Known as the "other Washington monument, " Alice Roosevelt Longworth knew personally every president from Benjamin Harrison to Jimmy Carter, and for over 70 years reigned as Washington's grandest grande dame. Here is both the delightful and the dark sides of her life....
|Title||:||Princess Alice: The Life and Times of Alice Roosevelt Longworth|
|Number of Pages||:||340 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Princess Alice: The Life and Times of Alice Roosevelt Longworth Reviews
A poisonous, unpleasant woman emerges from Carol Felsenthal's well researched but gossipy biography; Felsenthal provides ample reasons why Alice Roosevelt was a bad daughter, wife and mother - dead mother, distant father, Cinderella's stepmother of a stepmother, alcoholic husband, alcoholic daughter, alcoholic son-in-law. But she still comes across as something of a hag. Alice Roosevelt the caricature was all about fun, and wicked quips, and flasks of illegal moonshine, and big feathered hats. The life and times of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, at least in Felsenthal's book, was a much darker place. I don't think I'd want to be Alice Roosevelt's friend or family member; I certainly wouldn't want to be her enemy. Maybe a fly on the wall at one of her famous teas or dinner parties though.
Go ask Alice, I Think She Knows (Everybody)Note to the reader: This review contains spoilers, if a review of a biography can have spoilers. The book is out of print, you can’t buy it on Amazon and can probably only get it at a used-bookstore or your local library so I feel as if it’s safe to recount a lot of what’s in the book. You’re probably not ever going to read it. Long before the Kardashians or before twitters and tweets, or even before radio and television, America had its sweetheart, a pop-culture icon before there was pop culture – Alice Longworth Roosevelt (1884-1980) the oldest daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt. I’m too old to care one way or the other about the Kardashians but I was always amused by Alice, she of the acid tongue. Alice captivated America for nearly one hundred years, although toward the end, her audience was reduced to a much smaller circle, a circle that, however small, included everybody who mattered in Washington D.C. and some who didn’t matter and only wished they did. Hers was a much sought after imprimatur for any politician seeking the national stage. Part of Alice’s appeal and of her legacy, was her longevity – from The Spanish-American War to the Iranian hostage crisis. She was a rebellious teenager in the White House at the beginning of the century, (sneaking cigarettes on the roof,) and an acid-tongued commentator for decades afterward, and she comes to life in all her glory in Carol Felsenthal’s brilliant, immensely-readable, gossipy, entertaining, oh so entertaining biography, published in 1988.Alice was outrageous ─ moments before she died, she impishly stuck her tongue out at her granddaughter’s boyfriend, and clever – she’s credited with having called presidential candidate Thomas Dewey “the little man on the top of a wedding cake,” and to have said about the dour President Coolidge, “he was weaned on a pickle.” It could be Alice didn’t stick her tongue out at the boyfriend or say either of those things, but if she didn’t, she should have and she certainly would have been proud, if she had.Alice was famous for being famous. The newspapers in the early twentieth century could never get enough of her, nor could the American public. She was adept at titillating, which was, after all, her role. She sassed America’s leaders, smoked in public, stayed out late partying (and sometimes arrived with an eight-foot boa constrictor wrapped around her neck,) and she was never at a loss for words. Her wedding was Princess Di-like, Alice receiving presents from all over the world, including diamonds from the German Kaiser and fabric from the Dowager Empress of China. (Remember “55 days at Peking”? That dowager.) A storybook life for poor Alice.Poor Alice?Her wealth and fame (and there wasn’t so much wealth as maybe what people thought,) could only partially mitigate her unhappy family dynamics. Her dad, Teddy, growing up, was sweet on Edith Carow and the family assumed he’d marry her, which he did, eventually, but not until after he’d gone away to college (from New York to Boston) and met and fell in love with Alice Hathaway Lee and married her. They had a daughter, our Alice. Two days after giving birth, Mrs. Roosevelt died (in the same house and on the same night as Teddy’s mom died, February 14, 1887, Happy Valentines Day, Teddy.) Teddy immediately took off for the Dakotas and Alice was raised on and off, more or less, by Teddy’s sister, Auntie Bye. Teddy eventually married Edith and they had a large family and Edith and Alice, stepmother and stepchild, didn’t get on so well. Edith felt Alice didn’t know her place, Alice felt her place was wherever she decided it was, and if Alice was famous for put-downs, she found herself on the other side, on her wedding day. Alice and her husband (Congressman and future Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nick Longworth,) were leaving for their honeymoon and Alice went to her stepmother to say goodbye.“I want you to know I am glad to see you leave,” Edith said. “You have never been anything but trouble.”Ouch.Teddy, though often frustrated by his daughter’s antics, was generally amused by her irrepressibility.Alice had her own standards for judging people, of deciding who would be allowed into her circle and who would be excluded. It was an emphatic no to cousins Franklin and Eleanor. (FDR’s tenure in the White House, fifteen years, was probably longer for Alice than for anyone else.) She liked JFK and LBJ and though a rock-ribbed Republican, she probably voted more than once for the Democratic candidate for president. She liked Nixon although he disappointed her at the end, not because of Watergate but because of his wimpy defense and she wasn’t fond of at least one of Nixon’s daughters. Alice didn’t like Ike, too boring, or Carter, too sanctimonious, or Gerry Ford, although when Alice smacked-down Ford and discovered he wasn’t as easy a target as she’d assumed, she gained some respect for him.It wasn’t political affiliation that determined a thumbs-up or thumbs down from Alice, it was how well could you converse and banter. Conversation was like tennis, you had to volley, and if Alice didn’t like you, if you didn’t measure up, she might just have you along anyway, to eviscerate you in front of an audience.One of her most withering put-downs actually came at the expense of someone she adored ─ Bobby Kennedy. It’s shocking and fascinating, like a car wreck. Alice famously belittled Senator Joe McCarthy, and not because she disapproved of what he was doing. She only turned against him when she decided he was boorish, the wrong man for the work he was doing. She liked the snake-oil, she just didn’t care much for the salesman.Alice, while married to the speaker of the house, had a daughter by U.S. Senator William Borah. Alice wanted to name the child Deborah. De-borah. Get it? Heh, heh, heh. Nick, fairly certain he’d been cuckolded and already the butt of enough jokes, wouldn’t allow it. With all of the fascinating characters who pass into and out of the book at Alice’s bidding, there may be none as fascinating as Putzi Hanfstaengl, fascinating because he was so creepy.Hanfstaengl had a German father and an American mother and spent time in both countries. In America, he often hung out (dallied?) with Alice and in Germany, he was one of the first to hitch his star to Adolph Hitler. Putzi and his wife are each credited with having saved Hitler’s life when Hitler was just starting to find his way in politics. Putzi and Hitler were in a car one day and were stopped by some German communists. It was the time when the fascists and the communists were contending for control of Germany and the communists at the roadblock were considering killing Hitler and maybe would have, had Putzi not convinced them Hitler was just a valet. Later on and with Hitler’s career seemingly stalled, he was depressed and about to blow his brains out and would have, had Putzi’s wife not talked him out of it.A lot of what Alice said and did was funny and had people shaking their heads but it wasn’t all funny. Paulina, the daughter by the prominent senator, lived in mortal terror of her mom, so much terror that whenever in the presence of her mom, the poor girl fell completely apart, stuttering and shaking uncontrollably. Paulina eventually found and married a man who wasn’t intimidated by Alice but the marriage only lasted a few years. The husband drank himself to death and five years later, Paulina committed suicide.Nothing funny about that.
Very interesting, I highly recommend it. What a nasty woman she was, but what a terrible childhood she had.
She had a pillow made for her living room that said, "If you have nothing nice to say, sit next to me". I read this in a news article and that was enough for me to want to get to know her better. This fiercely private but very public woman knew all, saw all, and influenced Washington politics in a way no woman has since. Behind her savvy and acerbic wit you find a girl who misses her mother who died at birth and trying to get the attention of a father too focused on his career to give her notice.
TRY CAROL FELSENTHAL'S BIOGRAPHY IF YOU CAN FIND IT. I THOUGHT IT WAS A+.IT'S BEEN A FEW YEARS SINCE I'VE READ IT, BUT INO I CAME OUT OF THE BOOK THINKING ALICE WAS SUPER INTERESTING AND ENTERTAINING. KIND OF AWFUL, TOO, BUT IDR WRY I THOUGHT THAT.
I really loved reading about the personal and family aspects of her life. She was completely fascinating, especially when she was older. The book discussed a few too many somewhat trivial political figures and politics for me though.
not a very likable woman in text, but she definitely must have been fun in person!
The TR quote should say it in a nutshell: "I can be president or I can control Alice. I cannot do both."