Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fayne Moore, Champion Badger Game Dame – 1898


There are a great many newspaper articles on the remarkable exploits of Fayne Moore. Here are two.

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FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 2): When the case of William E. A. Moore and Fayne Moore was called in a New York court Tuesday, Mrs. Moore’s entrance created a sensation. They are accused of working the “badger game” on Martin Marion.

Mrs. Moore’s beauty struck everybody in that crowded court room as she walked to the rail. There was a buzz of admiration from the 150 talesmen [the jury pool] and the throng of spectators in the rear of the court room. Recorder Goff looked interested, and the lawyers turned to discover the cause of the stir.

Mrs. Moore was perfectly composed. She might easily have been the most unconcerned person in the court room.

She was handsomely, even gorgeously dressed. She wore a dark green skirt, trimmed with heavy black braid. Her waist was of a light red silk. She wore a watch, crusted with jewels, on her bosom, and on her fingers sparkled several, magnificent rings. In her ears were large diamonds.

Mrs. Moore’s picture hat was a wonderful creation. A dozen large black ostrich plumes of the most expensive sort trembled upon it and had shaded her face on one side. Mrs. Moore wore this wonderful hat tilted a little over left ear.

Mrs. Moore bowed to Recorder Goff, with a little smile, shook hands with Mr. Levy and then looked calmly about her. Every pair of eyes in the big court room was turned upon her, but this did not seem either to surprise or disconcert her. Her expression was one of amused interest, as though the proceedings did not concern her personally in the slightest.

She took a seat beside lawyer Levy. On her left was her husband. She bowed to him in a matter-of-fact way.

And then was noticed a remarkable peculiarity of this most remarkable prisoner.

Asst. Dist. Atty Daniel O’Reilly stood in front of the counsel’s table and next to Mr. McIntyre. Mrs. Moore turned her wonderful blue eyes on Mr. O’Reilly and he blushed like a schoolboy. A moment later she caught the eye of Register Isaac Fromme, who happened to be in the court. Mr. Fromme is not easily discomfited, but he could not withstand that gaze. He blushed, too, then turned and walked into a far-off corner.

Others who mot the calm gaze of those bewildering orbs of deepest blue shared a like fate.

Nobody cared what transpired in the court room. Every eye was upon the beautiful prisoner.

During all this time not a word had been spoken. The silence was becoming oppressive.

“I must insist that this woman leave the court room,” said Mr. McIntyre, addressing Recorder Goff. “I have my reasons.”

Mrs. Moore looked displeased. She frowned at Mr. McIntyre. Then she smiled at Col. Gardiner. She smiled at the judge and leaned back once more.

Finally Mr. McIntyre consented to Mrs. Moore remaining in the court room. He insisted, however, that she be placed in a far-off corner, inside the judge’s railing. This was done.

Mrs. Moore arose from her seat. She bowed to a court officer who approached her, and then followed him inside the inclosure and sat down in the far corner of the court room, from where she cannot see the witness chair nor the jury box.

After the session was concluded Asst Dist Ally McIntyre made the following statement to a reporter:

“I believe that there is such a thing as hypnotism. During my experience as an assistant, district attorney I have come across many such cases. This has every indication of being a genuine instance.

“Mrs. Johnson, with whom Mrs. Moore boarded in this city, has assured us that she is capable of hypnotizing al most any man. Her eyes are wonderful. Had I allowed her to sit before the jury there is no telling what would happen.

“I am hypnotism proof, I knew what Mr. Levy was after when he tried to have Mrs. Moore remain at his side during the trial.

“I am certain of the conviction of the defendant Moore, and the trial of Mrs. Moore will promptly follow. They have no place in thin community.”

[“Mrs.  Moore’s Eyes Dazzle A Court. - Assistant District Attorney McIntyre Compels Her Retirement from Jury’s View.” The Boston Daily Globe (Ma.), Dec. 1, 1898, p. 9]

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FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 2): Almost every year of her life, one of the richest women in the world used to travel 2000 miles to eat Christmas dinner with her old mother in America The war changed the schedule of these pilgrimages. The latest visit came this summer.

The rich woman began these pilgrimages soon after the time, 20 years ago, when she stepped from the stage of the London Gaiety Theatre and into the arms of the Diamond King of Kimberley. For eleven months in the year she divides her time between her palatial London home, her English country estate, Tans and the Riviera, but for one month she packs her trunks, crosses the Atlantic and journeys far into the sunny South just so she can sit down in a small, one story cottage and care the Christmas turkey for a white-haired old lady who calls her “my little girl, Pet.”

~ A Strange Life Drama ~

The life story of this woman reads like fiction. The “toast of the town” in a big southern city; a principal in a “badger” game in which a New York millionaire was the victim, the wife of a convict sentenced to 20 years in Sing Sing, the sensation of Parisian boulevards because she threw a bottle at a marquis; a London chorus girl; the bride of the Diamond King these might form the titles to lurid chapters in her career. The South knew her as “the sweetest girl in Dixie.” New York called her “the beautiful blackmailer.” In London and Paris she was a stage favorite with a reputation for temper as well as for looks. She is chiefly famous today for the $300,000 rope of pearls she wears in London drawing-rooms. But to the little old lady, her mother, she will always be just “Pet.” Mrs. Fayne Strahan Moore Lewis to give “Pet” her full name is the daughter of the late fudge Reuben Scott Strahan, who was chief justice of the state of Oregon when “Pet” was born there 35 years ago. Her mother was Sara Wilson, a daughter of the famous Kentucky Wilsons, the bluest blood of the Blue Grass.

~That “Fatal Gift”~

Almost from infancy “Pet” was beautiful.

“When she was a little girl,” says her mother, “her hair fell below her knees in a thick rope of gold. It was the richest, finest hair I’ve ever seen, and her eyes were a peculiar greenish blue. She had beautiful white teeth and everyone agreed her figure was perfect.”

“Pet” still retains that beauty today, for, according to her mother, she has always taken the most scrupulous care of her looks, dieting when she threatens to become fat, so that she never allows herself to weigh more than 115 pounds. But it was her beauty, too a ruinous beauty that “Pet” sorrow and as well as fame and riches.

She was living in the city of where her mother moved because of her health after Judge Strahan’s death, when she first felt the lure of the footlights. Already she was the most beautiful girl in a city of beautiful girls. Staid citizens who today are judges of courts and in the business world of Atlanta used to sit for hours on the Strahan porch, playing their banjos and for the benefit of little “Pet.” She danced in Atlanta’s Kirmess so gracefully that, says her mother, in a week she had three proposals. And she was only 18.

When she was 20 “Pet” went to New York to study art. That was in the early There she met and married William A. F. Moore, a relative of the wife of the late Senator Mark Hanna. Then came the episode that stirred the country as no criminal case has since, with the possible exception of the Thaw trial. Mr. and Mrs. Moore were arrested on a charge of attempting to blackmail Martin Mahon, a New York millionaire, out of $50,000. The old “badger game” was said to be the means they used. The trial was the sensation of the decade.

According to the testimony, “Pet” was ordered by her husband to undress to her chemise in the hotel room they occupied and to telephone downstairs for Martin Mahon, who owned what was then one of New York’s most palatial hostelries.

Mahon, even then an old man, entered his room and closed the door behind him. Almost before he had time to say anything, a double rap sounded at the door. The woman motioned to him to creep under the bed and Mahon. Bewildered and frightened, did so. Enter then William Moore, who called to him to come out, threatened to shoot them both, and finally, Mahon testified, agreed to “keep quiet” if the old man gave him a check for $50,000.

Mahon signed the check then and there, but it was never cashed. Two minutes after he had left the room the pair were arrested.

Moore was sentenced to 20 years in Sing Sing prison, but “Pet” went free. The evidence was strong against her. but her old friends from Atlanta fought hard in her behalf. A young Atlanta lawyer, one of her suitors, now a supreme court judge, traveled to New York to defend her gratis. The jury was so moved by her beauty that one juryman, interviewed after she was acquitted, declared that no judge or jury in the world would believe anything ill of such a wide-eyed innocent looking girl.


~ Her Career in London ~

The world next heard of “Pet” abroad, when her portrait appeared in some of the sensational newspapers of the day, under such captions as this:

“This lady will be remembered as the wife of the gentleman who is at present lingering in Sing Sing for having attempted, with the assistance of his wife, to ‘badger’ the late Martin Mahon out of $50,000. For some reason the subsequent case against Fayne was not pressed, and she is at present in Paris, where she recently proved herself, in a cafe, a perfect lady by hurling a bottle at a marquis who, she considered, was staring at her too strenuously. Then she repented and asked the waiter to introduce the marquis, and all went merry as a marriage bell – a simile which should not be taken too literally. Fayne Moore and Florence Crosby, also in Paris and ‘very popular,’ according to the cable dispatcher, have met and taken a great liking for each other, each of them no doubt acting as a restraint upon her companion, in case of excess of exuberance. Shortly after the Martin Mahon affair Fayne was engaged to appear at Koster & Bial’s Music Hall in  ‘Round New York in Eighty Minutes,’ but changed her mind at the last of the eighty minutes and moved to Europe. Oh, woman, in our hours of ease!”

Another paper hail the following item: “Fayne Moore, the woman who once upon a time declared that she would stay in New York and tight as long as she lived for the pardon of her husband. William A E. Moore, who is serving a sentence of 20 years in Sing Sing prison for attempting to ‘badger’ Martin Mahon out of $50,000. But the charming Fayne was altogether too young and vivacious to enact for any considerable length of time the role of a martyr. She prefers a livelier type and, according to report, is playing a small part under an assumed name in ‘The Messenger Boy,’ now running at the Gaiety Theatre in London. It is whispered also that she will soon marry again.”

~ Again a Bride ~

That “whisper” came true, for in less than three weeks after he had secured her part at the Gaiety, “Pet” Strahan, divorced from her convict-husband had become the bride of Henry D Lewis, son of Isaac Lewis, who, with the late Barney Barnato, is reputed to own the biggest diamond mines in the world, the famous Kimberley and De Beers mines in South Africa

The wedding was an international sensation, but in marrying a millionaire while she was a chorus girl, “Pet” Strahan only ran true to form, for the Gaiety girls have ever been famous for just such alliances. From this theatre such famous actresses as Edna May, Fanny Ward, Madge Leasing and Helen Ward all went into homes of xx wealth, the brides of rich Englishmen.

Of them all, however, none got a richer prize than did “Pet” Strahan Moore and Fanny Ward, for they married into the same family and some idea of its wealth may be gained when it is stated that the Barnate Lewis interests paid more than $100,000,000 in war tax alone to the British empire.

Fanny Ward married an uncle of “Pet’s” husband, a brother of Isaac Lewis. And the strange part of the story is that Fanny Ward’s daughter Dorothy, at the age of 17, married Barney Barnato’s son. Capt. Isaac Barnato, an officer of the Royal Air Force who served with distinction in the Dardanelles.

~ Romance at the London Home ~

The two met in the London home of “Pet” Lewis, and it was she who engineered the marriage, which was performed secretly at her home.

But, like her own first marriage, it was doomed to tragedy Young Barnato died after he and his girl bride had had only one Christmas together, leaving Dorothy grief-stricken but with some consolation in the two millions to which she fell heir.

It is a notable fact that the biggest things in the lives of these two famous women, Fanny Ward and “Pet” Lewis, is the love of the one  for her daughter, and of the other for her mother.  Almost the same time that Fanny Ward was crossing the ocean to England to console her little girl over the death of her husband and to see to the settlement of the estate, “Pet” Lewis was crossing the ocean in the opposite direction to visit her old mother.

The two had been separated for four years because of the war four years when “Pet” was not able to come home for that annual Christmas feast in the little vine-covered cottage.

But the last thing she said as she left her mother in Atlanta to return to England after a visit of ten days this summer was: “I will be back to eat Christmas turkey with you.”

[Ward Greene, “Why Beautiful Fayne Moore Comes Back America - The Extraordinary Life of the Principal Figure in a Notorious “Badger Game” Trial, Now Married to the “Diamond King, “ and Who Once Again Has Crossed the Sea to Visit Her Aged Mother in Atlanta.” Syndicated (Newspaper Feature Service), Aug. 9, 1919, magazine section]

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For more cases like this one, see: Vamps – Femmes Fatales – Predatory Women

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