Thursday, October 29, 2020

Evelyn McHale (1923 – 1947)

Little is known about what drove Evelyn McHale to jump from the Empire State Building and be captured in the “most beautiful suicide [photograph] ever” on 1st May 1947.

 

Berkeley, California born bookkeeper McHale was one of nine children of a divorced bank examiner. The 23-year-old worked at the Kitab Engraving Company in Pearl Street, Manhattan and was engaged to a college student discharged from the United States Army Air Force named Barry Rhodes. She seemed to have had it all, but chose to end her life from atop one of the most famous buildings in the world.

 

“Elegantly attired and wearing a silk scarf, white gloves and a pearl necklace… [she is said to have] carefully removed her coat and neatly folded it, next she placed her black pocketbook on top of her coat [along with her makeup compact filled with family pictures and a handbag]. At 10:40am: Patrolman John Morrisey of Traffic C, directing traffic at 34th and 35th Avenue, reported seeing a white scarf floating lazily down from the heavens. Moments later this peaceful, dreamy scene was brutally interrupted by a heart rendering boom” as McHale had jumped 1,050-feet to her death and a crowd had converged.

 

Photography student Robert Wiles is said to have run over and captured a “poignant and surreal photo.” It was the only image of his ever published and Life Magazine captioned it: “At the bottom of the Empire State Building the body of Evelyn McHale reposes in grotesque bier, her falling body punched into the top of a [United Nations Assembly Cadillac limousine].” The driver was “in a nearby drug store, thereby escaping death or serious injury” other reports added.

 

A note found in her pocketbook announced: “I don’t want anyone in or out of my family to see any part of me. Could you destroy my body by cremation? I beg of you and my family – don’t have any service for me or remembrance for me.” She had crossed out the following: “My fiancé asked me to marry him in June. I don’t think I would make a good wife for anybody. He is much better off without me” and then ended: “Tell my father, I have too many of my mother’s tendencies.”

 

Of the image, one commentator later remarked: “Evelyn’s gloved hand appears to be serenely touching her pearl necklace, and her legs crossed as if taking a nap,” whilst another added: “Evelyn McHale will go down in history as something akin to a fallen angel, as poignant and iconic as Marilyn Monroe.”

 

She was cremated with no service, grave or memorial and her fiancé reportedly said of her: “When I kissed her goodbye, she was happy and as normal as any girl about to be married.” He remained single for the rest of his life and died in Melbourne, Florida in 2007.

 

Many ‘sightings’ of Evelyn McHale wearing bright red lipstick and “looking distressed” on the 86th floor observation deck have been reported and in the years since her death, she has been recalled in the works of Andy Warhol, David Bowie, Pearl Jam and Taylor Swift amongst others.

 

Evelyn McHale (1923 – 1947) – Little is known about what drove Evelyn McHale to jump from the Empire State Building and be captured in the “most beautiful suicide [photograph] ever” on 1st May 1947.
The United Nations Assembly Cadillac limousine that the body of Evelyn McHale landed upon after falling 86 floors from the observatory deck of the Empire State Building in New York City and the original image (unedited) taken by Robert Wiles. It has been has been compared to the photograph by Malcolm Wilde Browne of the self-immolation of Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức who burned himself alive at a busy Saigon road intersection on 11th June 1963.
Evelyn McHale (1923 – 1947) – Little is known about what drove Evelyn McHale to jump from the Empire State Building and be captured in the “most beautiful suicide [photograph] ever” on 1st May 1947.
An image clearly showing the damage to the car from above.
Evelyn McHale (1923 – 1947) – Little is known about what drove Evelyn McHale to jump from the Empire State Building and be captured in the “most beautiful suicide [photograph] ever” on 1st May 1947.
Joséphine Wister Faure created a ‘mixed media sculpture’ of the car that the body of Evelyn McHale hit on 1st May 1947. Her sculpture is described as: “An interpretation of the photo, revisiting the impact of the image and the trace this woman left, both literally and physically. Also being true to her last wishes in which she specifically asked not to be seen. Inside the car the radio is playing 1947 NYC broadcast.” It was exhibited at the Boite Noire Gallery in the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles in 2015.

The Roll Call - WILDCARDS

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‘Mr Black Lives Matter’

Gabriel and Sarah A. Chrisman – Port Townsend, Washington State residents Gabriel and Sarah A. Chrisman live as if they are Victorians. They get a lot of abuse.

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Gabriel and Sarah A. Chrisman

Designer and tastemaker Eileen Gray (1878 – 1976, née Eileen Smith) – A pioneer of both the Art Deco style and the functionalist Modernist movement, bisexual Irish aristocrat Eileen Gray was best known for designing the Bibendum chair and the E-1027 table.

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Eileen Gray (1878 – 1976, née Eileen Smith)

Robert Adam – Hampshire based architect and designer Robert Adam (born 1948) followed in the steps of his namesake and has become one of the most important figures in neo-classical style.

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Robert Adam

Bob Marshall-Andrews QC – Barrister, former Labour MP and novelist

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Bob Marshall-Andrews QC

True wildcard Lady Ridsdale DBE (1921 – 2009, née Victoire Bennett) – Dame Paddy Ridsdale was an intelligence operative, secretary to Ian Fleming and the inspiration for the Bond character Miss Moneypenny.

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Lady Ridsdale DBE (1921 – 2009, née Victoire Bennett)

Interior designer and philanthropist Charlot Malin (1969 – 2017) –Oslo born, San Francisco based interior designer and philanthropist Charlot D. Malin worked with George Lucas and Robert Redford. She loathed microwaves.

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Charlot Malin (1969 – 2017)

Baba Vanga (баба Ванга, AKA ‘Nostradamus from the Balkans’, 1911 – 1996) – Blind, illiterate, psychic Macedonian villager and clairvoyant

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Baba Vanga (баба Ванга, AKA ‘Nostradamus from the Balkans’, 1911 – 1996)

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Mary Millington (marital name Mary Maxted, born Mary Quilter, 1945 – 1979)

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Mary Millington (marital name Mary Maxted, born Mary Quilter, 1945 – 1979)

Turki Bin Abdullah (AKA “The Pint-Sized James Stunt”)

11

Turki Bin Abdullah (AKA “The Pint-Sized James Stunt”)

Sir Ken Adam OBE (born Klaus Adam, 1921 – 2016)

12

Sir Ken Adam OBE (born Klaus Adam, 1921 – 2016)

Will and Calum Thompson

13

Will and Calum Thompson (AKA “The Eat Wild Boys”)

Arthur Woodham

14

Arthur Woodham

Hannah Wick

15

Hannah Wick

Daniel Lismore

16

Daniel Lismore

Irish fugitive and world record holder John Patrick Hannan

17

John Patrick Hannan

Max Whitlock (nicknamed “Maxi”)

18

Max Whitlock (nicknamed “Maxi”)

Kelly Killoren Bensimon

19

Kelly Killoren Bensimon

Lee Miller (Lady Penrose, born Elizabeth Miller, 1907 – 1977)

20

Lee Miller (Lady Penrose, born Elizabeth Miller, 1907 – 1977)

Parrot man - Ted Richards

21

Ted Richards

Victoria Pendleton

22

Victoria Pendleton CBE (married name Victoria Gardner)

Christopher Mason

23

Christopher Mason

Bonnie Lee Bakley (1956 – 2001)

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Bonnie Lee Bakley (1956 – 2001)

Gino D’Acampo (born Gennaro D’Acampo)

25

Gino D’Acampo

26

Gillian Clarke (1941 – 2015)

Francesco Macera

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Francesco Macera

Nick Loeb

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Nicholas Loeb

Reverend Robert Parker (AKA “Squire Parker” and “Britain’s richest vicar”)

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Reverend Robert Parker

Gillian Duffy

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Gillian Duffy

David Hallberg

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David Hallberg

Ruthann Aron

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Ruthann Aron (AKA “Ruth Aron”, née Ruthann Greenzweig)

Lady Alice, Lady Eliza and Lady Violet Manners

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Lady Alice, Lady Eliza and Lady Violet Manners (AKA “The No Manners Girls”)

Topsy Taylor (born Lesley Taylor)

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Topsy Taylor (born Lesley Taylor)

Peter Dinklage

35

Peter Dinklage

Olivier Sarkozy and Mary-Kate Olson

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Olivier Sarkozy and Mary-Kate Olson

Nina Campbell

37

Nina Campbell

Crispin Baynes

38

Crispin Baynes

Bill Martin

39

Bill Martin MBE (born William Wylie MacPherson)

Emma Sayle

40

Emma Sayle

Henry Blofeld

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Henry Blofeld OBE (AKA “Blowers”, “Tycoon” and “Typhoon”)

Nancy Cunard

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Nancy Cunard (1896 – 1965)

Elliot Bssila

43

Elliot Bssila

Joudie Kalla

44

Joudie Kalla

Ross O’Connell Jennings

45

Ross O’Connell Jennings

Alexa Jago

46

Alexa Jago

Claire Zambuni

47

Claire Zambuni

Amanda Eliasch

48

Amanda Eliasch (née Amanda Brown)

Charlie Anson

49

Charlie Anson

Louis-Marie de Castelbajac

50

Count Louis-Marie de Castelbajac

Jeremy Lloyd

51

Jeremy Lloyd OBE (1930 – 2014)

Sandra Howard

52

Sandra Howard, Lady Howard (née Sandra Paul)

Anne Naysmith

53

Anne Naysmith (1937 - 2015, AKA “The Rag Lady of Chiswick”)

Claudine Longet

54

Claudine Longet

fantasy cyclist

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The Fantasy Cyclist

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Sarah, Duchess of York (AKA “Fergie”, née Sarah Ferguson)

57

Fredrik Eklund

58

Sir Gerald Nabarro (AKA “Old Whiskers” and “The Abominable Showman”, 1913 – 1973)

59

Lord Bell (Tim Bell, Baron Bell of Belgravia)

60

Teresa Gorman

61

Julia Child (1912 – 2004)

62

Keith Floyd (1943 – 2009)

63

Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO (1880 – 1963)

64

Dan Bilzerian (AKA "Blitz")

65

Cognac Wellerlane

66

Thai Dang Cao (1953 – 2014)

67

Craig Brazier

68

Alejandro Flores

69

Doris Thompson

70

Gloria Minghella MBE (AKA “the Queen Mum of the Isle of Wight”, 1930 – 2014)

71

Clarissa Dickson Wright (1947 – 2014)

72

Wayne Bryson

73

Mary The Elephant (AKA ‘Murderous Mary’)

74

Fred Dibnah MBE (1938 – 2004)

75

Emeritus Professor Jane Somerville

76

Russell Brand

77

Cindy Crawford

78

Lady Camilla Bloch (born Lady Camilla Bingham)

79

Terry Deary

80

Dame Norma Major DBE

81

Jeannette Etheredge

82

Michael “Chalky” White

83

Nubar Gulbenkian (Armenian: Նուբար Սարգիս Գյուլբենկյան, 1896 – 1972)

84

Huguette Clark (1906 – 2011)

85

Viola Herms Drath (1920 – 2011)

Ian Towning

86

Ian Towning

87

Ryan Lochte (nicknames 'Reezy' and 'The Lochtenator')

88

Jerry Hall

89

Austin 7 man

90

The Waitrose Clepto

91

Martin the Poet

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Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, 18th Duchess of Alba (1926 – 2014)

93

Tim Tebow

94

The Most Hon the Marquess of Bath

95

Judy Joo

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Toby Flood

Justin Timberlake

97

Justin Timberlake

98

Jeremy Blake and Theresa Duncan (1971 – 2007 and 1966 – 2007)

99

Norman Balon

100

Bubble (2012 – 2013)

101

Dr. Vanessa Neumann

102

Martin Miller (1946 - 2013)

103

Lady Docker (Norah Docker, née Norah Turner and also Norah Callingham and Lady Collins, 1905 – 1983)

104

Beverly Cohen

105

Patricia Kluge (née Rose)

106

Charmian Brent (better known as Charmian Biggs)

107

David Nalbandian

108

April Ashley MBE (born Toni Jamieson)

109

Scott Disick

110

Andrew Embiricos (1985 – 2011)

111

Shireen Ritchie, The Rt. Hon. The Baroness Ritchie (1945 - 2012)

112

Eugene Carokis

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Anouska Hempel (Lady Weinberg)

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Joseph "Joey" Barton

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Neil & Christine Hamilton

Marisa Masters

116

Marisa Masters (1925 – 2016)

117

Iris Apfel

6 COMMENTS

  1. What a sad, sad story. I cried when I got to the end. The videos – especially the first one – are worth watching. The second one features a man a little obsessed with his own problems. Poor Evelyn – she must have found out something that morning that truly tipped her over the edge. How tragic. May her spirit rest forever in peace. The image if I didn’t now know it was real would indeed be described as beautifully choreographed.

    • Not only that Fred, but if the owner had been in it, she would have probably taken him with her as well. She obviously wanted to make some sort of statement ending it the way she did.

  2. I wonder what the fiance had said that triggered her. Did he tell her the marriage was off? Did she tell him the marriage was off? Was there another secret? Something plainly went on between the two of them.

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