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Wedding Bells Blues: “R” is for Revenge

Elizabeth Taylor had a long list of reasons how her first husband, Nicky Hilton, done her wrong, and she knew how to get even.

On their wedding day.

At eighteen years old, already a star beginning to taking on adult roles, Taylor thought she knew what she wanted.  And she wanted Nicky, 24, the son of Conrad Hilton of Hilton hotels, although he was an alcoholic playboy with a terrible temper.

Both of them were indulged and pampered, although not necessarily by each other.

Their wedding on May 6, 1950 was stage-managed perfection by her studio, MGM.

The first night of their honeymoon Nicky parked himself at the bar of the Carmel Country Club in northern California drinking.  He was there again the next night picking up other women.  But the third night the marriage was consummated.

On the next phase of their honeymoon the newlyweds took the Queen Mary to Europe.  Again, Nicky spent his time mixing and mingling in the lounge and the casino leaving Elizabeth to take care of herself.    One night after losing $100,000 at the tables, he returned to their suite and lashed out at her, verbally and physically.   The pattern of abuse began.

On December 1, 1950, the couple officially separated.  Soon after, she visited New York City and stayed at the Plaza Hotel, part of the Hilton franchise.   Upon checking out, the clerk presented her with a bill for $2,500 and announced she was “no longer considered a member of the hotel family.”

Not any more mature than her soon-to-be ex, she invited her friends Montgomery Clift and Roddy McDowall to her suite to share a pitcher of martinis while she packed.  Getting carried away and presumably drunk, they ransacked the room, causing substantial damage.  Then she made off with the hotel’s monogrammed towels, for which she received another bill.

At her divorce hearing, Elizabeth pleaded mental cruelty.  She didn’t ask for alimony, but she kept everything Hilton had ever given her, including stock and jewelry.  Throw in the wedding gifts her stack totaled more than $500,000.

In turn, Nicky asked for an annulment, so that he could remarry in the Catholic Church.  She refused.  And with that simple gesture, she got her revenge.

© 2012 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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