Vanderbilt sued by wife; heir to fight her charge (8-7-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (August 7, 1941)


New York, Aug. 7 (UP) –
Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, 28-year-old heir to the immense Vanderbilt fortune, has been sued for divorce by his wife who claims he misconducted himself with two young women.

The fact that the divorce was being sought in New York State, where the grounds are strict, and that papers had already been served was made known by Sol Rosenblatt, counsel for the young sportsman and racing official.

The news surprised society circles where it had been believed Mrs. Vanderbilt, the former Manuela (Molly) Hudson, would agree to sue in some state where divorce laws are not so rigid. The decision to prosecute the suit here means that intimate details may be revealed in court.

Mr. Vanderbilt, at Saratoga where his horses are racing, declined to comment, but Mr. Rosenblatt said the suit would be defended. He would not disclose the identities of the alleged correspondents although it was reported they were well-known young women.

Another society report that Mr. Rosenblatt would not conform or deny said that Mr. Vanderbilt had offered his wife a large financial settlement to sue elsewhere but that she had countered with an even larger sum – one in seven figures – which he refused to meet. The decision to file here is said to have followed.

The Vanderbilts have a daughter, Wendy, born March 10, 1939.


The Pittsburgh Press (August 8, 1941)


He goes out with other women? He certainly does, says wealthy Mrs. Emerson, and she adds: 'I wouldn’t give much for him if he didn’t’

New York, Aug. 8 –
Did Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, wealthy 28-year-old estranged husband of the former Manuella (Molly) Hudson, go out with other women?

He certainly did, according to his mother, Mrs. Margaret Emerson, who inherited $60 million of her father’s patent medicine fortune.

Mrs. Vanderbilt has sued for divorce, charging her husband with misconduct with two unidentified young women of café society.

As to going out with other women, the mother said:

I wouldn’t give much for him if he didn’t.

She added:

After all, he’s a normal young man and he’s been separated from his wife for six months. He wouldn’t be a son of mine if he stopped living.

She thought that more than her son’s racing interests had come between the couple.

Although neither principal would discuss the case, friends said that Mr. Vanderbilt, race track official, followed a daily routine which required a 9 p.m. bedtime and 5 a.m. rising to clock his horses at the track.

Mrs. Emerson said:

Those are surface reasons. It goes far deeper. If Molly had really cared for Al, she would have adjusted herself to his life. She knew before she married him that his great interest was racing. The very fact that she couldn’t compromise makes it obvious that there was no lasting love. Why warp two lives by trying to patch up something which has no real foundation?

As to the suit’s being brought in New York, where divorce can be brought only on charges of misconduct. Mrs. Emerson observed that:

…there are certain sporting things one does or doesn’t.

She added:

I wish that Manuel had kept Wendy in mind and done the thing quietly. It could have been arranged so easily. But then she doesn’t see fit, so that’s that.

Wendy is the Vanderbilt’s’ daughter who was born March 10, 1939.

After her daughter, Gloria, Mrs. Bob Topping, has her second baby, Mrs. Emerson said, she will:

…go up and see Al at Saratoga.

She said:

It worries me when he is unhappy.

The effect of the divorce suit announcement on New York society was synopsized by Cholly Knickerbocker, society reporter, who wrote:

What a pity that we are to be treated to the ugly spectacle of another Vanderbilt divorce in times such as these.