Just Who Was John Jacob Astor VI?

We take a closer look at just who was John Jacob Astor VI, and how his life had an impact on history.

Over the years, the world has seen some truly remarkable businessmen and women and entrepreneurs who, one way or another, have left their mark on the world one way or another.

One particular family who is still spoken about to this day is the Astor family. The Astor family rose to prominence in the worlds of politics, business, and society in general across the United States and the United Kingdom in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Initially settling in Germany, and with Italian ancestral roots, the Astor family first made their way over to the United States in the late 18th century.

The man we’re talking about today is one of the world’s finest socialites and businessmen, a certain John Jacob Astor VI.

Who was John Jacob Astor VI?

John Jacob Astor VI was a member of the Astor family and was a shipping businessman and socialite in the USA.

He was affectionately known as the ‘Titanic Baby’ due to the fact that he showed a keen interest in RMS Titanic. He was born four months after his father, Colonel John Jacob Astor IV sadly died in the sinking of the Titanic. His mother who was pregnant with him at the time was also on that fateful voyage but survived.

Just Who Was John Jacob Astor VI?
RMS Titanic

Perhaps best known for the legal battles with his elder half-brother Vincent Astor, over the inheritance of his father’s $85 Million estates, he also had a reputation amongst the women and was often seen with some of the most prominent society women at the time.

Early life

John Jacob Astor VI was born in New York City on the 14th of August, 1912. He was the son of Colonel John Jacob Astor IV and socialite Madelaine Talmage Force.

After recently getting married, his parents had been on honeymoon in Egypt and Europe for several months, before returning home on the Titanic, when it sadly struck an iceberg and sank. Astor VI’s father died, but his mother who was five months pregnant with him survived.

He was raised at their Newport, Rhode Island mansion as a part of the Astor family. His mother married a banker named Karl Dick in 1916 and then a boxer named Enzo Fiermonte in 1933.

Astor VI had got on well with Karl Dick and when his mother re-married in 1933, Astor VI strongly opposed the marriage and tried to get his mother to call off the wedding.

He was a very intelligent young man and he graduated from St. George’s School in Middletown, Rhode Island, as well as Harvard University.

Personal Life

John Jacob Astor VI was considered by many to be a very handsome man. He was never short of attention from the ladies and was engaged numerous times and was married four times to the following women:

  • Ellen Tuck French
  • Gertrude Gretsch
  • Dolores Margaret Fullman
  • Sue Sandford
Just Who Was John Jacob Astor VI?
John Jacob Astor VI married Ellen Tuck French in 1934

Inheritance Controversy

As per her husband’s wishes, Astor IV’s wife Madelaine received a relatively small amount of her husband’s $85 Million fortune, with the majority of it being split amongst his children. His wife received an annual income of $500,000 from a $5 Million trust fund.

Just Who Was John Jacob Astor VI?
Colonel John Jacob Astor IV

Astor VI received $5 Million on his 21st birthday, which had grown from $3 Million.

Unfortunately Astor’s half-brother Vincent claimed that Astor wasn’t even a biological Astor. When Vincent died in 1959, John Jacob Astor VI sued Vincent’s widow for his inheritance, claiming he was mentally incompetent when signing the will due to alcohol dependence.

He settled for $250,000 in the end. John Jacob Astor VI died on the 26th of June, 1992, aged 79 leaving behind two children.