How America’s Richest Woman Self-Destructed And Died With Her Life In Ruins

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Image: Paul Popper/Popperfoto/Getty Images

It’s May 1979, and ex-socialite Barbara Hutton is living a reclusive life in at the Beverley Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles. Born into great riches, her life has been a rollercoaster of drugs, marriages and reckless spending. Now, she is almost bankrupt, forgotten by a world that once tracked her every move.

Image: YouTube/Maxine Yates

The story began in 1878, when Barbara’s entrepreneur grandfather Frank Winfield Woolworth opened his first “Five-and-Dime” store in Pennsylvania. With his affordable products and innovative approach to shopping, he soon had a hit on his hands. And by 1911 there were almost 600 Woolworth retailers around the country.

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Image: YouTube/Maxine Yates

With Frank’s success came great fortune, and before long he had become one of America’s most wealthy men. However, his work commitments forced him to spend long periods of time away from his wife Jennie and their three young daughters, Helena, Jessie and Edna.

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