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Tue May 19, 2015, 08:32 PM

Happy Rockefeller, Whose Marriage to Governor Scandalized Voters, Dies at 88

Happy Rockefeller, Whose Marriage to Governor Scandalized Voters, Dies at 88




Happy Rockefeller on the campaign trail with Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York in 1964. Credit Bob Gomel/The LIFE Images Collection, via Getty Images


Happy Rockefeller, the socialite whose 1963 marriage to Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York, soon after both had been divorced, raised a political storm in a more genteel time and may have cost him the Republican presidential nomination in 1964, died on Tuesday at her home in Tarrytown, N.Y. She was 88.

The family said in a statement that she died after a brief illness.

Beyond the 1964 nomination, won by Senator Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona, the scandal helped scuttle any further presidential hopes Mr. Rockefeller had. While his governorship remained secure until 1973, he came no closer to the Oval Office than the vice presidency, to which President Gerald R. Ford appointed him in 1974, ending the musical-chairs turmoil set off by the Watergate scandal.

In an era when marital infidelity and divorce were toxic for presidential candidates, many Americans were shocked when Margaretta Fitler Murphy, called Happy, and Mr. Rockefeller, who was nearly 18 years older than she, married on May 4, 1963. He was in the second of his four terms as governor and a leading contender for the presidency at the time, having run strongly in 1960.




Mrs. Rockefeller with her son Nelson Rockefeller Jr. at their New York City apartment in 1965. Credit Associated Press

As the couple left for a honeymoon in Venezuela, exposés retailed gossip of their extramarital affair and detailed their out-of-state divorces — Mr. Rockefeller’s in 1962 from Mary Todhunter Clark Rockefeller, his wife of 31 years and the mother of his five children; Mrs. Murphy’s from Dr. James Slater Murphy, to whom she surrendered custody of their four children five weeks before marrying Mr. Rockefeller.


Mrs. Rockefeller in 1991 at the Kykuit estate, at Pocantico Hills, N.Y., overlooking the Hudson River in Westchester County. Credit Suzanne DeChillo

. . . .

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/20/nyregion/happy-rockefeller-whose-marriage-to-governor-scandalized-voters-dies-at-88.html?rref=nyregion&module=Ribbon&version=context®ion=Header&action=click&contentCollection=New%20York&pgtype=article

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Reply Happy Rockefeller, Whose Marriage to Governor Scandalized Voters, Dies at 88 (Original post)
niyad May 2015 OP
AngryAmish May 2015 #1
madokie May 2015 #2
DemocratSinceBirth May 2015 #3
niyad May 2015 #4
DemocratSinceBirth May 2015 #5
niyad May 2015 #6
DemocratSinceBirth May 2015 #8
niyad May 2015 #10
DemocratSinceBirth May 2015 #11
MADem May 2015 #7
niyad May 2015 #9
MADem May 2015 #12

Response to niyad (Original post)

Tue May 19, 2015, 08:36 PM

1. Love the golf tan.

 

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Response to niyad (Original post)

Tue May 19, 2015, 08:39 PM

2. I like her

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Response to niyad (Original post)

Tue May 19, 2015, 08:41 PM

3. I was in college when Nelson Rockefeller passed away.

He died of a heart attack while he was having sex with his secretary. My professor said "at least he died working."

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #3)

Tue May 19, 2015, 08:51 PM

4. in reading a brief bio just now, it is amazing how far from the current republican party he was.

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Response to niyad (Reply #4)

Tue May 19, 2015, 08:53 PM

5. Don't forget John Lindsay was a Republican too before he switched parties...

But that was a long time agooooooooooooo....

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #5)

Tue May 19, 2015, 08:53 PM

6. so true

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Response to niyad (Reply #6)

Tue May 19, 2015, 09:01 PM

8. I was a kid in NYC during that era but old enough to pay attention to politics...

Lindsay ran a liberal campaign ...His Democratic opponent ran a law and order campaign oriented toward white ethnics. My mom's first boyfriend when she was like thirteen was a socialist who used to stand on a soapbox on corners and espouse socialism. Him and my mom grew estranged but when my grandmom died in 1970 he came to her funeral. He worked in the Lindsay administration.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Reply #8)

Tue May 19, 2015, 09:04 PM

10. thank you for sharing that--always nice to know how our own stories are entwined with

major events.

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Response to niyad (Reply #10)

Tue May 19, 2015, 09:11 PM

11. My mom took me to the front of a rope line in 1964 when RFK was running for the U S Senate.

I got to shake his hand. Somewhere in storage I have a letter from RFK in response to a letter I sent him when I was ten in 1968. I also have a letter from Ted Kennedy from 1980.


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Response to niyad (Original post)

Tue May 19, 2015, 08:59 PM

7. Talk about a couple of MESSY marriages!!!

She -- literally -- DUMPED her four kids with her husband and skee-daddled to be with the charismatic Nelson. Nowadays, this would not be anything terribly unusual, but she did this back when women were excoriated if they were mothers and didn't "mother." It was regarded as a failing and almost a crime. Then when she had kids with Nelson, people were on the "Say whaaaat?" train. She survived it, though. Nelson, for his part, dumped FIVE kids with his ex...but he didn't take half the heat she did!

Nelson, for his part, died in January of 79 in the (ahem) arms of a young woman by the name of Megan Marshack, who (ahem) "worked on the Vice Presidential staff." Yes, you can and should laugh--it was the worst possible scenario for her, though she came out of it OK in the end, and probably the way he wanted to shuffle off this mortal coil. She ran from the townhouse where they were having their assignation in a negligee and a fur coat (these were pre-PETA days, pretty much). I guess when the paramedics got there, he was rather hastily dressed, plainly by someone else, and it showed. Illicit love--ain't it a thing!

That very townhouse was left to Ms. Marshack, along with some money, in Nelson's will. "Happy" was rather "UNHAPPY" about this, and initially sought to cut Megan out of the will. After a short battle and some bad and salacious press, she relented and let the will be executed in accordance with Nelson's wishes. I am not certain, but I believe the word went forth that Megan, out of a job, and a writer by trade, would write a book about her liaisons if she were left in destitute circumstances.

Odd fact of the day--the Kykuit Estate was featured in a Jeopardy! clue today; they wanted to know what family lived there!


I didn't see a link on the OP--here's one to the NYT story: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/20/nyregion/happy-rockefeller-whose-marriage-to-governor-scandalized-voters-dies-at-88.html?_r=0

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Response to MADem (Reply #7)

Tue May 19, 2015, 09:03 PM

9. thank you, had not realized I had not included the link.

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Response to niyad (Reply #9)

Tue May 19, 2015, 09:13 PM

12. No problem, happy to help!

I remember Nelson's death well, even though I was on the other side of the world in the middle east, living under martial law, when it happened. There was no reliable TV, radio on the shortwave was often jammed, and everyone shared magazines and newspapers. The coverage of this event hit all the major international papers, with lots of background material. It was a story that served as an excellent distraction and point of conversation during some very tense days.

Every bad joke you see in this article, I heard on the other side of the world in 1979~!!!

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