Marjorie Merriweather Post: The Feisty Mogul of the 1900s

Read how Marjorie Merriweather Post, a woman well ahead of her era, who in the early 1900s overcame gender stereotypes to successfully lead and become one of America's richest women in the 20th-century.
Birthplace: Springfield, Illinois
Beginning: Postum Cereal Company
Industry: Food
Legacy: General Foods brands now owned by Kraft Heinz
Honors: French Legion of Honour Medal

Read on! 💸

Brian Hadi Attarbashi
Updated on:
Nov 23, 2022
Marjorie Merriweather Post: 1900s’ Feisty Female Mogul
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Marjorie Merriweather Post: The Epitome of Grace, Beauty, and Brains

The Epitome of Grace, Beauty, and Brains

Marjorie Merriweather Post may have lived like royalty, but she was so much more than a well-heeled socialite with impeccable taste.

Marjorie was a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur in the early 1900s who overcame female prejudices to lead and expand a powerful American corporation.

Early Life of Marjorie Merriweather Post

Early Life of Marjorie Merriweather Post

On March 15th, 1887, Marjorie Merriweather Post was born in Springfield, Illinois, in the United States. She was the only child of the esteemed Charles William Post—a descendant of Stephen Post, a founder of Hartford—and Ella Letitia Merriweather Post. 

C. W. Post, an entrepreneur (the cereal tycoon who spent time in the sanitarium and fundamentally stole Kellogg’s idea and built the ‘Postum Cereal Company’)

Marjorie adored her father, who taught her the worth and value of the dollar. When Marjorie Merriweather Post was a young girl, CW Merriweather told her that money could be used to help other people.

Marjorie Merriweather Post and her father, C.W. Post

Not yet 10, Marjorie’s father took her to Postum board meetings. She was enthralled with everything that he and the department heads discussed. After each session, Mr. Post would question her on the reasons for the conference and company plans. After giving her observations, he will explain each step of the meeting procedure and the reasons for future projects.

From her father, Marjorie learned how to run a company and how to box market and advertise their products. Marjorie’s father instilled in her an excellent business education. 

As a kid, Marjorie loved helping her father market Postum to retailers. C.W. Post advertised effectively and successfully, thus popularizing Postum. 

The C.W. Post family became prosperous by the time Marjorie was a teenager.

C.W. Post

Marjorie’s father, C.W. Post also known as Charles William Post (1854-1914)

A pioneer in manufacturing and mass marketing of breakfast cereals and other consumer products, Charles William Post (1854-1914) attempted to use his wealth to affect various aspects of early 20th-century American life.

Marjorie Merriweather Post’s father founded the General Foods Corporation

C. W. Post, full name Charles William Post, preferring to be referred to simply as C.W., was born in Springfield, Illinois, United States, on October 26, 1854, and died on May 9, 1914, in Santa Barbara, California.

His first employment led him to the West as a traveling salesperson for an agricultural company, but at age 26, he returned to Illinois.

His interests ranged from real estate speculation in Texas to the founding of La Vita Inn, a Battle Creek, Michigan-based institute for treatment through mental suggestion. In 1895, he founded the food manufacturing company for which he is well known.

During his time in Battle Creek, Michigan, he became a one-time patient at the Battle Creek Sanitarium. During his stay, Post was accused of stealing several of William & John Kellogg's recipes and adapting Kellogg's cereal recipe into his mass-produced version.

Marjorie Merriweather Post: cereal beverage called Postum‍

After a series of experiments with his first product, a cereal beverage called Postum, C.W.  Post founded the Postum Cereal Co. Ltd., later General Foods Corporation, in 1922.

Grape Nuts (1897) and Post Toasties cereal (1904, originally called Elijah's Manna) were among the first commercial items Post invented.

Marjorie Merriweather Post: Grape Nuts were among the first commercial items invented

Caroline, C.W. Post's mother, may have nourished the ability for words that would make his commercials renowned. Caroline's poetry was published in various periodicals. 

He inherited his restless, peripatetic character from his father, Charles Rollin Post. The latter worked several jobs while traveling around the country, including working as a forty-niner during the California gold rush.

His broad and astute advertising campaigns propelled him to swift success in the food market, and he then switched his attention to opposing labor unions, a cause he fought until the end of his life. 

He underwent surgery to remove his appendix in 1914, and while recovering, Post committed suicide on May 9th, 1914, in Santa Barbara, California, because of failing health and miserable home life. 

C.W. Post married Ella Letitia Merriweather on November 4th, 1874, and Marjorie was their only child. She became the sole proprietor of Postum Ltd. 

Postum originated in a barn and became the widely held General Foods Corporation in 1929.

Post Family

The blue-eyed Mrs. Post was also known for her statuesque beauty, perfect complexion, and boundless energy, which the years scarcely diminished.

Marjorie Merriweather Post’s mother, Ella Letitia Merriweather‍

Marjorie Merriweather Post came from a family of business-minded people. A daughter of Charles William Post, the cereal magnate, and Ella Letitia Merriweather Post, a descendant of Stephen Post, the founder of Hartford.

Marjorie grew up in a relatively middle-class family. Still, the family coffers filled when her father invented a coffee substitute (complete with a wild health claims ad campaign) and the first pre-packaged cereal (using the same marketing tactic).

Marjorie’s journey began as a young child, gluing cereal boxes in her father’s barn. She accompanied her father on several of his journeys and adventures. C.W. Post made sure that his daughter was well-versed in history and culture. 

Marjorie learned to design, interior decoration, and entertain while C.W. Post developed homes, resorts, and mountain camps. 

Marjorie Merriweather Post had visited factories across America before she was twenty, learning how the machinery worked, learning the names of every Postum employee, and learning her father’s business philosophies. 

C.W. Post even told her how the Postum Company might grow by acquiring other successful food firms.

Education of Marjorie Merriweather Post

Marjorie went to Mount Vernon Seminary (now George Washington University’s Mount Vernon Campus) because her father wanted her to be socially prepared.

Education of Marjorie Merriweather Post

Marjorie maintained a close, lifelong relationship with her alma mater and served as its first alumna trustee. Today, GWU’s Special Collections Research Center maintains a collection of her correspondence with Mount Vernon administrators.

George Washington University Alumni Infographics

Charles Post’s Death

C.W. Post and Ella Letitia Merriweather divorced in 1904 after living apart for several years, and C.W. Post married Leila Young, his secretary, on November 7th of that year.

This was a blow to Marjorie, as she adored her mother. She has never been on friendly terms with Leila, her stepmother. When her mother died at 62, Marjorie stated that her mother died of a broken heart. But, Marjorie continued to have a loving and nurturing relationship with her father. 

CW Post was often ailing, mentally and physically. Twice, Post had a nervous breakdown. In the second one, he submitted himself to a sanitarium. 

A few months after Post left the sanitarium, he published a book, “I am Well,” wherein he promoted “mind-cure.” The book propagated the idea that the human mind could heal disease, a widespread belief among some American intellectuals and businessmen.

Quite ironic. Because on May 9th, 1914, Post committed suicide.

Marjorie was a doted-on daughter. Whatever and however she may have felt on the death of her father, one thing became apparent: she became a very wealthy young lady.

Legal Wrangling Between Marjorie and Her Stepmother

Leila Young Post was CW Post’s secretary when they got married. She was 27 years old. 

Marjorie deeply resented her stepmother.

When her father died, the battle between Marjorie and Leila as to who will inherit the fortune of CW Post started. 

After months of legal wrangling, the then-husband of Marjorie, Edward Close, located an original document written by CW Post stating that he was leaving the company for his beloved daughter, Marjorie.

Armed with the powerful document, Marjorie’s lawyers settled out of court with Leila on December 15th. Leila was given 4 million dollars, the ten-story Tavern Hotel, the Post building, the house in Santa Barbara, half ownership of the ranch, and other legal holdings in Texas.

Early Career of Marjorie Merriweather Post

At age 27, Marjorie’s father passed away, and Marjorie inherited Postum Cereal Company and many other non-Postum assets and properties. Though the Postum Cereal Company was founded when Marjorie was very young, she, later on, became the brilliant brain behind mergers and acquisitions that propelled the company to grow and expand globally. 

Marjorie Merriweather Post became a wealthy woman when she inherited $20M (equivalent to $526M in 2020).

Marjorie gave the other cereal companies a run for their money with her intelligence, education, and wealth. Marjorie had the option of selling the company and living off her inheritance, but she preferred to continue what her father had started.

Marjorie led Postum to purchase various brands in the 1920s, including Calumet Baking Powder, Swan’s Down Cake Flour, Minute Tapioca, Jell-O, and Baker’s Chocolate, the first chocolate mill in the United States. 

Cheek-Neal was their most important acquisition, since they created a technology for vacuum packaging pre-ground coffee. This coffee quickly became the company’s most crucial earner, an odd twist given C. W. Post’s incredibly successful anti-coffee campaign.

Early Career of Marjorie Merriweather Post

The business her father founded owns a diverse range of cereal products, including Bran Flakes and Chips Ahoy! , Grape-Nuts, Honeycomb, Oreo O’s, Pebbles, and Waffle Crisp, to name a few. In 1897, Post created his first dry cereal, Grape Nuts, a crisp combination of wheat and barley. 

In 1904, he introduced his first corn-flake product, “Elijah’s Manna.” He changed the name to Post Toasties in 1907 because of consumer opposition to the (inaccurate) biblical reference, which was so strong that Great Britain outright refused to register the name as a trademark.

Marjorie Merriweather Post: first corn-flake product, Elijah’s Manna

In 1904, Charles Post introduced his first corn-flake product, “Elijah’s Manna.”

Her father had taught her all the operational parts of the firm when she was a little child, so the young and gorgeous heiress was more than capable of running it. She used to accompany her father on business travels, tour factories, and attend Postum meetings as a child.

Apart from overseeing the company’s continued growth, Post made annual travels to Texas to negotiate oil leases with major oil firms.

Frozen Goose Lays the Golden Egg for the Huttons

Marjorie came across Clarence’s Birdseye’s innovations while sailing on her yacht when her staff served a dish made from a frozen goose.

Birdseye had devised a revolutionary method of preserving food by freezing it. 

Post recognized the immense potential of frozen food and bought Birdseye’s company, which she steered to outstanding success.

Who is Clarence Birdseye?

Clarence Birdseye was an illustrous American entrepreneur and inventor best known for inventing a method for freezing foods in tiny, retail-ready containers.

Birdseye was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and has always been fascinated with science. The United States government hired him to work for the Department of Agriculture in New Mexico and Arizona.

Birdseye moved to Labrador in 1912 and began working as a fur trader, which he did periodically until 1917. Because it was difficult to find fresh food in Labrador during the winter, people often froze food; this approach sparked Birdseye’s imagination.

Upon his return to the to the United States, he resumed experimenting and helped form the General Seafoods Company in 1924.

Marjorie Merriweather Post: Clarence Birdseye

He began marketing his quick-frozen foods five years later, a successful line of items that made him wealthy.

Birdseye’s method involved freezing packaged food quickly between two refrigerated metal plates. Birdseye’s double belt freezer freezing procedure, though not the first, was exceptionally efficient in preserving the natural taste of various foods, including fish, fruits, and vegetables.

Birdseye’s company was purchased by Postum, Inc. in 1929, renamed itself the General Foods Corporation, and kept Birdseye on as a consultant. Birdseye was Birds Eye Frosted Foods president from 1930 to 1934 and Birdseye Electric from 1935 to 1938.

General Foods Corporation

Postum Cereals aggressively pursued acquisitions of food names such as Jell-O in 1925, Walter Baker & Company in 1927, Maxwell House in 1928, and others.

Marjorie Merriweather Post: acquisition of Maxwell House in 1928

The “General Seafood Corporation,” a frozen-food company owned by Clarence Birdseye, was by far the most important acquisition in 1929.

In 1926, Marjorie Merriweather Post grew enthusiastic about the frozen food industry. She was on her boat, Sea Cloud, when she was handed a noon meal that had been frozen six months prior, much to her surprise.

Despite Marjorie’s enthusiasm, it took three years for her to persuade Postum’s management that she knew how to start a frozen food company. The management then decided to purchase Birdseye’s company.

Postum eventually paid Goldman Sachs $12.5 million for the remaining 49 percent and $10.75 million for the remaining 51 percent. 

Postum changed its name to General Foods Corporation shortly after the acquisition. Goldman relinquished its share back to General Foods in 1932, purportedly at a loss.

General Foods began testing a new frozen food line but quickly discovered that packaging alone would not be enough to sell frozen foods in stores.

Birdseye engineers began constructing a freezer cabinet specifically for frozen meals because the packages must remain cold while on display to be sold.

Marjorie Merriweather Post: Birdseye engineers began constructing a freezer cabinet

The cabinet, which was first introduced in 1934, required a lot of space and energy, both of which were in short supply in most supermarkets. For those establishments that could accommodate them, the reward was immediate.

Homemakers rapidly realized that putting frozen food packages in the icebox resulted in fresher dinners and fewer grocery store journeys. Both the Canadian Postum Company Ltd. in Toronto, Ontario, and the Grape-Nuts Company Ltd. in London, founded in 1908, had international operations.

Marjorie Merriweather Post: The Canadian Postum Company Ltd. in Toronto, Ontario

By the late twentieth century, General Foods had established production facilities across much of Western Europe, Japan, Australia, Mexico, Venezuela, and Brazil. In 1985, Philip Morris Companies bought General Foods Corporation and eventually merged its business with Kraft’s.

General Foods Company Timeline Infographics

Present Day General Foods Corporation

Marjorie Merriweather Post: Present Day General Foods Corporation

General Foods, America’s largest food manufacturer, was also one of the world’s most respected marketing firms for decades.

The corporation had grown to almost $9 billion in revenue by 1985. GF’s acquisition that year by cigarette corporation Philip Morris (at $5.8 billion, the most expensive non-oil transaction in history) signaled the end of the company’s independence.

Years of mergers, split-ups, and spinoffs followed, resulting in the company’s disintegration. 

General Foods had only been in business for 56 years, which is unusual for a major consumer goods corporation.

Altria Group purchased General Foods in 1985. By 1989, Altria merged General Foods with Kraft Foods Inc., which it had purchased in 1987, to become the “Kraft General Foods” business. 

In 1993, Nabisco purchased its cereal brands. Kraft General Foods was restructured and renamed “Kraft Foods” in 1995. 

Kraft stated on November 15th, 2007, that it would spin off Post Cereals and merge it with Ralcorp Holdings. The merger was finalized on August 4th, 2008, and the company’s official name became Post Foods, LLC.

Marjorie Merriweather Post: merging of Post Cereals and Ralcorp Holdings

Marjorie’s Lifestyle

Everyone who visits the gorgeous gardens, collections, and estate that Marjorie Merriweather Post left for the public to enjoy can tell how much she valued beauty, elegance, and graciousness in her life.

Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887–1973) was an extraordinary person, not only for being the head of a major corporation but also for overseeing elegant and well-run residences and amassing collections of astounding beauty. 

Notable residences

Marjorie Merriweather Post owned several luxurious estates

Hillwood

Marjorie Merriweather Post purchased Hillwood

Hillwood, in all its opulence, is the result of a career spent in commerce, art acquisition, philanthropy, and estate administration, which gave rise to her distinctive style and grace.

After purchasing Hillwood in 1955, Marjorie Merriweather Post decided it would become a museum that would enlighten and inform the public. 

Her northwest Washington, DC estate gave the nation the largest collection of Russian imperial art outside of Russia, a prestigious collection of French decorative art from the eighteenth century, twenty-five acres of tranquil groomed gardens, and unspoiled natural woodlands.

Hillwood, which first opened as a public institution in 1977, now draws people in because of its many equally fascinating components. 

The experience of Hillwood surpasses even the Fabergé eggs, from Marjorie Post's fascinating life to the immaculately kept mansion and gardens.

Mar-a-Lago 

Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Mar-a-Lago is a resort and national historic landmark

This is a resort and national historic landmark in Palm Beach, Florida, built from 1924 to 1927. It is situated in Palm Beach County on the barrier island of Palm Beach, with Florida's Atlantic Ocean on the west and Intracoastal Waterway the Atlantic Ocean to the east.

The 126-room, 62,500-square-foot mansion since 1994 contains the Mar-a-Lago Club, a members-only club with guest rooms, a spa, and other hotel-style amenities. 

Marjorie Post left the land to the National Park Service as part of her will in 1973, thinking it would be used for state visits or as a Winter White House. 

Nevertheless, the property was given back to The Marjorie Merriweather Post Foundation in 1981 by a congressional act because the expenditures of upkeep exceeded the cash contributed by Marjorie Post and because it was challenging to protect the estate.

Donald Trump purchased Mar-a-Largo in 1985 for around $10 million. He utilized the home as a residence for eight years before converting it into the Mar-a-Lago Club. In a separate, gated section of the house and grounds, his family retains private apartments.

Camp Topridge

Camp Topridge was originally known as Camp Canosa until Marjorie Merriweather Post renamed it

Marjorie Post Hutton bought a camp in the Adirondack. It was owned by Alvin Mason, the co-founder of the department store Woodward and Lothrop. The original name was Camp Canosa, to which Marjorie renamed it Camp Topridge.

The rustic and isolated retreat northwest of Sanorac Lake in Upstate New York is only accessible by boat. The top ridge is 80 feet above sea level. 

Camp Topridge is still considered the most impressive of the Great Camps of the Adirondacks. The living room was filled with American Indian artifacts, animal skin rugs, stuffed bears, trophy animals, baskets, canoes, and kayaks.

There was a swimming pool, a golf course, a tennis house and court, and trails for hiking. There was a guide house, a secretary’s house, and cabins for visitors.

The Marjorie Merriweather Post Foundation donated Camp Topridge to New York State In July 1974. By 1985, New York State had sold the property because of its expensive upkeep.

Sea Cloud

Sea cloud stands out as the only sea-faring estate among Marjorie Merriweather Post’s homes 

Among Marjorie Merriweather Post homes, Sea cloud stands out as the only sea-faring estate. Originally named the Hussar V, Sea Cloud was built for Marjorie Merriweather Post and her second husband, Edward F. Hutton, in Kiel, Germany. 

Post, who studied marine engineering and had full-scale interior mock-ups built in a New York warehouse, designed the yacht’s interiors and features. She was the world’s largest private yacht at the time of its completion. 

The maiden voyage was from the shipyard in Germany to Bermuda in 1931, where Hutton and Post received the ship.

Although Mrs. Davies owned the ship, she permitted Mr. Davies to claim possession. Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, officials from the Soviet Union, and the United States were among those Davies entertained on the cruise. 

These days, Sea Cloud sails as a cruise ship. 

Tregaron

Marjorie Merriweather Post: Tregaron was a county estate

Mr. and Mrs. Davies purchased Treragon in 1940 and moved in the spring of 1942. Tregaron was a county estate located in the Cleveland Park area of Washington DC. The mansion was situated at the highest point of the land, 

Four two-story Roman Corinthian limestone columns supporting a stately portico and a huge south-facing terrace extended the whole length of Tregaron's rooms, creating an impressive entry.

The interior of the building had 13-foot ceilings on the ground floor, an extensive library, a double-height entrance hall with an ivory marble floor, a conservatory, and an elevator. Architect Charles Adams Platt and designed the three-story neo-Georgian red brick and grey built-in 1912-1914.

In March 1955, Marjorie divorced Ambassador Davies, giving him Tregaron.

Jewelry

Some of Marjorie Merriweather Post’s jewelry were given to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. Some of these jewelry pieces are displayed in the Harry Winston exhibit, including the Napoleon Diamond Necklace and the Marie Louise Diadem, a 275-cut (55 g) diamond-and-turquoise necklace, and a tiara set.

Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Napoleon Diamond Necklace and the Marie Louise Diadem
Marjorie Merriweather Post also had a tiara set given to her by her husband, Napoleon.

This was a gift Napoleon gave to his wife, Empress Marie Louise. Among her beloved pieces are an emerald-and-diamond necklace and ring (formerly for Emperor Maximilian) and a diamond earrings pair set with pear shapes that formerly belonged to Marie Antoinette.

Marjorie Merriweather Post’s beloved diamond ring with an emerald at the middle 
Pear shaped diamond earrings of Marjorie Merriweather Post

Russian Art Collection

Marjorie Merriweather Post developed a strong interest in pre-revolutionary Russian art

Marjorie developed a strong interest in pre-revolutionary Russian art during her time in Moscow. Post quickly began purchasing in the Soviet Union and from US auctions, third-party suppliers, and collectors after recognizing how much Europe affected Russian taste in the 18th century.

Marjorie Merriweather Post quickly began purchasing Russian art and collections‍

Post amassed a vast collection of Imperial Russian artworks when Davies became the US Ambassador to the USSR, including around 90 Faberge pieces, about 60 Russian porcelain dining services dishes formerly owned by Empress Catherine the Great, 25 silver religious chalices, two minutely detailed Imperial Easter eggs, and Empress Alexandra’s nuptial crown.

With her admiration, fondness, and love for Russian art, she was literally a Russophile. Porcelain was one of Post’s most extensive art categories, including Fabergé eggs, a crown, furniture, silver and gold works of art, and liturgical artifacts.

Marjorie Merriweather Post amassed a vast collection of Imperial Russian artworks

As a memento of her time in the Soviet Union, Post was frequently given gifts of Russian porcelain. Post reciprocated by giving American porcelain and glass to several Soviet leaders, imitating the diplomatic practice of exchanging presents.

She arrived in Moscow at precisely the correct time when Stalin and his government were selling valuables in exchange for hard currency to fund military spending.

Post’s Philanthropy

Between the late 60s and early 70s, Marjorie invited Vietnam War veterans to Hillwood for garden receptions with live entertainment. A beautiful woman who honored them for their service warmly welcomed and greeted wounded soldiers. Some would arrive on wheelchairs, crutches, or even stretchers.

Marjorie Post provided funding for the U.S. During World War I, and she built an army hospital in France. She donated the cost of the Boy Scouts of America’s Washington headquarters.

She gave $100,000 to Washington’s National Cultural Center, which ultimately became the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She gave $100,000 to the National Symphony for free concerts, which led to the creation of the Music for Young America Concerts, which she continued to fund every year.

And let us not forget to mention how she donated some of her estates to the government and some institutions so that people might have the chance to enjoy and admire her vast art collections and other priceless mementos.

Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Honors

During Marjorie’s lifetime, she received several honors, decorations, awards, and citations acknowledging her charitable contributions and philanthropies. 

In 1957, France presented Ms. Marjorie Post with The Legion of Honor Medal for her long friendship with France.

Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Honors

She also received citations from Brazil, Belgium, Dominican Republic, and Luxembourg for her generosity and friendship.

Back home in the US, Marjorie was also given honors:

  • Marjorie was among the first three recipients of the Silver Fawn Award, presented by the Boy Scouts of America.
Marjorie Merriweather Post: Silver Fawn Award presented by the Boy Scouts of America‍
  • The 425-acre (172 ha) Lake Merriweather at Goshen Scout Reservation in Goshen, Virginia, was named in her honor.
Lake Merriweather was named in Marjorie Merriweather Post’s honor
  • She became honorary housemother of Zeta Beta Tau’s Gamma Delta chapter.
  • Honorary house mother of the college’s first local fraternity, Sigma Beta Epsilon.
  • She was honored by Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity as a “Golden Daughter of Minerva”.
  • The Merriweather Post Pavilion, an outdoor concert venue in Columbia, Maryland, is named for her.
Marjorie Merriweather Post: The Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland

Personal Life of Marjorie Merriweather Post

Mr. and Mrs. Edward Close

Personal Life of Marjorie Merriweather Post

Edward Close was called into military service during WWI in 1917. Like many veterans of wars, Edward came home a different man. Just like many wives of many soldiers, young Miss Post had progressed in life.

When Edward Close fulfilled his military service in Europe, Mrs. Marjorie Post Close grew increasingly independent. In part because a new circle of sophisticated friends that apparently take her off the Long Island suburbs and led her into Manhattan regularly assisted her.

In November 1919, they divorced. She kept custody of their two daughters, Adelaide and Eleanor.

Mr. and Mrs. Edward Francis (E.F.) Hutton

Marjorie Merriweather Post’s second husband, Edward Francis Hutton

Mr. Hutton, was reportedly the love of Marjorie's life. The couple enjoyed and commandeered a flourishing business collaboration.

This was especially true after Marjorie talked Edward into buying the Birds Eye “frosted foods” corporation. In 1929, it became the General Foods Corporation. 

Post and Hutton developed various food products, including Birdseye Frozen Foods. The happy marriage, during which the couple built their “little cottage by the sea” Mar-a-Lago, foundered when Hutton showed his philanderer’s stripes. 

Post and Hutton divorced in 1935. Hutton and Post had one daughter, the actress Dina Merrill, who spent her childhood at the estate on Long Island.

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph E. Davies

Marjorie Merriweather Post’s third husband, Joseph E. Davies

59-year-old Washington, DC resident Joseph E. Davies, and Marjorie honeymooned on her yacht in 1935.

Soon, Davies was appointed as US Ambassador to the Soviet Union. When Davies was the US Ambassador to the USSR, Post accumulated the most extensive collection of Imperial Russian artworks outside Russia.

When Davies grew unwell and irritable, which Marjorie couldn’t stand, their marriage ended in the early 1950s.

She persisted in a positive view as a lifelong Christian Scientist and couldn’t face human fragility, “or disease, or individuals on their way down who had caved into their issues.”

They divorced in 1955 after having no children.

Mr. and Mrs. Herbert May

Marjorie Merriweather Post’s fourth husband, Herbert May‍

Herbert May, a Westinghouse executive vice president, was the fourth husband. They married in 1958.

In 1964, they divorced. 

The “poorest” of Marjorie’s spouses was May, and she established a trust for him. He died in the Virgin Islands on March 11th, 1968. He was 71.

Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Children

Marjorie Merriweather Post’s descendants are three beautiful daughters. Known for her wealth, hospitality, and philanthropy, she passed on to her daughters an innate shrewdness and business sense.

From her first husband, Marjorie had Adelaide Brevoort Close and Eleanor Post Hutton, and from her third husband, Nedenia Marjorie Hutton, better known as the actress Dina Merrill.

Adelaide Brevoort Close 1908-1998

Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Children: Adelaide Brevoort Close

A woman of classic tastes who favored tailored tweeds with matching hats, the former Adelaide Brevoort Close was born in 1908 in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Adelaide was very interested in equine, breeding and showing of Scottish terriers, and charitable organizations with quiet, behind-the-scenes philanthropy.

Eleanor Post Close 1909–2006

Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Children: Eleanor Post Close or Eleanor Post Hutton

She was known in the media as “Eleanor Post Hutton,” as she changed to “Hutton” after her mother’s 1920 marriage to Edward Francis Hutton.

In September 1954, she married her sixth husband, Léon Eugene Barzin, a prominent Belgian-born American conductor and architect of the National Orchestral Association and the founding musical director of the New York City Ballet in combination with Lincoln Kirstein and George Balanchine. 

The couple moved to Europe in 1958 and lived in Switzerland. 

Nedenia Marjorie Hutton 1923–2017

Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Children: Nedenia Marjorie Hutton also known as “Dina Merril”

Nedenia adopted the stage name “Dina Merril.” Dina made her debut on stage in the theater play The Mermaid Singing in 1945.

Between the 1950s and 1960s, Dina was intentionally marketed as a replacement for the beautiful Grace Kelly. It was not a surprise then when in 1959, she was proclaimed “Hollywood’s new Grace Kelly.”

Merrill appeared in many television series in the 1960s, movies, and Broadway shows. Because of her passion and success in the performing arts, Merril was appointed to the board at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Merril became a member of her father's estate in 1980 and continued to serve on the board for 18 years after Lehman Brothers bought Hutton.

Death of Marjorie Merriweather Post

Death of Marjorie Merriweather Post

After a long illness, the business tycoon and philanthropist Marjorie Merriweather died in her sleep at her Hillwood Estate. She was 86 years old. 

In Popular Culture: Marjorie Merriweather Post

Marjorie led a life lived to the fullest. She was an interesting, fascinating, and empowered woman who lived an accomplished life.

She could entertain her high-society friends, royalties, and the most powerful people, but she would also raise funds for underprivileged children. Her life could not escape the scrutiny of everyone, including popular culture.

It was believed that if you are a woman, you are expected to sit at home, knit and take care while managing your household. But Marjorie Merriweather Post along with Melitta Bentz, Anna Bissell, Madam C.J. Walker were trailblazing women of their time. They changed and revolutionized the concept of gender in entrepreneurship.

In 1943, a part of her life was turned into a movie via “Mission to Moscow,” portrayed by Ann Harding. In 1987, Marjorie was portrayed by Anne Francis in the miniseries “Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Post Story.”

And Morgan Bradley portrayed her life as a business tycoon in the History Channel series, The Food that Built America.

Aside from films and miniseries, there are many books about Marjorie Merriweather Post. Among the most notable are: Marjorie Merriweather Post: The Life Behind the Luxury, Roaring Twenties: The Life and Style of Marjorie Merriweather Post, and American Empress: The Life and Times of Marjorie Merriweather Post.

Key Takeaways: Marjorie Merriweather Post

Marjorie Merriweather Post was a woman much ahead of her time. Her growing experience in entrepreneurship is shown in this story, as she could spot a commercial potential before anyone else. She developed what is now known as General Foods Corporation by expanding on her father’s single food product and buying and investing in additional products.

Marjorie’s tale exemplifies the concept that no one is born an expert. She was unexpectedly put into a powerful position, and instead of shrinking from the situation, she embraced a growth mentality. Marjorie was one of the most successful persons of her day because she asked questions, took risks, and overcame structural barriers.

A few basic rules motivated Marjorie: 

Always think for yourself–never take success for granted

Work hard–even when she was considered American royalty and encrusted with imperial diamonds.

Cheers to the life lived by this one amazing lady!

Brian Hadi Attarbashi

Brian is the CEO of AI bees. When he is not running the company with German precision, Brian writes expert articles about marketing and manufacturing. When not doing these, you will find him rescuing dogs or mowing competition down at a jiu jitsu studio.

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