Ava was born on July 7, 1902, the only daughter of John Jacob "Jack" Astor IV and Ava Lowle Willing. Her paternal grandparents were yachtsman William Backhouse Astor, Jr. and socialite Caroline Webster "Lina" Schermerhorn, while her maternal grandparents were Edward Shippen Willing and Alice Barton.
Ava Astor married Prince Sergei Platonovich "Serge" Obolensky, son of General Platon Sergeyevich Obolensky and Maria Konstantinovna Naryshkina, on July 24, 1924 in the Savoy Chapel in London. The marriage was considered the event of the season in England that year. Her brother Vincent gave her a Palladian Revival stone residence on his estate near Rhinebeck, New York. The house was north of his own "Ferncliff Casin" ("Astor Courts") and also overlooked the Hudson River. Ava named it "Marienruh" and retained it through her life. They had a son Ivan (born May 15, 1925) and a daughter Sylvia (May 18, 1931 — June 27, 1997)
After divorcing Serge in 1932, she married Raimund von Hofmannsthal (1906 — March 20, 1974), son of Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Gertrud "Gerty" Schlesinger. The couple was married on January 21, 1933, in the city court of Newark, New Jersey. The couple had a daughter, Romana von Hofmannsthal (born c. 1935), who married Roderick McEwen. Raimund later married Lady Elizabeth Paget.
Sir Frederick Ashton was a dancer and choreographer. He also worked as a director and choreographer in opera, film and revue. Ava Alice Muriel Astor was an American heiress and socialite, the daughter of John Jacob Astor IV and Ava Lowle Willing. In 1936–37, she had an affair with Ashton, his homosexuality notwithstanding. After the affair ended, her love for him continued, though she had two subsequent marriages, both to gay Englishmen (Philip Harding, a journalist, and David Pleydell-Bouverie)
From 1936–1937, she had an affair with English choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton, despite the fact that he was gay. After the affair ended, her love for him continued, though she had two subsequent marriages, both to gay Englishmen.
After divorcing Raimund in 1939, she married Philip John Ryves Harding, a journalist. The wedding took place on March 27, 1940, in Faversham, England. Out of this union, one daughter, Emily Edwina Harding, was born in 1942.
Lastly, she married David Pleydell-Bouverie (born April 20, 1911, the grandson of William Pleydell-Bouverie, 5th Earl of Radnor) on May 12, 1946 in Reading, Vermont. The couple resided in New York City and Glen Ellen, California, before divorcing in 1952.
Ava Astor died of a stroke in her East Sixty-First Street apartment on July 19, 1956, aged 54. She was a patron of the arts, including the ballet companies of London and New York City.
Her will was admitted to probate on November 5, 1956, in Manhattan Surrogate Court. Her assets, totaling $5,305,000, (equivalent to approximately $46,017,791 in 2014 dollars) were divided among her four children.
Sir Frederick William Mallandaine Ashton OM, CH, CBE (17 September 1904 – 18 August 1988) was a dancer and choreographer. He also worked as a director and choreographer in opera, film and revue. Ava Alice Muriel Astor (July 7, 1902 - July 19, 1956) was an American heiress and socialite, the daughter of John Jacob Astor IV and Ava Lowle Willing, and sister of Vincent Astor. In 1936–37, she had an affair with British choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton, his homosexuality notwithstanding. After the affair ended, her love for him continued, though she had two subsequent marriages, both to gay Englishmen (Philip Harding, a journalist, and David Pleydell-Bouverie)
Determined to be a dancer, despite the opposition of his conventional middle-class family, Ashton was accepted as a pupil by Leonide Massine and then by Marie Rambert. In 1926 Rambert encouraged him to try his hand at choreography, and though he continued to dance professionally, with success, it was as a choreographer that he became famous.
Ashton was chief choreographer to Ninette de Valois, from 1935 until her retirement in 1963, in the company known successively as the Vic-Wells Ballet, the Sadler's Wells Ballet and the Royal Ballet. He succeeded de Valois as director of the company, serving until his own retirement in 1970.
Sir Frederick Ashton; Ninette de Valois; Léonide Fedorovich Massine, by Angus McBean, bromide print, 1946, 7 1/2 in. x 9 5/8 in. (190 mm x 243 mm), Purchased, 2001, Primary Collection, NPG P911
Sir Frederick Ashton, by Cecil Beaton, vintage bromide print on white card mount, 1950, 7 3/8 in. x 7 1/4 in. (187 mm x 185 mm), Given by Cecil Beaton, 1968, Primary Collection, NPG P869(2)
Sir Frederick Ashton, by Gordon Anthony, bromide print, 1930s, 12 7/8 in. x 12 in. (327 mm x 304 mm) image size, Purchased, 1988, Photographs Collection, NPG x44759
John Piper; Sir Frederick Ashton; Benjamin Britten and Eric John Crozier, by Edward Mandinian, bromide contact print, 1947, 2 1/2 in. x 2 1/4 in. (62 mm x 58 mm) image size, Given by The Britten Estate, 1981, Photographs Collection, NPG x15211
Ashton is widely credited with the creation of a specifically English genre of ballet. Among his best-known works are Façade (1931), Symphonic Variations (1946), Cinderella (1948), La fille mal gardée (1960), Monotones I and II (1965), Enigma Variations (1968) and the feature film ballet The Tales of Beatrix Potter (1970).
Ashton died in 1988 at his home, Chandos Lodge, in Eye, Suffolk, England. He left the rights to many of his ballets to friends and colleagues, including Fonteyn ( Daphnis and Chloe and Ondine), Dowell (The Dream and A Month in the Country), Michael Somes (Cinderella and Symphonic Variations), Alexander Grant (La fille mal gardée and Façade), Antony Dyson (Enigma Variations and Monotones, and Brian Shaw (Les Patineurs and Rendezvous). Rights to most of his other ballets were left to his nephew, Anthony Russell-Roberts, who was Administrative Director of the Royal Ballet from 1983 to 2009.
To perpetuate the legacy of Ashton and his ballets, the Frederick Ashton Foundation was set up in 2011. It is independent of, but works closely with, the Royal Ballet.
Ashton's state honours were, from Britain, CBE (1950), Knight Bachelor (1962), Companion of Honour (1970) and the Order of Merit (1977). Honours from other countries included the Legion of Honour (France, 1960) and the Order of Dannebrog (Denmark, 1964). He received the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award from the Royal Academy of Dance in 1959. He was awarded the Freedom of the City of London (1981), and received honorary doctorates from the universities of Durham (1962), East Anglia (1967), London (1970), Hull (1971) and Oxford (1976).
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=e
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=e
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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