James L. Breese: The Pie Girl Dinner
by Jim Lowe
The date was May 20, 1895. The address was 5 West Sixteenth Street, New York City. The dinner-at-eight was for a select group of gentlemen. The pie had a flaky brown crust and the girl was only sixteen years old. Oh, and, yes, things got a little out of hand.Fallout from the so-called "Pie Girl Dinner" set in motion forces which altered the course of modern journalism, played a role in the emerging women's rights movement, echoed in the original "trial of the century," and culminated in the sensational (some would say disgustingly exhaustive) cable television coverage of the O.J. Simpson murder trial and its aftermath. But we are getting ahead of the story. What was the Pie Girl Dinner anyway?
It was a dinner organized by Stanford White, the famous New York City architect, together with his friends Henry W. Poor, a Wall Street broker, and James L. Breese, a wealthy semiprofessional photographer. Planned as a combination birthday party and tenth wedding anniversary celebration honoring John Elliot Cowdin, the dinner was held at Breese's photography studio. Shortly before the event, when White urged the artist Charles Dana Gibson (who created the "Gibson Girl") to come, he wrote Gibson that "hell is going to be let loose" there, "but don't tell anybody about it." Individualized dinner cards were prepared, with illustrations said to be risque. Breese photographed the placecards and later distributed sets to the guests. The artist John Twachtman etched a seal or device for the menu. The evening before the party, Henry Poor wrote White a note expressing the opinion that "everything seems O.K."The dinner's more than thirty participants included some of the most prominent men in New York society:
Stanford White, the creative and controversial turn-of-the-century American architect. Born in 1853, White became the quintessential "young man about town" catering to (and informing the taste of) wealthy New York socialites who wished to manifest their success in the form of luxurious family mansions. As a principal of the firm McKim, Mead, and White, his classical approach to exterior design and form made him the premier American architect of his day. Much of his work was constructed in and around New York City, including the old Madison Square Garden and the Washington Arch. Because of the classical nature of his design, ornamental sculpture was often used, leading to his long friendship with sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. A self-taught artist, White was a prolific designer of furniture, interiors, and jewelry, his graceful decorations complementing McKim's classical forms. Stanford White ultimately fell victim to his flamboyant lifestyle.
James L. Breese, a photographer who held midnight salons in New York City in the latter part of the 19th century. Breese called his group "The Carbonites" taken from the carbon print, a rare and difficult printing process that he produced at his Carbon Studio. Breese's studio, listed in the Social Register, was used by a number of well-known photographers. He regularly hosted dinners attended by highly respectable members of the New York upper crust. The portrait of Breese shown here was taken by the photographer Arnold Genthe.
Augustus Saint-Gaudens, noted sculptor, famous for his creation of many civic monuments. Saint-Gaudens was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1848. He came to the USA as a baby. Later trained as a cameo-cutter, he studied sculpture in Paris and Rome, where he was influenced by the Italian Renaissance. Saint-Gaudens returned to the USA in 1873, and became the foremost and most honoured sculptor of his time. His major works include the "Standing Lincoln" in Lincoln Park, Chicago, the Farragut Monument in New York City, and the Mrs. Henry Adams Memorial in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, DC. His most controversial work was the gilded copper nude figure of Diana first erected atop the old Madison Square Garden tower, designed by Stanford White. The photo of Saint-Gaudens shown here was taken by James L. Breese.
Nikola Tesla, an electrical pioneer, arguably in the same class as Thomas A. Edison. Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor and electrical engineer, who was born in July 1856 in Smiljan, Lika (Austria-Hungary). Among the inventions and discoveries developed or enhanced by the eccentric genius were a telephone repeater, the rotating magnetic field principle, the polyphase alternating-current system, the induction motor, alternating-current power transmission, the Tesla coil transformer, wireless communication, radio, and fluorescent lights. Tesla held or shared in more than 700 patents.
William Rutherford Mead and Charles F. McKim who headed the most important and influential architectural firm of its day. McKim, one of the foremost American architects, was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, August 24, 1847. In 1867 he went to Paris to enter the Ecole des Beaux-Arts as a pupil of Daumet. On his return from Europe in 1872, he established himself as an architect in New York. In 1877 he was joined in partnership by William R. Mead and two years later by Stanford White, when the firm of McKim, Mead & White was formed. Some of the best known works executed by the firm are the Boston Public Library, the Rhode Island State House in Providence, and New York City's Madison Square Garden. Other New York City projects included the Columbia University Library, the Museum of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, the J. P. Morgan Library, and the Pennsylvania Railroad Station. He received a gold medal at the Paris Exposition of 1900, and Edward VII, King of England, presented him a gold medal in 1903 for valuable services to architecture. McKim died September 14, 1909, at his summer home in St. James, Long I sland, New York.
Mead, also a distinguished American architect, was born in Brattleboro, Vermont, August 20, 1846. In 1868 he began the study of architecture in New York and continued his studies in Florence, Italy. Upon his return to New York, he became professionally associated with Charles F. McKim. In 1913, the Academy of Arts and Letters awarded him its gold medal, an honor conferred for the first time upon an architect. Mead died in Paris, France, on June 20, 1928.
Charles Dana Gibson, the famous illustrator whose drawings defined the ideal woman of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Cleveland Amory quotes Mrs. Chester Burden, a social arbiter par excellence, in speaking of eras past: "Then people were different. They were fascinating and charming--men like Dana Gibson...He was the most attractive man, bar none, I've ever met." As for the "Gibson Girl," she was tall, with a regal bearing, regular features, and long hair which she wore piled on her head. Gibson often drew her in evening dress and occasionally in a swim suit. But her daytime uniform was a long skirt and shirtwaist. This last was a long-sleeved, high necked blouse fitted very snugly ("tucked") at the waist. With the Gibson Girl all the rage, the "waist" became the focal point of every woman's wardrobe.
Whitney Warren, another important turn-of-the century architect. Warren was born in New York City and studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He was a partner in the firm of Warren & Wetmore, which specialized in railroad stations, hotels, and business buildings. Among Warren's projects was the Newport Country Club, completed in 1895, in time for the first national championships. The new clubhouse was proclaimed by the New York Times as "supreme for magnificence among golf clubs, not only in America, but in the world." He later designed New York's Grand Central Station and Providence's Biltmore Hotel.
During the First World War, Warren was indefatigable in his efforts to promote France's cause through lectures, pamphlets and concrete action. He founded the Comitédes étudiants américains de l'É cole des Beaux-Arts to help drafted students and their families and, among other things, was a member of the New York War Relief Committee. Warren died January 24, 1943, in New York City, at the age of seventy-eight.
John Twachtman, the famous American impressionist painter. Twachtman was born in Cincinnati and was the only major American Impressionist to study in both Munich and Paris. He enjoyed significant success in the later years of the 19th century and remained the most admired of all the American Impressionist painters until the movement fell from favor in the wake of more avant-garde developments in the 1910s and '20s. Some insight into his character is found in a letter to fellow artist J. Alden Weir, in 1880: "You do not know how tempting every opportunity is to me, and how I long to go in quest of fame and fortune." Twachtman died, a young man, in 1902.
Alden Weir, also a famous American impressionist painter. Weir, born in 1852, was known for a generosity of spirit, as well as for the legacy of his professional life as an artist. Weir recognized early the importance of a creative center, a focal point, for both life and art. "Home is the starting place," he wrote his future wife in anticipation of their marriage and move to Branchville, Connecticut, where he established a center for art that would remain his home and workplace for the rest of his life. In 1898, J. Alden Weir, John Twachtman, and Childe Hassam helped form the association known as the Ten American Painters. Their group exhibitions encouraged the spread of impressionism in this country. Ironically, by this time impressionism in France was considered passé and had long since been replaced by more modern trends. Weir died in 1919.
Edward Simmons, another well-known American painter. Simmons, also a member of "The Ten," was born in 1852. His work can be seen in the Thomas Jefferson Building (the original Library of Congress) in Washington, DC. His murals are found in the Northwest Corridor leading from the Librarian's Room to the Northwest Pavilion. The nine lunettes (one at each end of the corridor and seven along the west wall) depict the Muses. The eagle-eyed viewer will find that each of these renderings was copyrighted by Simmons in the lower edge. Simmons died in 1931, nearing the age of 80.
In addition to Twatchman, Weir and Simmons, Robert Reid, Willard Metcalf, and Carroll Beckwith--all famous American painters--were also on the guest list. Indeed, all of these except Beckwith were members of "The Ten," American impressionist painters, who were no strangers to foolishness.
So we certainly had a distinguished group of gentleman. Each of these men was accomplished in his public life, but each of them was also a man. Each of them had warm blood coursing through his veins. So when they weren't busy being influential and distinguished, what did men of this calibre do if they just wanted to kick back, relax, and enjoy a little escapist fantasy entertainment? Well, I guess some of them succumbed to whatever the persuasive Stanford White came up with.
According to one account, Sherry's catered the elaborate twelve-course dinner, and four banjo players and four jubilee singers provided musical entertainment. Two shapely girls poured the wine, a brunette for the red and a blond for the white. Champagne was also served with each course. When it was time for dessert, the singers began to chant "Sing a song of sixpence" and servants carried in a huge pie covered by a flaky brown crust. And when the pie was opened, out popped "a bevy of canaries" along with sixteen-year-old Susie Johnson, dressed in filmy black gauze, a stuffed blackbird perched on her head. Other accounts refer to a papier maché pie and a young lady who was seemingly comfortable without the filmy black gauze. "Was not that a dainty dish to set before the king?"
There may well have been many such closed-door affairs, arranged by wealthy connoisseurs of young beauty and beheld in strict privacy. In this case, however, the veil of secrecy was lifted. White and Breese had sworn the waiters and musicians to secrecy, but the conspiracy of silence soon began to unravel. The next morning a young artist's model appeared in the office of Morrill Goddard, editor of Pulitzer's Sunday New York World. Goddard was an ambitious young man who holds the distinction of having created the Sunday color comics supplement. Having extracted the promise of a new hat if her tip paid off, the young lady urged Goddard to find out what another model named Susie Johnson had done the night before.
Goddard wasted no time. He rushed uptown to find Susie still tousled from a late sleep. From her own lips he learned the details of what has come to be known as the Pie Girl Dinner. With no visible reluctance, Susie told of a party, perhaps the ultimate in Gay Nineties high-jinks, given the night before by the wealthy bachelor-photographer, James L. Breese. It was a stag dinner in his studio on Sixteenth Street at which a huge pie had served as centerpiece on the table. As the climax of the evening, the pie burst open and out jumped Susie, to perform a sprightly dance up and down the table. She was said to be nude--or, as Goddard's story in the World put it, "covered only by the ceiling."
On Sunday, a seven-column drawing of Susie capering on the table--most of her nudity hidden by a convenient protoplasmic blur--filled the first page of the Sunday World Supplement. Only a small amount of text described the dinner.
The Aftermath: Clash of the Titans
A few months after the Pie Girl Dinner, in an attack on the New York high society that refused to admit its publisher, Joseph Pulitzer's World blasted the "bacchanalian revels in New York fashionable studios" and men who corrupted young girls for their pleasure. This opinion was contradicted by one of the participants, Edward Simmons, who wrote that the whole affair was "very moral and dignified." Simmons' benign account of the event is worth a look.
Pulitzer had additional reasons to be agitated. By the end of 1895, William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal had passed 100,000 in circulation and the World was beginning to feel the competition. Hearst (as depicted in the movie "Citizen Kane") was pursuing a course of luring away Pulitzer's able staff with offers of greatly increased compensation. Journalists of the day were well aware that an increase in personal fortune was in the offing for those who received a card reading: "Mr. Hearst would be pleased to have you call."
In January 1896, having been much impressed by Merrill Goddard's handling of the "Girl-In-The-Pie" story, Hearst sent him such a card. Hearst and Goddard met at the Hoffman House, where Hearst regularly enjoyed his breakfast. According to one account, upon being offered editorship of the Sunday Journal, Goddard observed that he would be handicapped without his staff of writers and artists. "All right," Hearst replied. "Let's take the whole staff."
Having raided Pulitzer's Sunday staff, acquiring not only Goddard, but also R.F. Outcault and his popular "Yellow Kid" comic strip, Hearst so enraged Pulitzer that a heated struggle ensued. The two titans went to court over rights to the Yellow Kid and waged such a battle, publishing more and more sensational items in an attempt to build circulation, that the style of coverage which emerged has ever since been referred to as "yellow journalism." The battle raged on for years, culminating in the legal tug-of-war over rights to the famous Katzenjammer Kids, the longest running comic strip in history, having recently celebrated its 100th birthday.
What became of Susie Johnson? Well, for starters, the recently discovered photograph at left is thought to be an actual photograph of this famous young lady, taken by James L. Breese, and graciously furnished to me by his great-grandson, Mark Sink.
Susie Johnson was reported to have begun posing in the nude for painters and photographers after the May 20 dinner, and then to have abruptly disappeared. Her mother, it was said, searched for her in vain in the studios of the city. Years later some sensational newspaper accounts associated Stanford White with the girl's downfall and disappearance. More than a decade later, newspapers were reporting that Susie had subsequently married, but when her husband found out about her past he had thrown her out of the house. In one version, friendless and forgotten, she had then committed suicide.
White led a double life. In addition to being an acknowledged genius, he was compelled to seek the company of beautiful young girls. In 1901, he began a relationship with Evelyn Nesbit, another 16-year old, who had a small part in the musical theatre production "Floradora." She later became known as the "Girl in the Red Velvet Swing," a reference to the recreational device allegedly maintained by White in his private apartment in the Madison Square Garden tower.
Stanford White took the impressionable young Miss Nesbit under his wing, made payments to her mother to relieve financial distress, and played Santa Claus to Evelyn in 1901 to the tune of one oriental pearl on a platinum chain, a ruby-and-diamond ring, two diamond solitaire rings, and a set of white fox furs.
Harry K. Thaw, the eccentric Pittsburgh millionaire (and sadist) also managed to meet Evelyn Nesbit in 1901. Thence followed a bizarre chain of events that continued for many years. I shall not relate them at length on this page. Suffice it to say that on April 5, 1905, Miss Nesbit married Mr. Thaw. This despite the observation she included in her biography some years later: "There was some indefinable quality about his whole personality that frightened and repulsed me."
On the night of June 25, 1906, White was seated alone at his regular table near the roof garden stage of Madison Square Garden. A new musical was opening. As the performance proceeded, a man in a dark overcoat and straw hat approached the table. He pulled a revolver from his coat and fired three shots into White's face and arm at almost point-blank range. When the screaming and confusion subsided and the gunman was apprehended, it became clear that the insanely jealous Thaw (still smarting over White's having taken his wife's virginity some years earlier) had murdered the famous architect.
Other websites offer further information about Stanford White and his relationship with Evelyn Nesbit, including a couple of nice pictures.
James L. Breese
Pulitzer's condemnation aside, the public scolding did not put an end to the "bacchanalian revels in New York fashionable studios." To the contrary, on the evening of December 17, 1896, Breese hosted "The 1000 and One Nights" affair, the surviving evidence of which suggests that many members of the old gang were on hand.
In 1898, Stanford White began designing a house for Breese in Southampton, New York. Behind a portico suggestive of George Washington's Mount Vernon, "The Orchard" eventually comprised 32 rooms. Perhaps its most fabulous feature was a 72-foot-long music room designed in a sumptuous European manner. The room featured an ornate Italian ceiling, moose and buffalo heads on the walls and tiger skin rugs on the floor.
The great-grandson of James Breese, Mark Sink, carries on the photographic tradition through "The Denver Salon" which he formed in 1993 to gather fine art photographers who he admired and who were pursuing higher ideals in the use of photography. Like Breese's salons, The Denver Salon gathers to show work, discuss art, and share ideas and techniques of artistic experimentation. The image of a young lady in "filmy black gauze," several screens above, is a photograph of his entitled "Ashley." Additional examples of the creative work of Mark Sink are available for examination on the Web. Mark is actively seeking further information about his great-grandfather. I invite you to contact him by e-mail.
The figure of Diana atop the Madison Square Garden tower continued to delight (or exasperate) New Yorkers for many years. Chief among the detractors was Anthony Comstock, the famous blowhard who made a career of railing against anything he considered to be objectionable or obscene. The old Madison Square Garden fell victim to the wrecking ball in 1925. Diana was stored in a Brooklyn warehouse for seven years. She may be seen today atop the grand staircase at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
At the urging of President Theodore Roosevelt, Saint-Gaudens undertook to redesign the nation's coinage. As time was running out for Augustus, only two redesigned coins resulted. He first turned his attention to the $10 gold piece. The obverse features a woman's head based on an earlier rendering of the "Angel of Victory." Only upon the President's "emphatic suggestion" did he agree to add a feathered Indian headdress. But his most famous coin was the $20 gold piece or "Double Eagle." The reverse side (not shown here) is of special interest. The eagle is coming in on a wing, but without the prayer that had been appearing on American coins since 1864. The words IN GOD WE TRUST were omitted by the sculptor, who thought them "an artistic intrusion not required by law." Predictably, the 1908 coin was very controversial. Augustus Saint-Gaudens died on August 3, 1907, and Congress quickly voted to restore the motto.
The limitations of this page do not permit a lengthy side trip into the adventures of Nikola Tesla. Certainly it would be worth the trip. The visionary genius predicted a technological future far beyond the grasp of most of his contemporaries. Tesla's interest in messages from outer space and the development of long-range broadcasting networks as early as 1897 brought him into further contact with Stanford White. The two men combined efforts toward erection of a huge transmission tower on a Long Island farm. The most ambitious of their plans had to be trimmed back, Tesla writing to White on September 13, 1901: "I have not been half as dumbfounded by the news of the shooting of the President [McKinley was shot on September 6] as I have by the estimates submitted by you, which, together with your kind letter of yesterday, I received last night." Eventually, a 187-foot tower was erected as part of Tesla's continuing battle with Marconi over credit for the invention of wireless transmission. It is not kno wn whether the futurist Tesla foresaw the coming of television talk shows.
You may pursue this link for a lengthy article about Nikola Tesla, including details regarding his collaboration with Stanford White on the "Tesla Tower." Even more about Tesla is available elsewhere on the Web. Nikola Tesla died in 1943, at the age of 86.
Charles Dana Gibson
In the Fall of 1895, only a few months after the Pie Girl Dinner, the first guests to ascend the now legendary Grand Staircase of The Jefferson Hotel, in Richmond, Virginia, were the wedding guests of the nationally known beauty Irene Langhorne and the artist Charles Dana Gibson. In the ensuing century, hundreds upon hundreds of beautiful brides have paused on these 36 carpeted marble stairs to receive the admiration of their guests, their families and their grooms.
In 1902, Stanford White designed a house for the Gibsons at 127 East 73rd Street in New York. At about that same time, Gibson portrayed Evelyn Nesbit as "The Eternal Question." At the time Gibson was commanding $500 per drawing for his work. Still, he was not in the super-rich class. His federal style residence was built for less than $50,000, a tidy sum to be sure, but not in the class of the $370,000 limestone Venitian palazzo mansion (also on East 73rd Street) that White created for Joseph Pulitzer between 1900 and 1903.
The "Trial of the Century"
No sooner had Harry K. Thaw been charged with murder than the press began a trashing of "the lecher" Stanford White. By the time of his funeral, the New York Herald and Pulitizer's World, both of whose publishers had been friends and patrons of the slain architect, were falling over themselves in competition to print the most scandalous story about the murdered man. Others rallied to his support. A letter written by Augustus Saint-Gaudens expressed it best:
You have no doubt read in the newspapers of the death of White by an idiot fool who imagined himself wronged. ... An idiot that shoots a man of great genius for a woman with the face of an angel and the heart of a snake!
But the press frenzy was not to be abated. The public could not get enough sensational reports of White's debauchery. Even the New York Times was caught up in the yellow-journalism tirade of inaccuracy and innuendo, running front-page headlines to the effect the White had "drugged, ruined and insulted Mrs. Thaw."
Thaw's wealthy family played it for all it was worth. Miss Nesbit appeared in court in an outfit which made her look like a virginal schoolgirl innocently trapped in a hideous web of circumstance. She certainly made an impression on Irwin S. Cobb, the reporter for Pulitzer's Evening World. Cobb--who later covered many sensational events and became a top fiction writer--looking back some 35 years, wrote in his 1943 autobiography "Exit Laughing":
In her latter teens and her early twenties, she was, I think, the most exquisitely lovely human being I ever looked at--the slim, quick grace of a fawn, a head that sat on her flawless throat as a lily on its stem, eyes that were the color of blue-brown pansies and the size of half dollars; a mouth made of rumpled rose petals.
In response to Mrs. Thaw's testimony, District Attorney William Travers Jerome asked the jury: "Will you acquit a cold-blooded, deliberate, cowardly murderer because his lying wife has a pretty girl's face?" After due deliberation, and lacking the cohesion of the Simpson jury some 80 years later, the jury reported that it was hopelessly deadlocked.
If this were a page primarily dedicated to the Stanford White murder trial, I could go on and on. I will limit myself to reporting that Thaw was found "not guilty" at the second trial and committed to the Asylum for the Criminal Insane at Matteawan, New York.
The details of the two trials and their aftermath is every bit as fascinating as any other so-called "trial of the century." For further enlightenment, I refer you to the books mentioned below. You may also wish to check the capsule description of "Murder of the Century", an excellent short film broadcast on the PBS series "American Experience."
Reverberations in Fiction
More than 30 years later, the "Girl-in-the-Pie" was still in the public mind. The famous dinner served as inspiration for a fictional account in the novel "Painted Veils," by James Gibbons Huneker, published in an edition of 2300 numbered copies in 1928. The connected page sets forth an excerpt.
Tabloids, Cable TV, and the "Juice"
Although a scholarly essay (or an episode of "Connections") could easily be developed on this subject, the point is so obvious that I shall make it with brevity. An unbroken chain of events leads from the conception of the Pie Girl Dinner in the mind of Stanford White, through the rise of sensational tabloid journalism, the murder of White, the original "Trial of the Century," the expansion of mass media, the battle for television ratings, the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson, the new "Trial of the Century," and the interminable overload of aftermath commentators pandering to the insatiable appetite of a voyeuristic public while each seeks to secure his own little piece of the pie.
The Films "Ragtime" -- This is the 1981 film version of the E.L. Doctorow historical drama, concerning the lives and passions of a middle class family woven into the scandals and events of 1906. The murder of Stanford White is depicted in the film. The film stars Howard Rollins, Jr., and a large cast, including Elizabeth McGovern as Evelyn Nesbit and Jimmy Cagney in his final role. It is available on video tape.
"The Girl In the Red Velvet Swing" -- This is a 1955 film described by Leonard Maltin as a "glossy, fictionalized account of Evelyn Nesbit-Stanford White-Harry Thaw escapade of early 20th-century N.Y.C. Showgirl falls in love with prominent architect, which upsets mentally disturbed millionaire." The film stars Ray Milland, Joan Collins, and Farley Granger. Watch for this one on cable as it does not appear to be available on video.
"The Pie Girl Dinner" -- This one, just entering the fantasy stage of pre-production development, is a major studio release based on a concept by a fledgling (ahem) screenwriter. Preliminary casting proposals include David Caruso as Stanford White, Nicholas Cage as William Randolph Hearst, Ben Kingsley as Joseph Pulitzer, Alicia Silverstone as Susie Johnson, and Don Imus as Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Mea Culpa Some of the information on this page was shamelessly lifted from four very fine books:
"STANNY The Gilded Life of Stanford White" by Paul R. Baker (1989) The Free Press, A Division of Macmillan, Inc. An exhaustive treatment which serves not only as an excellent biography but also as a history of American architecture.
"Park Row" by Allen Churchill (1958) Rinehart & Company, Inc. Very entertaining account of the battle for newspaper publishing supremacy in New York City during the period 1890-1920, when the offices of all the publishing giants were located within a stones throw of each other on "Park Row."
"The Murder of Stanford White" by Gerald Langford (1962) The Bobbs-Merrill Company. This is a very excellent account of the events surrounding the death of Stanford White, the White-Nesbit-Thaw triangle, and the trials of Harry K. Thaw. This is the one to read if you are interested in the original "Trial of the Century." Hey! You there. Hollywood. There's a movie here waiting to be made.
"Stanford White's New York" by David Garrard Lowe (1992) Doubleday. Of the four, only this one is readily available outside of your public library. It is a superb, highly readable, and profusely illustrated volume centered around the life and works suggested by the title. And, no, Mr. Lowe is not related to your humble scribe.
In addition to volumes mentioned above, I commend to you the following:
"Citizen Hearst" by W.A. Swanberg (1961) Simon & Schuster. This is, hands down, the best biography I have ever read. Completely fascinating! This book has recently come back into print (in hardback) at a very agreeable price. The 1996 edition is published by Galahad Books.
"Pulitzer" also by W.A. Swanberg (1967) Charles Scribner's Sons. You can't go wrong with anything by the Pulitzer-prize winning Swanberg, even the life of Pulitzer himself.
"Uncommon Clay: The Life and Works of Augustus Saint-Gaudens" by Burke Wilkinson (1985) Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Excellent biography for those who would know more about this gentlemen and the state of American sculpture at the turn of the century.
"Tesla: Man Out of Time" by Margaret Cheney (1981) Prentice-Hall, Inc. Subtitled "A full length Portrait of one of the most brilliant--and strangest--scientists in history. Need I say more?
Feeding Frenzy With regard to the interminable aftermath of the second "Trial of the Century," I refer you to:
"Rivera Live" -- Weeknights at 9:00pm EST on the cable television network CNBC, for distinguished and continuing coverage of the adventures of O.J. Simpson and the associated cast of characters.
Playboy -- March 1997, pp. 127-135, for introspective and thoughtful uncoverage of Nicole Brown Simpson's friend, Miss Faye Resnick. I shall advise you if she announces an intention to burst forth from any dinner pies in the foreseeable future.