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Edward Beale McLean

Edward B. McLean
Edward & Evalyn McLean, 1912.
Born 1889
Washington, D.C., United States
Died July 28, 1941
Towson, Maryland,
United States
Cause of death Heart attack
Residence Friendship Estate, Washington, D.C.
Occupation Newspaper publisher, Racehorse owner
Known for Hope Diamond
Political party Republican
Board member of Washington Post
Spouse(s) Evalyn Walsh
Children 1) Vinson Walsh (1909-1919)
2) John Roll II (1916-1975)
3) Edward Beale Jr. (b. 1918)
4) Evalyn Washington (1921-1946)
Parents John Roll McLean &
Emily Truxtun Beale

Edward Beale "Ned" McLean (1889 - July 28, 1941) was the publisher and owner of the Washington Post newspaper from 1916 until 1933.

Edward McLean was born into a publishing fortune founded by his paternal grandfather Washington McLean who owned the Washington Post and the Cincinnati Enquirer. He was the only child of John Roll McLean, for whom McLean, Virginia is named, and the former Emily Truxtun Beale, the daughter of Edward F. Beale and the former Mary Edwards. Emily was a hostess and socialite who was the inspiration for the character Virginia Dare in the 1880 comic novel, Democracy: An American Novel by Henry Adams. [1]

In 1908 Edward McLean married Evalyn Walsh, the only surviving child and sole heiress of mining millionaire Thomas Walsh. [2] Following a honeymoon trip around the world, the couple returned to Washington and settled in at the McLean family's country house 'Friendship' (now the McLean Gardens Condominium development) along Wisconsin Avenue to the south of the Tenleytown neighborhood of Washington, D. C. There, the McLeans lived lavishly and as close friends of Senator then President Warren G. Harding, became a large part of Washington society. [3]


Thoroughbred horse racing

Involved with show horses for a number of years, [4] in 1917 Edward McLean purchased thirty-two Thoroughbred racehorses and hired trainer Eugene Leigh to condition them for racing. [5] Among his notable runners, Toro won the 1928 American Derby, ran third in the Kentucky Derby and second in the Preakness Stakes. McLean continued racing until June of 1931 when his stable of eighty-six horses were sold at auction. [6]

Hope diamond ownership

On January 28, 1911, in a deal made in the offices of the Washington Post, McLean purchased the Hope Diamond for US$180,000 from Pierre Cartier of Cartier Jewelers on Fifth Avenue in New York City. A clause in the sale agreement for the diamond, that was widely believed to bring death and disaster to its owner, stated that "Should any fatality occur to the family of Edward B. McLean within six months, the said Hope diamond is agreed to be exchanged for jewery of equal vale". By March, the diamond had not been paid for in accordance with the terms in the sale agreement. Cartier hired a lawyer to sue McLean for payment who responded by saying it was on a loan for inspection. [7] On February 2, 1912 the New York Times reported that the "Wealthy Purchasers of Famous Stone to Retain It Despite Sinister Reputation. " [8]

The bad luck the diamond was supposed to bring to any owner was not evident for eight years until the first of the four children born to the McLeans died. While crossing Wisconsin Ave. in front of the suburban Washington, D.C. home of his parents, nine-year-old Vinson Walsh McLean (born December 18, 1909) was struck by a car and killed on May 18, 1919.[9]

The Edward McLean family would suffer further severe difficulties: On October 9, 1941, their then 19-year-old daughter, Evalyn Washington McLean (November 16, 1921 - September 20, 1946), became the fifth wife of 57-year-old Senator Robert R. Reynolds of North Carolina. [10] Less than five years later, she was found dead by her mother. [11] A coroner's inquest determined the cause of death to be an accidental overdose of sleeping pills. [12] Evalyn and Robert Reynolds had a daughter, Mamie Spears Reynolds. She married Italian racecar driver Luigi Chinetti in 1963 but divorced in 1965. [13]

Second son, Edward Beale McLean, Jr., married Ann Carroll Meem in May of 1938. Their divorce was granted in July of 1943 and he married a second time in August to actress Gloria Hatrick with whom he had two sons. They divorced in January of 1948 and in October of that year McLean Jr. married Manuela "Mollie" Hudson, the former Mrs. Alfred Vanderbilt. In August of 1949, ex-wife Gloria McLean married actor James Stewart. McLean and Hudson-Vanderbilt separated in the 1960s and formally divorced in 1973 after which Edward married for a fourth time to Patricia Dewey. [14]

Divorce and mental illness

Edward and Evalyn McLean were part of much publicized and bitterly contested divorce proceedings first initiated by Mrs. McLean in October of 1931 on the grounds of infidelity. Edward McLean filed for divorce in a Mexican court but his wife obtained a permanent injunction from a District of Columbia Court ordering the cessation of the Mexican proceedings. Edward McLean then suddenly announced he had already married Rose Douras, a sister of Hollywood film star, Marion Davies. [15] A marriage had in fact not occurred but Edward McLean immediately took up residence in Riga, Latvia where he filed for a divorce from his wife which was granted on December 13, 1932. However, Edward McLean's increasingly erratic behaviour and reckless spending resulted in financial problems that led to the forced sale of the Washington Post by Trustees appointed by the Court. The divorce proceedings of Evalyn McLean continued in United States court but were dropped [16] following an October 31, 1933 verdict by a jury in a Maryland trial that declared Edward McLean to be legally insane and incapable of managing his affairs. The court ordered that he be committed indefinitely to a psychiatric hospital. [17]

Lindbergh kidnapping fraud

During the divorce proceedings, Mrs. McLean was the victim of fraud involving the Lindbergh kidnapping perpetuated by Gaston Means. The supposedly reputable former agent for the United States Department of Justice duped her into giving him $100,000 in cash to be used to secure the release of the kidnapped son of Charles Lindbergh. [18] Gaston Means was eventually arrested and charged with fraud. [19] He was found guilty and sentenced to a prison term. [20]

Edward McLean died of a heart attack at Sheppard-Pratt Sanitarium in Towson, Maryland where he had been confined since 1933. [21]



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