Ann Woodward

Ann Woodward Biography

(1915–1975)
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Ann Woodward was an American socialite best known as a murder suspect for the death of her husband who had planned to divorce her. She was never convicted of the crime.

Who Was Ann Woodward?

Ann Woodward was an American socialite and murder suspect. Born in 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.

Early Life and Career

Ann Woodward was born as Evangeline Crowell on December 12, 1915, in Pittsburg, Kansas. Following her parents' divorce and remarriages, the ambitious young beauty moved to Kansas City and reinvented herself as Ann Eden. Her mother died in 1941, and Eden 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.

Relationship With Billy Woodward

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. the pair wed in 1943. Though she was initially shunned by high society, Ann 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.

Loved to Death: New York socialite Ann Woodward shot and killed her husband, Billy Woodward, in 1943. She claimed she thought he was a burglar, and she wasn't indicted. In 1975, after Truman Capote published Answered Prayers about her, Ann Woodward committed suicide. (Photo: Getty Images)

Billy Woodward with his wife Ann.

Murder Suspect 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 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 later was adapted into the 1987 television miniseries Two Mrs. Grenvilles by Dominick Dunne.

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