Gibson Girl, Murderer?


Evelyn Nesbit, aka the Gibson Girl. She epitomized the beauty and spirit of the French Fin De Siècle movement that swept over the early 1900s America. Women spent eons in muted clothes, dull hair, and suppressed opinions. The dawning of a new age observed women enhancing their features, embracing their inhabitations, and breaking free from traditional gender roles. Due to the explosion of sexualized images, excess smoking and drinking, and outspoken attitudes, women were often noted as vain, arrogant, and selfish. In reply, they claimed, they were only mirroring what men have been doing since the dawn of time.

In life, Evelyn, however, was not so lucky. Her father died at a young age which through her family into financial ruin. When she was 11 years old her mother moved the family and they all started working in a department store. It was there Evelyn was discovered by a local artist. Over the next few years, (lying about her age to seem older), Evelyn modeled for portraits, ads, and exotic postcards. With the onset of photography, her brunette hair and eyes naturally contrasted with the sepia & B/W photos. Evelyn was transformed into the Gibson Girl and changed the face of women during the early 1900s.

She soon attracted the eye of a rich architect named Stanley White. At the tender age of 17, he deflowered her in his infamous mirror room in his Madison Square Garden penthouse. Years later she met a rich man named Harry Thaw who was obsessed with her. Her benefactor, White, warned her Thaw was mentally unstable but the lure of stable money was too attractive. She later married Thaw, who beat her repeatedly. One night, when they encountered White at a dinner on the rooftop of a fancy hotel, Thaw, in a mental crazed state, shot White point-blank in the head twice.

Long story short, he went jail - later released, and Evelyn died penniless in a Santa Monica nursing home. Her obit read, "Stanny White was killed. but my fate was worse, I lived."

There's a cool podcast you can listen to if you want to know all the details:

Evelyn Nesbit - The Madison Square Garden Murder

Kelly Perez, Adjunct Professor