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  Newsmakers   02 Feb 2017  Mary Landon Baker: The ‘shy’ spinster who received 65 proposals

Mary Landon Baker: The ‘shy’ spinster who received 65 proposals

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Published : Feb 2, 2017, 6:28 am IST
Updated : Feb 2, 2017, 7:03 am IST

Baker was also linked to the actor Barry Baxter, who collapsed onstage and died during their friendship.

Mary Landon Baker
 Mary Landon Baker

Newyork: “Shyness” was the diagnosis: After all, what else could possibly have caused Mary Landon Baker — heiress and socialite — to have left her fiance, Allister McCormick, a fellow Chicagoan, at the altar so often in the early 1920s?

Newspapers around the world — including The New York Times, which referred to the would-be groom as “thrice jilted Allister McCormick” — delighted in covering the drama that unfolded between the two. In the end, nothing could compel Miss Baker to become Mrs. McCormick: not the Cartier sapphire engagement ring, nor the mountain of wedding gifts (valued at a reported $100,000), nor the thousand of well-heeled guests who showed up for the first wedding ceremony.

Called the “shy bride” by reporters, Miss Baker appears to have been anything but: Throughout the 1920s, she went through lovers like General Sherman blazing a path to the sea and provided excellent copy while doing so. Mr. McCormick abandoned his pursuit of Miss Baker in 1923, opting instead for a more compliant wife based in London. Miss Baker acquired and discarded husband-candidates on at least two continents: an English Lord, an Irish prince, a Spaniard of means. Her brief 1926 engagement to a Yugoslav diplomat caused “the greatest excitement since the European war” in Belgrade, reported one Times correspondent.

Miss Baker was also linked to the actor Barry Baxter, who collapsed onstage and died during their friendship; rumors flew that he had learned that Miss Baker was about to dispatch herself to London to marry another man. Mr. Baxter’s physician came forward to deliver the disappointing news: The cause of death had been pneumonia, not betrayal or lovesickness. Thus, Miss Baker remained categorised as simply shy rather than fatale.

By the time she died in 1961, at 61, she had supposedly received 65 marriage proposals. Her love of life seemed abundant; Miss Baker was a quintessential “dollar princess,” an heiress whose net worth made her an international catch.

Tags: new york times, proposal, mary landon baker
Location: United States, New York