Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Vicki Morgan

Bloomie's Bucks

Alfred Bloomingdale probably wouldn't have flinched at giving an $8,000 good-faith payment to a prospective mistress.

His money was old, and he had lots of it.

His ancestors came to the United States and settled in New York well before the Civil War.

Betsy Newling Bloomingdale
Betsy Newling Bloomingdale

His grandfather, Lyman, founded Bloomingdale's department store, and Alfred was born into unimaginable wealth in 1916.

He was from German Jewish stock, but Alfred had hound dog in his blood.

His Uncle Sam ran the department store as Alfred was growing up because his father, Hiram, was busy chasing skirts.

Alfred grew to be a big, strong young man. He attended exclusive private schools in the city, including Riverdale Country Day School, then enrolled at Brown University, where he was a football lineman and fraternity bon vivant.

He dropped out before graduating and used family money to dabble in the theater business. For five years, while still in his 20s, Alfred plowed cash into a series of Broadway flops.

But he finally found success with song-and-dance revues, including "High Kickers" and a 1943 revival of the "Ziegfeld Follies" that starred Milton Berle.

Young Bloomingdale followed in his father's footsteps as a man about town. He married a showgirl in 1941, but it lasted about as long as a good cigar.

Like everyone in his family, Alfred was a loyal Tammany Hall Democrat, and he was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1944.

He bought a home in Los Angeles after the war, hoping to adapt his Broadway experience to motion pictures.

It was in L.A. that Bloomingdale met Betsy Newling, the daughter of a dentist with high-society aspirations. Alfred fell for her, and they were married in a Roman Catholic ceremony in 1946.

The couple bought a mansion in Bel Air and started a family that would eventually include three children — not including Vicki Morgan.

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