Phelan Beale, Sr.

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Phelan Beale, Sr.

Birthplace: Chattanooga, Hamilton, Tennessee, United States
Death: June 12, 1956 (75)
Pass Christian, Harrison, Mississipi, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Jesse Drew Beale and Caroline Blount Beale
Husband of Dorothy Beale and Edith Ewing Beale
Father of Edith Bouvier Beale; Phelan Beale, Jr. and Bouvier Beale

Managed by: Private User
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About Phelan Beale, Sr.

Phelan Beale, Sr. was a New York lawyer, financier, and avid sportsman. He was an attorney with the firm of Big Edie’s father (Major Bouvier), Bouvier and Beale. Mr. Beale was born in Chattanooga, but spent his early life in Montgomery, Alabama. He graduated from the University of the South in 1902 and from Columbia Law School in 1905. A grandson (perhaps great grandson) of John D. Phelan of the Alabama Supreme Court, Mr. Beale was a past president of the Southern Society of the City of New York. He was a member of the Maidstone and Devon Clubs of East Hampton. He owned a large hunting preserve known as the Grey Goose Gun Club of Cedar Point, southeast of Shelter Island, on Long Island. In 1937 he bought an adjoining abandoned lighthouse from the Government. He married Edith Bouvier Beale (he was 14 years her senior) in 1917, in an elaborate ceremony attended by over 2,000 people at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. The initial years of their marriage were spent living in Manhattan on Madison Avenue and at an extravagant Park Avenue apartment (repleat with nurse and maid); in 1921 he bought his wife a luxurious Benz limousine and presented it to her along with a chauffer. Although Phelan did not go bankrupt in the Stock Market Crash of 1929, he did gradually run out of money. In a somber letter written shortly before he divorced her, Phelan asked Big Edie to hide the financial truth from their daughter. “She will think we’re at the poorhouse,” he wrote, “it will rob all her joy.” Phelan left Edith in 1934 and moved to his hunting lodge. He later divorced her in 1946 by telegram from Mexico (Little Edie referred to it as a “fake Mexican divorce” because it was not recognized by the Catholic Church). Edith received child support, but no form of alimony. He married Dorothy D. Durham of Poplarville, Mississippi in 1947 (they did not have children). Actor Ken Howard portrays him in the HBO movie.

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Phelan Beale, Sr.'s Timeline

May 23, 1881
Hamilton, Tennessee, United States
November 7, 1917
June 16, 1920
New York, New York County, New York, United States
February 13, 1922
New York, New York County, New York, United States
June 12, 1956
Age 75
Harrison, Mississipi, United States