Wife Marjorie Merriweather Post
Mar-a-Lago, 1100 S Ocean Blvd, Palm Beach, FL 33480
Herbert Arthur May (June 27, 1892 – March 11, 1966) was an American manufacturer executive, member of advisory board Mellon National Bank, Trustee Mount Vernon Seminary, Bucknell U.; member of the Board of Governors Good Samaritan Hospital, West Palm Beach, Florida; Member Defense Orientation Conference Association (chairman), Transportation Association American (director), Society Cincinnati of New Jersey.
May, a vice president at Westinghouse, was a socialite and avid fox hunter who liked to entertain at Rosewall, his 28-room mansion in Pittsburgh. When his wife died of pneumonia in 1937, he was left to raise three young sons and an adopted daughter. He had quite a successful career in railroads and banking and he became a patron of the arts, especially the Pittsburgh Civic Opera, and he enthusiastically pursued his interest in ballet.
After 20 years, he married for a second time, to Marjorie Merriweather Post, one of the richest women in the world, the daughter of “C. W.” Post (1854 – 1914), the eccentric inventor, breakfast cereal and foods manufacturer and a pioneer in the prepared-food industry. May was 67 and Post 71. Post had been warned that her future husband was gay, but she brushed it off as mere gossip. There was a lot of chatter about May: he was a handsome, trim, silver haired fox. He was also soft-spoken, sharp, charming, popular and kind. He loved to party and dance, and he was especially gifted at spending lots of money.
Before their wedding, Post’s friends repeated tales about his appreciation of a certain male dancer from the Washington National Ballet and his handsome male personal secretary. Incredibly, May brought the secretary along on their honeymoon.
With time, May started to resent Post’s restrictions on her alcohol intake, while at the same time, to the amazement of her circle, she extended the cocktail hour to a full hour and began stocking guest rooms at her vacation places in Florida and New York with liquor. A lifelong Christian Scientist, her personal limitation of alcohol consumption remained a steadfast practice, but she had been eager to please May. Post also included his four children in their stays at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach and Top Ridge in the Adirondacks.
By the 1960s Margaret Voigt, Post’s social secretary had become her most powerful staff member. Voigt became a little too influential as the social director with unlimited access to the Post. May made the mistake of criticizing Voigt, and a resentful standoff ensued. A set of photographs arrived on Post’s desk. They showed graphic and irrefutable evidence that May was a big ol’ queer.
The pictures showed him naked and cavorting with younger men around the pool at Mar-a-Lago. A blackmail attempt was made, with threats to publish the incriminating photographs, meaning hush money was to be paid. Post was especially astonished that her daughter, elegant actress Dina Merrill, knew about her stepfather’s proclivities before the marriage had taken place. Post decided that divorce was the only option. Their marriage had lasted only six years.
When May suffered a stroke after the divorce, Post paid his medical bills and provided an apartment in Fort Lauderdale where he lived until his death in 1968. And, she continued to be in contact with his children. Post’s loyalty to May’s progeny was mutual, and they knew they were fortunate to be allowed to maintain a warm friendly relationship with Post, until she died in 1973, at 86-years-old.
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