Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Woodwards: Tragedy in High Society

More Pain

Elsie was wrong.

There was still more pain in store for the Woodward family; the books weren't closed on this case yet. Jimmy never recovered from his mother's death. The cocaine and heroin, guilt and remorse took its toll on him and less than a year after Ann Woodward died, Jimmy did jump again. This time he was successful in ending his life.

Woody Woodward was the last survivor of his family and seemed to have dodged the terrible curse that had plagued the rest of his family. He latched on to liberal causes and graduated from Harvard. Woody served as a correspondent in Vietnam and negotiated a contract with the New York newspapers for the journalism union.

In 1971, he backed another pair of writers with an idea for media criticism magazine and became publisher of More. The magazine was an influential and critical success, but financially could not support itself.

Before the magazine folded, however, Woody returned to Harvard, got his MBA and turned to politics. He served in the Hugh Carey administration in New York State and with the backing of Mayor Ed Koch, ran unsuccessfully for a city council seat.

He dropped out of the public eye but befriended writer Dominick Dunne, who was working on another fictional account of the Woodward tragedy, the bestseller The Two Mrs. Grenvilles. The men were close enough that when Woody asked Dominick not to use the Woodward name when publicizing the book, Dunne agreed.

Woody married in 1985 as Dunne's book came out and lived overseas in a life of comfort. But something started to go wrong after about a decade of marriage and in 1996, his wife filed for divorce. The divorce and separation from his child took its toll on Woody who suffered from bipolar disorder and in 1999, after revising his will to leave his $35 million estate entirely to his daughter, the 54-year-old Woodward followed in the steps of his mother and brother, and leapt out the window of his Manhattan co-op.

"He was a wonderful man who had a terrible thing happen to him," Dunne said. "It's a sad end to a doomed family."

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