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Evalyn Walsh McLean: Wikis


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Portrait of Evalyn Walsh McLean, unknown date.

Evalyn Walsh McLean (August 1, 1886, in Leadville, Colorado – April 26, 1947 in Washington, D.C.) was an American mining heiress and socialite who was famous for being the last private owner of the 45 carats (9.0 g) Hope Diamond as well as another famous diamond, the 94 carats (19 g) Star of the East. She also was the author, with Boyden Sparkes, of a memoir, Father Struck It Rich.

She was the only daughter of Thomas Walsh, an Irish immigrant miner and prospector turned multimillionaire, and his wife, Carrie Bell Reed, a former schoolteacher.

In 1908, she married Edward Beale McLean, the heir to the Washington Post and Cincinnati Enquirer publishing fortune. They had four children: Vinson Walsh McLean (who had epilepsy and died at the age of nine, following a traffic accident), Edward Beale McLean Jr, John Roll McLean II, and Emily Washington McLean (who later changed her name to Evalyn Walsh McLean). The couple, whose marriage was rent by infidelity and substance abuse (he was a spectacular alcoholic, while she was addicted to morphine), divorced in 1929, though the decree was invalidated due to the divorce having been illegally obtained in Lithuania. Ned McLean eventually became the common-law husband of Rose Douras, a sister of the Hollywood film star Marion Davies, before dying in a mental institution.

The couple's notoriety is reflected by their appearance in Cole Porter's title song to the 1934 musical, Anything Goes:

"When Missus Ned McLean (God bless her)
Can get Russian reds to "yes" her,
Then I suppose
Anything goes."

Evalyn Walsh McLean was also a friend and confidante to Alice Roosevelt Longworth and Florence Harding, the wife of Warren G. Harding, the 29th President of the United States.

The site of her summer house, Friendship — a sprawling country mansion built for her father-in-law by John Russell Pope and which was located on Tenleytown Road, N.W. — is now a condominium complex known as McLean Gardens. (The original house was demolished in the 1940s though some of the property's garden features remain intact, as does the Georgian-style ballroom.) A later residence, also known as Friendship, is located at the corner of R Street, N.W. and Wisconsin Avenue, and remains a private home. Her childhood home, a grandiose Second Empire-style mansion at 2020 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., is now the Indonesian embassy.

McLean was a victim of Gaston Means, a former F.B.I. agent, murder suspect, and grifter, who claimed that he had set a deal to free the Lindbergh baby for a ransom of over $100,000 (USD) which Evalyn McLean advanced him. Means disappeared with the money only to resurface months later in California and ask McLean for additional funds. Suspicious of Means' activities, she helped lead police to Means, who was also wanted for other various crimes and civil actions. This ultimately lead to his conviction and imprisonment on larceny charges.

Evalyn Walsh McLean died at 60 of pneumonia and was buried in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington D.C., in the Walsh family tomb.

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