Podcast Episode 6: “Dear Diary”

Episode 6 provides some historical examples of the not-so-new phenomenon of “slut-shaming”. Our three stories concern the messy divorces and real-life heartbreak cases of a real estate magnate in the roaring 20s and his child bride, the glamorous movie star Mary Astor, and an up and coming Follies girl and her millionaire boyfriend.

A Promise Is A Promise

anne caldwell and john hubbard

Anne is pictured after the trial working as a theater usher. On the right is her headshot. John Hubbard is at the bottom. Photo sources: 1, 2, 3.

Despite her name being smeared by the man who had promised to marry her, Anne stood her ground and sued him for “heart balm.” Money to cover the loss of her reputation due to her association with him. Suits like this weren’t completely uncommon, but listen in to the podcast to see how Anne’s case stood out from the rest.


  1. Former Showgirl, Who Once Won $50,000 Suit, Dies In Phila. Hospital”, The News-Herald (Franklin, PA), 15 April 1936.
  2. Death Comes”, Journal Gazette (Matton, IL), 15 April 1936.
  3. Anne Caldwell Taken By Death”, New Castle News (New Castle, PA), 14 April 1936.
  4. Actress Sues For $500,000”, The New York Times, 20 October 1925.
  5. Anne Caldwell Given $50,000 in Her Suit Against ‘Shovel King’”, The News-Herald (Franklin, PA), 10 December 1926.
  6. Deposition of Rail Magnate Read in Court”, The Warren Tribune (Warren, PA), 9 June 1926.
  7. Show Girl Wins $50,000 Verdict From “Shovel King”, Portsmouth Daily Times (Portsmouth, Ohio), 10 December 1926.
  8. Actor Called in Love Suit”, Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California), 4 December 1926.
  9. Love’s Dream And Its Contrast”, Bluefield Daily Telegraph (Bluefield, WV), 2 December 1926.
  10. Telephone Hot When The Fiance Got John’s Wife”, The Evening World (New York, NY), 18 July 1914.

The Lavender Diary

Mary Astor

Mary Astor, photo source.

Mary Astor was a popular silent film actress who divorced her husband. Not exactly newsworthy, right? Except, during their custody battle her husband produced her lavender colored diary, with its lavender pages onto which she’d written in lavender ink…all about her affairs. This was truly the “slut shaming” case of the decade, but a funny thing happened. Her ex-husband didn’t destroy her, he accidentally revitalized her career.


  1. Actor’s Name Enters Child Custody Fight”, The Salt Lake Tribune, 11 August 1936.
  2. Mary Astor, Ex-Spouse Stake Futures for Child” by Caroline Walker, The Salt Lake Tribune, 11 August 1936.
  3. What the Diary Didn’t Tell” by Lewis Nichols, The New York Times, 11 January 1959.
  4. Mary Astor To Take Stand In Own Defense”, The New York Times, 30 July 1936.
  5. Thorpe Now Admits Previous Marriage”, The New York Times, 7 August 1936.
  6. Says Mary Astor ‘Abandoned’ Child”, The New York Times, 1 August, 1936.
  7. Mary Astor’s Hot Diary Is Burned By Court Order” by the Associated Press, Mt. Vernon Register-News, 19 July 1952.
  8. Mary Astor’s Sizzling Diary Now Ashes”, The Ogden Standard-Examiner (Ogden, Utah), 19 July 1952.
  9. Miss Astor Resumes Career”, The New York Times, 16 August 1936.
  10. “Subpoenas Kaufman In Astor Hearing”, The New York Times, 3 August 1936.
  11. Kaufman Parries Astor Case Query,” The New York Times, 16 August 1936.
  12. Acts Condoned, Says Miss Astor”, The New York Times, 4 August 1936.
  13. SCOCAL, Parker v. James Granger, Inc. , 4 Cal.2d 668.
  14. Stinson SM-1F Detroiter 8420, “A Tragedy of the First Order”, Davis-Monthan Aviation Field Register”, 2 April 2006
  15. Great American Trials” by Bernard Ryan, 2002, Thomson Learning.

Baby & Daddy

Edward Heenan and Mary Spas.

Edward Browning with his first selection from the daughter contest, Mary Spas, source.

Peaches and Daddy Browning

Peaches and Daddy Browning. Notice the bandage on Peaches’ face from her “acid attack,” source.

Peaches, Daddy and the honking goose.

Peaches, Daddy and the famous African honking goose that would make headlines, source.

Truly one of the more bizarre stories included in our podcast series, Daddy Browning was a wealthy New Yorker with heaps of money and no one to spend it on. Frances “Peaches” Heenan thought he should spend it on her. Their short-lived marriage has so many strange details, from acid attacks to a famous African honking geese and shady children adoptions this is one twisty story.

I highly recommend the book “Peaches & Daddy” by Michael M. Greenburg, not everything could be included in the podcast and there are a lot more crazy details.


  1. Peaches: Who’s Your Daddy?” by Dan P. Lee, New York Magazine, 1 April 2012.
  2. Child Bride Gets Zilch From Real Estate Mogul Edward West Browning” by Mara Bovsun, New York Daily News, 12 June 2011.
  3. A 90-year mystery: Who killed the pastor and the choir singer?” by Mara Bovsun, New York Daily News, 16 September 2012.
  4. The Hall-Mills Murder Case: The Most Fascinating Unsolved Homicide in America” by Mary S. Hartman, 2012, Rutgers University Libraries Journal.
  5. Browning Will Try To Show Child-Wife Had Bad Reputation”, Reading Times (Reading, Pa.), 29 January 1927.
  6. Peaches & Daddy” by Michael M. Greenburg, The Overlook Press, New York, 2008.

Newspaper Clippings

The Divorce Rumor Mill

Seattle in 1911.

Seattle in 1911, source.

When Mrs. Henry left her husband she had the audacity to not be ashamed…which resulted in this article. The public’s reaction in 1911 probably won’t surprise you.

Source: The Henry Divorce Mill,” The Seattle Republican, 31 March 1911.

The Liquor Question

Women's temperance union.

A women’s temperance union, source.

The women’s temperance union of Marion County in Ohio may have been a strict and serious bunch but standing up for “fallen” women also made its way onto their agenda.


  1. Mrs. Viola Romans Heard With Interest,” The Marion Star (Marion, Ohio). 29 March 1912.

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