A socialite jumps to her death over Central Park

Dorothy Hale resembled so many other young girls who move to New York: she was beautiful and had ambitions to become an actress.

So the 16-year-old from Pittsburgh made her way here in 1919, where she got work as a chorus girl, then a Ziegfeld girl.

By the late 1920s she had married a painter and was socializing with artists, writers, and actors, befriending Frida Kahlo and Clare Booth Luce.

Her life seemed charmed, until 1931, when her husband died. Left with financial troubles, she tried to find acting jobs—or find another husband.

She dated a string of notable men: sculptor Isamu Noguchi, FDR adviser Harry Hopkins, financier Bernard Baruch. But nothing panned out.

She found a way out. The night of October 20, 1938, Hale hosted glitzy guests at her Hampshire House pad on Central Park South.

She attended the theater with Mr. and Mrs. J.P. Morgan, then hit up a party at the 21 Club.

Back home at Hampshire House, she spent the early hours of October 21 typing goodbye letters to friends.

At about 5 a.m., she plunged from her 16th floor window.

“When her body crashed to the sidewalk,” reported The New York Times, Mrs. Hale was still wearing [her] black velvet gown.”

In 1939, Frida Kahlo painted Hale falling out of Hampshire House, still in her black dress.

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3 Responses to “A socialite jumps to her death over Central Park”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    When I worked at Scribner’s Bookstore in the late 1960s a sad salesgirl took her life by jumping out of a high window one night and came crashing down to 5th Ave. The next day all the salesgirl’s were very sad but the store was open and life went on. Just a shrug…

  2. Green daisy Says:

    Love the art! Her dress is black only after she’s landed…she looks like an angel mid-flight. 🙂

  3. AG Says:

    I’ve always love this eerie painting. I recently came across Myra Bairstow, a Dorothy Hale researcher and she’s got some pretty amazing revelations on the Dorothy Hale web site if you’re interested: http://www.dorothyhale.com
    It’s pretty crazy and sad.

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