Michelle Marie Pfeiffer (born April 29, 1958) is an American actress. Known for pursuing eclectic roles from a wide variety of film genres, she has frequently received acclaim for her versatile performances, and is recognized as one of the most prolific actresses of the 1980s and 1990s. Pfeiffer has received numerous accolades throughout her career, including a Golden Globe Award and a British Academy Film Award, in addition to nominations for three Academy Awards and one Primetime Emmy Award.
Pfeiffer began her career in 1978 with minor television appearances before attaining her first leading role in Grease 2 (1982). Disillusioned with being typecast in nondescript roles as attractive women, she actively sought more serious material until earning her breakout role as gangster moll Elvira Hancock in Scarface (1983). She achieved further success with roles in The Witches of Eastwick (1987) and Married to the Mob (1988), for which she was nominated for her first of six consecutive Golden Globe Awards. Her performances in Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989) earned her two consecutive Academy Award nominations, for Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress respectively, winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama for the latter. Continuing to establish herself as a leading lady with high-profile roles in The Russia House (1990) and Frankie and Johnny (1991), Pfeiffer became one of the decade's highest-paid actresses.
In 1992, Pfeiffer starred in Batman Returns as Selina Kyle / Catwoman, one of the most admired portrayals of the comic book character. She continued to draw praise for performances in The Age of Innocence (1993), Wolf (1994), What Lies Beneath (2000) and White Oleander (2002), while producing and starring in several successful films under her production company Via Rosa Productions, including Dangerous Minds (1995) and One Fine Day (1996).
In 2007, Pfeiffer returned from a five-year hiatus with acclaimed performances in the blockbusters Hairspray and Stardust. Following another hiatus, in 2017 she earned rave reviews for her performance in Where Is Kyra? before returning to prominence with supporting roles in on the Orient Express, and in 2020 she earned her eighth Golden Globe Award nomination for French Exit.
Awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Pfeiffer has remained one of Hollywood's most bankable actresses for four decades. Labeled a sex symbol, she has been cited among the world's most beautiful women by several publications, with her physical appearance being scrutinized by the media since the beginning of her career. Notoriously private about her personal life, she has been married twice: to actor Peter Horton from 1981 to 1988, and television producer David E. Kelley since 1993.
Michelle Marie Pfeiffer was born on April 29, 1958, in Santa Ana, California, the second of four children of Richard Pfeiffer (1933–1998), an air-conditioning contractor, and Donna Jean (1932–2018), a housewife. She has an older brother and two younger sisters, one of them also actress. Her paternal grandfather was of German ancestry and her paternal grandmother was of English, Welsh, French, Irish, and Dutch descent, while her maternal grandfather was of Swiss-German descent and her maternal grandmother of Swedish ancestry. The family moved to Midway City, another Orange County community around seven miles (11km) away, where Pfeiffer spent her early years.
Pfeiffer attended Fountain Valley High School, graduating in 1976, and attended Golden West College where she was a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority. She won the Miss Orange County beauty pageant in 1978, and participated in the Miss California contest the same year, finishing in sixth place. Following her participation in these pageants, she acquired an acting agent and began to audition for television and films.
Michelle Pfeiffer made her acting debut in 1978, in a one-episode appearance of Fantasy Island. Her TV movie debut was in "The Solitary Man" (1979) for CBS. Pfeiffer transitioned to film with the comedy The Hollywood Knights (1980), with Tony Danza, appearing as high school sweethearts. She appeared in a television commercial for Lux soap, and took acting lessons at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, before appearing in three 1981 television movies – Callie and Son, The Children Nobody Wanted and Splendor in the Grass.
Pfeiffer obtained her first major film role as the female lead in Grease 2 (1982), the sequel to the smash-hit musical film Grease (1978). With only a few television roles and small film appearances, the 23-year-old Pfeiffer was an unknown actress when she attended the casting call audition for the role, but according to director Patricia Birch, she won the part because she "has a quirky quality you don't expect". The film was a critical and commercial failure, but The New York Times praised her performance.
Director Brian De Palma, having seen Grease 2, refused to audition Pfeiffer for Scarface (1983), but relented at the insistence of Martin Bregman, the film's producer. She was cast as cocaine-addicted trophy wife Elvira Hancock. The film was considered excessively violent by most critics, but became a commercial hit and gained a large cult following in subsequent years.
She scored a major box-office hit as Sukie Ridgemont in the 1987 adaptation of John Updike's novel The Witches of Eastwick, with Jack Nicholson, Cher, and Susan Sarandon. The film grossed over $63.7 million domestically, equivalent to $145 million in 2020 dollars, becoming one of her earliest critical and commercial successes.
For her role in the mafia comedy Married to the Mob (1988) Pfeiffer received her first Golden Globe Award nomination as Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, beginning a six-year streak of consecutive Best Actress nominations at the Golden Globes.
At Demme's personal recommendation, Pfeiffer joined the cast of Stephen Frears's Dangerous Liaisons (1988), with Glenn Close and John Malkovich, playing the virtuous victim of seduction, Madame Marie de Tourvel. Her performance won her widespread acclaim. She won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
During the 1989–1990 awards season, Pfeiffer dominated the Best-actress category at every major awards ceremony, winning awards at the Golden Globes, the National Board of Review, the National Society of Film Critics, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress and the Chicago Film Critics Association.
By 1990, Pfeiffer began earning $1 million per film.
In 1990, Pfeiffer formed her own boutique film production company, Via Rosa Productions, which ran for ten years. The company allowed her to produce and/or star in films tailored for strong women. She asked her best friend Kate Guinzburg to be her producing partner at the company. Via Rosa Productions was under a picture deal with Touchstone Pictures, a film label of The Walt Disney Studios. The first film the duo produced was the independent drama Love Field, which was released in late 1992. Reviewers embraced the film and she earned nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actress and the Golden Globe for Best Actress – Drama and won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 43rd Berlin International Film Festival.
Pfeiffer took on the role of Selina Kyle / Catwoman in Tim Burton's superhero film Batman Returns (1992), Batman Returns was a big box office success, grossing over US$267 million worldwide. Pfeiffer received universal critical acclaim for the role, and her performance is consistently referred to as the greatest portrayal of Catwoman of all time by critics and fans alike, and is also one of the best regarded performances of her career.
In Martin Scorsese's period drama The Age of Innocence (1993), a film adaptation of Edith Wharton's 1920 novel of the same name: The Age of Innocence, Pfeiffer starred with Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder, portraying a Countess in upper-class New York City in the 1870s. For her role, she received the Elvira Notari Prize at the Venice Film Festival, and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress – Motion Picture. Also in 1993, she was awarded the Women in Film Los Angeles' Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.
Following the formation of her producing company in 1990, Pfeiffer saw a growing professional expansion as a producer. While she continued to act steadily throughout the decade, she and her producing partner Guinzburg experienced a winning streak of producing back to back films next under their Via Rosa Productions header.
In 2003, Pfeiffer took a four-year hiatus from acting, during which she remained largely out of the public eye to devote time to her husband and children.
Pfeiffer returned to cinemas in 2007 with villainous roles in two summer blockbusters, Hairspray and Stardust. In the former, a film adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name, she starred as Velma Von Tussle, the racist manager of a television station.
Released to widely positive reviews, Hairspray grossed $202.5 million worldwide. Pfeiffer's performance was also critically acclaimed.
In the film Chéri (2009), an adaptation of Colette's novel of same name, Pfeiffer reunited her with the director (Stephen Frears) and screenwriter (Christopher Hampton) of Dangerous Liaisons (1988). Pfeiffer played the role of aging retired courtesan Léa de Lonval, with Rupert Friend in the title role. Chéri premiered at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival, where it received a nomination for the Golden Bear award.
In 2012, Pfieffer reunited with Tim Burton, her Batman Returns director, in Dark Shadows (2012), based on the gothic television soap opera of the same name. While Dark Shadows grossed a modest US$79.7 million in North America, it ultimately made US$245.5 million globally.
Pfeiffer has stated that her lack of acting throughout the 2000s was due to her children, and now with both her children away at college, she intends to "work a lot". She has commented that she feels that her best performance is "still in her", and that she thinks that's what keeps her going. The slew of films that would follow in 2017 would prompt the media to dub her career resurgence a "Pfeiffer-sance".
Pfeiffer landed the role of Ruth Madoff for the HBO Films drama The Wizard of Lies, based on the book of the same name. The film, directed by Barry Levinson, reunites her with actor Robert De Niro, who played her husband, disgraced financier Bernard Madoff. The Wizard of Lies premiered on HBO on May 20, 2017, garnering favorable reviews from critics and an audience of 1.5 million viewers, HBO's largest premiere viewership for a film in four years. Pfeiffer earned her first Emmy nomination for her performance in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie.
Pfeiffer had a supporting role in Kenneth Branagh's Murder on the Orient Express (2017), the fourth adaptation of Agatha Christie's 1934 novel of the same name. The mystery–drama ensemble film follows world-renowned detective Hercule Poirot, who seeks to solve a murder on the famous European train in the 1930s. The film grossed US$351.7 million worldwide and received decent reviews from critics, with praise for the performances, but criticism for not adding anything new to previous adaptations. Although most critics agreed that the ensemble cast was underused, Pfeiffer's performance earned positive reviews.
On January 21, 2021, it was announced that Pfeiffer had been cast as Betty Ford in the upcoming Showtime television series, The First Lady. The series will premiere in 2022.
As one of the most famous sex symbols of the 1980s and 1990s, her beauty and fashion choices attracted significant media attention throughout both decades.
In 1990, Pfeiffer appeared on the inaugural cover of People magazine's annual 50 Most Beautiful People in the World issue. She was again pictured on the cover in 1999 – the first celebrity to appear on the cover of the issue twice, and the only celebrity to grace the cover twice during the 1990s – having been featured in the "Most Beautiful" issue a record-breaking six times during the decade (1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996 and 1999).
In 2020, Vogue Paris listed Pfeiffer among the 21 most beautiful American actresses of all time/ Ranking her among history's most beautiful actresses
While taking acting classes in Los Angeles, Pfeiffer was taken in by a seemingly friendly couple who ran a metaphysics and vegetarian cult. They helped her to cease drinking, smoking, and doing drugs, and over time the couple took control of her entire life. Much of her money went to the group. "I was brainwashed ... I gave them an enormous amount of money."
At an acting class taught by Milton Katselas in Los Angeles, she met fellow budding actor Peter Horton, and they began dating. Pfeiffer and Horton married in Santa Monica in 1981, and it was on their honeymoon that she discovered she had won the lead role in Grease 2.
In 1988, Pfeiffer had an affair with John Malkovich, her co-star in Dangerous Liaisons, who at the time was married to Glenne Headly.
Pfeiffer and Horton decided to separate in 1988, and were divorced two years later; Horton later blamed the split on their devotion to their work rather than on their marriage. After her marriage to Horton, Pfeiffer had a three-year relationship with actor/producer Fisher Stevens. They met when Pfeiffer was starring in the New York Shakespeare Festival production of Twelfth Night, in which Stevens played the role of Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
In 1993, Pfeiffer married television writer and producer David E. Kelley. She played the title character in To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, for which Kelley wrote the screenplay. Pfeiffer had entered into private adoption proceedings before she met Kelley. In March 1993, she adopted a newborn daughter, Claudia Rose, who was christened on Pfeiffer and Kelley's wedding day. In 1994, Pfeiffer gave birth to a son, John Henry Kelley II, named for his grandfather – Pfeiffer's father-in-law John Henry "Jack" Kelley.
Having been a smoker for ten years, and having a niece who suffered from leukemia for ten years, Pfeiffer decided to support the American Cancer Society. Her charity work includes as well her support for the Humane Society. In 2016, she also attended the Healthy Child Healthy World's L.A. Gala for people who lead the organizations for children's environmental health and protect those most vulnerable. In December that same year, Pfeiffer, who is a vegan, joined the board of directors for Environmental Working Group, an advocacy group based in Washington. D.C.
Melania Trump (born Melanija Knavs, Germanized as Melania Knauss, April 26, 1970) is a Slovene-American former model and businesswoman. She was the first lady of the United States from 2017 to 2021, during the presidency of her husband, Donald Trump.
Melanija Knavs was born in Novo Mesto, Slovenia, then part of Yugoslavia, on April 26, 1970. Her father, Viktor Knavs (born March 24, 1944) managed car and motorcycle dealerships for a state-owned vehicle manufacturer. Her mother Amalija (née Ulčnik) (born July 9, 1945) worked as a patternmaker at the children's clothing manufacturer Jutranjka in Sevnica.
She has an older sister, Ines, who is an artist and an older half-brother from her father's previous relationship.
Knavs grew up in a modest apartment in a housing block in Sevnica. She attended the Secondary School of Design and Photography in the city and studied architecture and design at the University of Ljubljana for one year before she dropped out.
Knavs began modeling at five years old. As a child, she and other children of workers at the factory participated in fashion shows that featured children's clothing. She started doing commercial work at sixteen when she posed for the Slovenian fashion photographer Stane Jerko. When she began working as a model, she adapted the Slovene version of her last name "Knavs" to the German version "Knauss".
At eighteen, Knauss signed with a modeling agency in Milan, Italy. In 1992, she was named runner-up in the Jana Magazine "Look of the Year" contest, held in Ljubljana, which promised its top three contestants an international modeling contract. After attending the University of Ljubljana for one year, Knauss modeled for fashion houses in Paris and Milan, where in 1995 she met Metropolitan Models co-owner Paolo Zampolli, a friend of her future husband Donald Trump, who was on a scouting trip in Europe. Zampolli urged her to travel to the U.S., where he said he would like to represent her.
In 1996, Knauss moved to Manhattan.
Knauss was featured in a sexually explicit photo shoot for the January 1996 issue of Max, a now-defunct French men's magazine, with another female model.
In September 1998, Knauss met then-real estate mogul Donald Trump at a party, and the couple began dating while the latter was in the process of divorcing his second wife, Marla Maples.
The divorce was finalized in 1999. Knauss continued her modeling career with her American magazine cover shoots, including In Style Weddings, New York magazine, Avenue, Philadelphia Style, and Vanity Fair Spain.
She also posed nude for the January 2000 UK edition of GQ magazine, appearing on the cover naked except for diamond jewelry, reclining on fur, aboard Trump's custom-fitted Boeing 727.
They appeared together while Trump campaigned for the 2000 Reform Party presidential nomination. When asked by The New York Times what her role would be were he to become president, she replied: "I would be very traditional, like Betty Ford or Jackie Kennedy".
The two became engaged in 2004.
On January 22, 2005, they married in an Anglican service at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Florida, followed by a reception in the ballroom at her husband's Mar-a-Lago estate. The marriage was her first and his third.
The event was attended by celebrities such as Heidi Klum, Simon Cowell, Senator Hillary Clinton, and former President Bill Clinton. The bride wore a US$200,000 dress made by John Galliano of the house of Christian Dior, and the ceremony and reception were widely covered by the media, including a Vogue cover which featured her in her wedding gown.
On March 20, 2006, Melania Trump gave birth to their son, Barron William Trump. She chose his middle name, while her husband chose his first name.
In 2010, Melania launched her own line of jewelry, Melania Timepieces and Jewelry, for sale on QVC. She also marketed a Melania Marks Skin Care Collection at high-end department stores.
According to a financial filing in 2016, her businesses brought in between US$15,000 and US$50,000 in royalties that year.
That same year, in an interview with CNN, Melania said her focus as first lady would be to help women and children.
She assumed the role of first lady of the United States on January 20, 2017, the second First Lady (After Louisa Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams) to have been born outside the country, the first one to be a naturalized citizen, and the first whose native language is not English.
She was also the second Catholic first lady of the United States since Jacqueline Kennedy. When she visited the Vatican, with her husband in 2017, Pope Francis blessed her rosary beads, and she placed flowers at the feet of a statue of Mary at the Vatican's children's hospital.
Of Trump's inauguration, Vogue compared Melania's wardrobe to that of Jacqueline Kennedy and Nancy Reagan, writing that Trump closely works with her stylist, designer Hervé Pierre, preferring "strongly tailored pieces" in bold colors and wearing almost exclusively high-end designers.
After the inauguration she continued to live in Manhattan at the Trump Tower with their son, Barron, until the end of his 2016–2017 school year.
On March 8, 2017, she hosted her first White House event, a luncheon for International Women's Day. She spoke to an audience of women about her life as a female immigrant, and about working towards gender equality both domestically and abroad, noting the role of education as a tool against gender inequality.
Melania Trump and Barron moved into the White House in Washington, D.C. on June 11, 2017. Her Secret Service code name is "Muse" (beginning with the same letter as Trump's code name, "Mogul", per Secret Service tradition).
In January 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported that during a three-month period when she lived in New York in 2017, she took Air Force jet flights between New York City, Florida, and Washington at a cost of more than US$675,000 to taxpayers. In comparison, former first lady Michelle Obama's solo travel cost an average of about US$350,000 per year.
On March 13, 2018, Melania scheduled a March 20, 2018 meeting with policy executives from technology companies, including Amazon, Facebook, Google, Snap, and Twitter, to address online harassment and Internet safety, with a particular focus on how those issues affect children.
Melania took an active role in planning the Trump administration's first state dinner on April 23, 2018, to honor French president Emmanuel Macron.
In October 2018, Melania took a four-nation, solo tour of Africa, without her husband, focusing on conservation and children and families, visiting Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, and Egypt.
In December 2018, CNN reported that Melania's strongest base of support came from older, white, male Republicans and conservatives, while she had the least approval from women who were young or college-educated.
In March 2019, YouGov reported that Melania, with 51% approval, was polling more popularly among the American public than other members of her family: her husband Donald, step children Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka, and her stepson-in-law Jared Kushner.
In Gallup's annual poll of the most admired women, Trump ranked in the top ten each of her years as first lady, but never topped the list. She joins Bess Truman and Lady Bird Johnson as the only American first ladies who have never been named the most admired woman in this survey since Gallup began conducting the annual survey in the 1940s.
Melania finished her tenure in 2021 as the least popular first lady ever polled, according to polling by CNN, SRSS, and Gallup. She was the only first lady who finished with a net disapproval rating.
Dame Emma Hamilton (born Amy Lyon; 26 April 1765 – 15 January 1815), generally known as Lady Hamilton, was an English maid, model, dancer and actress. She began her career in London's demi-monde, becoming the mistress of a series of wealthy men, culminating in the naval hero Lord Nelson, and was the favourite model of the portrait artist George Romney.
In 1791, at the age of 26, she married Sir William Hamilton, British ambassador to the Kingdom of Naples, where she was a success at court, befriending the queen, the sister of Marie Antoinette, and most famously, having an affair with British war hero, Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson.
Emma was born Amy Lyon in Swan Cottage, Ness near Neston, Cheshire, England, the daughter of Henry Lyon, a blacksmith who died when she was two months old. She was baptised on 12 May 1765. She was raised by her mother, the former Mary Kidd (later Cadogan), and grandmother, Sarah Kidd, at Hawarden, and received no formal education. She later went by the name of Emma Hart.
With her grandmother Sarah struggling to make ends meet at the age of 60, and after her mother Mary went to London in 1777, Emma began work, aged 12, as a maid at the Hawarden, home of Doctor Honoratus Leigh Thomas, a surgeon working in Chester.
Only a few months later she was unemployed again and moved to London in the autumn of 1777. She started to work for the Budd family in Chatham Place, Blackfriars, London, and began acting at the Drury Lane theatre in Covent Garden. She also worked as a maid for actresses, among them Mary Robinson. Emma next worked as a model and dancer at the "Goddess of Health" for James Graham, a Scottish "quack" doctor.
At fifteen, Emma met Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh, who hired her for several months as hostess and entertainer at a lengthy stag party at Fetherstonhaugh's Uppark country estate in the South Downs. She is said to have danced nude on his dining room table. Fetherstonhaugh took Emma there as a mistress, but frequently ignored her in favour of drinking and hunting with his friends. Emma soon befriended the dull but sincere Honourable Charles Francis Greville (1749–1809). It was about this time (late June-early July 1781) that she conceived a child by Fetherstonhaugh.
Greville took her in as his mistress, on condition that the child was fostered out. As a young woman, Emma's daughter saw her mother frequently, but later when Emma fell into debt, her daughter worked abroad as a companion or governess.
Greville kept Emma in a small house at Edgware Row, Paddington Green, at this time a village on the rural outskirts of London. At Greville's request, she changed her name to "Mrs Emma Hart", dressed in modest outfits in subdued colours and eschewed a social life. He arranged for Emma's mother Mary to live with her as housekeeper and chaperone. Greville also taught Emma to enunciate more elegantly, and after a while, started to invite some of his friends to meet her.
Seeing an opportunity to make some money by taking a cut of sales, Greville sent her to sit for his friend, the painter George Romney, who was looking for a new model and muse. It was then that Emma became the subject of many of Romney's most famous portraits, and soon became London's biggest celebrity. So began Romney's lifelong obsession with her, sketching her nude and clothed in many poses that he later used to create paintings in her absence. Through the popularity of Romney's work and particularly of his striking-looking young model, Emma became well known in society circles, under the name of "Emma Hart". She was witty, intelligent, a quick learner, elegant and, as paintings of her attest, extremely beautiful. Romney was fascinated by her looks and ability to adapt to the ideals of the age. Romney and other artists painted her in many guises, foreshadowing her later "attitudes".
In 1783, Greville needed to find a rich wife to replenish his finances, and found a fit in the form of eighteen-year-old heiress Henrietta Middleton. Emma would be a problem, as he disliked being known as her lover, and his prospective wife would not accept him as a suitor if he lived openly with Emma Hart.
To be rid of Emma, Greville persuaded his uncle, younger brother of his mother, Sir William Hamilton, British Envoy to Naples, to take her off his hands.
Sir William had long been happily married until the death of his wife in 1782, and he liked female companionship. Then 55 and newly widowed, he had arrived back in London for the first time in over five years.
To promote his plan, Greville suggested to Sir William that Emma would make a very pleasing mistress, assuring him that, once married to Henrietta Middleton, he would come and fetch Emma back. Greville's marriage would be useful to Sir William, as it relieved him of having Greville as a poor relation. Emma's famous beauty was by then well known to Sir William, so much so that he even agreed to pay the expenses for her journey to ensure her speedy arrival. A great collector of antiquities and beautiful objects, he took interest in her as another acquisition. His home in Naples was well known all over the world for hospitality and refinement. He needed a hostess for his salon, and from what he knew about Emma, he thought she would be the perfect choice.
Greville did not inform Emma of his plan, but instead in 1785 suggested the trip as a prolonged holiday in Naples, not long after Emma's mother had suffered a stroke. Emma was thus sent to Naples, supposedly for six to eight months, little realising that she was going as the mistress of her host Sir William. Emma set off for Naples with her mother and on 13 March 1786 overland in an old coach, and arrived in Naples on her 21st birthday on 26 April.
After about six months of living alone in apartments in the Palazzo Sessa with her mother and begging Greville to come and fetch her, Emma came to understand that he had cast her off. She was furious when she realised what Greville had planned for her, but eventually started to enjoy life in Naples and responded to Sir William's intense courtship just before Christmas in 1786. They fell in love, Sir William forgot about his plan to take her on as a temporary mistress, and Emma moved into his apartments, leaving her mother downstairs in the ground floor rooms. Emma was unable to attend Court yet, but Sir William took her to every other party, assembly and outing.
Emma and Sir William were married on 6 September 1791 at St Marylebone Parish Church, London, having returned to England for the purpose and Sir William having gained the King's consent. Emma was twenty-six and Sir William was sixty. Although she was obliged to use her legal name of Amy Lyon on the marriage register, the wedding gave her the title Lady Hamilton which she would use for the rest of her life.
Hamilton's public career was now at its height and during their visit to England he was inducted into the Privy Council. Shortly after the ceremony, George Romney painted his last portrait of Emma from life, The Ambassadress, after which he plunged into a deep depression and drew a series of frenzied sketches of Emma.
The newly married couple returned to Naples after two days. After the marriage, Greville transferred the cost of Emma Carew(Lady Hamilton's daughter)'s upkeep to Sir William, and suggested that he might move her to an establishment befitting the stepdaughter of an envoy. However, Sir William preferred to forget about her for a while.
Lady Hamilton became a close friend of Queen Maria Carolina, wife of Ferdinand I of Naples and sister of French Queen Marie Antoinette, and soon acquired fluency in both French and Italian. She was also a talented amateur singer. She sang one of the solo parts of Joseph Haydn's Nelson Mass and entertained guests at her home. At one point, the Royal Opera in Madrid tried to engage her for a season, in competition with their star, Angelica Catalani, but that offer was turned down.
Sharing Sir William Hamilton's enthusiasm for classical antiquities and art, she developed what she called her "Attitudes"—tableaux vivants in which she portrayed sculptures and paintings before British visitors. Emma developed the attitudes, also known as mimoplastic art, by using Romney's idea of combining classical poses with modern allure as the basis for her act. Emma had her dressmaker make dresses modelled on those worn by peasant islanders in the Bay of Naples, and the loose-fitting garments she often wore when modelling for Romney. She would pair these tunics with a few large shawls or veils, draping herself in folds of cloth and posing in such a way as to evoke popular images from Greco-Roman mythology. This cross between postures, dance and acting was first revealed to guests in the spring of 1787 by Sir William at his home in Naples. It formed a sort of charade, with the audience guessing the names of the classical characters and scenes Emma portrayed.
With the aid of her shawls, Emma posed as various classical figures from Medea to Queen Cleopatra, and her performances charmed aristocrats, artists such as Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun, writers—including the great Johann Wolfgang von Goethe—and kings and queens alike, setting off new dance trends across Europe and starting a fashion for a draped Grecian style of dress.
"Attitudes" were taken up by several other (female) artists, among them Ida Brun from Denmark, who became Emma's successor in the new art form. The famed sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen admired her art.
As wife of the British Envoy, Emma welcomed Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount(who had been married to Fanny Nisbet for about 6 years at that point) after his arrival in Naples on 10 September 1793, when he came to gather reinforcements against the French. She is described in 1797 in the diary of 18-year-old Elizabeth Wynne as "a charming woman, beautiful and exceedingly good humoured and amiable." When he set sail for Sardinia on 15 September after only 5 days in Naples, it was clear that he had already fallen a little in love.
After four years of marriage, Emma had despaired of having children with Sir William, although she wrote of him as "the best husband and friend". It seems likely that he was sterile. She once again tried to persuade him to allow her daughter to come and live with them in the Palazzo Sessa as her mother Mrs Cadogan's niece, but he refused this as well as her request to make enquiries in England about suitors for the young Emma.
Horatio Nelson returned to Naples five years later, on 22 September 1798, now a living legend, after his victory at the Battle of the Nile in Aboukir. By this time, Nelson's adventures had prematurely aged him; he had lost an arm and most of his teeth, and was afflicted by coughing spells. Before his arrival, Emma had written a letter passionately expressing her admiration for him. Nelson even wrote effusively of Emma to his increasingly estranged wife. Emma and Sir William escorted Nelson to their home, the Palazzo Sessa.
Emma nursed Nelson under her husband's roof and arranged a party with 1,800 guests to celebrate his 40th birthday on 29 September. After the party, Emma became Nelson's secretary, translator and political facilitator. They soon fell in love and began an affair. Hamilton showed admiration and respect for Nelson, and vice versa; the affair was tolerated. By November, gossip from Naples about their affair reached the English newspapers. Emma Hamilton and Horatio Nelson were famous.
Emma had by then become not only a close personal friend of Queen Maria Carolina, but had developed into an important political influence. She advised the Queen on how to react to the threats from the French Revolution. Maria Carolina's sister Marie Antoinette had fallen a victim to the Revolution.
In 1799, Naples was the scene of a strange revolution led by members of the aristocracy; the common people did not agree with the revolution. The French troops were not welcome, but the royal family fled to Sicily. From here Nelson tried to help the royal family put down the revolutionaries. He had no support from the British government. Emma played an important role in helping to put an end to the revolution when she arrived off Naples with Nelson's fleet on 24 June 1799. She acted as a go-between, conveying messages from the queen to Nelson and from Nelson to the queen.
Nelson's recall to Britain shortly afterwards coincided with the government finally granting Hamilton's request for relief from his post in Naples. Emma must have become pregnant around April 1800. Nelson, Emma, her mother and Sir William travelled together—taking the longest possible route back to Britain via Central Europe (hearing the Missa in Angustiis by Joseph Haydn, now known as the "Nelson Mass", in Vienna in 1800), and eventually arriving in Yarmouth to a hero's welcome on 6 November 1800.
Upon arrival in London on 8 November, the three of them took suites at Nerot's Hotel. Lady Nelson and Nelson's father arrived and they all dined at the hotel, with Fanny Nelson deeply unhappy to see Emma pregnant. The affair soon became public knowledge, and to the delight of the newspapers, Fanny did not accept the affair as placidly as Sir William. Nelson contributed to Fanny's misery by being cruel to her when not in Emma's company. Emma was winning the media war at that point, and every fine lady was experimenting with her look. Sir William was mercilessly lampooned in the press, but his sister observed that he doted on Emma and she was very attached to him.
The Hamiltons moved into William Beckford's mansion at 22 Grosvenor Square, and Nelson and Fanny took an expensive furnished house at 17 Dover Street, a comfortable walking distance away, until December, when Sir William rented a home at 23 Piccadilly, opposite Green Park. On 1 January, Nelson's promotion to vice admiral was confirmed and he prepared to go to sea on the same night. Infuriated by Fanny's ultimatum to choose between her and his mistress, Nelson chose Emma and decided to take steps to formalise separation from his wife. He never saw her again, after being hustled out of town by an agent. While he was at sea, Nelson and Emma exchanged many letters, using a secret code to discuss Emma's condition. Emma kept her first daughter Emma Carew's existence a secret from Nelson, while Sir William continued to provide for her.
Emma gave birth to Nelson's daughter Horatia, on 29 January 1801 at 23 Piccadilly, who was taken soon afterwards to a Mrs Gibson for care and hire of a wet nurse. On 1 February, Emma made a spectacular appearance at a concert at the house of the Duke of Norfolk in St James' Square, and Emma worked hard to keep the press onside.
Soon after this, the Prince of Wales (later King George IV) became infatuated with Emma, leading Nelson to be consumed by jealousy, and inspiring a remarkable letter by Sir William to Nelson, assuring him that she was being faithful. In late February, Nelson returned to London and met his daughter at Mrs Gibson's. Nelson's family were aware of the pregnancy, and his clergyman brother Rev. William Nelson wrote to Emma praising her virtue and goodness. Nelson and Emma continued to write letters to each other when he was away at sea, and she kept every one.
By the autumn of the same year, upon Emma's advice, Nelson bought Merton Place, a small ramshackle house at Merton, near Wimbledon, for £9,000, borrowing money from his friend Davison. He gave her free rein with spending to improve the property, and her vision was to transform the house into a celebration of his genius. There they lived together openly, with Sir William and Emma's mother, in a ménage à trois that fascinated the public. Emma turned herself to winning over Nelson's family, nursing his 80-year-old father Edmund for 10 days at Merton, who loved her and thought of moving in with them, but could not bear to leave his beloved Norfolk. Emma also made herself useful to Nelson's sisters Kitty (Catherine), and Susanna by helping to raise their children and to make ends meet. Also around this time, Emma finally told Nelson about her daughter Emma Carew, now known as Emma Hartley, and he invited her to stay at Merton and soon grew fond of "Emma's relative" and assumed responsibility for upkeep of young Emma at this time.
After the Treaty of Amiens on 25 March 1802, Nelson was released from active service, but wanted to keep his new-found position in society by maintaining an aura of wealth, and Emma worked hard to live up to this dream.
The newspapers reported on their every move, looking to Emma to set fashions in dress, home decoration and even dinner party menus. By the autumn of 1803, Sir William's health was declining, at the same time that the peace with France was disintegrating.
Soon afterwards, Sir William collapsed at 23 Piccadilly and on 6 April died in Emma's arms. Charles Greville was the executor of the estate and he instructed her to leave 23 Piccadilly, but for the sake of respectability, she had to keep an address separate from Nelson's and so moved into 11 Clarges Street, not far away, a couple of months later.
Nelson had been offered the position of Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet, and they rushed to have Horatia christened at Marylebone Parish Church before he left, by now Emma was pregnant with their second child, although neither knew it at this time.
She was desperately lonely, preoccupied with attempting to turn Merton Place into the grand home Nelson desired, suffering from several ailments and frantic for his return. The second child, a girl, died about 6 weeks after her birth in early 1804, and Horatia also fell ill at her home with Mrs Gibson on Titchfield Street. Emma kept the infant's death a secret from the press, kept her deep grief from Nelson's family and found it increasingly difficult to cope alone. She reportedly distracted herself by gambling, and succumbed to binges of heavy drinking and eating and spending lavishly.
Emma received several marriage proposals during 1804, all wealthy men, but she was still in love with Nelson and believed that he would become wealthy with prize money and leave her rich in his will, and she refused them all. She continued to entertain and help Nelson's relatives. Nelson urged her to keep Horatia at Merton, and when his return seemed imminent in 1804, Emma ran up bills on furnishing and decorating Merton. Five-year-old Horatia came to live at Merton in May 1805.
After a brief visit to England in August 1805, Nelson once again had to return to service. On the ship, he wrote a note intended as a codicil to his will requesting that, in return for his legacy to King and Country that they should give Emma "ample provision to maintain her rank in life", and that his "adopted daughter, Horatia Nelson Thompson...use in future the name of Nelson only".
On 21 October 1805, Nelson's fleet defeated a joint Franco-Spanish naval force at the Battle of Trafalgar. Nelson was seriously wounded during the battle and died three hours later. When the news of his death arrived in London, a messenger was sent to Merton Place to bring the news to Lady Hamilton. She later recalled,
Emma lay in bed prostrate with grief for many weeks, often receiving visitors in tears. It was some weeks before she heard that Nelson's last words were of her and that he had begged the nation to take care of her and Horatia. Emma relied on Nelson's sisters (Kitty Matcham and Susanna Bolton) for moral support and company. Like her, the Boltons and Matchams had spent lavishly in expectation of Nelson's victorious return, and Emma gave them and other of his friends and relations money.
Nelson's will was read in November 1805; Nelson's brother William inherited his entire estate except for Merton, as well as his bank accounts and possessions. The government had made William an Earl and his son Horatio (aka Horace) a Viscount - the titles Nelson had aspired to - and now he was also Duke of Bronte. Emma received £2000, Merton, and £500 per annum from the Bronte estate - much less than she had when Nelson was alive, and not enough to maintain Merton. In spite of Nelson's status as a national hero, the instructions he left to the government to provide for Emma and Horatia were ignored; they also ignored his wishes that she should sing at his funeral.
The funeral was lavish, costing the state £14,000, but Emma was excluded. Only the men of the Bolton and Matcham family were invited, and Emma spent the day with her family and the women. She gave both families dinner and breakfast and accommodated the Boltons.
After the funeral, the begging letters began. William would not help, so everybody turned to Emma. Lord Grenville sent the codicil to Nelson's will to his solicitor with a note saying that nothing could be done; instead, the Boltons and Matchams received £10,000 each (but still left their adolescent daughters with Emma to educate), while William was awarded £100,000 to buy an estate called Trafalgar, as well as £5000 for life.
Relations between William and Emma became strained and he refused to give her the £500 pension due to her.
She spent 1806 to 1808 keeping up the act, continuing to spend on parties and alterations to Merton to make it a monument to Nelson. Goods that Nelson had ordered arrived and had to be paid for. The annual annuity of £800 from Sir William's estate was not enough to pay off the debts and keep up the lifestyle, and Emma fell deeply into debt.
She moved from Clarges Street to a cheaper home at 136 Bond Street, but could not bring herself to relinquish Merton. Emma hosted and employed James Harrison for 6 months to write a two-volume Life of Nelson, which made it clear that Horatia was his child. She continued to entertain at Merton, including the Prince of Wales and the Dukes of Sussex and Clarence, but no favours were returned by the royals.
Within three years, Emma was more than £15,000 in debt. In June 1808, Merton failed to sell at auction and was eventually sold in April 1809. However, her lavish spending continued, and a combination of this and the steady depletion of funds due to people fleecing her meant that she remained in debt, although unbeknownst to most people. For most of 1811 and 1812 she was in a virtual debtors' prison.
In early 1813 she petitioned the Prince of Wales, the government and friends, but all of her requests failed and she was obliged to auction off many of her possessions, including many Nelson relics, at low prices. However she continued to borrow money to keep up appearances. Public opinion turned against her after the Letters of Lord Nelson to Lady Hamilton were published in April 1814.
Emma was anxious to leave the country, but owing to the risk of arrest if she travelled on a normal ferry, she and Horatia hid from her creditors for a week before boarding a private vessel bound for Calais on 1 July 1814, with £50 in her purse. Initially taking apartments at the expensive Dessein's Hotel, she initially kept up a social life and fine dining by relying on creditors. But soon she was deeply in debt and suffering from longstanding health problems, including stomach pains, nausea and diarrhoea.
Emma started drinking heavily and taking laudanum. She died on 15 January 1815, aged 49. Emma was buried in Calais on 21 January in public ground outside the town, with her friend Joshua Smith paying for the modest funeral at the Catholic church. Her grave was subsequently lost due to wartime destruction, but in 1994 a dedicated group unveiled the memorial which stands today in the Parc Richelieu in her honour.
Henry Cadogan cared for the 14-year-old Horatia in the aftermath of Emma's death. Horatia subsequently married the Rev. Philip Ward, had ten children (the first of whom was named Horatio Nelson) and lived until 1881. Horatia never publicly acknowledged that she was the daughter of Emma Hamilton.
Emma Hamilton is generally known by the courtesy title of "Lady Hamilton", to which she was entitled from 1791 as the wife and then widow of Sir William Hamilton. In 1800, she became "Dame Emma Hamilton", a title she held in her own right as a female member of the Order of Malta. This was an unusual honour, awarded to Lady Hamilton by the then Grand Master of the Order, Tsar Paul, in recognition of her role in the defence of the island of Malta against the French.
Subsequently, she used her new title in formal circumstances, and was also acknowledged as "Dame Emma Hamilton" in official British contexts; most notably, this was the title under which she was formally granted her own coat of arms by the English College of Arms in 1806, Per pale Or and Argent, three Lions rampant Gules, on a chief Sable, a Cross of eight points of the second. The lions evidently refer to her maiden surname of Lyons, while the addition of the Maltese Cross, which has puzzled heraldic scholars unaware of her connection to the Order, is recognisable as an honourable augmentation referring to her damehood.
In popular culture
Emma Hamilton was widely recognized in popular culture in different forms