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Why Was I Born

Libby Holman & Her Orchestra

 

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"Poor Libby"

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Recorded in New York City in 1929 featuring Libby Holman vocals, with unknown steel guitar,
and orchestral accompaniment.

Libby Holman was an actress and torch singer who gained notoriety for her complicit personal life in which she engaged in numerous intimate relationships with both men and women. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor of Arts degree on June 16th 1923 and later married Zachary Smith Reynolds the heir to the R. J. Reynolds's tobacco company fortune.

First setting eyes on Holman while she was touring with a production of the 1929 Broadway play "The Little Show" Reynolds pursued her in his plane around the world. At the persuasion of her former lover Louisa d'Andelot Carpenter the couple were married in Monroe, Michigan by the Justice of the Peace on November 29th 1931.

Libby took a one-year leave of absence from acting however their happiness would be short lived. Zachary's conservative family had increasing difficulty putting up Libby's group of flamboyant theater friends who often visited the family estate near Winston-Salem, North Carolina at her invitation.

During a birthday party at the estate for his friend and fellow pilot Charles Gideon Hill, Jr. Holman revealed to her husband that she was pregnant and an argument ensued. A shot was heard moments later and it was soon discovered that Reynolds was unconscious and bleeding from a gunshot wound to the head. Authorities initially treated as a suicide, but the coroner's inquiry led them to rule it a homicide.

Libby Holman and Albert Bailey "Ab" Walker, her supposed lover, were indicted for murder. Dressed as a man Louisa Carpenter paid Holman's $25,000 bail and the Reynolds family fearing scandal had the charges dropped. On January 10th 1933 she gave birth to the couple's child, Christopher Smith "Topper" Reynolds.

Six years later Holman married her second husband, actor Ralph Holmes twelve years her junior. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940 and following his return from service military in August 1945, the marriage quickly soured. He was found in his Manhattan apartment on November 15th 1945 dead from an apparent barbiturate overdose at age twenty-nine.

On June 18, 1971 Libby Holman was found near death from carbon monoxide poisoning in her garage seated in her Rolls Royce by members of her staff. She was taken to the hospital where she died hours later. The incident was officially ruled a suicide.



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