The Swift connection is that the superstar bought Holiday House for a reported $17 million in 2013. From petty paybacks to insane acts of karma, these bitter people somehow found the most ingenious ways…. At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. For example, he liked to vanity-publish nonsensical books that even he admitted were awful. Their antics soon became legendary. For one, her “emotionally frigid” parents wanted absolutely nothing to do with raising her. 6 Things to Know About Rebekah Harkness, the Muse Behind Taylor Swift's 'The Last Great American Dynasty' By Heran Mamo. In 1974, Harkness married again, this time to another doctor named Niels H. Lauersen. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Though the Harkness Ballet was floundering, there was one brilliant choreographer, Larry Rhodes, who received good press. Born in 1915 in St Louis, Missouri, Harkness was the second daughter of prominent stockbroker Allen Tarwater and … (No such record could be found, but the famous Surrealist artist did design the $250,000 jewel-studded urn that held her ashes. Rebekah Harkness was practically destined to become a spoiled little rich girl. Rebekah Harkness spent much of the Standard Oil fortune she inherited on the ballet. The lovely pair only made it four years before divorcing. The Harkness family looked immaculate from the outside…behind closed doors, though, was another story. When Harkness planned to put Angel’s nursery over top of his room, Scevers snapped, “Let the little creature die!” Unfortunately, he was one of the few people still by Harkness’s side when the end came. A 1955 article from The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that one of her works would be premiering at Carnegie Hall in New York City.) And then there were her three children. So what did she do? Anne married Anthony McBride in 1966 and h… The Harknesses were married for a brief period—just seven years. And when the time came to put Harkness into the Chalice of Life, the plot thickened. It's no surprise it was left abandoned upon Harkness's death until Swift began hosting the next generation of A-list parties set on the Atlantic Ocean in 2013. Besides taking pills, the poor girl also jumped off a roof on at least one occasion, and in response, Harkness only mused at her daughter’s various attempts. For a time, Rebekah Harkness appeared to be enamored of the passive child, called Angel. According to Scevers, ”It was complete chaos…everybody running around signing wills and trying on different wigs.” And when Rebekah actually passed on June 17, 1982, things only got weirder from there. Born Rebekah Semple West in St. Louis, Missouri, she was the second daughter of three children of a socially prominent stockbroker, Allen Tarwater, and Rebekah Cook (Semple) West. All rights reserved. The Harkness Foundation for Dance still exists. She applied herself with a rigid, frightening discipline that would become her trademark later in life. Harkness pulled this prank at her own sister’s debutante ball. Before she passed, the socialite spent $250,000 to commission a bedazzled urn from none other than Salvador Dali. By 1982, the end was near for Harkness, yet tragically her son Allen wasn’t there. Rebekah had always been well-off as a child—as you might guess from the string of nannies who raised her—but marrying William Harkness thrust her into an entirely different tier of high society. “How should she do it?” She wondered. They dubbed themselves the “Bitch Pack” and, after graduating in 1932, set about trying to wreak havoc on the socialite scene, one gala at a time. Everyone advised her to get her affairs in order, but as we’ll soon see, things didn’t work out so neatly for Rebekah Harkness in the end. Yet while there, Harkness gave new meaning to the word “prima donna.” The socialite, fancying herself a dance expert, started writing her own ballets. When publicizing her ballet, Harkness became notorious for refusing to showcase any of her talented dancers in the promotional photographs. Well, Harkness couldn’t bear to be upstaged, so she unceremoniously fired Rhodes and doomed her own precious ballet company in the process. Rebekah Harkness in 1966, Taylor Swift in 2020. Though Harkness took those nasty testosterone injections to strengthen her body for dance, the “medicine” actually had the opposite effect. Harkness definitely wasn’t the most fiscally-responsible business woman, but she does have the distinction of being the strangest girl-boss in history. Thanks for your help! Wealthy, elegant, and beautiful, Harkness seemed to have it all—from her oil baron husband to her notoriously raucous parties. Rebekah’s parents hired one nanny specifically because the woman had worked in an insane asylum before. Socialite circles are infamously tight-lipped about their marriages, but there’s almost no doubt that Rebekah’s union with Pierce was a dismal affair—and one day, she made a disturbing confession. Before their divorce in 1946, they had two children; Allen Pierce (b. In the 1960s, Harkness took Bobby Scevers, a dancer who was 25 years her junior, as her lover. Although William Harkness came from a well-respected family that was supposed to give Rebekah even more of the status she craved, William himself was…a total fool. Rebekah Harkness married the heir to the Standard Oil fortune. She supported the arts in general, ballet in particular, and she had the wealth with which to do it. The couple divorced in 1977…but Rebekah’s life was about to take a much darker turn. Catherine of Aragon was King Henry VIII’s first wife and longest-lasting Queen of England. Extravagant Facts About Barbara Hutton, “The Poor Little Rich Girl”, These Cruel Teachers Are The Stuff Of Student Nightmares, Bone-Chilling Moments We'll Never Be Able To Explain, Bloody Facts About Ivan the Terrible, The Mad Tsar Of Russia, Plot Twist: These Surprise Endings Made Our Jaws Hit The Floor, More People Need To Know About Nell Gwyn, England’s X-Rated Cinderella, The Jaw-Dropping Life of Josephine Baker, The Black Pearl Of Paris, Absolute Legends: The Wildest Pranks Ever Pulled, Lawyers Reveal Their Most Jaw-Dropping Court Cases, Overheard Once, Forgotten Never: These Hurtful Comments Are Completely Brutal, I’m Done: These People Quit Their Bad Jobs And Toxic Relationships In Epic Ways. Faced with Edith’s grim drive to end her life, Harkness was coldly philosophical. Without any real studio space, her dancers often practiced on her front lawn. Tragically, she had recklessly spent much of her fortune at this stage, and her ballet school had all but lost its status. The engagement of Miss Edith Hale Harkness to Ken neth Perry McKinnon, a Washington lawyer, has been announced by Mrs. Rebekah Harkness … She once demanded Castelli to, “Kiss me. The most famous “Pack” story from around this time is when, during one particularly boring and respectable soiree, the group decided to spike a punch bowl with laxatives. As we’ll see, Rebekah’s “love” only devolved from there. (Harkness reportedly cleaned her pool with Dom Pérignon.) There's something about the family structure that encourages secrets. In 1954, something curious happened to Rebekah Harkness: Her oil tycoon husband passed. P.O. Rebekah's daughter, Ann-Terry Pierce gave birth to a severely disabled child, named Angel who died at the age of ten. One day, Harkness’s antics were so extreme that they got her kicked off a cruise ship. Her daughter Terry gave birth to a child who died at age 10. But behind her perfect façade lies a chilling history. She stole a neighbor’s dog and dyed it key lime green. (The music site NME is praising the tune as "a contender for the best Taylor Swift song ever written"; you can watch the official lyric video below.) Harkness was surprisingly generous when it suited her, but also unpredictably bizarre. The last great American dynasty, indeed. But Rebekah made the most of it…. Harkness started acting out early in her adolescence, and her antics would put any other mean girl to shame. Their marriage produced one child: Edith Harkness and their marriage lasted harmoniously for 7 years when William Hale Harkness died 1 October 1954 leaving his entire fortune, that included a major share of Standard Oil, to Rebekah to do with as she pleased. Together, the pair resided in Rhode Island, in a home called "Holiday House" that Swift now owns. He was in prison. William, 15 years her senior, saw Rebekah as a “naughty child” in need of a spanking. She all but fired him from his own company, then twisted the knife by taking most of his dancers with her to form her new, solo Harkness Ballet. Jesse Tyler Ferguson and married couple Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively expressed interest in starring in a movie based on Taylor Swift's new track The Last Great American Dynasty.. Reviewers agreed he was one of the company’s only shining lights. Equipped with a ludicrous amount of self-confidence, she did something supremely stupid. I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. And she was just getting started. (Photos: Jack Mitchell/Getty Images, Beth Garrabrant) As the saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history. Harkness was jealous to an absolute fault, and even to her own detriment. She shoved $5 million into building the Harkness Theater, a lavish studio complete with marble staircases and a chandelier, and it was all for nothing: The company collapsed in 1975. A New York Times article described Harkness's unusual upbringing. Find the perfect Rebekah Harkness Pictures stock photos and editorial news pictures from Getty Images. All Rights Reserved. Factinate is a fact website that is dedicated to finding and sharing fun facts about science, history, animals, films, people, and much more. Harkness died of cancer in 1982 in New York City. In addition to her dancing career, Harkness also fancied herself something of a composer, and would often perform her original songs to “polite reception” at famed places like Carnegie Hall in New York. If that sounds like a recipe for disaster, it really was. For all her money, Harkness did not have good taste. Harkness, Rebekah (1915–1982)American composer, sculptor, dance patron, and philanthropist who founded the Harkness Ballet. This week, Taylor Swift showed the world what she’s been working on during quarantine: a new album, Folklore, which the singer-songwriter released late Thursday evening. Harkness only left death in her wake wherever she went. Harkness had no problem dropping Joffrey like a hot potato when he wouldn’t support her dismal vanity projects. Name variations: Betty Harkness. Rebekah divorced Pierce in 1946 after an excruciating seven-year marriage, and it wasn’t long before she set her sights on William Hale Harkness, the heir to the Standard Oil fortune. All the extra rooms would give the nannies plenty of space to feed and bathe the babies without Rebekah having to know a thing about it. Instead, she was reared by a series of nannies—and that’s not even the worst part. Unfortunately for Rebekah, the endeavour ended in national embarrassment and disaster. In the art world, the shade “International Klein Blue” is famous, and was custom-mixed by renowned artist Yves Klein in 1960. Not only did her ballet collapse, her whole family did as well. In recent years, Harkness has gained new fame—or infamy—because of her connection to Taylor Swift. Want to tell us to write facts on a topic? She loved to pour Dom Perignon into her pool and let guests swim around in the bubbly. A philanthropist. 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’ After her husband’s death, she remodeled the home to have 8 kitchens and 21 bathrooms so she could avoid seeing her children when she entertained guests like Salvador Dalí (who later … Now, a grown woman can do whatever she wants in her own bed, but this was a strange choice—and not because of the age gap. There are so many challenges in life; it is very easy to surrender your power of choice to external circumstances, other people, and the world. Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history. The St. Louis–born socialite is the subject of the singer-songwriter's "The Last Great American Dynasty.". The pair was horribly mismatched, with Lauersen a whopping 20 years younger than his bride. Apparently, Harkness liked to reward her boy-toys, because she soon made Castelli the artistic director of her ballet company. To zero people’s surprise, the Harkness family was utterly dysfunctional. In 1961, Harkness gave love another shot, marrying the prominent celebrity doctor Benjamin Harrison Kean. The reason behind this is pure cruelty. A New York Times the article describes Harkness’s unusual upbringing. It was shaping up to be a white-picket fence brood—until, that is, Rebekah proved herself to be an utterly horrific mother. The New York Times described him as an “embarrassing sort of man,” and his hobbies completely back this up. For a time in the 1950s, socialite Rebekah Harkness was true American royalty. Aw, how sweet. Upon her death in 1982, Rebekah Harkness was called many things in her New York Times obituary. Just after 1966, Harkness became a grandmother when her daughter Terry gave birth to a little girl. Friends who knew Rebekah and William said that although the oil tycoon was a bit of an idiot, the new Mrs. Harkness was actually “scared of him”—and for good reason. Rebekah Harkness married heir to Fortune Standard Oil. This had devastating consequences. Scevers and Harkness brought out the worst in each other. Edith often used her mother’s many, many pills to perform these attempts—and Rebekah was anything but empathetic. As Rebekah’s friend said, “Just a leg is in there, or maybe half of her head, and an arm.” So instead of giving her mother a dignified end, Rebekah’s daughter Terry had to carry the rest of her ashes home, bound up loosely in a humble supermarket bag. An artist (a descriptor she bestowed upon herself). Why? The end came swift, fast, and brutal for Harkness. Upon the album’s release, much of the Internet was thrown into a “Who Is Rebekah West Harkness?” madness. After that, Rebekah really let it all hang out. Discover Rebekah Harkness, the extravagant woman who inspired Taylor Swift’s song “the last great american dynasty.”. Rocky, the Beagle, has an amazing nose. Rebekah had already had two children with her first husband, Allen and Anne “Terry” Pierce, and she then had one more child with William, a daughter named Edith. Nonetheless, Harkness actually doted on the babe, and for a time it seemed like she was going to be a better granny than she was a mommy. The book is available for purchase on Amazon for $195, but a May 1988 New York Times review by the late journalist Barbara Grizzuti Harrison clues us into the reported inner world of Harkness as published in the book. Obviously, Rebekah was completely out touch with reality—so her next move makes sense. He uses his nose to find bones, treats, and fun adventures. Rebekah’s parents might not have cared a whit about loving their daughter, but they sure as heck cared about what she looked like. The story of Rebekah Harkness is way more complicated than Taylor Swift lets on. 1940) and Anne Terry Pierce (b. So then Rebekah married big-shot oil tycoon William Hale Harkness. And the dysfunction didn’t end there. Although Catherine's successor Queen Anne Boleyn suffered an infamously dark fate, Aragon's own life was somehow even more tragic. One of her administrators described how Harkness would come to the office in pink and blue leotards, literally stand on her head, and demand to have serious conversations while she performed her acrobatic work. Scevers, as it turned out, was a self-identified gay man, and couldn’t have been in the relationship for romance. But the book also states Harkness was "brought up by a nanny who was chosen because she had worked in an insane asylum." Around this time, Harkness fancied herself a composer. Following the divorce, Harkness gained custody of both children. Instead, she put herself front and center, natch, and the pictures were often just of her doing lift after lift and living out her Dirty Dancing dreams. No clan is left untouched, and even families that seem happy and normal on…. Still, when you marry for money, you earn every penny…. When she was still just a young girl, the Harknesses noticed that their Betty was putting on weight, so they signed the “pudgy” girl up for dance and figure skating lessons to help her shed those unsightly pounds. I want to look away, but I just can’t. Hey, all publicity is good publicity—and Rebekah’s need to be in the spotlight soon grew to disturbing proportions. We’re always looking for your input! Rebekah’s daughter Edith was clinically depressed and suicidal for much of her life (wonder why), and spent scores of years in and out of mental institutions following near fatal attempts at self-harm. 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