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John Jacob Astor IV

John Jacob Astor IV (July 13, 1864 - April 15, 1912) was a businessman, inventor, and writer. A great-grandson of the fur trader John Jacob Astor, he was born in Rhinebeck, New York to William Backhouse Astor Jr and his wife, Caroline Webster Schermerhorn Astor.

In 1897 he built the Astoria Hotel, which became part of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

As a writer, his works include A Journey in Other Worlds, a utopian fantasy set in the year 2000.

In 1891, he married Ava Lowle Willing, a Philadelphia socialite. Ava was beautiful and rather turned off by her husband, whom she married for the sake of a "good" social match. Ava bore John Jacob, known to his friends as Jack and his Harvard buddies as "Jackass", two children. The first child was William Vincent Astor, known to everyone as Vincent. He would later become Jack's heir. The second child was named Ava Alice Astor, always known as Alice. There was always speculation that Alice was not Jack's child due to her birth being 11 years after Vincent's and Ava's flirtations with other men during her marriage. A look at a photograph of Alice in later years shows a strong resemblence to Jack. A divorce was imminent and finally obtained in 1909 following the death of Jack's mother, Caroline. The dicorce forbade Jack of marrying in the state of New York during Ava's lifetime. Jack decided, nonetheless, to marry a young girl who was the slightly younger in age to his own son.

Madeline Talmadge Force, age 18, married John Jacob, age 44, in his mother's ballroom at the Beechwood Estate in Newport, Rhode Island with his son as his best man. Society was not kind to the new Mrs. Astor and even Vincent, himself, was somewhat against the marriage. The solution was for the couple to disappear. So they went on an extended honeymoon in Egypt. Soon the girl-bride was pregnant and she and her husband wished to return to the United States for the birth of the child.

He and his second wife were returning to America from a trip abroad on the RMS Titanic when it sank in April 1912. Mrs Astor escaped the sinking ship on a lifeboat, but her husband remained behind and was drowned. His body was later recovered, by his son and heir Vincent Astor, who claimed his father's pocket watch and wore it for the rest of his life. He was buried at Trinity Cemetery, New York.

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