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Neglected Maybe, But Never Forgotten

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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GRAND DAME Brooke Astor

Everyone says they want to live a long, rich life, but this isn't always a good thing. Take the case of Brooke Astor, the last of New York society's great doyennes, who died of pneumonia at the ripe old age of 105 yesterday, at her weekend estate, after having given away over $195 million in philanthropy dollars. She certainly lived a rich life, but perhaps she might have benefited from an earlier exit—her final year was plagued by a civil case highlighting her mistreatment. She was, reportedly, neglected by her son and forced to sleep on a urine-soaked couch while subsisting on mushy peas and oatmeal; she went from grande dame to Edie Beale in a matter of months.

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Although Ms. Astor couldn't really understand the embarrassing drama of her final act, it seems such a shame that every obituary of the socialite mentions her poor retirement conditions, because the woman was actually crazy—in a good way—long before she was abandoned to live in a crackhouse.

After the jump, a selection of some of our favorite bits from Lady Astor, a veritable New York superhero and worthy of setting the flags at half-mast—her story makes today's chattering class look like rank amateurs.

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