Sunday, September 4, 2011

Lydia Locke’s Jazz Age “Empowerment” - 1925

FULL TEXT: Four men wished to marry lovely Lydia Locke, the opera singer, and settle down. They all married her, but nobody settled down for a minute, except hubby number one, who did so permanently, with a bullet though his liver.

Not a dull moment for those husbands; something; doing all the time. One of the most charming qualities in a wife is considered to be her ability to distract her husband’s mind from business cares. All four husbands agreed that she out-charms all other women at this.

No matter what awful business problem might be hounding these husbands as they turned the latch-key of their homes, little wifey Lydia sprang to meet them with a piece of news that instantly knocked all other troubles out of their minds.

It might be a pistol bullet, a bogus baby, a poison pen letter, a divorce, or just a fist fight she had hail with the janitor or a chauffeur, but it was sure to be new and unexpected and furnish a thrill. Yet none of the husbands seemed to appreciate it. Every man applauds and laughs at that kind of wife in a picture or some other man’s home, where she is the life of the party, but not in his own.

Husband number three, dizzy and bally-eyed at the hectic life, offered her $100,000 if, for just one year, she would quiet down enough to let him give a little thought to business. This was after they had been divorced and she was not supposed to bother him any more anyhow.

Some people thought this was easy money, but it was not. Within six months the strain of self-suppression became unendurable to Lydia and she blew up worse than ever.

Lydia Locke, some forty-odd years ago, was born in Hannibal, Mo., of modest parents who little knew what they had started. As a little girl she developed a voice of great range and power which she used successfully in getting anything she wanted around the house. Later it got her onto the concert platform and she had some success in the Western towns while she was still in her teens. That voice caught the ear of Reginald W. Talbot known as “Lord,” and, sometimes, Prince” Talbot.

Talbot was a tall, handsome English man with lordly and even princely manners, and while his titles might not stand investigation in England they were good enough around Nevada, where he was a successful and much-admired gambler.

She married “His Lordship” in 1908 and became known as “Lady” Talbot, and hereupon the trouble began. “Lord” Talbot, who was supposed to be descended from the famous Talbot who fought with Joan of Arc and got the worst of it, now fought with his bride.

His life as a gambler was vivid and exciting enough so that in his home he insisted, for a change, on peace and quiet, the two things his wife would not have in the house. At last he got down to first principles and obtained quiet one night, a year after they had been man-led, by the ancient method of heating her into silence. In the morning she demanded a divorce and led him over to a Reno lawyer’s office. Reno divorces are quick, but this was the quickest that ever was. She obtained her freedom right in that office, with a pistol, and he also got his peace and quiet forevermore.

The proceedings were a little irregular and the authorities put her on trial for murder. The jury, after looking at her sad, sweet face and listening to her liquid voice, decided that the shooting was in self-defense, an accident, and that the deceased had, in fact, committed suicide.

The widow settled up her husband’s estate and as “Lady” Talbot she went to Chicago and then to Paris to study for grand opera. In both places she met Orville Harrold, the grand opera tenor, who also had come up from humble parentage

In Muncie, Ind., he was driving a wagon for a coffin manufacturer when he met and married his first wife, Effie Harrold. Later he drove a grocery wagon and trained his golden voice by calling up dumb-waiter shafts.

Then someone, who knew, heard him singing in a church choir and, in a quick succession of leaps, he became a world famous singer. But Mrs. Harrold remained always the same quiet little wife of a coffin driver she had been. The tenor felt that what he needed now was a wife of life, pep and ambition. Surely “Lady” Talbot filled the bill, so he divorced quiet little Effie and married the gambler’s snappy, aggressive widow.

Mr. Harrold stood the excitement a good many years, longer than any of the others did, perhaps because his work as a singer took him all over the world and away from home most of the time, and also possibly because he knew what happened to the first husband. It was while was was singing at the Century in New York that Mrs. Harrold had a hand-to-hand duel with the janitress over a dispute of eight days’ rent.

The janitress was a husky woman and brandished an iron rod, but Mrs. Harrold charged in, took it away from her, and the two ladies fought all over the place. Neighbors foolishly separated them before the fight was settled, so it had to he fought all over again in court, with charges and counter charges. The bewildered judge listened as long as he could stand it, then ordered all charges withdrawn and the case dismissed. After which he adjourned the court for a rest.

She was soon back in court again in connection with a one-round, no decision, unsanctioned bout with a chauffeur over a purse of twenty-five cents. She landed a right-hander on the chauffeur’s eye and hit him on the head with a slipper, while he hardly scored at all, but then he was handicapped by his heavy uniform, while she was skating about in her nightie.

The chauffeur had been sent up from a drug store to deliver some sleeping powders to the Harrold apartment. He arrived at midnight and the dispute arose over his desire to collect a quarter for his pains. Mrs. Harrold was willing to lot him have that amount, but she had only a half-dollar and doubled if she would get any change from him. The chauffeur refused to let go of the powders until he had the money, which resulted in a wrestling match.

Mrs. Harrold said that he dragged her out into the public hall. As a lady in a nightgown she resented such treatment and punched him in the eye. One of her slippers came off and, before putting it on again, she applied it to his head. At least, that is the way he told it. Mrs. Harrold maintained that she was only gesturing with it and that he got in the way. It must have been a forceful gesture, because a doctor hail to take several stitches in the man’s forehead.

On big suits, as well as little ones, she went to court. She sued Julian W. Robbins, the banker, for $25,000 because the Robbins car bumped her’s and broke her leg. The suit was settled out of court, but it would seem to have been easily worth that amount to force such an energetic person to keep quiet for a while.

Every one supposed that the tenor enjoyed these excitements until one day he sued that wife with a punch, for divorce, naming as co-respondent Arthur H. Marks, president of the Skinner Organ Company. Mrs. Harrold, with her usual speed and enterprise, came right back with a counter-suit, naming co-respondents and everything. To this the tenor replied: “I don’t care who gets it, as long as it is gotten.”

Lydia Locke Talbot Harrrold won the divorce and, leaving the singer wifeless but the richer by a lot of experience, married Mr. Marks, who had a lot of money but was somewhat poor in experience. This unbalanced state of things she proceeded to even up for the organ builder.

After six years of married life Mr. Marks’s nerves showed signs of extreme exhaustion. It is said that be went to Muldoon’s famous sanitarium to be built up, but had no more than arrived when his wife called. This was not allowed, and Prof. Muldoon had a talk with her. After the talk it is related that he said to his patient:

“You’d better pack up. I can’t do anything for you. What you need is a divorce.”

Whether this is true or not, Mr. Marks gave his wife one, with $300,000 alimony, a house in New York, an estate in Port Chester and several other bits of properly.

He supposed that after this he could lead the simple and peaceful life, devoting himself lo business.

To his dismay he found that she was on the telephone, calling at his home and office to discuss a thousand matters which, somehow, needed still to be adjusted. This would not do at all. He might just as well be married. In desperation he made one of the most astonishing financial offers that a man ever made a woman who had no legal claims on him. He put another .$100,000 in trust for her on the condition that she would not bother him or get into the papers in any scandalous way for one year. Most people thought he had kissed all that money good-bye.

Sure enough, there was peace and silence for nearly six months – ominous silence  because when it broke it was with a thunderclap that made Mr. Marks forget for a while whether he was a manufacturer of organs or chewing gum. His ex-wife confided to him that he was the father of a child which had been born to her since the divorce. She had at first meant never to mention the matter, but, on second thoughts, it seemed only fair that he should know, as, no doubt, be would wish to provide for his child as any fatherly father would.

In case he should he cruel enough to doubt her, she had the baby itself to show him, and a birth certificate, affidavits, facts, figures, etc., much more documentary evidence than one person in a thousand could produce to prove he was who he thought he was.

In spite of all this Mr. Marks was mean enough to hire detectives, who found out that Lydia was mistaken about being the mother of the child, and that she had borrowed it for adoption from the Willow Maternity Hospital of Kansas City. They also stated that the birth certificate and all the other papers were forgeries. The former Mrs. Marks stoutly denied all this until the Kansas City authorities came and recovered his baby by habeas corpus proceedings. Then she admitted that she had made an error somehow. Anybody is likely to make a mistake.

That was that, but Lydia was on the telephone at the office again, and chiefly she wanted to know how that mistake of hers effected the $100,000. Mr. Marks decided that she had forfeited it, but, for the sake of peace, if she would go away and not bother him for the remaining six months of the specified time he would compromise by letting her have half of it.

That, too, looked like easy money, and Mr. Marks began to hope that she was actually going to win it. His reason for such optimism was that she had married her secretary, Harry Dornblasser, a much younger person and a sort of soldier of fortune whose motives and intentions Marks did not quite understand. However, he wished Dornblasser luck, for lie was now the logical person to receive the strenuous attentions of the former Mrs. Marks Mr. Marks is one hit pictured by a reputed statement of the new groom to the effect that he considered that all four husbands Here marks. The trouble with Dornblasser was that this soldier of fortune acted on the principle that: “He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day”

Dornblasser suddenly came back alone from Europe, where he and his bride were having their honeymoon. That was all right, but when she followed he simply disappeared, which left her with four husbands, but none of them available. Meanwhile Mrs. Marks, deceived by the general peace and quiet in the world, took a chance and married again. Once more there was an ominous silence broken by a volcanic eruption in the courts and newspapers

Just as the final six months probation period was expiring a Federal Grand Jury indicted Mrs. Lydia Locke Harrold Masts Dorablasser for sending through the mail, a letter that Attorney Francis Wellman described as “so obscene as to prohibit the publication of a single line.”

This “poison pen’’ letter was sent to Mr. Marks, and informed him that his new bride had done all sorts of unmentionable things in various low dives of Paris. It is charged that Mrs. Dornblasser wrote the letter and that the Federal agents have a confession from Frances Adams. Mrs. Dornblasser’s sister, that she mailed the letter at Belle Fontaine, Ohio.

Mr. Marks considers that this forfeits the other $50,000. But that is not all. His present wife, Mrs. Hoover Marks, is good and mad, and has started a suit for $250,000 against Mrs. Dornblasser for defamation of character.

Mrs. Dornblasser, heavily veiled and surrounded by a bodyguard of detectives larger than the squad that protects the President of the United States, pleaded “not guilty” to the “poison pen” indictment and went away under $1,000 bonds.

Her attorney, Mr. Max D. Steuer, states that it is all a conspiracy and that his client knows nothing of the letter.

It looks as if Mrs. Dornblasser would for a while find ample outlet for her marvelous energies in defending the two criminal and civil suits against her. If she should lose the civil one alone it might take away the major portion of the profits of her last two matrimonial adventures.

Incidentally the busy and versatile Mrs. Talbot-Harrold-Marks-Dornblesser Hi tied through the news a few months ago, when through no fault of hers, the very pretty Baroness Zur Muehlen, formerly Miss Helen Carruthers of New York, either fell out or jumped out of her hotel room in the Hotel Ritz Carlton, New York, last July, and her lifeless body was picked up on the roof of the Italian Garden, 70 feet below. She was about lo sail back to Europe next morning and had spent the evening in a farewell party of friends, among whom was the entertaining Mrs. Tabot-Harrold- Marks-Dornblesser.

Is there any reader of this page who would like to be Lydia’s fifth husband if she wants to marry again?

[“Like a ‘Vamp’ in the Movies - Startling Exploits and Experiences in the Restless Career of Lydia Locke, Who Shot One Husband, Divorced Two, Plotted With a Bogus Baby and Is Before the Courts Once More,” American Weekly (San Antonio Light), Nov. 8, 1925, p. 8]


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


For more cases, see: Paternity Fraud Rackets


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