AMERICAN EMPRESS by Nancy Rubin

AMERICAN EMPRESS

The Life and Times of Marjorie Merriweather Post
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Heiress Marjorie Post was many things during her long life, but ``empress'' seems an overstatement. Post was one of the wealthiest women in the United States, but her life as described by journalist Rubin is hardly riveting. The most interesting character in this biography is her father, C.W. Post, an ambitious and inventive man who gave us the coffee substitute Postum and Grape Nuts cereal, the products on which the Post fortune was based. After her father committed suicide, Marjorie inherited Postum Cereals but, because she was a woman, felt she could not even sit on her own company's board of directors. She did insist that Postum Cereals buy a small business run by a man named Clarence Birdseye; in 1929, Postum incorporated Birdseye Frosted Foods and became the General Foods Corporation. Despite that business success, Post always considered her proper role to be wife and mother. She had four husbands: Edward Close, scion of an old-line Connecticut family and father of two of her daughters; E.F. Hutton, who built the famous brokerage firm and fathered her third daughter, actress Dina Merrill; US ambassador to Russia Joseph Davies; and business executive Herbert May. Marjorie shone as a hostess and homemaker, with establishments from the Adirondacks to the renowned Mar-a- Lago in Palm Beach, Fla. Her four-masted yacht, Sea Cloud, caused one of the few scandals in her life: It carried a cargo of luxury foods to Moscow to stock embassy larders when the strained Russian economy was short on staples. The yacht was later loaned to the US Navy for the duration of WW II, a public gesture atypical of Post's usually quiet generosity. When she died in 1973 aged 86, she had since grown deaf but was still flirting with idea of a fifth husband. Post's life was eventful, but Rubin's conventional narrative fails to convince one that it is a life worth writing about. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) (First serial to Town & Country)

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 1995
ISBN: 0-679-41347-2
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1994