Washington Socialite and Folk Figure. She was a mainstay of the Washington scene for decades, unconventional, irreverent, witty, liberated and politically influential. She held court and lobbied for change at her home near Dupont Circle on Massachusetts Avenue, Washington's Embassy Row. It was the meeting place of many high ranking politicians. She publicly quarreled with many famous Americans and chastised them with an acid tongue in the form of witty sarcastic remarks. In the forefront were members of her own family, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. An utterance toward Franklin..."I'd rather vote for Hitler than to vote for him." Her best was reserved for Eleanor, who she vilified her entire life and imitated perfectly at various high Republican gatherings. Mrs. Longworth heaped disparaging remarks, using every opportunity, upon the home district of her Congressman husband, Cincinnati, Ohio calling its residents "ignorant savages" and saying when asked if she would consider burial in Cincinnati. With the response..."This would be a fate worse than death itself." She was born Alice Lee Roosevelt, the only daughter of Theodore Roosevelt (26th U.S. President) and his first wife Alice Hathaway Lee at 6 West 57th St, The family mansion in New York City. Her mother died two days after her birth of Bright's disease, a kidney ailment. Her father simply abandoned her until his remarriage to Edith Carrow when she was reunited at age three through the insistence of her new step mother to the family. Alice had been living with her care taker Aunt. Her education was minimal, however, she rejected religion and remained a nonbeliever for her entire life. At the time her father became President, she was still a teenager. She shattered precedents in an era when women conformed to a strict code of conduct. She roamed the halls of the Executive mansion smoking and danced the fox trot publicly with a cigarette dangling from her lips which gained national attention. Her father banned smoking in the White House but she countered by indulging on the roof. She drove her own car and was the bell of the ball when fully clothed, she plunged into the swimming pool. Alice was seen placing bets at local racetracks then in public wearing a boa constrictor around her neck. She set off firecrackers on the White House lawn and on a rail trip, shot at telegraph pole insulators with a pistol. Romance would enter her life while living in the White House and she would marry Nicholas Longworth, a Congressman from Ohio, in a dazzling White House wedding. Her residence became the family home in Cincinnati when not in Washington. She would return to the Capitol upon the death of her husband setting up residency on Massachusetts Avenue which would be her home until her own death from emphysema and other old age symptoms in her decaying mansion, alone, at age 96, She was cremated and the urn was buried on top the grave of her daughter Paulina, who died years before. Legacy...An author, Alice and Eleanor were competing newspaper columnists, but Alice's "Capitol Comment" column was no match for her famous cousin's "My Day" and it was eventually cancelled. In 1932, she penned her autobiography, "Crowded Hours." In deference to her favorite color gray-blue, the song "Alice Blue Gown" was written. It became a hit song and sheet music sold as fast as printing allowed. She was a popular figure at public events during her entire life... she bore witness to the test flight of a Wright brothers biplane prototype in 1909 and was the 1926 California Rose Bowl Queen. After declining a dress rehearsal, Alice Roosevelt Longworth missed the bow repeatedly with the champagne bottle during the launch ceremony for the namesake nuclear submarine "Theodore Roosevelt," at Mare Island, San Francisco. She could have had a career in politics, however, she turned down offers to seek her husbands seat in Congress after his death but was a delegate to the Republican National Convention from Ohio in 1940. Mrs Longworth worked against the entry of the U.S. into the League of Nations. Her dinners and receptions for Congressman and Senators are credited in a large measure to the derailment of America's membership in the League. In a bit of trivia...In 1960, burglars broke into her residence. As a counter measure, Mrs Longworth planted and trained poison ivy to grow up the facade of the house as a deterrent to future attempts.
Bio by: Donald Greyfield
1869–1931 (m. 1906)