incarceration for life in a Mental Asylum-Prison in Beacon, New York.
Later Life & Death
Evelyn Nesbit gave birth to a son, Russell William Thaw in 1910; the child’s paternity is disputed. She legally divorced Harry Thaw in 1915. She then married dancer Jack Clifford, but even this marriage was not a success and ended in divorce.
She lived most of her final years in Northfield, New Jersey. She died in a nursing home in Santa Monica, California on January 17, 1967, at the age of 82. Her final resting place is Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

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