Ann Woodward was an American socialite and murder suspect born on December 12, 1915 in Pittsburg, Kansas. She pursued acting and modeling in New York, and in 1940 was voted "The Most Beautiful Girl in Radio." Later she married William Woodward Jr., a wealthy heir and prominent member of New York society circles. Claiming she mistook her husband for a burglar, she shot and killed him on October 30, 1955. Many suspected she murdered him though she was never charged. Woodward died by suicide on October 9, 1975 by taking a cyanide tablet.
Early Life and Career
Socialite and murder suspect Evangeline Crowell was born in 1915 in Pittsburg, Kansas. Following her parents' divorce and remarriages, the ambitious young beauty Evangeline Crowell moved to Kansas City and reinvented herself as Ann Eden. Her mother died in 1941 and Ann moved to New York City to pursue a career as a model and actress. Through ambition and hard work, she landed a contract with John Robert Powers modeling agency as well as numerous stage and radio roles.
While working as a showgirl at the New York City nightclub FeFe's Monte Carlo, Ann met William Woodward Sr., a wealthy heir to Hanover National Bank and Belair Farm in Maryland. She was soon courted by the Billy Woodward, William's young son, and the owner of the top-rated racehorse Nashua. Billy and Ann wed in 1943. Though she was initially shunned by high society, Ann Woodward became an adept socialite and the couple had two sons, William and James. Billy asked for a divorce in 1947, but Ann refused, unwilling to give up her wealth and social status.
Murder and Suicide
In the fall of 1955, a string of burglaries occurred in the Woodwards' neighborhood. Late one night, allegedly believing she heard a burglar, Ann fired her shotgun twice, killing her husband. Though the question remains whether it was an accident or murder, a grand jury did not indict her. After Billy's death, the door to society slammed shut for Ann.
In 1975, Truman Capote published a thinly veiled account of the Woodwards' story, Answered Prayers, which accused Ann of outright murder. The past dug up for all to see, Ann Woodward killed herself by taking a cyanide pill that same year. Both of her sons would eventually die by suicide as well, each jumping out of a window in Manhattan on different occasions, the younger Jimmy in 1976, a year after his mother, and William in 1999.
The story was also adapted by Dominick Dunne in the Two Mrs. Grenvilles.
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