Alice Lee Roosevelt Longworth, most popularly known as Alice Roosevelt, lived a wild and controversial life. Being president Teddy Roosevelt’s eldest child, she attracted a lot of media attention throughout her life. To give you a better view, here are some details about Alice Roosevelt’s wild and eccentric life.
Alice Roosevelt was born in Manhattan on February 12, 1884 to mother Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt, a banking heiress, and father Theodore Roosevelt, a New York State Assemblyman who later became one of the presidents of the United States.
Two days after Alice Roosevelt was born, her mother died of kidney failure. As a result, her father was heartbroken and distraught. Afterward, he didn’t want to hear his wife’s name in his presence. For this reason, Alice was often called “Baby Lee” instead of her name.
When Theodore Roosevelt moved to North Dakota, Alice was left in the care of his sisters, Anna and Bamie. From there, Alice noted that Bamie had a huge influence on her childhood years.
When Theodore married Edith Kermit Crow, Alice gained five half-siblings. From then on, Alice grew up living with her father and stepmother.
Her Father’s Presidency
In 1901, President William McKinley was assassinated. Afterward, Theodore Roosevelt took the office and became the president of the United States.
Alice Roosevelt’s wild and eccentric life started during her father’s presidency. In this era, she became a fashion icon and celebrity of sorts. For instance, she wore a blue gown for her social debut in 1906. Afterward, the “Alice blue” color became a trend in women’s fashion.
Alice was at the center of every social event during her father’s presidency. In fact, a report noted that she attended 300 parties, 350 balls, and 407 dinners within 15 months. Aside from that, she was also known to break a lot of social norms, including smoking cigarettes in public, partying all night, and riding in cars with men. Despite her wild behavior, she was loved by the American people because of her outspokenness. As a result, she was named “Princess Alice.”
In 1905, Alice and William Howard Taft led the largest American delegation to Hawaii, China, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines. On their way to Japan, Alice jumped into the swimming pool wearing all her clothes. Then, she convinced Congressman William Bourke Cockran to join her in the pool. In her autobiography, Alice noted that the skirt and blouse she was wearing when she jumped into the pool had little difference from the swimsuit of that era.
Alice’s Controversial Married Life
After her diplomatic travels, Alice and Nicholas Longworth III became engaged. According to reports, the two had the same social circles. Their relationship became solid after their diplomatic tour.
Alice and Nicholas Longworth III were married on February 1906, and their wedding was “the event of the season.” In fact, many people gathered to see Alice wearing a blue wedding gown. Aside from that, Alice also cut her wedding cake with a military sword.
Alice and Nicholas’ marriage was greatly affected by their different political views. In fact, Alice publicly campaigned against Nicholas, resulting in numerous marital problems. Aside from that, Alice also had several affairs during her married life. To be specific, it was widely known that she and Senator William Borah had a long-term affair. According to historical researchers, Senator Borah was actually the father of her daughter, Paulina Longworth.
After the Roosevelt Presidency
Alice Roosevelt’s wild and eccentric life continued after her father’s presidency. One of her controversial actions was when she buried a Voodoo doll of Nellie Taft in the yard. Afterward, President Taft barred her from entering the White House.
When the Great Depression occurred, Alice had some financial problems. As a result, she became a model for a tobacco advertisement to earn money.
After some time, her daughter married Alexander McCormick Sturm. The couple was blessed with a baby girl named Joanna on July 9, 1946. Unfortunately, Alexander died five years later. Then, Paulina died from a pill overdose in 1951.
Before her death, Paulina had arranged that Alice would take care of her daughter in case something unfortunate happened. Fortunately, Alice won her granddaughter’s custody battle. From there, Alice raised Joanna. As a result, the two of them were very close.
In 1956, Alice was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a surgical procedure to remove one of her breasts. Unfortunately, cancer spread to her other breast in 1970. As such, she needs a second mastectomy.
On February 20, 1980, Alice died of pneumonia and emphysema. Despite her death, she remained a popular icon. In fact, President Nixon stated that, “No one, no matter how famous, could ever outshine her.” Additionally, she was also known for her grace, style, and sense of humor, even though she had a wild and eccentric life.