Barbara Woolworth Hutton (November 14, 1912 – May 11, 1979) was an American debutante/socialite, heiress and philanthropist. She was dubbed the "Poor Little Rich Girl", first when she was given a lavish and expensive debutante ball in 1930, amid the Great Depression, and later due to a notoriously troubled private life.
Heiress to the retail tycoon Frank Winfield Woolworth, Hutton was one of the wealthiest women in the world. She endured a childhood marked by the early loss of her mother at age five and the neglect of her father, setting the stage for a life of difficulty forming relationships. Seven times married, all of which ended in divorce, she acquired grand foreign titles but was maliciously treated and often exploited by several of her husbands. While publicly she was much envied for her possessions, her beauty and her apparent life of leisure, privately she remained deeply insecure, often taking refuge in drink, drugs, and playboys.
Hutton had one child, Lance Reventlow, with her second husband, but was an indifferent and insecure parent and the subsequent divorce ended in a bitter custody battle. She later developed anorexia nervosa and perhaps therefore prevented further childbirth. Her son died in a plane crash in 1972 at the age of 36, leaving her devastated. She lived another seven years, dying of a heart attack at age 66. At her death, the formerly wealthy Hutton was on the verge of bankruptcy as a result of exploitation, as well as her compulsive generosity and spendthrift ways.
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