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Million Dollar American Princesses:

Becoming a Million Dollar American Princess

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Becoming a Million Dollar American Princess

Short | 02:26

Actor Roanna Davidson walks us through the challenges and delights of becoming Winnaretta Singer, the provocative heir to a major sewing machine fortune and one of the bold women featured in season 2 of Million Dollar American Princesses.


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More About This series

Join Elizabeth McGovern as she takes an in-depth look at the young American heiresses whose real life stories inspired the acclaimed TV drama "Downton Abbey." This series takes you from the late 1800s, when daughters of America's new industrial millionaires marry into the money-strapped British aristocracy, to the 20th century, when a new kind of American Princess wields power not through wealth, but through character, style, and wit. Through the decades, these women bring dramatic change to the European aristocracy and eventually the world.


  • Winnaretta Singer
  • Gloria Swanson
  • Consuelo Vanderbilt
  • Jennie Jerome
  • Mary Leiter
  • Clara Ward
  • Frances Work
  • Consuelo Yznaga
  • Kathleen
  • Grace Kelly
  • Wallis Simpson
  • Elizabeth McGovern, Actor and Presenter
  • Sara Murphy
  • Peggy Guggenheim
  • Winnaretta Singer

    Winnaretta Singer

    Read Full Bio

    Winnaretta Singer (January 8, 1865--November 26, 1943) was the 20th child of Isaac Singer, of Singer sowing machine fame.

    In 1875, shortly after moving his family to England, Isaac passed away, leaving Winnaretta devastated... and very rich. In 1886, she married Prince Louis de Scey-Montbeliard, but by 1889, the marriage had ended, partly due to the fact that Winnaretta was attracted to women, not men.

    Four years later, she remarried, this time to a 59-year-old Prince Edmond de Polignac who was also gay, but, crucially, shared her love of music, art, and all things modern. They developed an affectionate, happy relationship.

    Under the cover of marriage, the Princess De Polignac was free to pursue sexual affairs with women, but music remained her greatest passion. She built her reputation as a famous salon hostess and patron, promoting a number of new artists and commissioning works from notable composers, like Claude Debussy and Erik Satie.

    In 1901, Edmond fell seriously ill from unknown causes and died suddenly soon after. Winnaretta commissioned a gravestone inscribed with an epitaph by the composer Wagner that read: "Happy in faith, happy in love." She would continue her work as a musical patron, right until her death in 1943.

    Her Paris mansion is now the site of the Singer-Polignac Foundation, which continues to patronize the arts and sciences.

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