Queer Places:
Hollywood Forever Cemetery (Hollywood)

Image result for Sylvia AshleySylvia Ashley (1 April 1904 – 29 June 1977) was an English model, actress, and socialite[1] who was best known for her marriages to British aristocrats and American movie stars.

Ashley was born Edith Louisa Sylvia Hawkes in Paddington, London, England, a daughter of Arthur Hawkes and Edith Florence Hyde. (Although she preferred giving her year of birth as 1906, the England and Wales Civil Registration Index, Vol. 1a, Page 26, shows it was recorded during the June quarter of 1904, District of Paddington.) Her sister, Lillian Vera Hawkes (6 March 1910 – 1 January 1997), married British film producer Basil Bleck.

Ashley was married five times:

  • Major Anthony Ashley-Cooper, Lord Ashley (married 3 February 1927 – 28 November 1934; divorced)
  • Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., American actor (married 7 March 1936 – 12 December 1939, his death)
  • Edward Stanley, 6th Baron Stanley of Alderley (married 18 January 1944 – 1948; divorced)
  • Clark Gable, American actor (married 20 December 1949 – 21 April 1952; divorced)
  • Prince Dimitri Djordjadze, hotel executive and race-car driver (married 1954)
  • Using her middle name Sylvia, she worked as a lingerie model and became a Cochran Dancer, the British equivalent of a Ziegfeld Follies girl. After this brief career in the chorus line of musical comedy, she went on to appear in a number of West End plays. In 1924, she made her debut in Midnight Follies. She appeared in Primrose. In 1925, she acted in Tell me More at London's Winter Garden Theatre, and in The Whole Town's Talking.

    Sylvia (née Hawkes), Lady Ashley by Paul Tanqueray half-plate glass negative, early 1930s Given by Paul Tanqueray, 1983 Photographs Collection NPG x180082

    On 1 March 1941, Lady Ashley filed articles of incorporation to establish an organisation known as the British Distressed Areas Fund. Organised along with her sister, Vera Bleck, Constance Bennett, and Virginia Fox Zanuck, as directors the Fund focused on soliciting financial support to provide food, clothing and medical aid for refugees of World War II. The headquarters of the organisation was located in Los Angeles.

    In their joint memoir Bring on the Girls!, P. G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton relate the story of Sylvia's audition for George Grossmith Jr. for the 1924 musical Primrose.

    Lady Ashley died of cancer at age 73 in Los Angeles. She is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood; her grave is 680 feet north of that of her second husband, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., at the north end of the "Garden of Legends", aka "Section 8".

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    1. "Lady Sylvia Ashley". National Portrait Gallery, London.
    2. Wodehouse and Bolton, Bring on the Girls! (1953), Chapter 13, section 3
    3. Style of a Former Wife of a Peer by Courtesy – website Debrett's
    4. Address of a Former Wife of a Baron – website Debrett's