Alfred S. Bloomingdale
Alfred Bloomingdale, 1981
Alfred Schiffer Bloomingdale
April 15, 1916
New York City, New York
|Died||August 23, 1982 (aged 66)|
|Resting place||Holy Cross Cemetery|
|Alma mater||Brown University|
|Known for||Father of the Credit Card|
|Spouse(s)||Betty Lee Newling (m. 1946-1982; his death)|
|Family||Lyman G. Bloomingdale (grandfather)|
Joseph B. Bloomingdale (great-uncle)
Alfred Schiffer Bloomingdale (April 15, 1916 – August 23, 1982) was an heir to the Bloomingdale's department store fortune, "father of the credit card", and the lover of murdered Hollywood sex worker and dominatrix Vicki Morgan.
Early life and education
Bloomingdale was born to a wealthy Jewish family on April 15, 1916 in New York City, the son of Rosalind (née Schiffer) and Hiram Bloomingdale, and the grandson of Lyman G. Bloomingdale, a co-founder of the famous department store Bloomingdales. Bloomingdale attended Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he was a member of the football team as well as Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Upsilon chapter).
After school, he worked as a salesman at Bloomingdales but after three years he left to work as a theatrical agent where he represented Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland. He tried his hand at producing Broadway shows and movies but was not very successful. In 1946, he moved to Los Angeles where he worked as an executive at Columbia Pictures. To facilitate the need of his wealthy friends who liked to patronize New York city's upscale restaurants following a night at the theater, Bloomingdale launched a credit card business called "Dine and Sign" that meant people on a night out no longer needed to carry large sums of cash. In 1951, he merged his company with Diners Club and joined the rapidly growing business as an executive, becoming chairman of the board of directors in 1964. In 1969, he left Diners Club, acquiring its "International Floatels" division.
In 1946, Bloomingdale married Betty Lee "Betsy" Newling, a practicing Roman Catholic, movie starlet and daughter of Dr. Russell Lee Newling (who was a Beverly Hills-based physician born in Adelaide, South Australia). Alfred and Betsy Bloomingdale had three children:
- Geoffrey Bloomingdale (born 1950), married to Elizabeth Fahr in 1972;
- Lisa Bloomingdale Bell (born 1951), married to R. McKim Bell in 1974; and
- Robert Russell Bloomingdale (born 1954), married to Justine Hayward Schmidt in 1979.
Bloomingdale and his wife Betty were friends and confidantes of Ronald and Nancy Reagan. In 1981 Reagan, following his election to the U.S. presidency, appointed Bloomingdale to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and the following year named him a member of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. Although born to a Jewish family, Bloomingdale became a Catholic to marry his second wife, and later became a member of the Knights of Malta. The Bloomingdales maintained homes in New York, the Holmby Hills section of Los Angeles, and an apartment in the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Vicki Morgan affair
In 1970, while in Los Angeles, 54-year-old Alfred Bloomingdale began an affair with 18-year-old Vicki Morgan. For 12 years, Bloomingdale kept her in a luxurious apartment, showering her with expensive clothing, jewelry, and cars. When Alfred was diagnosed with terminal cancer, his wife Betsy cut off Morgan's allowance. Soon after, the affair with Vicki Morgan made headline news as its unsubstantiated and sordid details, which included allegations of sado-masochistic activities instigated by Bloomingdale, were made public after Morgan filed a multimillion-dollar palimony lawsuit against Bloomingdale's estate. The case against Bloomingdale's estate was quickly dismissed by the courts. Morgan eventually moved into a low-rent condominium in the San Fernando Valley where she rented a room to a schizophrenic named Marvin Pancoast, whom she knew from the withdrawal clinic. In July 1983, Pancoast beat her to death with a baseball bat.
Posthumous accusation of attempted rape
- Poisoned Passions at Investigation Discovery Archived 2013-06-24 at the Wayback Machine
- Carey, Charles W. American Inventors, Entrepreneurs, and Business Visionaries. pp. 30–31. ISBN 9780816068838.
- Colacello, Bob (July 20, 2016). "Remembering Betsy Bloomingdale, Who Reigned Over Los Angeles Society and Influenced a First Lady". Vanity Fair.
In 1946, Betsy married Alfred Bloomingdale, who had come out West to produce movies, and in short order she converted him, as he often said, “from a Jewish Democrat to a Catholic Republican.” They had three children: Geoffrey, Lisa Bell, and Robert.
- "Two Unerdervalued Diors Get Betsy Bloomingdale in Trouble with the Feds in Los Angeles", people.com, September 13, 1976.
- "Geoffrey Bloomingdale Weds Elizabeth Fahr". New York Times. June 15, 1972.
The marriage of Miss Elizabeth Fahr, daughter of Mr. and ‘Mrs. Samuel Mehard Fahr of Lima, Peru, and Iowa City, to Geoffrey Bloomingdale took place here this afternoon. Msgr. Benjamin Hawkes performed the ceremony in the Roman Catholic Church of the Good Shepherd.
- New York Times: "R. McKim Bell, Lawyer, Weds Lisa Bloomingdale" September 22, 1974 | "St. Paul the Apostle Roman Catholic Church was the setting in Los Angeles yesterday afternoon for the marriage of Lisa Bloomingdale to Robert McKim Bell"
- New York Times: "Justine H. Schmidt, R. R. Bloomingdale Wed in California" September 9, 1979 | "Justine Hayward Schmidt and Robert Russell Bloomingdale were married yesterday in the Roman Catholic Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills, Calif."
- Abscher, Kenneth M.; Desch, Michael C.; & Popadiuk, Roman. "The President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board", in Johnson, Loch K., ed. (2010). The Oxford Handbook of National Security Intelligence, p. 182. Oxford University Press, Inc.
- Colacello, Bob (May 29, 2009). "Ronnie & Nancy". Vanity Fair.
- Kelley, Kitty (1992-01-01). Nancy Reagan: The Unauthorized Biography. Pocket Star Books. p. 400. ISBN 9780671646479.
- Knights of Malta, timesofindia.indiatimes.com; retrieved November 12, 2012.
- "Dominick Dunne: lost and found" by Mick Brown (October 18, 2008) Telegraph of London
- Paige, Janis (October 27, 2017). "Harassment in Hollywood's Golden Age: Survivor Janis Paige's Firsthand Story". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 28, 2017.