No Poor Little Girl. Just a woman of depth and integrity who has been forgotten. Millicent Rogers.
Born Mary Millicent Abigail Rogers on 1st February 1902. As the granddaughter of Henry Huttleston Rogers (a founder of Standard Oil) Millicent was born in unparalleled privilege and comfort. By the 1920’s, Rogers was a regular fixture of the socialite scene plus she was photographed ‘Vogue’ and ‘Harpers Bazaar’ magazine. Her life closely followed by the likes of ‘New York Journal’, even though she lived an expat existence. As many of the privileged are able to do. A true fashionista who frequented the likes of Elsa Schiaparelli and Charles James. Moulding her own style; dramatic, poised, classically clinched, coiffed blonde hair and plenty of striking jewellery.
Though blessed with tremendous wealth, the same could not said for her health. When she contracted Rheumatic Fever, it was believed that she would not live to see her 10th birthday. Even though she beat the odds, she would endure Pneumonia, multiple heartaches and a nearly crippled left arm by the age of 40.
Romantically, Rogers was married three times. Eloping with her first Ludwig Von Salm-Hoogstaeten in 1924, divorcing in 1927. Later that same year she wed Arturo Peralta- Ramos though after 8 years it was over. She married her last husband, stockbroker Ronald Balcom in 1936 lasting until 1941. In addition to her husbands, She was linked to Clarke Gable, Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming.
It would be easy to just assume that Rogers was the Paris Hilton of her time, a shallow and spoilt rich girl who only interests were parties and fashion. Why I have chosen to write an entry on her is that there was more to her than frivolity and fluff. Rogers was a passionate supporter for the rights of Native American (when few would even touch the issue of NA rights) in her later years. She even relocated to New Mexico, choosing to live in an simple house (when she could have easily lived in a palatial villa). She bought over 2000 pieces of NA artefacts and fought for protection and validation of NA art and relics.
Tragically Rogers’ was not able to do as more. Years of bad health took their toll. Dying on 1st January 1953 from a post surgical aneurysm. To honour her past and her present passions, Rogers was buried in a customised Schiaparelli outfit and Chief’s blanket. Hundreds of Pueblo Indians came to pay their last respects to a woman who did much to fight for their rights and dignity.
There is even a museum established in her honour. The Millicent Rogers Museum in Taoes, New Mexico, set up by her son. Where you can see her favourite native jewellery (including the ones that she made) and weaves plus historical artefacts from the local area.