Skip to main content

Episode 9, “Let the Tournament Begin”

Marian’s grand plan is threatened. Bertha and Mrs. Astor lock horns over Gladys’ debut. Peggy is stunned by a major reveal.

Mansions & Gardens Featured

In this Episode…

  The Elms is featured with the kitchen in the beginning of the show and then Mrs. Berwind’s Bedroom as Gladys’ bedroom.

  George Peabody Wetmore’s childhood bedroom suite at Chateau-sur-Mer again is used for Oscar Van Rhijn’s apartment (see Episode 3).

  Young “Carrie” Astor is disinvited to Gladys Russell’s ball, much like in real life when the daughter of Mrs. Astor was not invited to Alva Vanderbilt’s “fancy dress” ball in 1883.

Amy Forsyth as Carrie Astor. Photograph by Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO

☞ Larry Russell’s pursuit of an architecture degree in the Gilded Age: If he wants to be at the level of Stanford White, whom he claims as his inspiration, his journey will likely include more than study in America. Most young, aspiring architects had to travel to France and many to Italy to feel as though they were well equipped to understand the “principles” of classical architecture. Will he attend L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts?

Harry Richardson as Larry Russell. Photograph by Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO

☞ Henry Flagler was a man of great influence, and it’s no surprise he was invited to the debutante ball as he likely had vast business interests similar to Mr. Russell’s. Flagler was a founder of Standard Oil and of the Florida East Coast Railway, and was a major force in the development of Florida’s Atlantic Coast.

☞ The tradition of calling cards was one of formality and necessity during the Gilded Age in the upper classes. In the event someone was not home, it was known who stopped by. It was also a popular form of collecting as whom you received or who received you was considered a symbol of status.

☞ The Breakers Music Room is the scene of the coming-out ball for Gladys Russell. This baroque-style room, with its blue-gray marble, crystal chandeliers reflected in mirrors, and rich red and gold fabrics, gives the scene plenty of color, sparkle and glamour.

Cynthia Nixon and Christine Baranski in The Breakers Music Room. Photograph by Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO

☞ When making introductions at the ball, they announced “Winthrop Chandler.” Possibly this was a reference to John Winthrop Chanler, a New York congressman who built the home in Newport that is now the Chanler at Cliff Walk, a hotel.

☞ During the ball reception, Glady Russell’s dress is a light purple, near mauve, a color that became popular a decade later in the 1890s. Its cut and composition are similar to that of Alva Vanderbilt’s dress in her 1875 portrait by Benjamin Curtis Porter.

☞ Adoption in the Gilded Age: As Peggy Scott learns her son was adopted, the history of adoption in the U.S. was not always a happy one. The 1851 Adoption of Children Act in Massachusetts was the first law to make sure that adoptions of children were appropriate and healthy as well as legal. While Peggy’s son is still in Philadelphia, we believe, this era was also a period when there were “orphan trains” that transported unwanted or orphaned children across the U.S. to adoptive families.

☞ Last scene: Finally, someone cleaning up the horse poop!

Thomas Cocquerel, Kelli O’Hara, Louisa Jacobson and Cynthia Nixon in The Breakers Music Room. Photograph by Alison Cohen Rosa/HBO

More Episode Guides

Additional Visitor Info

Partners in Preservation

BartlettLogo_white BNP-white