A Gold Digger with Style

Peggy Hopkins Joyce

Ziegfeld girl, minor actress, the original gold digger, once owner of the Portuguese Diamond, and famous for quotes such as, ”true love was a heavy diamond bracelet, preferably one that arrived with its price tag intact.” She was one of the original ‘famous for being famous’ women who married often and had affairs and divorces the media couldn’t get enough of.

And boy did she work fast at the gold digging, too. Here is an account given by Lady Thelma Furness from the autobiography Double Exposure she penned with her twin sister, Gloria Vanderbilt.

A few month’s after my son Tony’s birth Duke, Gav and I were dining at the Embassy Club when Peggy Hopkins Joyce walked in. I turned to Duke and said, “Oh there’s Peggy Hopkins”. Duke looked at her appraisingly, then asked, “who the bloody hell is Peggy Hopkins?” I laughed and told him that she was supposed to be one of the most glamorous women in America, and that she had three or four husbands and many admirers — including my first husband. I also told him that I had gone to California for my divorce because of her. (She was the unnamed woman in whose apartent, so the detectives informed me, Junior [Converse] had whiled away so many nights.) Duke did not seem impressed with her beauty, and took pains to make this point clear. I don’t know what insane impulse took possession of me at that moment, but I turned to him and said, “I’ll bet you ten pounds you can’t get her to dance with you.”

“Don’t be silly,” Duke said. “Why should I want to dance with her?”

“Oh, come on, old boy,” Gav put in, “are you afraid she’ll turn you down?”

That did it. “All right,” Duke said to me., “you’ve got yourself a bet”

Duke caught her eye and smiled. Peggy Hopkins looked surprised and a little uneasy. She, of course, knew who I was, but was not sure of Duke. I noticed her beckon to the head waiter and obviously ask who Duke was. I turned to Gav and said, “Now that she knows who he is, watch me lose me bet.” And sure enough, the next time Duke smiled at her, she smiled right back. Duke got up and walked over to her table; in a few minutes they were together on the dance floor.

Duke began to be away more and more. Rumours started to get about that all was not well in the Furness household. I, of course, was the last to hear the gossip, and even if I had heard it, I would not have believed it. A month or so after this dinner Duke came to me and said he was going to Monte Carlo. He had been working very hard and needed a rest. I, of course, thought he meant for me to go as well, but then he informed me that he had planned to go on his own. I was surprised, but I did not think too much about it. A few days later, as I was walking down Bond Street, an acquaintance of mine stopped me and said, “I’m so sorry to hear about you and Duke.” It seemed that everyone knew Duke was staying at Peggy Hopkins’ villa in Monte Carlo, and not at the Hotel de Paris, as he had given me to understand. I was stunned when I walked back home. It couldn’t be! I was just malicious gossip I thought. His daily telephone calls, I was sure, were from the hotel. But were they? I had blissfully believed him when he told me business had kept him away from England so much. But was it business? I had to find out. I placed a personal call to the Hotel de Paris. My heart sank as I heard the operator say, “Viscount Furness is not registered here.”

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