She may not be a household name but the early 1900’s brought us the very first “it" girl: Evelyn Nesbit. A model and showgirl starting at the tender age of 14, Nesbit later became involved with one of the most preeminent architects of our time.
Stanford White was 47 (famous for buildings his firm McKim, Mead and White designed, such as the original Madison Square Garden and the Washington Square Arch), and Nesbit was 16 when he wined and dined the naïve, poor girl.
White slowly lured her into an abusive sexual relationship that ended only when her future husband became obsessed with her and pulled her into another abusive relationship. In 1906 Nesbit’s husband, Harry K. Shaw, shot White point-blank in the face, in front of a large crowd at his Madison Square Garden. Nesbit’s deflowering and White’s sexual proclivities were later immortalized in the marginal movie "The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing."
On May 1st the new book, American Eve: Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White, The Birth of the “It” Girl and The Crime of the Century by Paula Uruburu comes out. The title of the book may be long and weighty, but this non-fiction book reads like a novel and provides more than a peek into the beginning of the phenomenon of paparazzi, fame and yellow journalism in the US.
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