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Catherine Alexandra Marshall, Model And Artist, 80
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d***@gmail.com
2014-09-15 13:23:21 UTC
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Catherine Alexandra Marshall, an artist, model and native Washingtonian,
died June 9, 2002, at North Shore Hospital in Miami, Florida, at the age
of 89, from Alzheimer's disease.
Catherine Alexandra Marshall was my mother. I am George Marshall Price. Everybody knew her as Cam. She was born September 5, 1921, and turned 80 in 2001. She was extraordinarily tall and beautiful and unquestionably a remarkable genius. Before she went to school, she'd already read over forty books, most of them classics, not written for children. Later, she usually read about six books and three newspapers a day, and loved magazines, particularly "The New Yorker", "Scientific American", "American Heritage", etc., and academic periodicals. She played bridge often since childhood, but it wasn't until quite late in life that she discovered that she had a chance to become a life master, and set about assiduously to attain the necessary credits. I remember her delight at attaining the degree of bronze life master. She had two copies of the bridge encyclopedia, and read everything about bridge she could lay her hands on. She played in bridge clubs three or four days a week in Florida, charging $10 for individual tutoring, for which she was in great demand. While an interesting game, bridge is much more important as a social activity, of course, and partly explains how she came to meet and interact with numerous intelligent people.

Her early life was much more interesting. Her father owned the local professional football team in Washington, DC, and was the toast of the town. He was very tall and handsome, handled his liquor well, did almost anything, good or bad, to get into the newspapers, including establishing his reputation as a womanizer, one whom women couldn't resist, even though he was known to treat them quite roughly. His first wife was my grandmother, Elizabeth Mortenson, who won prizes for her beauty before the age of beauty pageants. At the age of seventeen, Florenz Ziegfeld recruited her into his Ziegfeld Follies, and she was proud to say that she wasn't required to sing or dance, not a member of the chorus line. I suspect there was a good reason for this; perhaps there was a limit on how much flesh could be exposed by the singers and dancers which she, who simply posed, was permitted to exceed. Usually, she was embellished with an elaborate headdress and surrounded by a thematic stage setting, with three other young beauties. The orchestra would play a song on the theme, the curtain would rise, they would pose stock still while an announcer read a poem on the subject, and then the curtain would descend again. It was quite an audience pleaser, called (I think) a "tableau". Ziegfeld, amid much fanfare, announced that he would assemble a panel of twenty artists to judge who were the most beautiful women in the world, and Grandmother was among the winners. Eddie Cantor wanted to marry her. So did many celebrities and wealthy men, but it was George Preston Marshall who won her hand, perhaps because she was impressed by his charismatic personality.

He made a devastating mistake in his first appearance on Broadway. He'd always wanted to be an actor and a Broadway star, but when he was expected to catch a famous actress in a chair as she fainted onstage, the chair fell over, she was furious, and he was blacklisted forever. He had to find a different career. His father was a newspaper publisher in West Virginia who received ownership (to settle unpaid advertizing bills) of one or two Washington, DC laundries. He gave them to George, who revolutionized the industry and wound up owning 57 laundries in the city, with astonishing alacrity. It was a combination of efficiency and showmanship.

After marrying Elizabeth, he traded in his laundry empire for part ownership in a basketball team. It didn't succeed, and the other partners, one by one, sold him their shares. He reasoned that basketball wasn't going to be profitable, and exchanged his basketball team for a football team. At the time, professional football wasn't much of an industry. They played by college rules and cared little for pleasing crowds. Grandfather went through the rule book and made many changes, each designed to make the sport more appealing to the spectators, and standardized the game, while getting the league better organized and fan-oriented. He practically invented the sport of pro football single-handedly.

Elizabeth stuck with the marriage rather a long time, despite George's egotism, philandering, and brutal bad temper, but they separated. My mother Cam was born in 1921, her brother George, Jr., in 1925, and the three of them lived in very posh hotels on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, while George Preston Marshall pursued the high life of a sportsman, gambler, socializer, and big spender.

Elizabeth was just the opposite; when Grandfather discovered she was a Ziegfeld girl, he assumed she was fast, easy, and experienced. Actually, she was a virgin, a prude, and very strait-laced, prim, well mannered and decorous. When my uncle, George, Jr., was a baby, his nurse used to take Cam and him, in his perambulator (baby carriage) for walks early in the morning. They often encountered ex-President Taft, at that time a Supreme Court justice, who enjoyed holding hands with Cam while telling her stories, including secrets he wasn't supposed to discuss with anyone, and which Mom (Cam) never revealed. Gore Vidal lived around the corner, and he and my Uncle George became best buddies, often retreating into his large bedroom, where Gore had an amazing arrangement of model trains.

Cam received excellent schooling, but had little regard for education. She often found she'd already read books she was assigned, and English composition was second nature to her. She found school, including Skidmore, boring. She arranged for an appointment with the dean and her adviser, and discussed the curriculum they'd planned for her. Since there was little she hadn't already covered on her own, she dropped out. She was more interested in theater, dancing, culture, conversation, high society, etiquette, travel, etc., than in the dry subjects they intended for her. There was little they could teach her about history she didn't know already.

Growing up, she was always tall for her age, and embarrassed about it. She stooped to try avoiding attention. But late in her teens, she went through a growth spurt, and there was no avoiding her exceptionalism. This was the age of the "bathing beauty", and she found that, among models, her height was considered advantageous. A friend persuaded her to stand as erect as possible, and she abandoned that stooping for good. She moved (from New York City, where she studied ballet, acting, secretarial skills, and modeling) to Florida, working as a salesgirl in high-class department stores to supplement her income from modeling bathing suits and sun hats.

A friend invited her to the tennis courts at the Roney Plaza resort hotel, where she spotted my father playing tennis, and fell in love at first sight. Georgie Price, born 1901, was a famous recording artist and radio personality. Like many of his peers, he was multi-talented, especially as a mimic, dancer, comedian, song- and gag-writer, singer of popular music and opera, interviewer and interviewee, etc., etc. He could mimic anybody he ever met, and was endlessly fun and funny. He was rich, too, and a member of the New York Stock Exchange. It wasn't widely known, but he was also Jewish. George Preston Marshall was famously bigoted. Georgie was everything Marshall was not, and the toast, not of Washington, but of Broadway.

For him, too, it was love at first sight, and he hired her immediately to be his publicity agent. This was in 1939, and it wasn't until 1942, on Halloween, that they were married, in a fancy apartment on Fifth Avenue overlooking Central Park, in New York.

Dad, like GPM, was a gambler, but with a difference. The man in whose apartment he got married was Ken Kling, a cartoonist and horse-racing tipster. He hid hints in his daily cartoon strips which could be deciphered according to a little booklet sold (furtively?) at the race tracks. So Dad, in the long run, came out ahead in his betting.

There was good money to be made in entertainment, but Dad always knocked himself out doing it. So he preferred to take it easy, managing other people's money, and his own, by gambling on the stock market, where he said any fool could make 20% a year on his investments, as long as he didn't have to pay commissions (which NYSE members don't) and kept his ears open. His celebrity and personality stood him in good stead, and Wall Street, for him, was a lot of fun.

During World War II, Dad received an award he couldn't discuss. I think it was from the government of France. It was shown by a tiny tricolor decoration he wore on special occasions in his lapel. He was a Freemason for a while. He joined numerous clubs, was an officer in some, and "shepherd" of The Lambs Club for a dozen years. He was the president of AGVA, the American Guild of Variety Artists (for Vaudevillians and nightclub entertainers) and another union, too, I think.

He negotiated with Ronald Reagan, the president of the Screen Actors Guild, mainly over the treatment of Vaudeville entertainers, who spent years polishing their acts, expecting to perform them repeatedly in different theaters, but once filmed, would lose their value. The two of them went into a room together, and after Reagan left, Dad said, "That man ought to go into politics. I think he just screwed me, and left me feeling I'd gotten the better of him!"

Cam and Georgie loved to travel, and when I was a baby, often took me on tours with them. I slept in dresser drawers. Dad washed out his own socks and handkerchiefs every night. He left a wet handkerchief on the mirror before going to bed, and by morning, it was perfect. He'd started entertaining with a handkerchief at the age of two, thanks to a parody of "I Have a Little Shadow" by Robert Louis Stevenson (I think), written by his mother. It went, "I have a little handkerchief...."

They went to Cuba twice a year and Europe, at least once. I went to Europe three times, though without Dad. He was especially popular in England, and played all the most prestigious venues.

They bought a nice house in Bay Shore (Long Island), New York. It was on a "creek" leading to the Great South Bay, and had a tennis court, fruit trees, beautiful gardens, and a nice dock with berths for three boats. It was three stories tall, but what I liked best about it was the huge copper beech tree, which was the best sort of tree for climbing, and which I could climb quite a bit higher than the house itself. Behind the tennis court were marvelous old woods, containing all sorts of wildlife, fallen trees, mosses and fungi, worms, bugs, snakes, mice, and so on, a source of endless daydreams and diversions. When I turned eight, Dad bought me a marvelous varnished teak sailboat. Men of the sea tell me teak should never be finished with anything, not even oil, but that boat was so gorgeous I even loved polishing its brass.

Cam's brother George, after the family moved to Brightwaters, NY (next to Bay Shore), built a sulky for his dog, which, he claimed, loved to transport him, not only around the village, but to Bay Shore and other nearby towns as well. There was a rather sad occasion on which he had to kill a swan which attacked him, and for which nobody entirely forgave him. (My mother adopted the emblem of a swan as her personal emblem. She named our estate, too: "Caprice Landing".) He built boats, and became renowned as a young sailboat racer. He won a swimming race across the Great South Bay, a distance of about twelve miles. Both Cam and George were very popular in Bay Shore High School, where Mom got her introduction to the stage. George went on to join the very first class at the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY, where he graduated first in his class. It being wartime, the merchant marine was enlisted in the war effort, and he was sent immediately after graduation to Mermansk, Russia, where he fell very ill. He went home to his mother, who nursed him, and soon discovered that he had developed a very serious case of Type I Diabetes. His life was never the same.

He married a pretty, fun-loving girl of whom his mother didn't approve, and built a most extraordinary boat with her assistance, after a design by L. Francis Herreshoff, taking the largest boat in "Sensible Cruising Designs", and scaling it down from 52 feet to 36. It was a ketch, and though Herreshoff offered a very admirable 34-foot ketch design, Uncle George was fascinated by the bigger boat. He wrote Herreshoff numerous letters asking for advice, and Herreshoff answered every one, exercising his remarkable design skills and draftsmanship, always insisting that it was a ridiculous enterprise. Many years passed before George conceded the point. It looked strange, didn't sail well, and was utterly impractical. A gasoline engine sat right in the middle of the cabin sole, the berths were much too small, and except for looking, in the distance like a glorious ship, it served no purpose whatsoever. But it kept George busy at a rewarding hobby for about five years. He'd been inspired by Captain Joshua Slocum's "Sailing Alone Around the World" to do just that, but never got around to it. Instead, he moved to Fort Lauderdale, FL, and raised daughters, making his living as a yacht captain.

Cam was a talented artist. She set up her studio on the third floor at Caprice Landing, and went through about three periods. She started out decorating furniture, mainly following styles she found in books. She did cartoons in pencil, then still lifes, landscapes, and portraits in charcoal and pastels. She went through a prolonged period of painting on Masonite in lacquer, evolving from fashion designs to abstract cubism with deep religious and psychological messages, and much later in life (after studying classical oil painting, and later, jewelry design at the Gemological Institute of America in New York) made very beautiful designs of jewelry. She also illustrated cook books.

She and Georgie agreed upon having an open marriage, though for her part, she was very discreet. In fact, Georgie forgot all about it, and was rather miffed when he learned she'd had numerous affairs. He even hired private detectives to see what she was up to, but they never discovered any "cheating". He, of course, thought nothing of cheating on her, since the double standard was quite the norm in the Fifties.

She wasn't attracted to ordinary men, though. She appreciated poets, novelists, inventors, colonels, race car drivers, actors, artists, etc., and even a few ladies. All her lovers were very attractive, though some were bizarrely eccentric.

One such was the maharaja of Sarila, not Narendra Singh, but his father, who wanted to marry her. For some reason, she was afraid he wanted to add her to a collection of wives, and it wasn't until long after she'd rejected him that she discovered she was wrong. It might have made a good match, except for the fact that his son Narendra was closer to her age, and she found him very tantalizing. She'd have been a royal, of sorts, quite wealthy, and might have had a happy life, the maharaja being not Muslim, but Hindu.

She may always have wanted to marry into aristocracy, out of romantic sentiments, but when she met a prince, she may have had aspirations to royalty. His name was Prince Igor Andreiovich (?) Mestchersky, and he was the eldest son of his father, prince in Kiev. I'm not sure whether princes in Kiev are very important, especially after the Russian Revolution, or how many there are in the city, but his coat of arms bore a cross, an eagle, ermine, and a crown. She did marry him, and became Princess Catherine, though it was rarely mentioned. Later, his name went to good use as the titular head of "Prince Igor Gems, Inc.", which was financed by my money and kept entirely out of my hands.

Igor's father made heavy agricultural equipment in factories both in Russia and Germany. During World War II, all the factories were confiscated, and Igor always claimed that Germany owed him about thirty million dollars in war reparations. From time to time, he would say that the Germans acknowledged the debt. He was one of four brothers, and once, two of them came from Russia to visit. One was a bus dispatcher in Kiev. He was rather well off. The other was a very high ranking military man and had lots of respect and privileges, but couldn't aspire to the bus dispatcher's income, which was shady, I suspect.

Mom had studied Russian in night school, and I studied it a bit on my own, and it was remarkable how well we got along speaking more in Russian than in English. She also spoke French, Portuguese, and fairly, Italian, Spanish, German, and Danish. Her mother Elizabeth was born in Brooklyn of Danish parents and spoke it with her Danish friends all her life.

Mom had two children. My sister Elisabeth Harrison Price was born in September, 1948. She had a very brief marriage early in life, and a permanent one much later. She tried her hand in a number of enterprises, as my mother did. None were dismal failures, but none brought lasting success. One of her earliest boyfriends became somewhat famous when he wrote a book, "Homeboy". He was Seth Morgan, who was disinherited by his father Charles for very naughty behavior. In Switzerland, he arranged for trysts between American private-school students, traveling between girls' and boys' schools. He also bought recreational drugs for them, and wound up not needing his father's fortune, gained, I think, from Ivory Soap. Charles was the famous editor of the Hudson Review. Seth became a full-time fun-lover and minor drug-dealing thief. I remember him well and always liked him very much. Elisabeth ("Lisa") had a falling-out with Cam, who said she could leave when she turned 18, and she did. From the time I left for boarding school at age nine, when she was six or seven, we've hardly met, and we were both separate from our mother Cam for many years.

The skill for which Cam was most remarkable was one she shared with Georgie, namely, conversation. Dad could entertain an audience endlessly in a variety of moods and on many subjects. One of his talents was double-talk. Unlike other practitioners, who rehearse lines assiduously, he could spout it without preparation, and "in any language". Having grown up on the Lower East Side, he was exposed to them all! He also had an astonishingly loud voice, which is why he got the first non-classical long-term contract with Victor (later RCA Victor). He recorded before electronic amplification was possible, directly to wax. Mom, being very well-read and sociable, was Dad's equal at conversation, and memories of the evenings I spent listening to them at the dinner table and afterwards, especially at parties (We had lots of great parties!) are among the greatest treasures I own.

When I was young, I always had to dress properly for trips to the city. I couldn't wear long pants until I was about seven, and I always wore gloves. We usually went to a restaurant or two, where my parents were likely to be recognized, and they were likely to be recognized almost anywhere. Once, at Sardi's, a radio interviewer came to the table to speak, on air, to my father. I hid under the table, but was soon invited out and asked whether I intended to follow in my father's footsteps. I was non-plussed. I knew that my father was one of the world's most talented people, and that he wasn't lifting a finger to teach me a darn thing. I said I doubted I could, and that was that. Sometimes Dad would invite me onto a stage while he sang a song directly to me. I was always non-plussed. I never knew how he expected me to behave.

But Cam and Georgie in public were always in top form and in high spirits. Unlike me, who became a professional singer but hate to sing for my friends, Dad never refused a request.

Cam and Georgie were together for about twenty years, and pro football never came up.

Late in life, Cam was at a bridge club when she overheard a lady at a nearby table say, "I just met Pam Marshall, the daughter of George Preston Marshall, the owner of the Washington Redskins." Mom said, "That's impossible. I'm George Preston Marshall's daughter, and my name is Cam, not Pam." It turned out that GPM married twice again, and that everybody had forgotten all about it. One of those marriages produced Pam, and her sister, who'd been abandoned by their father, but were both living happily without him, married, in California. Cam was thrilled to discover she had sisters, and went to visit them. They became best friends.

Another trait my parents shared was philanthropy, which they kept (almost entirely) secret. Dad gave large sums to absolute strangers and to causes, such as Zionism, with which he was not even in accord. Much of it went to his brothers and sisters, especially when he was young, and much to poor Vaudevillians and retirement homes for them. He started the Variety Children's Hospital in Miami, which has since dropped the "Variety", a synonym for Vaudeville. A man approached my sister once and told her that when he was a newcomer on Wall Street and had no money to invest, Dad gave him thousands of dollars -- fifty, I think. Mom's charity, when she had little money, extended to benefits and volunteer work. She tried to build roads, schools, and hospitals in Brasil (where she owned a large coffee plantation), but was thwarted by local politicians. She spent many years working without pay for the public defender's office here in Miami, FL, and many more at Jackson Memorial Hospital. She was quite active in the local Episcopal church wherever she lived, and fed, clothed, and sheltered people on numerous occasions.

By any standards, Cam lived a full, engaging, marvelous life and benefited the world quite well by her participation in it. Neither of her children are likely to produce offspring, but her jewelry and paintings, wherever they are, live on.
d***@gmail.com
2014-09-15 15:46:02 UTC
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This is George Marshall Price. I need to make a correction to my post about Catherine Alexandra Marshall, concerning the father of Seth Morgan, whose full name was Seth David Morgan. His father was not Charles, but George Frederick Morgan.
1***@gmail.com
2020-07-28 01:32:21 UTC
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I spent a lot of time as a young girl at your parents home in Bay Shore. My mother, Margo Sheehan, was a friend of your mother, Cam. Lisa and I bomb around town at all hours. Once, she had Alan Freed and his son come and we all had a party in the house. I have a beautiful painting of your mothers. The house is still there, and a lovely couple lived there for many years, raising 14 children!
Barbara Sheehan Brownyard

Louis Epstein
2014-09-16 04:45:50 UTC
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Post by d***@gmail.com
Catherine Alexandra Marshall, an artist, model and native Washingtonian,
died June 9, 2002, at North Shore Hospital in Miami, Florida, at the age
of 89, from Alzheimer's disease.
Catherine Alexandra Marshall was my mother. I am George Marshall Price.
Everybody knew her as Cam. She was born September 5, 1921, and turned 80
in 2001.
So the report that she was 89 in 2002 was inaccurate?
Post by d***@gmail.com
She was extraordinarily tall and beautiful and unquestionably a
remarkable genius. Before she went to school, she'd already read over
forty books, most of them classics, not written for children. Later, she
usually read about six books and three newspapers a day, and loved
magazines, particularly "The New Yorker", "Scientific American",
"American Heritage", etc., and academic periodicals. She played bridge
often since childhood, but it wasn't until quite late in life that she
discovered that she had a chance to become a life master, and set about
assiduously to attain the necessary credits. I remember her delight at
attaining the degree of bronze life master. She had two copies of the
bridge encyclopedia, and read everything about bridge she could lay her
hands on. She played in bridge clubs three or four days a week in
Florida, charging $10 for individualtutoring, for which she was in great
demand. While an interesting game, bridge is much more important as a
social activity, of course, and partly explains how she came to meet and
interact with numerous intelligent people.
Her early life was much more interesting. Her father owned the local
professional football team in Washington, DC, and was the toast of the
town. He was very tall and handsome, handled his liquor well, did almost
anything, good or bad, to get into the newspapers, including
establishing his reputation as a womanizer, one whom women couldn't
resist, even though he was known to treat them quite roughly. His first
wife was my grandmother, Elizabeth Mortenson, who won prizes for her
beauty before the age of beauty pageants.
Interesting that his Wikipedia biography only mentions a later
wife,the childless actress Corinne Griffith...while your reminiscence
in turn glosses over his reputation as the NFL's leading racist.
Post by d***@gmail.com
At the age of seventeen, Florenz Ziegfeld recruited her into his
Ziegfeld Follies, and she was proud to say that she wasn't required to
sing or dance, not a member of the chorus line. I suspect there was a
good reason for this; perhaps there was a limit on how much flesh could
be exposed by the singers and dancers which she, who simply posed, was
permitted to exceed. Usually, she was embellished with an elaborate
headdress and surrounded by a thematic stage setting, with three other
young beaties. The orchestra would play a song on the theme, the curtain
would rise, they would pose stock still while an announcer read a poem
on the subject, and then the curtain would descend again. It was quite
an audience pleaser, called (I think) a "tableau". Ziegfeld, amid much
fanfare, announced that he would assemble a panel of twenty artists to
judge who were the most beautiful women in the world, and Grandmother
was among the winners. Eddie Cantor wanted to marry her. So did many
celebrities and wealthy men, but it was George Preston Marshall who won
her hand, perhaps because she was impressed by his charismatic
personality.
He made a devastating mistake in his first appearance on Broadway. He'd
always wanted to be an actor and a Broadway star, but when he was
expected to catch a famous actress in a chair as she fainted onstage,
the chair fell over, she was furious, and he was blacklisted forever.
He had to find a different career. His father was a newspaper publisher
in West Virginia who received ownership (to settle unpaid advertizing
bills) of one or two Washington, DC laundries. He gave them to George,
who revolutionized the industry and wound up owning 57 laundries in the
city, with astonishing alacrity. It was a combination of efficiency and
showmanship.
After marrying Elizabeth, he traded in his laundry empire for part
ownership in a basketball team. It didn't succeed, and the other
partners, one by one, sold him their shares. He reasoned that basketball
wasn't going to be profitable, and exchanged his basketball team for a
football team. At the time, professional football wasn't much of an
industry. They played by college rules and cared little for pleasing
crowds. Grandfather went through the rule book and made many changes,
each designed to make the sport more appealing to the spectators, and
standardized the game, while getting the league better organized and
fan-oriented. He practically invented the sport of pro football
single-handedly.
Something of an exaggeration,I expect.I note the history says they
started in Boston before he moved them to DC.
Post by d***@gmail.com
Elizabeth stuck with the marriage rather a long time, despite George's
egotism, philandering, and brutal bad temper, but they separated. My
mother Cam was born in 1921, her brother George, Jr., in 1925, and the
three of them lived in very posh hotels on Connecticut Avenue in
Washington, while George Preston Marshall pursued the high life of a
sportsman, gambler, socializer, and big spender.
Thank you,on the whole,for your story.
My father being in the grip of dementia these days I have to face it
daily,do you choose not to remember her decline?

-=-=-
The World Trade Center towers MUST rise again,
at least as tall as before...or terror has triumphed.
Diner
2014-09-16 13:33:45 UTC
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Post by Louis Epstein
Interesting that his Wikipedia biography only mentions a later
wife,the childless actress Corinne Griffith...while your reminiscence
in turn glosses over his reputation as the NFL's leading racist.
Well, he did write "George Preston Marshall was famously bigoted." But the author was writing more about his parents than his grandfather.

As a film buff, I know about Marshall mostly from Barry Paris' biography of his lover Louise Brooks. Interesting to learn about his family.

-Tim
d***@gmail.com
2016-03-25 13:16:07 UTC
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Post by Diner
Post by Louis Epstein
Interesting that his Wikipedia biography only mentions a later
wife,the childless actress Corinne Griffith...while your reminiscence
in turn glosses over his reputation as the NFL's leading racist.
Well, he did write "George Preston Marshall was famously bigoted." But the author was writing more about his parents than his grandfather.
As a film buff, I know about Marshall mostly from Barry Paris' biography of his lover Louise Brooks. Interesting to learn about his family.
-Tim
Gee, I gotta get that book!
d***@gmail.com
2016-03-25 13:12:26 UTC
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Post by Louis Epstein
Post by d***@gmail.com
Catherine Alexandra Marshall, an artist, model and native Washingtonian,
died June 9, 2002, at North Shore Hospital in Miami, Florida, at the age
of 89, from Alzheimer's disease.
Catherine Alexandra Marshall was my mother. I am George Marshall Price.
Everybody knew her as Cam. She was born September 5, 1921, and turned 80
in 2001.
So the report that she was 89 in 2002 was inaccurate?
Utterly.
Post by Louis Epstein
Post by d***@gmail.com
She was extraordinarily tall and beautiful and unquestionably a
remarkable genius. Before she went to school, she'd already read over
forty books, most of them classics, not written for children. Later, she
usually read about six books and three newspapers a day, and loved
magazines, particularly "The New Yorker", "Scientific American",
"American Heritage", etc., and academic periodicals. She played bridge
often since childhood, but it wasn't until quite late in life that she
discovered that she had a chance to become a life master, and set about
assiduously to attain the necessary credits. I remember her delight at
attaining the degree of bronze life master. She had two copies of the
bridge encyclopedia, and read everything about bridge she could lay her
hands on. She played in bridge clubs three or four days a week in
Florida, charging $10 for individualtutoring, for which she was in great
demand. While an interesting game, bridge is much more important as a
social activity, of course, and partly explains how she came to meet and
interact with numerous intelligent people.
Her early life was much more interesting. Her father owned the local
professional football team in Washington, DC, and was the toast of the
town. He was very tall and handsome, handled his liquor well, did almost
anything, good or bad, to get into the newspapers, including
establishing his reputation as a womanizer, one whom women couldn't
resist, even though he was known to treat them quite roughly. His first
wife was my grandmother, Elizabeth Mortenson, who won prizes for her
beauty before the age of beauty pageants.
Interesting that his Wikipedia biography only mentions a later
wife,the childless actress Corinne Griffith...while your reminiscence
in turn glosses over his reputation as the NFL's leading racist.
Never trust Wikipedia. Elizabeth was quite widely and publicly acknowledged as one of the world's most beautiful women. George Preston Marshall was a sucker for women who could make other men jealous of him. And Eddie Cantor wanted her, so he did, too. Besides, he regarded himself as a better showman than Eddie Cantor.

As for "NFL's leading racist", you don't understand at all. He was, if not America's, at least Washington, DC's leading champion of bigotry in all its forms, and a highly successful one, too. Just think of a category of people different from him, and he could spew, and rile up, hatred against them like the most talented orator. "Racist" seems to imply that he had something against "the other race". In fact, he spent his entire life surrounded by African-Americans, by choice. While we had more white servants than black, he had no white servants. And he loved and hung around with them, too. But philosophically and politically, he had his reputation to establish and maintain. You have to realize that prejudice was quite the rule throughout the South, including Washington, and it seemed too ingrained to fail. I don't think he really expected, even in 1969, for anything to really change. Can you imagine how he felt when his own daughter married a Jew? I'm sure he made no secret of it, and his opinion of the two of them. He was a hearty drinker, and held court at Duke Ziebert's, where he could get to meet all the most important people in the nation. I'm sure he never left any doubt in anybody's mind about his attitudes towards non-white, non-male, non-adult, non-rich, non-Christian, non-Southern types.

On the other hand, I can't say much about him because he was a pariah in our family. The only time I can remember meeting him (before his devastating stroke) was when he had lunch with Mother and me at the Four Seasons, when I kept my mouth shut. Somehow my mother and I won him over, and he opened his heart and wallet to us. He gave us carte blanche at Brooks Brothers, offered to pay my way at any school, gave us a standing welcome to his home in Georgetown and unlimited use of his chauffered limousine (he got a new Cadillac every other year), and $100 cash to each of my sister and me (for Christmas, though it wasn't coming soon). Incidentally, his chauffeur's name was Calvert, whom I remember well. Mom said he'd been his chauffeur as long as she could remember, and stayed with him until his death.

He was truly a legend in the history of bigotry.
Post by Louis Epstein
Post by d***@gmail.com
At the age of seventeen, Florenz Ziegfeld recruited her into his
Ziegfeld Follies, and she was proud to say that she wasn't required to
sing or dance, not a member of the chorus line. I suspect there was a
good reason for this; perhaps there was a limit on how much flesh could
be exposed by the singers and dancers which she, who simply posed, was
permitted to exceed. Usually, she was embellished with an elaborate
headdress and surrounded by a thematic stage setting, with three other
young beaties. The orchestra would play a song on the theme, the curtain
would rise, they would pose stock still while an announcer read a poem
on the subject, and then the curtain would descend again. It was quite
an audience pleaser, called (I think) a "tableau". Ziegfeld, amid much
fanfare, announced that he would assemble a panel of twenty artists to
judge who were the most beautiful women in the world, and Grandmother
was among the winners. Eddie Cantor wanted to marry her. So did many
celebrities and wealthy men, but it was George Preston Marshall who won
her hand, perhaps because she was impressed by his charismatic
personality.
He made a devastating mistake in his first appearance on Broadway. He'd
always wanted to be an actor and a Broadway star, but when he was
expected to catch a famous actress in a chair as she fainted onstage,
the chair fell over, she was furious, and he was blacklisted forever.
He had to find a different career. His father was a newspaper publisher
in West Virginia who received ownership (to settle unpaid advertizing
bills) of one or two Washington, DC laundries. He gave them to George,
who revolutionized the industry and wound up owning 57 laundries in the
city, with astonishing alacrity. It was a combination of efficiency and
showmanship.
After marrying Elizabeth, he traded in his laundry empire for part
ownership in a basketball team. It didn't succeed, and the other
partners, one by one, sold him their shares. He reasoned that basketball
wasn't going to be profitable, and exchanged his basketball team for a
football team. At the time, professional football wasn't much of an
industry. They played by college rules and cared little for pleasing
crowds. Grandfather went through the rule book and made many changes,
each designed to make the sport more appealing to the spectators, and
standardized the game, while getting the league better organized and
fan-oriented. He practically invented the sport of pro football
single-handedly.
Something of an exaggeration,I expect.I note the history says they
started in Boston before he moved them to DC.
Huh? I don't know what you're referring to by "they". I wasn't stretching the truth. He did re-invent the game! We're descended from Powhatan Indians, and proud of our ancestry. The Redskins included a pretty good percentage of Native American Indians, and "Redskins" sounded better than "Braves", with better, clearer connotations. "Braves" was a name derived from the stadium, which got it from the baseball team; it wasn't chosen wisely at all. The team's name was just the sort of thing Grandfather took most seriously, a showman above all. The team had six owners originally. They all gave up except George Preston Marshall, who made a success, not only of the team, but of the entire sport.
Post by Louis Epstein
Post by d***@gmail.com
Elizabeth stuck with the marriage rather a long time, despite George's
egotism, philandering, and brutal bad temper, but they separated. My
mother Cam was born in 1921, her brother George, Jr., in 1925, and the
three of them lived in very posh hotels on Connecticut Avenue in
Washington, while George Preston Marshall pursued the high life of a
sportsman, gambler, socializer, and big spender.
Thank you,on the whole,for your story.
My father being in the grip of dementia these days I have to face it
daily,do you choose not to remember her decline?
No, not at all. A show on television recently stated that in a review of long-term studies done on elderly priests, nuns, and monks who donated their brains to science, though about a third of the brains showed all the hallmarks of "full-blown" Alzheimer's, none of them showed any signs of it while they were alive. The mind and the brain are two entirely different things. Please don't allow your father's problems to alter your affection for him. Dementia is such an ugly word. As you "face" it, you don't have to confront it. There's nothing you can do to alter its progress in any way, as far as I know. But if you find it upsetting, you have the power to hide your feelings, and often feelings need to be hidden. Keep up routines. Put on your usual face. When things go wrong, when troubles arise, your role is to minimize them and underplay your grief. Don't worry; dementia shouldn't affect your father's health. People can live with hardly any brains left at all. What you're facing is a slow bereavement, a loss. Sure, it's hard to deal with, but make the most of it; take notes, cherish every moment. It's one thing to see somebody connected to tubes in a hospital bed and think "I wouldn't want to live like that", but it's quite another to be in that situation, in that bed, with a mind that isn't your mind and sensing things quite different from the sight you see. I've been demented, and I know. I've been surrounded by senile people quite a bit. I've known quite a few centenarians of all stripes, ever since I was a kid. I always respect my elders, and I try my best to please and comfort them. It's just the decent thing. I have fond memories of my mother from the last days of her life, when my emotions were intense and her awareness of her surroundings was slipping away. I loved her no less dearly. Later, I knew I hadn't failed her. A long goodbye is fine with me.
k***@gmail.com
2014-11-13 20:10:59 UTC
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Catherine Alexandra Marshall, an artist, model and native Washingtonian,
died June 9, 2002, at North Shore Hospital in Miami, Florida, at the age
of 89, from Alzheimer's disease.
Ms. Marshall was the daughter of the late George Preston Marshall, the
original owner of the Washington Redskins, and Elisabeth Marshall, a
Ziegfield Follies star. She attended Sidwell Friends School and Skidmore
College.
She was a fashion model in New York after college and was one of a dozen
"Long Stemmed Beauty" models with the John Robert Powers Agency. She
also was an artist and painter.
Ms. Marshall was a bridge player and a two-time life master. In 1964,
she was knighted by the Royal Order of St. John of Jerusalem for
volunteer work.
In the 1960s, during the last years of her father's life, Ms. Marshall
returned to Washington DC. For about the last 30 years, she had lived in
Miami, Florida. She also had lived in Brazil, the Bahamas and the
Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts.
Marshall: I was so fortunate to have been a friend of Lisa's, a Hewlett school friend. I recall you and Peter as well. I adored your Mother. She was very beautiful. I remember that striking portrait of her in the dining room (Caprice Landing). I also find it interesting that you mention how intelligent your Mother was, when I recall she referred to you as "the genius." You were always conducting science experiments in the kitchen. Your home was buzzing with activity. I recall one adventure with your Mom, Lisa and a friend of Peters's. It was on the north shore of Long Island. The home was owned by a card designer. Maybe he was a "boyfriend" of your Mom's, but they were both very professional. I just remember the day as "special." I have thought of your Mom so often through the years. My very best to Lisa - - Mary Ann
d***@gmail.com
2016-03-25 13:41:52 UTC
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Post by k***@gmail.com
.
Catherine Alexandra Marshall, an artist, model and native Washingtonian,
died June 9, 2002, at North Shore Hospital in Miami, Florida, at the age
of 89, from Alzheimer's disease.
Ms. Marshall was the daughter of the late George Preston Marshall, the
original owner of the Washington Redskins, and Elisabeth Marshall, a
Ziegfield Follies star. She attended Sidwell Friends School and Skidmore
College.
She was a fashion model in New York after college and was one of a dozen
"Long Stemmed Beauty" models with the John Robert Powers Agency. She
also was an artist and painter.
Ms. Marshall was a bridge player and a two-time life master. In 1964,
she was knighted by the Royal Order of St. John of Jerusalem for
volunteer work.
In the 1960s, during the last years of her father's life, Ms. Marshall
returned to Washington DC. For about the last 30 years, she had lived in
Miami, Florida. She also had lived in Brazil, the Bahamas and the
Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts.
Marshall: I was so fortunate to have been a friend of Lisa's, a Hewlett school friend. I recall you and Peter as well. I adored your Mother. She was very beautiful. I remember that striking portrait of her in the dining room (Caprice Landing). I also find it interesting that you mention how intelligent your Mother was, when I recall she referred to you as "the genius." You were always conducting science experiments in the kitchen. Your home was buzzing with activity. I recall one adventure with your Mom, Lisa and a friend of Peters's. It was on the north shore of Long Island. The home was owned by a card designer. Maybe he was a "boyfriend" of your Mom's, but they were both very professional. I just remember the day as "special." I have thought of your Mom so often through the years. My very best to Lisa - - Mary Ann
Please, please, get in touch with me. My email address is ***@gmail.com and my phone number (even better!) is (305) 305-2582. Thanks for putting "boyfriend" in quotes. ;)
d***@gmail.com
2016-03-25 11:12:11 UTC
Reply
Permalink
.
Catherine Alexandra Marshall, an artist, model and native Washingtonian,
died June 9, 2002, at North Shore Hospital in Miami, Florida, at the age
of 89, from Alzheimer's disease.
Ms. Marshall was the daughter of the late George Preston Marshall, the
original owner of the Washington Redskins, and Elisabeth Marshall, a
Ziegfield Follies star. She attended Sidwell Friends School and Skidmore
College.
She was a fashion model in New York after college and was one of a dozen
"Long Stemmed Beauty" models with the John Robert Powers Agency. She
also was an artist and painter.
Ms. Marshall was a bridge player and a two-time life master. In 1964,
she was knighted by the Royal Order of St. John of Jerusalem for
volunteer work.
In the 1960s, during the last years of her father's life, Ms. Marshall
returned to Washington DC. For about the last 30 years, she had lived in
Miami, Florida. She also had lived in Brazil, the Bahamas and the
Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts.
I don't think she died "from Alzheimer's". She probably had many signs of brain trauma, including multiple infarcts, Alzheimer-associated damage, much concussion-caused trauma, etc., but the cause of her death was never investigated. Whether she actually had Alzheimer's, it was the least of her problems! In fact, her brain was pretty good compared to several other organs. She'd often fallen and didn't have the strength or reflexes to do anything about it. She had lots of bruises. Her heart and lungs were bad, her kidneys and liver were failing; everything was failing, including her will to go on breathing.

Actually, she died quite pleasantly in her sleep after a long, prosperous, and wonderful life, and brought much humor, joy, richness, and sunshine to many friends and strangers. Her generosity, volunteer and fundraising achievements, and liberality of spirit made our world a better place. Though she was quite athletic for much of her life and cared a lot about her health, nutrition, and exercise, and was blessed with a strong constitution, she was more interested in enjoying life than prolonging it, and that may be considered a sort of thesis to her story. She was a very talented artist, dancer, bon-vivante, conversationalist, etc., and everybody loved her. As a long-distance swimmer, she inspired her younger brother to excel her, but she was a joy to watch, and seemed to have limitless energy. She got me (her son) started swimming while still in my infancy.
d***@gmail.com
2016-03-25 11:40:38 UTC
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: Catherine Alexandra Marshall, an artist, model and native Washingtonian,
: died June 9, 2002, at North Shore Hospital in Miami, Florida, at the age
: of 89, from Alzheimer's disease.
: Ms. Marshall was the daughter of the late George Preston Marshall, the
: original owner of the Washington Redskins, and Elisabeth Marshall, a
: Ziegfield Follies star. She attended Sidwell Friends School and Skidmore
: College.
: She was a fashion model in New York after college and was one of a dozen
: "Long Stemmed Beauty" models with the John Robert Powers Agency. She
: also was an artist and painter.
: Ms. Marshall was a bridge player and a two-time life master.
Does this mean she will be reincarnated as a bridge life master?
-=-=-
The World Trade Center towers MUST rise again,
at least as tall as before...or terror has triumphed.
I remember how happy she was to become a "bronze life master", especially because she didn't try accumulating tournament points until late in life, but she didn't slow down then at all; she only got more enthusiastic about the game. She was playing often, and well, even as her brain was deteriorating. Moreover, bridge was more about socializing than competing, and she was always very sociable, informative, and entertaining; full of anecdotes and amusing observations. She read 2000 words per minute without even trying, had an enormous vocabulary, spoke several languages, had loads of extraordinary experiences to relate, knew "everybody" (especially being married to my father), and was not only gorgeous, but impressively tall, adorned, well dressed, and cheerful, a connoisseuse of wines and cocktails as well as gastronomy.

I don't know much about bridge. She was a great teacher, but not of novices. I gave up early on. My parents and siblings all had such extraordinary talents that I deliberately sought to avoid their interests and blaze my own path.
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