Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on 9-11. Volunteer today

Brooke Astor’s Life, Her Son’s Trial: A Timeline

March 30, 1902 Roberta Brooke Russell is born in Portsmouth, N.H., to a Marine Corps general and a Southern belle.

1919 Brooke Russell marries the wealthy John Dryden Kuser. Although they live in luxury, the marriage is miserable. Brooke would later reveal her husband beat her numerous times.

1924 Brooke Kuser gives birth to Anthony, her only child. He is cared for, mainly, by nannies and staff.

1926 Brooke begins her writing career with a book review in Vogue magazine. She would later write four books and numerous poems and essays.

1930 The Kusers divorce. Brooke receives custody of Anthony, a $680,000 apartment and a trust fund of $90,000 a year that will go to Anthony if she remarries.

1932 Brooke marries Charles “Buddie” Marshall, a stockbroker and the love of her life. Anthony, 8, now receives the trust. Years later, when Buddie Marshall would suffer financial losses, Brooke went to Anthony for money. Anthony obliged his mother by giving her a monthly allowance and other gifts.

1934 At age 10, Anthony is sent to boarding school.

1942 Anthony changes his last name to Marshall. Dryden Kuser eventually would sue his son for his trust fund, using the excuse that he relinquished the family name.

1945 Anthony Marshall, a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps, leads his unit in an assault on Iwo Jima, where he is wounded.

1952 Buddie Marshall dies suddenly of a heart attack. Brooke Marshall’s inheritance of about half a million dollars and her salary as an editor at House and Garden magazine aren’t enough to support her lifestyle. A friend would later say that Brooke felt “poverty-stricken.”

1953 Brooke Marshall becomes the third wife of Vincent Astor, who inherited a $100 million real estate fortune when his father, John Jacob Astor IV, died aboard the Titanic in 1912.

1959 Vincent Astor dies, leaving approximately half his estate to his wife and the other half to a foundation that she is to run. Over the next 40 years, Brooke distributes $195 million from the Astor Foundation to various New York institutions, including libraries, museums and zoos.

1980 Anthony begins earning a salary for managing his mother’s money. Over the next 25 years, his investments lag behind the Standard & Poor’s index.

July 1989 Anthony Marshall is seated next to Charlene Gilbert at his mother’s luncheon for Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham. Charlene is the wife of the Episcopal priest in Northeast Harbor, Maine, where Brooke has a summer home. Both Anthony and Charlene would eventually leave their spouses—in Charlene’s case, her family—for each other.

January 1990 Charlene and the Rev. Paul Gilbert divorce. Brooke vows never to let Charlene into her home.

1992 After divorcing his second wife, Anthony marries Charlene. Brooke buys them an apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

1997 Brooke, age 95 and widely regarded as New York’s most beloved philanthropist, gives away the foundation’s last $25 million and closes it.

January 1998 Brooke Astor receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton.

Dec. 26, 2000 Anthony writes a letter to his mother’s doctors about her, saying that her mental state is fragile; she has difficulty writing, spelling and doing simple arithmetic; and she is incoherent and indecisive. Anthony would later tell his sons that their grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease.

November 2001 Anthony tells Chris Ely, Brooke’s head butler, that his mother has Alzheimer’s disease.

Jan. 30, 2002 Brooke approves a new draft of her will, a document she updated frequently, with Henry “Terry” Christensen III, her attorney since 1991. In it, Anthony would receive her Park Avenue apartment, her country estate and her property on the Maine coast, $5 million and a yearly sum of $4.2 million for life. Some $60 million would go to designated charities. If Anthony died before her, all his bequests would go to charity, not his wife.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits HomeServe

Members can protect their homes with comprehensive repair plans from HomeServe.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Woman holding smartphone in city, Google map tool

Members can find discounts on the go via the AARP® Member Advantages Offer Finder app.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points


Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.