Pamela Harriman
Descendant of Jane Digby


As Rosalind Russel said in "Mame", "Life is a banquet and there are a lot of suckers starving out there." That cannot be said of THIS lady, who lived every moment of her life to the absolute fullest!
- Terry Callen

The similarities between the two are obvious - the desire to live to to fullest is in the Digby blood - Odette Lind

Full names: Harriman, Pamela Beryl Digby Churchill Hayward

Born - March 20, 1920, Farnborough, Hampshire, England.
Died - Feb. 5, 1997, Paris, France


US Ambassador Pamela Harriman Dies in Paris President Chirac Offers 'Solemn Homage'

Metropole - Paris
Paris:- Saturday, 8. February 1997

The US Ambassador to France, Mrs. Pamela Harriman, died at the American Hospital in Neuilly on Wednesday.

Nominated to the post in 1993 by President Clinton, Pamela Digby Churchill Harriman, 76, suffered a cerebral hemorrhage while swimming at the Ritz on Monday night.

Mrs. Harriman was an extraordinary lady and, by all accounts, an extremely competent and able US Ambassador to France. Today, state TV's A2 midday news presenter Bruno Masure said she was a diplomat 'hors pair' or exceptional.

Before becoming a diplomat by way of raising funds for the Democratic Party for the 1992 elections, Mrs. Harriman was born in England into an old aristocratic family somewhat out of fortune.

At 19 she remedied her situation by marrying Randolph Churchill, son of the prime minister. He soon went off to war and Mrs Harriman assisted her father-in-law by playing hostess to figures such as Max Beaverbrook, Harry Hopkins and Avrell Harriman during the war.

Mr. Harriman - she became Mrs. Harriman 30 years later - underwrote a London salon that Mrs. Harriman, then Churchill, ran out of Grosvenor Square, which she recalled as 'Eisenhowerplatz' - a locale where the heads of the Anglo-American alliance could meet informally.

After the war and her divorce from Randolph Churchill, she moved to Paris where she had a good time with several 'big hats' and she eventually moved on to America, where she married Leland Hayward, the Broadway producer. After he died, she married Mr. Harriman in 1971. She added his interest in the Democratic Party to her own, and began fund-raising and the Harriman household became sort of an exile headquarters for the party during the Reagan years.

Biographies about Mrs. Harriman include 'Life of the Party' by Christopher Ogden and 'Reflected Glory' by Sally Bedell Smith. Mrs Harriman denied that it was her fault that she happened to meet a lot of men who happened to be rich; "It was luck and timing," she said.

Some other women bitterly thought she had some sort of monopoly on both and accused her of having no wit. That may have been so, but she did have the wit to convince the men she met they had wit, and that was part of her effectiveness.

Today, Mrs. Harriman was presented with France's highest award, the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor, by President Jacques Chirac. Last year Mrs. Harriman was honored by being made a Commander of the Order of the Arts of France.

Later today, her body will make a final flight to America, accompanied by her son, Winston Spencer Churchill. Her funeral service will take place in Washington's National Cathedral on 13. February.

Biography of Pamela Harriman

Her will and estate - the Churchill Society

What people said about her....

The Woman Behind Bill Clinton

Behind every great man there is a woman and what is often overlooked is that the woman behind Bill Clinton was Pamela Harriman.

Pamela Harriman was married three times to rich and famous men. Two of them died and left her all of their money. This gave her the wealth and power she needed to bankroll the future president.
Born Pamela Digby, her first husband was the son of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. He was a heavy drinker and that marriage ended in divorce.

Next, she married famous Broadway producer Leland Hayward, who produced "The Sound of Music".

After he died, she married Averell Harriman, then 79 years old, who was a former New York governor and Ambassador to Britain and the Soviet Union, and a former candidate for President of the United States. His family owned Brown Brothers Harriman, America's leading investment banking and brokerage firm.

Pamela Harriman obviously took good care of her men, and when he died she got every dime.

Always a supporter of liberal causes, she spoke at the 1984 Democratic National Convention, but her candidate lost. Pamela Harriman then bankrolled young Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign. She raised $12 million for him. After Clinton was elected, any time she wanted to see him, she called him up and he came right over to her house in Georgetown.

Clinton appointed her as US Ambassador to France, where she died on February 5, 1997 at the age of 76. She died of a cerebral hemorrhage she suffered while swimming in the Embassy swimming poll.

On her way to snaring three famous men as her husbands, she obviously slept with a lot of notable millionaires. Leland Hayward, producer of "The Sound of Music", called her "the greatest courtesan of the 20th century". "She loved men, and men loved her, and she knew how to please men," wrote People Magazine.

Almost every woman dreams of marrying a millionaire and wonders how Pamela Harriman did it three times. The answer: She became the mistress of the men while they were married to other women. For example, she became the mistress of Governor Averell Harriman while she was in her early 20s, even though he was 29 years older than her. In order to cover up this relationship, Harriman had his own daughter move into his house and then had Pamela, who was about the same age as his daughter, move in too. Harriman told his wife that Pamela was the friend and school mate of his daughter and that was why she was living there. In this way, Governor Harriman had both his wife and his mistress sleeping in the same house together, and his wife never suspected anything.

Among her reported lovers that she did not marry were Italian billionaire Gianni Agnelli and journalist Edward R. Murrow.

Sam Sloan

("I am here in no small measure because she was there")

February 13, 1997

Washington -- President Clinton says he "will never forget how" Pamela Harriman "was there for Hillary and for me in 1992 -- wise counsel, friend, a leader in our ranks who never doubted the outcome, or if she did, covered it so well with her well-known bravado that no one could have suspected.

"Today," he said in his eulogy at her funeral, "I am here in no small measure because she was there. She was one of the easiest choices I made for any appointment when I became President."

The services for the late American Ambassador to France were held at the Washington National Cathedral February 13.

Following is the White House text:

THE PRESIDENT: We gather in tribute to Pamela Harriman -- patriot and public servant, American Ambassador and citizen of the world, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and sister, and, for so many of us here, a cherished friend. She adopted our country with extraordinary devotion. Today, her country bids her farewell with profound gratitude.

Hillary and I have often talked about what made Pamela so remarkable. It was more than her elegance, as unforgettable as that was. It was more than the lilt of her voice and her laughter -- more, even, than the luminous presence that could light up a room, a convention hall or even the City of Lights itself. It was more than her vibrant sense of history and the wisdom that came to her from the great events she had lived and those she had helped to shape -- from the Battle of Britain to the peace accord in Bosnia.

I think it was most of all that she was truly indomitable. One day the train she was on to London was bombed twice during the Blitz. She simply brushed off the shards of glass, picked herself up and went to the office to do her work at the Ministry of Supply. She was 21 years old.

More than 40 years later, all of us who knew her saw the same resolve and strength again and again -- most tenderly, in the way she gave not only love but dignity and pride to Averell, who, as long as he was with her, was at the summit, even to his last days.

In 1991, she put her indominatability to a new test in American politics, forming an organization with a name that made the pundits chuckle because it did seem a laughable oxymoron in those days: Democrats for the '90s. For members of our party at that low ebb, she became organizer, inspirer, sustainer, a captain of our cause in a long march back to victory. She lifted our spirits and our vision.

I will never forget how she was there for Hillary and for me in 1992 -- wise counsel, friend, a leader in our ranks who never doubted the outcome, or if she did, covered it so well with her well-known bravado that no one could have suspected.

Today, I am here in no small measure because she was there. She was one of the easiest choices I made for any appointment when I became President. As she left to become our Ambassador to France, she told us all with a smile, "now my home in Paris will be your home. Please come and visit, but not all at once." It seemed she had been having us at her home all at once for too many years. So a lot of us took her up on her invitation to come to Paris. After Hillary and I had been there the first time, I must say I wondered which one of us got the better job. (Laughter.)

In many ways her whole life was a preparation for these last four years of singular service and achievement. She represented America with wisdom, grace, and dignity, earning the confidence of France's leaders, the respect of its people, the devotion of her staff.

Born a European -- an American by choice, as she liked to say -- Pamela worked hard to build the very strongest ties between our two countries and continents. She understood that to make yourself heard you had to know how to listen. And with the special appreciation of one not native born, she felt to her bones America's special leadership role in the world.

Today we see her legacy in the growing promise of a Europe undivided, secure and free -- a legacy that moved President Chirac last week to confer upon Pamela the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor, France's highest award. He said then that seldom since Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson had America been so well served in France.

There is one image of Pamela Harriman I will always treasure. I can see her now, standing on the windswept beaches of Normandy on the 50th anniversary of D-Day. She had told many of us of the long, tense night in England half a century before, as they waited for news about the transports plowing toward the shore, filled with young soldiers -- American, British and Free French. Now, fifty years later, history had come full circle, and she was there as an active life force in the greatest continuing alliance for freedom the world has ever known.

I was so glad that Randolph read a few moments ago from the book of Sir Winston Churchill's essays that Pamela loved so well and gave to so many of us who were her friends. The passage he read not only describes her own life, it is her valediction to us, her final instruction about how we should live our lives. And I think she would like this service to be not only grand, as it is, but to be a final instruction from her to us about what we should now do.

Let me quote just a portion of what was said a few moments ago. Let us reconcile ourselves to the mysterious rhythm of our destinies such as they must be in this time -- in this world of time and space. Let us treasure our joys but not bewail our sorrows. The glory of light cannot exist without the shadows. Life is a whole, and the journey has been well worth making.

Throughout her glorious journey, Pamela Harriman lightened the shadows of our lives. Now she is gone. In the mysterious rhythm of her destiny, she left us at the pinnacle of her public service, with the promise of her beloved America burning brighter because of how she lived in her space and time. What a journey it was, and well worth making.

May God comfort her family and countless friends, and may He keep her soul indomitable forever.

The People Pages

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