Princess Sylvia Djordjadze
Edith Louisa Sylvia Hawkes
1 April 1904
|Died||29 June 1977 (aged 73)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Other names||Sylvia Hawkes|
Princess Sylvia Djordjadze
Anthony Ashley-Cooper, Lord Ashley
(m. 1927; div. 1934)
(m. 1936; his death 1939)
Edward John Stanley, 6th Baron Sheffield and Stanley of Alderley
(m. 1944; div. 1948)
(m. 1949; div. 1952)
(m. 1954; her death 1977)
Sylvia, Lady Ashley (1 April 1904 – 29 June 1977) was an English model, actress, and socialite 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.
Using her middle name Sylvia, she worked as a lingerie model and became a Cochran Dancer. 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.
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.
"Must I sing, Mr Grossmith?"
"Yes, Sylvia, you must. All of you have to sing if you want jobs as showgirls in Primrose. The Gershwin score demands it."
"Oh very well," she replied petulantly, and, going down to the floats she handed over a piece of music to the pianist in the pit. The piano struck a chord.
God save our gracious King,
Long live our noble King,
God save the King.
Grossmith, a strict observer of ritual, rose and stood at attention. His minions rose and stood at attention. Guy, on his way to announce his arrival, stood at attention.
As the anthem came to the normal stopping point, George started to sit down, but there is more, much more of the fine old choral than is generally known. James Carey is credited with a three-stanza version; in another version John Bull... has expressed the same sentiment in his own way; while James Oswald... also got into the act. A printing is extant giving them all. Sylvia Hawkes sang them all. The pianist stopped playing, but that didn't stop Sylvia. They wanted her to sing, did they? Well, sing she would. Of course no one dared to call a halt. The national anthem is sacrosanct – especially if you're an actor-manager clinging to the hope of a belated knighthood.
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).
Lady Ashley died of cancer on 29 June 1977 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".
Titles and styles
- 1 April 1904 – 3 February 1927: Miss Sylvia Hawkes
- 3 February 1927 – 28 November 1934: Lady Ashley
- 28 November 1934 – 7 March 1936: Sylvia, Lady Ashley
- 7 March 1936 – 12 December 1939: Mrs Douglas Fairbanks
- 12 December 1939 – 18 January 1944: Mrs Sylvia Fairbanks
- 18 January 1944 – 1948: The Right Honourable The Lady Stanley of Alderley
- 1948 – 20 December 1949: Sylvia, Lady Stanley of Alderley
- 20 December 1949 – 21 April 1952: Mrs Clark Gable
- 21 April 1952 – 1954: Mrs Sylvia Gable
- 1954 – 29 June 1977: Her Serene Highness Princess Dimitri Djordjadze
- "Lady Sylvia Ashley". National Portrait Gallery, London.
- Wodehouse and Bolton, Bring on the Girls! (1953), Chapter 13, section 3
- "LADY ASHLEY TO CONTEST.; Ex-Actress to Fight Divorce Suit Involving Douglas Fairbanks" (PDF). The New York Times. 26 May 1934. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
- "DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS SAILS FROM QUEBEC; Sylvia, Lady Ashley, Leaves on the Same Ship, Bound for England and Japan" (PDF). The New York Times. 13 July 1935. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
- "FAIRBANKS SR. PLANS TRIP AROUND WORLD; American Movie Star and Lady Ashley Leave London Today on a Yachting Cruise" (PDF). The New York Times. 15 February 1935. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
- "FAIRBANKS IS WED TO LADY ASHLEY; Legal Bars Finally Overcome for Paris Marriage of Actor to British Divorcee" (PDF). The New York Times. 8 March 1936. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
- "WIDOW OF FAIRBANKS WED TO LORD STANLEY; Former Lady Ashley Bride of Royal Navy Man in Boston" (PDF). The New York Times. 19 January 1944. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
- "Lady Ashley Wins Divorce" (PDF). The New York Times. 16 January 1947. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
- "CLARK GABLE WEDS FAIRBANKS' WIDOW; Film Star and Former Lady Ashley Married on Ranch North of Santa Barbara" (PDF). The New York Times. 21 December 1949. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
- "GABLE SUED FOR DIVORCE; Mental Cruelty Charged to Star by Lady Sylvia Ashley" (PDF). The New York Times. 1 June 1951. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
- Style of a Former Wife of a Peer by Courtesy Archived 27 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine – website Debrett's
- Address of a Former Wife of a Baron Archived 7 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine – website Debrett's