Friday, October 22, 2010

Libby Holman Body and Soul

Libby Holman
Libby Holman was a torch singer in the 1920s and 1930s. She was considered a beauty and a great songstress. She earned a lot of money.

Libby married into the Reynolds tobacco family. She was Smith Reynolds' second wife and she was kept secret for awhile. 8 months after they wed, they threw a big party. During the party, Holman's new husband was found dead by a gunshot to the top of his head. It was discovered that Libby was having an affair with her husband's secretary, Ab Walker. A trial ensued which attracted a lot of curiosity seekers. But no evidence supported that either Holman or his secretary killed Reynolds.
A book was written about Libby in the 1980s. The biographer believed that an argument ensued between the 3 of them and they were trying to get the gun out of Reynold's hands. In an awkward position the gun discharged and hit Reynolds in the top of the head. After the trial she and Ab Walker never saw each other again.

It was found that Libby was pregnant. Smith Reynolds first wife also had a baby. Libby gave birth to a little boy, Christopher "Topper" Reynolds. She wished to waive all rights to the Reynold's fortune, including her son's claim on the fortune. In an article about Holman from Time Magazine, the writer describes the infant from Smith Reynolds' first marriage, Zachary Smith Reynolds Jr., as "picayune" because he was born prematurely and weighed only 3+1/2 pounds. He too had a claim to the fortune, even though he was "picayune." (I just thought it funny the way they used language in 1933). Later, she adopted 2 other boys.

Holman now had a great deal of notoriety. She would have parties on the grounds of her estate and get drunk and get up to sing. Actor Montgomery Clift often attended these parties and was close friends with Holman; some say lovers. She figured a lot in Monty's biograpyhy, as did Elizabeth Taylor.

Holman was called The Black Widow. Libby was bisexual. Her lover was Louisa Carpenter, a millionairess member of the DuPont family. Many people believed Holman was part black. She loved it. When she would sing, there'd be boos and catcalls. People weren't ready for her and her scandalous life yet.

One time she went to someone's party and began talking to Greta Garbo (herself very secretive); Garbo's companion -- don't know who -- began to ask Libby about her first husband's death, calling her The Black Widow. Garbo, embarrassed, apologized for her companion's rudeness. But Libby had to deal with this image always. She married again, 2 times. Her son Topper, 18, died while climbing Mount Whitney. Eventually Libby gave up and killed herself in "Treetops," her Connecticut estate. Servants found her nearly dead in her Rolls Royce. She died later of carbon monoxide poisoning. The coroner ruled it a suicide. She was suffering from depression over the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Friends believe she was murdered or at least had misgivings. While she had a lethal amount of carbon dioxide in her and was legally drunk, the ignition was turned off. Also she had a garage door that you had to manually open and it was too hard for her to shut or open the heavy door.

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