was an American gossip columnist
A gossip columnist is someone who writes a gossip column in a newspaper or magazine, especially a gossip magazine. Gossip columns are material written in a light, informal style, which relates the gossip columnist's opinions about the personal lives or conduct of celebrities from show business ,...
and author, songwriter, and professional hostess renowned for her parties for royalty and high society figures of her day.
Maxwell is credited with the introduction of the scavenger hunt
A scavenger hunt is a game in which the organizers prepare a list defining specific items, using which the participants — individuals or teams — seek to gather all items on the list — usually without purchasing them — or perform tasks or take photographs of the items, as specified...
and treasure hunt
A treasure hunt is one of many different types of games which can have one or more players who try to find hidden articles, locations or places by using a series of clues. This is a fictional activity; treasure hunting can also be a real life activity. Treasure hunt games may be an indoor or...
for use as party games in the modern era She also appeared as herself in the films Stage Door Canteen
Stage Door Canteen is a musical film produced by Sol Lesser Productions and distributed by United Artists. It was directed by Frank Borzage and features many cameo appearances by celebrities, and the majority of the film is essentially a filmed concert although there is also a storyline to the...
(1943) and Rhapsody in Blue
Rhapsody in Blue is a musical composition by George Gershwin for solo piano and jazz band written in 1924, which combines elements of classical music with jazz-influenced effects....
(1945), as well as co-starring in the 1939 film Hotel for Women
, for which she wrote the screenplay.
Elsa Maxwell took credit for introducing Rita Hayworth
Rita Hayworth was an American film actress and dancer who attained fame during the 1940s as one of the era's top stars...
to Prince Aly Khan
Prince Ali Solomone Aga Khan , known as Aly Khan was a son of Aga Khan III, the head of the Ismaili Muslims, and the father of Aga Khan IV. A socialite, racehorse owner and jockey, he was the third husband of actress Rita Hayworth...
in the summer of 1948.
In 1953, Maxwell published a single issue of her magazine, Elsa Maxwell's Café Society
, which had a portrait of Zsa Zsa Gabor
Zsa Zsa Gabor is a Hungarian-born American stage, film and television actress.She acted on stage in Vienna, Austria, in 1932, and was crowned Miss Hungary in 1936. She emigrated to the United States in 1941 and became a sought-after actress with "European flair and style", with a personality that...
on the cover. Anne Edwards
Anne Edwards is an author best known for her biographies of celebrities that include Princess Diana, Maria Callas, Judy Garland, Katharine Hepburn, Vivien Leigh, Margaret Mitchell, Ronald Reagan, Barbra Streisand, Shirley Temple and Countess Sonya Tolstoy...
' biography of Maria Callas
Maria Callas was an American-born Greek soprano and one of the most renowned opera singers of the 20th century. She combined an impressive bel canto technique, a wide-ranging voice and great dramatic gifts...
, 2001) and Peter Evans biography of Aristotle Onassis
Aristotle Sokratis Onassis , commonly called Ari or Aristo Onassis, was a prominent Greek shipping magnate.- Early life :Onassis was born in Karatass, a suburb of Smyrna to Socrates and Penelope Onassis...
both claim that Maxwell introduced Callas to Onassis. Edwards also claims that Maxwell was a lesbian
Lesbian is a term most widely used in the English language to describe sexual and romantic desire between females. The word may be used as a noun, to refer to women who identify themselves or who are characterized by others as having the primary attribute of female homosexuality, or as an...
who tried to seduce Callas, 40 years Maxwell's junior. Callas biographer Stelios Galatopoulos produced love letters from Maxwell written to Callas, who was less than receptive.
From 1912 until 1963, Maxwell's lover was Scottish socialite and singer Dorothy "Dickie" Fellowes-Gordon. Fellowes-Gordon was Maxwell's sole heir.
- Clan Maxwell
- Elsa Maxwell quotes
- Elsa Maxwell at Internet Broadway Database (IBDB.com)
- Review of R.S.V.P.: Elsa Maxwell's Own Story in Time magazine, November 1, 1954
- Transcript and video of Elsa Maxwell on The Mike Wallace Interview
The Mike Wallace Interview is a series of 30-minute television interviews conducted by host Mike Wallace in 1957-60. Before The Mike Wallace Interview was televised nationally on prime-time in 1957, the host of the show had risen to prominence a year earlier with Night-Beat, a television interview...
(November 16, 1957)
- "The Cruise Director", obituary in Time magazine, November 8, 1963
- Norwich William, "Entertaining: Elsa on My Mind"; The New York Times, January 30, 2000
- Elsa Maxwell, as mystery guest, on the television program What's My Line October 13, 1957, April 12, 1950