Cornelia Guest

Cornelia Cochrane Churchill Guest (born November 28, 1963) is a New York socialite, author and the Debutante of the Decade for the 1980s of the International Debutante Ball in New York City.

Cornelia Guest
Cornelia Cochrane Churchill Guest

(1963-11-28) November 28, 1963
ResidenceNew York City
EducationFoxcroft School
OccupationSocialite and Author
Parent(s)Winston Guest
C.Z. Guest
RelativesHenry Phipps, Jr.
(Great-Grandfather) Frederick Guest (Grandfather)
Edward VIII (Godfather)
Wallis Simpson (Godmother)

Early life and education

Cornelia Cochrane Churchill Guest was born on November 28, 1963, in New York City, New York. Cornelia Guest is the daughter of the late Anglo-Irish polo champion Winston Guest (1906–1982) and the late socialite Lucy "C.Z." Douglas Cochrane (1920-2003). She was the fourth and last child for Winston Guest and the second and last of C.Z. Guest’s children.[1] Her godparents were her parents' friends, the former King Edward VIII, the Duke of Windsor (1894–1972), and his wife, Wallis Simpson (1896–1986).[2][3]

Guest attended Foxcroft School, but dropped out at 15[3] and completed her high-school diploma through a correspondence course.[4] Guest became an accomplished equestrian, like her father, and rode competitively.[2][5] She continued riding until her mother died in 2003.[2]

Debutante Years

Cornelia made her debut in the winter of 1981-1982 at the International Debutante Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.[4] Her 18th birthday party included author Truman Capote (a childhood friend), Prince Egon von Fürstenberg (1946–2004), supermodel Cheryl Tiegs, John Bowes-Lyon who is Queen Elizabeth’s cousin, Andy Warhol (another childhood friend), make-up artist Way Bandy, heiress and philanthropist Doris Duke, and Jerry Zipkin, a socialite, escort, and confidante of First Lady Nancy Reagan, as guests.[4][5] Capote, a Guest family friend, explained to People magazine why Guest’s soiree attracted so many celebrities, royals, and powerful people: "Cornelia has a No. 1 name. The Guests are from real patrician stock, unlike the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers, who are descended from crooks."[4]

Guest was 1982’s Deb of the Year and was named the Deb of the Decade in 1986.[5][6][7][8] The New York Times called her “the first ‘celebutante.’”[5] As the newspaper noted at the time, “Before her, debs were quiet about their ambitions. They aimed to mingle with the equally posh and then marry. Cornelia had different plans: she wanted to be an actress. ‘Cornelia is some number,’ her mother said when Cornelia had left New York for Hollywood. ‘She is a star, and she wants to be a superstar.’”[5]

Guest was a constant presence in the society press and the national news throughout the decade – including a photo shoot in which she appeared “topless in Time magazine, her hands covering her breasts.”[6] She appeared in Time, Life, People, New York magazine and The Washington Post.[9] Some were critical of Guest’s flamboyance and self-promotion in particular and of the resurgence of debutante balls, with the lavish spending that comes with them, in general.[9][10]


Soon after the publication of her memoir, Guest headed to Hollywood for an acting career, quickly securing the services of both an agent and a much-in-demand acting coach, Sandra Seacat.[11][2] Guest scored mostly small roles, beginning in 1989.[7] In the early 2000s, she served as a spokeswoman for the upscale LaPrairie skin-care line.[5]

In 2013, Guest became a member of "Team Guy" on the second season of Food Network's Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off.[12] In 2017, she appeared in Twin Peaks.[13]

Animal rights

Guest is a vegan and has been a spokesperson for animal rights.[3] Her line of upscale handbags for Bloomingdale's and 50 other stores includes no leather purses.[2][14][15] In 2011, Guest posed nude as part of the ongoing “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” campaign for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).[14][3]

In August 2015, Guest became Brand Ambassador for Donna Salyers' Fabulous Furs, a Covington, Kentucky-based fashion house which specializes in faux fur clothing and products,[16] and announced plans to release between five and ten designs through the company for the fall 2016 season.[17]

Published works

In 1986, she published a memoir, The Debutante’s Guide to Life.[2] As part of the book tour for The Debutante’s Guide to Life, Guest crooned “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To” on Late Night with David Letterman.[2]

In June 2012, Guest published a vegan cookbook and entertaining guide, Cornelia Guest's Simple Pleasures: Healthy Seasonal Cooking & Easy Entertaining.[18][19] She also launched a vegan catering business in 2010.[20][19]


  1. "Polo, Society Figure Guest Dies In New York Hospital". Palm Beach Daily News. October 27, 1982.
  2. Morris, Bob (August 17, 2012). "A Debutante Grows Up". The New York Times. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
  3. Morris, Bob (August 17, 2012). "Cornelia Guest Leaves the Debutante Life Behind". The New York Times. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  4. Diliberto, Gioia (October 11, 1982). "For Debutante Cornelia Guest, Living Well Is the Best Revenge". People. 18 (15). Retrieved December 22, 2012.
  5. Hirschberg, Lynn (August 19, 2001). "To The Manor Born". The New York Times. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
  6. The Associated Press (August 3, 1986). "Come revolution, Cornelia Guest is in trouble". Gainesville Sun. p. 10.
  7. "Cornelia Guest". IMDB. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
  8. "Cornelia Guest turns to catering". New York Post. March 19, 2010. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
  9. Kilian, Michael (November 19, 1986). "Debunking A Deb". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
  10. Yazigi, Monique P. (January 1, 1997). "The Debutante Returns, With Pearls and Plans". The New York Times. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
  11. Finke, Nikki (June 26, 1987). "A New York Socialite Goes Hollywood: 'Deb of the Decade' Cornelia Guest Is Pursuing an Acting Career". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 11, 2018. Now the prep school dropout who got her diploma by mail is taking acting lessons for 12 hours every week from Hollywood coach Sandra Seacat, whose students have included Jessica Lange and Rachel Ward. [...] A friend helped her get an agent, Kelly Newby at the La Rocca Talent Agency in Burbank.
  12. Erdos, Joseph (January 2, 2013). "Meet Cornelia Guest -- Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off Season 2 | FN Dish – Food Network Blog". Food Network. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  14. PETA. "Socialite Cornelia Guest Strips for PETA". People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Archived from the original on September 6, 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2012date=November 14, 2011. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  15. Whitworth, Melissa (August 30, 2011). "The new Stella McCartney? Cornelia Guest launches vegan handbag line". The (London) Telegraph. Archived from the original on January 13, 2013. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
  16. "New York Socialite Becomes Brand Ambassador for Covington's Fabulous Furs". River City News. August 19, 2015. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  17. Feitelberg, Rosemary (August 18, 2015). "Cornelia Guest Launching Faux Furs With Donna Salyers". Women's Wear Daily. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  18. Saeks, Diane Dorrans (October 4, 2012). "Cornelia Guest Fetes New Book With Puppies". WWD. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
  19. Zinko, Carolyne (June 17, 2012). "Cornelia Guest's vegan cookbook, entertaining tips". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
  20. Cox, Joanie (February 15, 2012). "Cornelia wants you to be her 'Guest' at local trunk show". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
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