Thomas Franklyn Manville, Jr., universally known as Tommy Manville, was a Manhattan socialite and heir to the Johns-Manville asbestos fortune. He was a celebrity in the mid 20th Century, by virtue of his large financial inheritance, and his 13 marriages to 11 women. This feat won him an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records, and made him the subject of much gossip. His ninth wife Anita Manville wrote a biography, The Wives and Lives of Tommy Manville, which was seen as the inspiration of the camp musical, Lucky Wonderful: 13 Musicals About Tommy Manville by Jackie Curtis. He was probably the model for Gary Cooper’s character in the 1938 motion picture Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife. Manville is also mentioned in Irving Berlin’s song What Chance Have I With Love and in many other passing pop culture references and metaphors.
Manville was considered something of a clown but was also sneakily admired for his number of conquests and his extravagant bank account. At the time of his death it was estimated that Manville spent more than $1.25-million on marriage settlements. The termination of his marriages usually ended in widespread publicity and huge cash settlements.