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5 Things You Didn't Know About Doris Duke

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Doris Duke's father died when she was 12 years old. James Buchanan Duke, a tobacco and energy mogul, left his daughter around $100 million, which earned her the title "the richest girl in the world" and made her something of a national celebrity. Duke would spend the rest of her life enjoying a series of high-profile love affairs and dabbling in philanthropy and horticulture. Here are five things you might not have known about the famed heiress:

1. She Really Liked a Man in Uniform

Duke apparently realized that if you're going to fall for a man in uniform, you might as well shoot for the top. That's why she had a high-profile affair with General George S. Patton. The two originally met during Hawaiian vacations; Duke even gave the decorated general some polo ponies as a gift. They later ran across each other in Russia when Duke was traveling as a correspondent for Hearst, and they became lovers. Duke later said that Patton's trademark knee-high boots were "a marvelous turn-on."

2. She Bailed Out Imelda Marcos

In 1988, exiled First Lady of the Philippines and shoe enthusiast Imelda Marcos ran afoul of the American justice system when she was arraigned on federal racketeering charges. According to prosecutors, Marcos and eight other defendants were involved in a fraud and embezzlement scheme that centered on hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Manhattan real estate transactions.

Although Marcos and her husband were allegedly worth billions at the time of their arrests, the authorities froze most of the couples' assets, which made posting Imelda's $5 million bail a bit tricky. That's where Duke came in. The heiress had visited the Philippines during the Marcos era and become quite chummy with the First Lady, so Duke rushed to put up her old pal's bond. She even floated Marcos cash to cover her legal fees.

While Duke was quite a philanthropist, she wasn't just giving money to the filthy rich Marcos. Duke amended her will to authorize her executors to recover all of the loans to Marcos once things settled down in the Philippines. [Pictured: Imelda Marcos, Doris Duke, and the 35-year-old woman she adopted. We'll get to her in a moment.]

3. The Government Penned Her Prenup

In 1947, Duke married Dominican playboy Porfirio Rubirosa, who was legendary in Europe for his sexual prowess. Duke allegedly paid Rubirosa's first wife a million dollars to leave him, and their romance quickly took off.

Apparently the rumors about Rubirosa's skills as a lover were true, but other members of Duke's circle were worried about other rumors surrounding the handsome Italian. There were persistent whispers that Rubirosa had worked as a political assassin for the Dominican government, and many were concerned that the playboy might take a crack at bumping off his wealthy wife.

The U.S. government was allegedly so concerned about Rubirosa making off with Duke's fabulous wealth that it decided to intervene to force the groom to sign a prenuptial agreement. The exact details of the story vary. Some versions have government agents drugging Rubirosa and coercing him into signing the prenup, while others have a sober Rubirosa fainting upon learning just how wealthy Duke was. In either event, Duke was probably glad the government interceded on her behalf; her union with Rubirosa only lasted a year.

4. She Adopted a 35-Year-Old Woman

When Duke was 27 years old, she delivered a premature baby daughter who died just 24 hours after being born. The baby's death profoundly affected Duke, and she even hired psychics to try to help her communicate with her lost child.

These tactics didn't seem to work until Duke was 73. When their mutual belly dancing instructor introduce Duke to 32-year-old Hare Krishna devotee Chandi Heffner in 1985, Duke decided that Heffner was the reincarnation of her lost baby daughter. The two women started out as friends, but Duke began lavishing increasingly more extravagant gifts on Heffner, including a 290-acre horse ranch in Hawaii. In 1989, Duke formalized the odd relationship by legally adopting the 35-year-old Heffner.

However, everything didn't turn out beautifully for the mother and her possibly reincarnated daughter. By 1991, the relationship had soured, and Duke negated the adoption of Heffner. Duke's will specifically instructed that her former adopted daughter should not receive any inheritance:

"I am extremely troubled by the realization that Chandi Heffner may use my 1988 adoption of her (when she was 35 years old) to attempt to benefit financially under the terms of trusts created by my father. After giving the matter prolonged and serious consideration, I am convinced that I should not have adopted Chandi Heffner.

"I have come to the realization that her primary motive was financial gain. I believe that, like me, my father would not have wanted her to have benefitted under the trusts which he created, and similarly, I do not wish her to benefit from my estate."

After suing Duke's estate three times following Duke's 1993 death, however, Heffner received a $65 million settlement.

5. She Took Care of Her Butler, Though

When Duke died in 1993, she left behind a $1.3 billion fortune, but she had no heirs. Instead, she left most of her cash to charity; her will named her butler, Irishman Bernard Lafferty, as the estate's sole executor. Lafferty received $500,000 a year for acting as the estate's executor and a $5 million lump sum bequest from Duke.

Duke leaving so much money to her butler raised a lot of eyebrows, and accusations started to fly that Lafferty and Duke's doctor had conspired to hasten the heiress' death. Other skeptics claimed that Lafferty had coerced a sick and confused old lady into leaving him a giant sum of money. The murmurs got so loud that the Los Angeles District Attorney's office investigated the allegations before ruling there was "no credible evidence" that any of them were true.

However, Lafferty wasn't the world's best executor. He allegedly racked up a seven-figure credit card bill buying luxury items for himself immediately following Duke's death, and he dropped the estate's money on things like building a shooting range and buying a pair of miniature horses. Shortly before his death in 1996, he agreed to give up the executor position in exchange for $500,000 a year for the rest of his life.

'5 Things You Didn't Know About...' appears every Friday. Read the previous installments here.


5 Things You Didn't Know About Ansel Adams

You probably know Ansel Adams—born on February 20, 1902—as the man who helped promote the National Park Service through his magnificent photographs, but there was a lot more to the shutterbug than his iconic, black-and-white vistas. Here are five lesser-known facts about the celebrated photographer.


Adams was a four-year-old tot when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck his hometown. Although the boy managed to escape injury during the quake itself, an aftershock threw him face-first into a garden wall, breaking his nose. According to a 1979 interview with TIME, Adams said that doctors told his parents that it would be best to fix the nose when the boy matured. He joked, "But of course I never did mature, so I still have the nose." The nose became Adams' most striking physical feature. His buddy Cedric Wright liked to refer to Adams' honker as his "earthquake nose.


Adams was an energetic, inattentive student, and that trait coupled with a possible case of dyslexia earned him the heave-ho from private schools. It was clear, however, that he was a sharp boy—when motivated.

When Adams was just 12 years old, he taught himself to play the piano and read music, and he quickly showed a great aptitude for it. For nearly a dozen years, Adams focused intensely on his piano training. He was still playful—he would end performances by jumping up and sitting on his piano—but he took his musical education seriously. Adams ultimately devoted over a decade to his study, but he eventually came to the realization that his hands simply weren't big enough for him to become a professional concert pianist. He decided to leave the keys for the camera after meeting photographer Paul Strand, much to his family's dismay.


If you've ever enjoyed Kings Canyon National Park in California, tip your cap to Adams. In the 1930s Adams took a series of photographs that eventually became the book Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. When Adams sent a copy to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the cabinet member showed it to Franklin Roosevelt. The photographs so delighted FDR that he wouldn't give the book back to Ickes. Adams sent Ickes a replacement copy, and FDR kept his with him in the White House.

After a few years, Ickes, Adams, and the Sierra Club successfully convinced Roosevelt to make Kings Canyon a national park in 1940. Roosevelt's designation specifically provided that the park be left totally undeveloped and roadless, so the only way FDR himself would ever experience it was through Adams' lenses.


While many of his contemporary fine art photographers shunned commercial assignments as crass or materialistic, Adams went out of his way to find paying gigs. If a company needed a camera for hire, Adams would generally show up, and as a result, he had some unlikely clients. According to The Ansel Adams Gallery, he snapped shots for everyone from IBM to AT&T to women's colleges to a dried fruit company. All of this commercial print work dismayed Adams' mentor Alfred Stieglitz and even worried Adams when he couldn't find time to work on his own projects. It did, however, keep the lights on.


Adams and legendary painter O'Keeffe were pals and occasional traveling buddies who found common ground despite their very different artistic approaches. They met through their mutual friend/mentor Stieglitz—who eventually became O'Keeffe's husband—and became friends who traveled throughout the Southwest together during the 1930s. O'Keeffe would paint while Adams took photographs.

These journeys together led to some of the artists' best-known work, like Adams' portrait of O'Keeffe and a wrangler named Orville Cox, and while both artists revered nature and the American Southwest, Adams considered O'Keeffe the master when it came to capturing the area. 

“The Southwest is O’Keeffe’s land,” he wrote. “No one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.”

The two remained close throughout their lives. Adams would visit O'Keeffe's ranch, and the two wrote to each other until Adams' death in 1984.

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5 Things You Should Know About Robert Todd Lincoln
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Robert Todd Lincoln was Abraham Lincoln's oldest son and the only Lincoln child to survive into adulthood. While he didn't make quite the mark on history that his father did, Robert Lincoln had a pretty interesting life himself. Let's take a look at five things you might not know about him:

1. He Was on Ulysses S. Grant's Personal Staff

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Part of Abraham Lincoln's mystique lies in his humble roots as a self-made man who found education where he could. His eldest son didn't have to go through quite as many trials and tribulations to do some learning, though. Robert left Springfield, Illinois, to attend boarding school at New Hampshire's elite Phillips Exeter Academy when he was a young man, and he later graduated from Harvard during his father's presidency.

After completing his undergrad degree, Robert stuck around Cambridge to go to Harvard Law School, but that arrangement didn't last very long. After studying law for just a few months, Lincoln received a commission as a captain in the army. Lincoln's assignment put him on Ulysses S. Grant's personal staff, so he didn't see much fighting. He did get a nice view of history, though; Lincoln was present as part of Grant's junior staff at Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.

After the war ended, Lincoln moved to Chicago with his mother and brother and wrapped up his legal studies.

2. The Booth Family Did Him a Favor

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In 1863 or 1864, young Robert Lincoln was traveling by train from New York to Washington during a break from his studies at Harvard. He hopped off the train during a stop at Jersey City, only to find himself on an extremely crowded platform. To be polite, Lincoln stepped back to wait his turn to walk across the platform, his back pressed to one of the train's cars.

This situation probably seemed harmless enough until the train started moving, which whipped Lincoln around and dropped him into the space between the platform and train, an incredibly dangerous place to be.

Lincoln probably would have been dead meat if a stranger hadn't yanked him out of the hole by his collar. That stranger? None other than Edwin Booth, one of the most celebrated actors of the 19th century and brother of eventual Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth.

Lincoln immediately recognized the famous thespian "“ this was sort of like if George Clooney pulled you from a burning car today "“ and thanked him effusively. The actor had no idea whose life he had saved until he received a letter commending him for his bravery in saving the President's son a few months later.

3. He Had a Strange Knack for Being Near Assassinations

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Lee's surrender wasn't the only history Lincoln ended up witnessing, although things got a bit grislier for him after Appomattox. As he arrived back in Washington in April 1865 Lincoln's parents invited him to go see Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater with them. The young officer was so exhausted after his journey that he begged off so he could get a good night's sleep. That night, of course, John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln's father, and Robert Todd was with the celebrated president when he passed away the next morning.

By 1881, Lincoln's political lineage and prominence as a lawyer qualified him for a national office, and he became Secretary of War under the newly inaugurated James A. Garfield. That July, Lincoln was scheduled to travel to Elberon, New Jersey, by train with the President, but the trip never took off. Before Lincoln and Garfield's train could leave the station, Charles Guiteau shot the Garfield, who died of complications from the wound two months later.

Oddly, that wasn't all for Lincoln, though. Two decades passed without a presidential assassination, but Lincoln's strange luck reared its head again in 1901. Lincoln traveled to Buffalo at the invitation of President William McKinley to attend the Pan-American Exposition. Although he arrived a bit late to the even, Lincoln was on his way to meet McKinley when anarchist Leon Czolgosz shot the president twice at close range.

Following these three bits of bad luck Lincoln refused to attend any presidential functions. He dryly noted that there was "a certain fatality about the presidential function when I am present."

4. He Realized His Mom Was a Little Nutty

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Mary Todd Lincoln is fairly widely renowned today for being mentally ill, but it wasn't quite such an open secret when she was still alive. Robert, however, realized that his mother needed psychiatric help so she didn't become a danger to herself or an embarrassment to her family, so he had her involuntarily committed to a mental hospital in 1875 following a hearing that declared her insane.

Mary Todd was none too pleased about this plan. She not only snuck letters to her lawyer to help her escape from the institution, she also wrote newspaper editors in an effort to convince the public of her sanity. Mary Todd's ploy worked; at a second sanity hearing in 1876 she was declared sane and released from the Batavia, Illinois, sanatorium to which she'd been confined. However, by this point she'd been publicly humiliated and never really patched up her relationship with Robert before her death in 1882.

5. He Made Some Serious Dough on the Railroads


Once he got his legal practice up and running, Lincoln found a particularly lucrative clientele in the booming railroad industry. He spent most of his career working as a corporate lawyer for various railroads and train-related companies; the only breaks were his four-year stint as Secretary of War under Garfield and successor Chester A. Arthur and a four-year hitch as a minister to Britain under President Benjamin Harrison.

One of Lincoln's major clients was the Pullman Palace Car Company, for which he served as general counsel. When founder George Pullman died in 1897, Lincoln became president of the company, and in 1911 he became chairman of the Pullman Company's board. His lofty position in one of the country's most lucrative companies made him a millionaire and enabled Lincoln to build a sprawling estate, Hildene, in Manchester, Vermont.


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