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Bessie Chapman


This Boston beauty's romantic life proved decidedly more dramatic than her conventional roles as an ingenue in David Belasco's touring companies and her stint with Richard Mansfield's troupe. She proved irresistible to millionaires. Born Bessie Faulkner, she began her professional career at age seventeen, and married T. Irwin Chapman, a young Boston plutocrat. Shunned by Chapman's friends because of her stage career, she sought divorce after the death of their young son and Chapman's departure for a multi-year business venture in Japan. The young divorcee was soon seen on the arm of Jimmy Rothschild, scion of the banking clan. A rumored marriage never came to pass. Little matter, for she had captivated the imagination of Roy E. Pierce, the emotionally unstable heir of oil baron, Henry Clay Pierce. Declaring his son insane, Henry Clay Pierce had the marriage annulled in the courts, but not before Bessie Chapman-Pierce had secured $200,000 for her acquiescence. David S. Shields/ALS