[19], In 1974, she married Niels H. Lauersen, another physician, who was 20 years her junior. Together, the pair resided in Rhode Island, in a home called "Holiday House" that Swift now owns. [3] Harkness would also continue to study dance and piano, and studied ballet with Victoria Cassau, who was a student of Anna Pavlova. Donning a black chiffon Mainbocher dress with a white silk back-tied apron, she flashed a wry smile at the camera. [3] Rebekah Harkness was born in 1915 to a rich, emotionally frigid St. Louis family. NEW YORK -- Rebekah West Harkness, noted patron of the dance and medical research, is dead at 67. The couple married in 1947 and purchased the seaside Rhode Island home that Taylor now owns and named it ‘Holiday House.’. She married her second husband, Standard Oil heir William Hale Harkness, in 1947. When she died in 1982, Harkness had demanded her ashes be put in a $250,000 jeweled Salvador Dalí urn. [20] They divorced in 1977. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast. The subject of “Folklore” music “The Final Great American Dynasty,” Harkness — née Rebekah Semple West — was born in 1915 to “a prosperous, emotionally frigid St. Louis household,” in accordance to the New York Situations, and in 1947 married William Hale Harkness, her 2nd spouse and heir to the Common Oil fortune. But equally unapologetic as Swift. The question Swift would have you ask is how much of this reputation was deserved and how much was the result of gossip or judgmental peers. “Rebekah rode up on the afternoon train / It was sunny,” Taylor Swift croons in her new song “The Last Great American Dynasty.” In 3 minutes 51 seconds, Swift tells the story of Harkness’s legacy through lyrics. [9][15] Following the divorce, Harkness gained custody of both children. Tabloids became fascinated with Harkness as she was known for being an eccentric, who filled her pool with Dom Pérignon and dyed her neighbor's cat green following an argument. Before his death in August 1954, they had one child together; Edith Hale Harkness (1948–1982). Who Is Rebekah West Harkness? In 1915, Rebekah West was born in St. Louis to Mr. and Mrs. Allen Tarwater West. Following her death, a memorial was held at the family home before Harkness was cremated, and her ashes were placed in a $250,000 spinning urn designed by Salvador Dalí, then placed in the Harkness Mausoleum in Woodlawn Cemetery. [7] In addition to founding the Harkness Ballet, Harkness launched a ballet school and home for the company called Harkness House,[8] as well as a refurbished 1,250-seat theater, which presented the Harkness Ballet and other dance companies to New York audiences. The caption read: “A young woman with a surprising range of interests, Mrs. Harkness is a sculptor, a musician of professional standing (she’s a member of ASCAP), a skier (she’ll soon off to her chalet in Gstaad with her three children for a holiday), and an active supporter of many charities.” Below her in the spread? Her 1955 tone poem, Safari Suite, was performed at Carnegie Hall, and in 1957 she released an album titled Music With a Heartbeat. In her day, Harkness was as much of a media darling as Swift is now, and often the target of unfavorable headlines and press coverage. Born in 1915 in St Louis, Missouri, Harkness was the second daughter of prominent stockbroker Allen Tarwater and his wife, also named Rebekah. Rebekah Harkness, as seen in the December 1956 issue of. [17], In 1961, Harkness married Ben Kean (c. 1912–1993),[18] a physician who was a professor of Tropical Medicine at the Cornell Medical College. Born Rebekah Semple West, Harkness was a patron of the arts and philanthropist. Rebekah Harkness in 1966, Taylor Swift in 2020. She was 67 years old. The wedding was charming, if a little gauche. Scevers had a disdain for Harkness's family, and was one of the last people to speak with Harkness alive. The Robert Joffrey Company summer workshop at Rebekah Harkness' Watch Hill estate in Rhode Island, July 1962. Harkness supported medical research on Parkinson's disease. Her grandfather founded the St. Louis Union Trust Company, ensuring she grew up comfortably. In her obituary, she’s credited with supporting the Joffrey and Jerome Robbins ballet companies. It’s here where Rebekah catapulted into high society. [14], Known for having many lovers throughout her life, her final lover was a man by the name of Bobby Scevers,[14] a dancer who was 25 years her junior and a self-identified homosexual. Their wedding took place at 730 Park Avenue, which was William’s apartment. Read next. [2], After graduating in 1932, she and a group of female friends formed the Bitch Pack, a sub-culture of local debutantes who enjoyed subverting society events, including lacing punchbowls with mineral oil and performing stripteases on banquet tables. The best new culture, style, and beauty stories from Vogue, delivered to you daily. Their Rhode Island estate, Holiday House, was the site of some raucous Gatsby-esque parties: Blue Blood recalls that Harkness once filled her pool with Dom Perignon (which, oddly, was not the only liberty she took with libations: it’s also said she put scotch in her fish tank). The mansion was once owned by Rebekah Harkness, a high profile socialite who famously married into the Standard Oil fortune. They picked out a home and called it "Holiday House" Their parties were tasteful, if a little loud. Meet the previous resident of Swift's stately mansion in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. The two purchased a mansion in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, which they nicknamed Holiday House. Upon her death in 1982, Rebekah Harkness was called many things in her New York Times obituary. In 1946, when Annabelle was 2, her mother divorced Dickson Pierce. Swift’s new song, ‘The Last Great American Dynasty’ is about Rebekah Harkness, the eccentric socialite who previously lived in the Watch Hill, Rhode Island mansion that Swift purchased in 2015 Rebekah Harkness inherited the vast Standard Oil fortune after her husband William Harkness died in 1953; the couple purchased the seaside mansion in 1947 as newlyweds and named it ‘Holiday House’ Due to her family's wealth, she was raised by a series of nannies, and attended a finishing school after High School. [6] When the Joffrey Ballet refused to rename their company in Harkness' honor, she withdrew funding and hired most of the Joffrey dancers to her new company, the Harkness Ballet. First, a brief biography: Born Rebekah Semple West in St. Louis in 1915, Harkness was a divorcée whose second marriage was to Standard Oil heir William Hale Harkness. The couple was married just seven years before William passed away of a heart attack, leaving the Harkness fortune and Holiday House to Rebekah. St. Louis, MO 63119 She was 67.) Harkness was friends with a young Potter Stewart, whom she affectionately called "Potsie," and their relationship was written about by her biographer Craig Unger. Their wedding took place at 730 Park Avenue, which was William’s apartment. The widow went on to marry twice more, for a total of four marriages throughout her lifetime. Due to her family's wealth, she was raised by a series of nannies, and attended a finishing school after High School. Harkness, the anti-heroine of “The Last Great American Dynasty,” was born in 1915 and married her second of four husbands, Standard Oil tycoon William Hale Harkness, in 1947. A patron of dance and medicine. In the first verse of “The Last Great American Dynasty,” Swift sings that the ceremony “was charming, if a little gauche / There’s only so far new money goes.”. Thomson Asks States to Sue the U.S.", "Out of Prison, Doctor Hopes to Regenerate His Lost Fame", "Taylor Swift is buying into a rich Watch Hill tradition", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Rebekah_Harkness&oldid=995193859, Short description is different from Wikidata, Wikipedia articles with SNAC-ID identifiers, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 19 December 2020, at 19:08. “Picking up a pen was my way of escaping into fantasy, history, and memory,” Swift says of the inspiration behind her album, Folklore. Harkness donated $2 million to the William Hale Harkness Medical Research Building at the New York Hospital. In the first verse of “The Last Great American Dynasty”, Swift sings that the ceremony “was charming, if a little gauche / There’s only so far new money goes”. The wedding was charming, if a little gauche There's only so far new money goes The newly married couple moved into "Holiday House," but after suffering two heart attacks William Harkness died in 1954 leaving Rebekah an exorbitantly wealthy widow. [15] They divorced in 1965. It’s estimated she spent the 2020 equivalent of $86 million on the endeavor. 1944). In 1947, Rebekah married husband number two, Standard Oil heir William "Bill" Harkness, whom she met at Watch Hill, her parents' summer holiday mansion in Rhode Island. Harkness' passions for dance and music followed her into adulthood. A philanthropist, Harkness supported the Joffery Ballet for years, as well as the Harkness Ballet Foundation and the William Hale Harkness Foundation. 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