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Famous Like Me > Actor > M > Ward McAllister

Profile of Ward McAllister on Famous Like Me

Name: Ward McAllister  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 17th October 1891
Place of Birth: Apollo, Pennsylvania, USA
Profession: Actor
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Samuel Ward McAllister (1827-1895) was the self-appointed arbiter of New York society from the 1860's to the late 1880's. He coined the phrase "the Four Hundred." According to McAllister, this was the number of people New York who really mattered; the people who felt at ease in the ballrooms of high society. The number was popularly supposed to be the capacity of Mrs. William Backhouse Astor Jr.'s ballroom.

McAllister, from a socially prominent Savannah judicial family, established himself as a successful attorney in California during the Gold Rush. He used the earnings from his legal prowess to journey throughout Europe's great cities and spas—Bath, Pau, Bad Nauheim, etc.—where he observed the mannerisms of the titled nobility. Upon his return to the United States, Ward settled in New York, married heiress Sarah Taintor Gibbons. Using his wife's wealth and his own social connections (he was related to lobbyist Samuel Ward, who had married a grandaughter of John Jacob Astor), McAllister sought to became a tastemaker amongst New York's "Knickerbocracy", a collection of old merchant and landowning families who traced their lineage back to the days of colonial Niew Amsterdam.

Although purported to be an index of New York's best families, McAllister's list was suspiciously top-heavy with nouveau riche industrialists, and McAllister's southern allies, seeking a new start in the nation's financial capital after the Civil War. In his glory, McAllister refered to his patroness, Mrs. Caroline Astor (The Mrs. Astor) as his 'Mystic Rose'. He was largely responsible for turning the simple seaside resort of Newport, Rhode Island into a mecca for the pleasure-seeking, status-conscious rich of the Gilded Age.

McAllister died in disgrace while dining alone at New York's Union Club. His downfall came when he published a 'fatuous' book of memoirs entitled Society as I Have Found It. The book, and McAllister's hunger for media attention did little to endear him to the Old guard who valued their privacy in an era when millionaires were the equivalent of movie stars.

In 1893 McAllister wrote a column about the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in which he urged that if Chicago society hostesses wanted be taken seriously, they should hire French chefs and "not frappé their wine too much." The Chicago Journal replied "The mayor will not frappé his wine too much. He will frappé it just enough so the guests can blow the foam off the tops of the glasses without a vulgar exhibition of lung and lip power. His ham sandwiches, sinkers, and ... pigs' feet, will be triumphs of the gastronomic art."

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Ward McAllister