Saturday, 23 March 2019

Sigourney Thayer (1896 – 1944) - American theatrical producer, World War I aviator, and poet.

Sigourney was born on 24th March 1896 in Southborough, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA.  His parents were The Reverend William Greenough Thayer (1863 – 1934) , headmaster of St. Mark's School from 1894–1930, and his wife, Violet Thayer, nee Otis. Sigourney’s siblings were:
Violet Otis Parker; William Greenough Thayer, Jr.; James Appleton Thayer; Robert Helyer Thayer, who became a lawyer, naval officer and diplomat, Margaret Suydam; and Major John Otis Thayer, O.B.E.

During the First World War, Sigourney enlisted in June 1916 and first served on the American-Mexican border.   He then served as a  Lieutenant and pilot in the 1st Operations Group.

In later life, Sigourney became an executive at Vultee Aircraft.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Sigourney became a theatrical producer. He produced "ast Night of Don Juan: The Pilgrimage" (1925), "Beau-Strings" (1926), "Damn the Tears" (1927), "Bridal Wise" (1932), and "Keeper of the Keys" (1933).

In December 1928, Sigourney married Emily O'Neill (née Davies) Vanderbilt (1903–1935) of Manhattan (who had divorced William Henry Vanderbilt III earlier that year. Emily was the daughter of Frederick Martin Davies, granddaughter of Daniel O'Neill, owner of the Pittsburgh Dispatch newspaper, and the great niece of Frederick Townsend Martin, a prominent writer of the 1920s.Their marriage lasted less than a year.

In April 1931, Sigourney married Mary "Molly" Van Rensselaer Cogswell (1902–1983), daughter of Cullen Van Rensselaer Cogswell of Manhattan, and great granddaughter of General John Cullen Van Rensselaer. The couple had a daughter. Mary worked as a columnist for the “New York Journal”, using the pen-name "Madame Flutterby".  She wrote the first biography of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, which was published by Doubleday in 1961.

Sigourney died on 2nd November 1944 in a car accident in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and is buried in Southborough Rural Cemetery, Southborough, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA – Grave reference: Section 1B, Lot T
Memorial ID: 18081510

Sigourney wrote regular poetry for the magazine “Atlantic Monthly”, and his poem, "The Dead" was published in numerous WW1 poetry anthologies.

“The Dead”

I feared the lonely dead, so old were they, --
Decrepit, tired beings, ghastly white,
With withered breasts and eyes devoid of sight,
Forever mute beneath the sodden clay;
I feared the lonely dead, and turned away
From thoughts of sombre death and endless night;
Thus, through the dismal hours I longed for light
To drive my utter hopelessness away.

But now my nights are filled with flowered dreams
Of singing warriors, beautiful and young;
Strong men and boys within whose eyes there gleams
The triumph song of worlds unknown, unsung;
Grim death has vanished, leaving in its stead
The shining glory of the living dead.

Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978)