Inventing Elsa Maxwell: How an Irrepressible Nobody Conquered High Society, Hollywood, the Press, and the World

Elsa Maxwell's life was one of great self-invention. Built like a bulldog, with a face to match, she rose from simple beginnings as an only child in San Francisco to take New York City society - at its most mid-century cosmopolitan - by storm. In London, Paris, Venice, and Monte Carlo, royalty, both genuine and aspiring, clamored for invitations to Elsa's legendary parties. At those glamorous happenings the titled, the talented, the monied, and those on the make all mixed together in let-'er-rip gaiety. Her guests expected the unexpected: black ties and paper plates, murder parties, treasure hunts, elephants, elaborate costumes. She fell in love with Maria Callas, and nursed a broken heart when the diva spurned her. Elsa's feud with the Duchess of Windsor made headlines for three years in the 1950s. An early and frequent guest on that new innovation, the TV talk show, Maxwell was also a bestselling author. The first biography ever of Elsa Maxwell is an enthusiast's witty story of a life lived out loud.