Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Leona Helmsley: 'The Queen of Mean'

In Love with Leona

Almost as soon as they met, rumors began to circulate that Leona and Harry were having an affair. This posed a somewhat uncomfortable problem for Harry and Eve, his wife of more than three decades. The problems intensified as the rumors grew, eventually resulting in a separation between Harry and his spouse. They were last seen together in public in May 1971 during one of Harry's pinnacle moments, the opening of his luxurious Park Lane Hotel in Manhattan. Shortly afterward, the couple divorced and the once unsubstantiated rumors concerning Harry and Leona were finally confirmed. Harry had indeed fallen in love with Leona.

In the summer of 1972, Harry and Leona were married during a private ceremony and spent their honeymoon in Europe. Within 10 years, Leona had gone from a single mother working in a sewing factory to being married to one of America 's wealthiest men. For Leona, it was literally like a fairytale come true.

Leona had no problem with displaying her newfound happiness. She frequently and openly doted on Harry, spoiling him with attention that he likely had never experienced throughout his life. They appeared to outsiders like two high school sweethearts in love. Leona repeatedly bragged to her friends about their relationship, telling them about her husband's sexual prowess and the intensity of their love relationship. Many suggested that Leona's boastful behavior and unwavering attention towards Harry was often times excessive, possibly even slightly overstated.

Nonetheless, Harry soaked up the attention and he appeared to be happier than ever. He and Leona spent a great deal of time together both at work and at play. They had a lot in common, from their interest in real estate to their love of dancing. They were both ambitious and talented.

To show her admiration for Harry, Leona would throw lavish birthday parties for him and invite the "who's who" of society. Every year they hired a band, which played the song "I'm just wild about Harry" consistently throughout the evening. It was one of her ways of expressing affection for her husband and her affection was always reciprocated.

They were so drawn into each other that Harry actually began to ignore many of his friends and colleagues. In fact, many believed that Leona played a big part in influencing who he remained friends and colleagues with. They also believed that she greatly influenced his personality. To their surprise, they witnessed a bolder and more expressive Harry emerge from the shy and quiet facade he had lived behind for so long. They were concerned that Leona might have a negative influence on Harry and some of his friends and colleagues had difficulty accepting her. Yet, most of their fears remained unsubstantiated, until years later.


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