Elizabeth McGovern Returns to Host Season Two of "Million Dollar American Princesses"

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28 December 2015
Million Dollar American Princesses
Photo: Courtesy of Smithsonian Channel
"Million Dollar American Princesses"
Premieres Sunday, January 3 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel
Grace Kelly, Rita Hayworth, Gloria Swanson,
Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy Among Those Profiled
          Oscar®, Golden Globe® and Emmy® nominee Elizabeth McGovern returns to host the second season of Smithsonian Channel’s Million Dollar American Princesses, the acclaimed series whose first season chronicled the fascinating in-depth stories of real-life American heiresses who inspired the TV drama Downton Abbey. Premiering on Sunday, January 3 at 8 p.m. ET/PT, the new season picks up the story in a tumultuous era in which women’s lives and expectations are completely transformed.
          From the Belle Époque in Paris at the turn of the century to Nancy Astor’s mansion, Cliveden, to the sun-soaked coast of Monaco in the 1950s and ‘60s, viewers will see the heroines of Million Dollar American Princesses step out of their mansions and stately homes to play an increasingly vital part in the cultural and political life of Europe, blazing a trail for future generations.  The new season focuses on the lives of women who are not just heiresses but also have the drive, talent and originality to make lasting contributions to art, culture and style. It explores the compromises and ultimate choices these legendary women must make between career, family and their newfound nobility.
          Through vivid re-enactments, dramatic on-location filming, historical documents, interviews with notable family members, contributors and experts, Million Dollar American Princesses brings to life the stories of these extraordinary women, including the romance, the heartbreak, the secrets, the scandals, and their enduring legacy.
Premieres Sunday, January 3rd at 8 p.m. ET/PT
         In the season premiere, Elizabeth McGovern profiles Hollywood princesses who became real aristocrats by marrying into nobility. At the height of her career, Hollywood star Gloria Swanson married European aristocrat Henri, Marquis de la Falaise de la Coudraye. On her wedding day, Gloria hid a terrible secret from Henri and she later had an affair with a famous American businessman that will destroy her marriage. Brooklyn-born Rita Hayworth was the first Hollywood star to become a true royal, marrying Prince Aly Khan, son of the Aga Khan. Six years later, she left the prince to return to her career. Then, of course, there was Grace Kelly, who turned her back on Hollywood when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco and embraced her new role as princess. She was adored by the people of Monaco, to which she brought a newfound glamour, but her tragic early death in a car crash sent shockwaves around the world. 
Premieres Sunday, January 10th at 8 p.m. ET/PT
         This episode looks at three women who blazed a trail through the arts world, inspiring and supporting some of the most innovative creative artists of the 20th Century. Winnaretta Singer, child of sewing machine magnate Isaac Singer, found a great platonic love with Edmond, Prince de Polignac, who, like her, was gay. The princess became a key figure in the salons of Paris and became one of the 20th century’s most significant patrons of contemporary music. Sara Murphy was presented as a debutante at the Royal court in London and married Gerald Murphy, heir to the Mark Cross leather goods business. At the height of the Jazz Age, the Murphys headed for Paris and the French Riviera, where Sara became a muse to Pablo Picasso and an obsession of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald would base the characters of Dick and Nicole Diver in his novel Tender is the Night on the Murphys. Peggy Guggenheim became one of the most important patrons and collectors of modern art the world had ever seen. Mentored by Marcel Duchamp, she collected works by unknown artists who would later become famous. On the eve of WWII, she purchased all the modern art in Paris she could find to save them from the invading Nazis.
Premieres Sunday, January 17th at 8 p.m. ET/PT
          This episode tells the bittersweet stories of three very different women who looked for love but found tragedy. Chicago-born heiress Clara Ward, expelled from two finishing schools, married at the age of sixteen the twice-her-age Prince de Caraman-Chimay of Belgium. She then scandalized her adopted home by dumping him for a Hungarian Gypsy violinist. The former princess later shocked society by distributing erotic photos of herself. Kathleen ‘Kick’ Kennedy, daughter of Joe Kennedy, U.S. Ambassador to Britain, was a princess in America’s own royal family. Against strong religious opposition from the staunchly Catholic Kennedys, Kick married William “Billy” Cavendish, the Marquess of Hartington, heir to the Dukedom of one of Britain’s grandest families: the Devonshires.  Billy is killed on the German front less than five months after they marry. Kick is killed in the most tragic of circumstances just four year later. Her story is brought to life through the family memories of Kick’s namesake, Kick Kennedy, daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Lastly, this episode recounts the extraordinary highs and lows of Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton, who became world famous as the “Poor Little Rich Girl”. Barbara married seven times – including an Eastern European prince and Hollywood legend Cary Grant -- but never found true happiness. 
Premieres Sunday, January 24th at 8 p.m. ET/PT
         In the season finale, Elizabeth McGovern follows the journeys of three extraordinary women who transformed their lives and blazed a trail for future generations. Nancy Astor’s place in history as the first woman to take her seat in the British Parliament is all the more extraordinary because she was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Following a disastrous first marriage she met the Anglo American Waldorf Astor, the son of one of the richest men in the world and settled in the Waldorfs’ magnificent English country estate, Cliveden. In 1919, Nancy campaigned successfully for her husband’s former parliamentary seat in Plymouth. She held her own in male-dominated Westminster, particularly in legendary clashes with Winston Churchill and even in a confrontation with the Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin. Nancy Astor’s niece, Nancy Lancaster, would also have a huge effect on Britain, but in the field of design. She created what is still known today as the “English Country House Look” and, in doing so, crafted a reputation as one of the great designers of the 20th century.  Pauline de Rothschild, born Pauline Potter to Americans living in Paris, became an international style icon and the wife of playboy Baron Philippe de Rothschild, owner of the world-famous Chateau Mouton Rothschild. Her first fashion house was a disaster, but she became a much sought after fashion stylist and one of the best paid women in New York.  


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