A Tragic Countdown Through the Life of America's Poor Little Rich Girl, Barbara Hutton

Doris Duke circa 1920s. Duke University Library.

12. Just Like The Socialites Of Today,  Barbara Hutton Had A Rivalry With Heiress Doris Duke

Doris Duke, born about ten days after Hutton, was a daughter to the tobacco King, James Buchanan Duke. When her father died, he reportedly left Doris with an estate worth up to $1.3 billion in today’s value. The majority of the wealth he left came from his “Lucky Strike” cigarette company. During the 1930s these cigarettes were the top-selling brand. With the two heiresses in the same social class, you would think they would have been best friends. Moreover, they were friendly with each other, at least while they were teenagers.

It could be stated that Doris received the best piece of advice between the two heiresses from her father. In 1925, when Doris was about 12 years old, her father passed away. While he was on his deathbed, he told his daughter never to trust anyone and left her with his full estate. You could say that Doris lived by these words while Hutton did not. It would be the ladies’ two ways of living which would add fuel to their rivalry. Because of her father’s dying words, Doris was very cautious and careful with her inheritance and the people she was around.

Barbara Hutton was not as cautious as Doris. Instead, Hutton was very free-spending with her inheritance. All of Hutton’s extravagant spending made her infamous in the newspapers. Hutton’s belief in free-range spending also caused her to call her rival “cheap.” On another occasion, Hutton was invited by Doris to stay at her mansion in Hawaii. While Hutton was a guest there, she decided to redecorate. Hutton bought all new Japanese furnishings and got rid of all of Doris’ Asian antiques and artwork. Upon Doris’ return, she kicked Hutton out.

Hutton was known to be the most beautiful one between the two socialites, and this made Doris very jealous of Hutton. The two would often compete with their looks and fashion, each wanting the top spot on the most beautiful and best-dressed lists. The two also married the same man, which did not help their rivalry. Doris married and divorced Dominican Playboy, Porfirio “RubiRubirosa within a year. The marriage ended after Doris’ attempted suicide. A few years later, Doris read that Hutton married Rubi and became furious, exclaiming that Hutton always wanted what she had.

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