Slim Keith: Socialite Siren

A mere chromosome difference between them and their male counterparts did nothing to prevent Slim Keith from, in the words of Maya Angelou, “seizing the world by its lapels” and bending…
Slim Keith

Reflecting on her death aged 72 in 1990, many casual observers hinted that the society-climbing prowess of SlimKeith was based largely on tactical nous when it came toher nuptial exploits. And, her career as a social butterfly –there was then, and there remains such a thing - from the1940s onwards was indeed boosted at intervals byadvantageous marriages - the last of which, to Britishfinancial grand fromage Sir Kenneth Keith, gave her thetitle Lady Keith.

This is more than a tad churlish an appraisal of Keith’s life,though, given that the woman born Nancy Gross inSalinas, California in July 1917 was elegance and tasteincarnated, not to mention shrewd beyond measure, andalso furnished with a sharp, salty wit (when dubbed ‘BestDressed Woman in the World’ in 1946, she deemed thetitle "about as empty as ‘Miss Butterfat Week’ inWisconsin").

It was movie actor William Powell who introduced her intoHollywood society when she was still a teenager, andbefore long she was hobnobbing at William RandolphHearst’s birthday party and Rex Harrison and KayKendalls’ wedding, with Gary Cooper, Gregory Peck, CaryGrant, Rosalind Russell, Lauren Bacall, Swifty Lazar andCharles Lindbergh amongst her close friends, and ClarkGable, as well as Ernest Hemingway – with whom shewent on regular pheasant hunts – among those pursuingher romantically.


April 2016


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