Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Happy Birthday Nelson Rockefeller!
Hey Vice-Precedence Readers!
Well, today, July 8th is the birthday of undoubtedly the richest Vice-President in history-Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller-Republican VP under Gerald Ford. Born today July 8th 1908 in Bar Harbor, ME.
Yes, he's one of those Rockefellers- as in Rockefeller Center, "30 Rock", etc. He was the grandson of John D. Rockefeller-founder of the mega-monopoly Standard Oil Company, one of the richest and most powerful companies in the history of the U.S., and perhaps the world. So Rockefeller was born into not just wealth, but extreme wealth. To give you an example: His mother founded the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. Also, when he became VP, he didn't move into the official Vice-Presidents home at the Unites States Naval Observatory because he had a bigger, more lavish and better furnished mansion in Washington already. In fact, he was so rich that he used his own money to purchase new furnishings for the Vice-Presidential residence and donated his salary as VP to federal programs to build education and community centers for the inner-cities and teach the children going to these new facilities the fine arts.
All this wealth gave him a sort of skewed look at the world-as he so ably demonstrated with this quote from a speech about the struggle of middle-class working families:
"Now you take an average family with an income of $100,000...."
Rockefeller was never elected VP, like his predecessor Gerald Ford, he was appointed VP and approved by the Senate under the 25th amendment in the wake of the resignations of VP Sprio T. Agnew and of President Nixon after Watergate. In 1976 when Ford decided to run for President, under pressure from the right-wing of the Republican party who found Rockefeller too liberal, he dropped him from the ticket and replaced him with Bob Dole.
One of the more fascinating things about Rockefeller are the strange circumstances surrounding his death-something that the family would like people to forget. We know that he died on Jan. 26th 1979 from a heart attack that would have killed a blue whale.
The first reports said he was found by a security guard in his office in Rockefeller Center where he was writing a book about his massive art collection. It wasn't until later that it was revealed that he had not died in his office, but was in the company of one of his aides in his townhouse. The aide happened to be a lovely 25 year old woman named Megan Marshak. Strangely, since it was later claimed the two were having a "business meeting" there were no papers, folders or anything remotely "business" like in the room. Hmmm.
When the former VP had this heart attack some time between 9:15 and 10:15 PM, Marshak didn't call an ambulance, but instead called her friend news reporter Ponchitta Pierce, to the townhouse, and it was Pierce who phoned an ambulance at 11:15. What happened in that hour or so is still debated, and the Rockefeller family doesn't like to discuss. However, according to Pulitzer-Prize winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, the idea of a scandal after a distinguished career would not have sat well with the Rockefeller family, so the staff and aides took it upon themselves to make the scene "picture perfect" for the incoming police photographers. According to Goodwin, the staff propped up Rockefeller in his chair and slumped him over his desk with a newspaper in his hands, but first-they actually dressed the dead former VP, since he had apparently left this world the same way he came into it. Unless Rockefeller liked to wear his shoes on the wrong feet and read his newspaper upside-down, the paramedics and police weren't fooled and reporters had a field day with all the dirty details and cover-up.
Marshak must have been a damn good assistant since Rockefeller left her a townhouse as well as $50K in his will. Finally the family couldn't take it anymore and they admitted that the 25 year-old Marshak and the 70 year old former VP had been having an affair, and the official report revealed that good old Nelson had his heart attack while performing sexual intercourse with Marshak-bearing a striking resemblance to what happens to the President in the beginning of the Kevin Kline movie "Dave".
So on that note, we say "Happy Birthday Nelson A. Rockefeller!"
Thanks for reading!