Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Woodwards: Tragedy in High Society

Ann and Billy

Ann Woodward holding photo of hunting party
Ann Woodward holding
photo of hunting party

The friction Ann felt in high society contributed to the problems at home. Both Ann and Billy had roving eyes that created fireworks. Billy's rumored bisexuality only made things worse.

Billy and Ann had one of those relationships that was too fractious to keep together and too strong to break apart. They sparred openly in public over many things, not the least of which were her affairs with the likes of the Aga Khan and Franchot Tone and his with any number of debutantes.

Susan Braudy recalls one public fight where Ann shouted at Billy, "Why don't you just bring a man in our bed! That's what you want anyway!"

In private, the arguments crossed over into physical altercations with Ann fond of throwing ashtrays and Billy responding with a slap to the face. No permanent, serious damage was ever done and there are no reports of either ever showing up in public with a visible bruise.

Billy and Ann Woodward dancing
Billy and Ann Woodward

In between fights there was obviously affection, as the couple soon had two children, William III (nicknamed Woody) and Jimmy, born in 1944 and 1947.

Perhaps it was the money that magnified things and made them seem bigger than ordinary. Maybe to Ann and Billy the fights went with the territory; the rarified air they breathed at the top of the social ladder made them fight and love harder than most couples. Whatever the reason, they never stayed angry and their only separation ended quickly.

As if to spite high society, they remained a couple that took the vow 'til death do us part seriously.

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