When Eleanor Pendleton met Louis M. Ream in 1911, it was love at first sight. She was a Broadway actress known for her beauty and dancing ability in musical comedy productions during the early twentieth century. Louis was tall, dark, and handsome and, as she soon discovered, the youngest son and presumptive heir of Norman B. Ream, one of America’s wealthiest men. The problem for Eleanor, as she learned after eloping with Louis, was her father-in-law’s deep-seated aversion to the theatre; he regarded all actresses as disreputable. After an overnight trip to seek his father’s forgiveness and understanding, Louis disappeared.
A blend of history and melodrama, H. Thomas Howell’s Eleanor’s Pursuit offers the biographical legacy of Eleanor Pendleton. It looks beneath the sensational newspaper coverage of 1911 to explore the confrontation between father and son and Eleanor’s anxious vigil while awaiting the return of her husband. When Ream’s lawyer arrives at her apartment instead of Louis and informs her the marriage is over, Eleanor collapses in disbelief. The lawyers take center stage, displacing the lovers.
Chronicling one of the biggest celebrity newspaper stories of its day, Eleanor’s Pursuit follows the secret deal-making sessions, the stage-managed travesty of justice, and the ultimate courtroom battle. These events come to life as the witnesses and lawyers reveal the private details in their own words. Howell also tells how the public reacted to the story as it unfolded. With surprises at every turn, this biography explains the exceptional final stage of Eleanor’s pursuit.