About Igor Aleksandrovich Loiewski
American syndicated gossip columnist Igor Cassini wrote for the Hearst newspaper chain. He was the second journalist to write the Cholly Knickerbocker column.
He was born Igor Aleksandrovich Loiewski on September 15, 1915 in Sevastopol, Russia, the son of Countess Marguerite Cassini and her husband, Count Alexander Loiewski. His father was a Russian diplomat, and his maternal grandfather, Arthur Paul Nicholas Cassini, Marquis de Capuzzuchi di Bologna, Count Cassini, was the Russian ambassador to the United States during the administrations of William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. His father later adopted his wife's surname, which they deemed more distinguished, and when the family lost its status and fortune in the wake of the Russian Revolution (1917), the Cassinis moved to Italy, where Marguerite Cassini went to work as a fashion designer.
He also worked as a publicist, ran the Celebrity Register, edited a short-lived magazine called Status and was a co-director of the fashion company House of Cassini, founded by his elder brother, Oleg Cassini, and was a television personality in the 1950s and 1960s.
Cassini's height of influence was in the 1950s, when the Hearst chain claimed 20,000,000 readership for papers that carried his column. He coined the term "Jet set" to described the global movements of what had been "café society" — those who entertained at restaurants and night clubs and hobnobbed with the stars of the entertainment industry. His pen name evoked the fictional quintessential New Yorker, "Diedrich Knickerbocker", who was created by Washington Irving. The term "café society" had been invented by Maury Paul, Cassini's predecessor as "Cholly Knickerbocker" at the New York Journal American.
Later in his career, Igor, who was known as "Ghighi", hired a young assistant from Texas named Liz Smith. He also was the host of The Igor Cassini Show, an interview program that aired on the DuMont Television Network from October 25, 1953 to February 28, 1954, as well as another television program, Igor Cassini's Million Dollar Showcase.
His autobiography, co-written with Jeanne Molli, I'd Do It All Over Again: The Life and Times of Igor Cassini, appeared in 1977 (ISBN 0-399-11553-6).
- Austine Byrne McDonnell - a Hearst journalist known as "The Most Magnificent Doll Among American Newspaperwomen". She also screentested for the role of Melanie Wilkes in the motion picture Gone with the Wind. At the time of their marriage, they both worked for the Washington Times-Herald. They had no children. Known as Bootsie, she divorced him in 1947 and the next year became the third wife of William Randolph Hearst, Jr. During and after her marriage to Cassini, she wrote "These Charming People", the society column of Washington Times-Herald, under the bylines Austine Cassini and Austine.
- Elizabeth Darrah Waters - Married in 1948 and divorced in 1952. They had one daughter, Marina.
- Charlene Stafford Wrightsman - Married in 1952. She was the younger daughter of Charles B. Wrightsman, an oil millionaire whose collection of French furniture — much of which was acquired through the designers Denning & Fourcade — and decorative arts fills several galleries at the Metropolitan Museum. She was previously married (1947-1950) to the actor Helmut Dantine, by whom she had a son, Dana Wrightsman Dantine. She and Cassini had one son, Alexander. On April 8, 1963, while in her bedroom, with her 14-year-old stepdaughter, Marina Cassini, by her side, as the teenager watched the 35th Academy Awards on television, Charlene Cassini swallowed 30 sleeping pills and died the next day.
- Gianna Lou Müller - Actress better known as Nadia Cassini, whom he married in 1969 and divorced in 1972.
- Brenda Mitchell - A top fashion model, from whom he also was divorced. They had two sons, Nicholas, formerly a professional golfer on the Nationwide Tour and Dimitri, who is involved in International Real Estate.
He died on January 5, 2002 in New York City, at age 86, from natural causes.