Nina Auchincloss Straight

Nina Gore Auchincloss Straight (formerly Steers, born January 10, 1937)[1] is an American author, journalist, and socialite.[2] She is the mother of writer/director Burr Steers and artist Hugh Auchincloss Steers, half-sister of Gore Vidal, step-sister of First Lady Jacqueline Onassis and socialite Lee Radziwill.[3]

Nina Auchincloss Straight
Nina Gore Auchincloss

(1937-01-10) January 10, 1937
EducationPotomac School
Miss Porter's School
Alma materBryn Mawr College
Columbia University
American University
OccupationAuthor, journalist
Newton Ivan Steers, Jr.
(m. 1957; div. 1974)

Michael Whitney Straight
(m. 1974; div. 1998)
ChildrenHugh Auchincloss Steers
Ivan Steers
Burr Steers
Parent(s)Hugh Dudley Auchincloss, Jr.
Nina S. Gore
RelativesGore Vidal (half-brother)
Janet Auchincloss Rutherfurd (half-sister)
Louis Auchincloss (cousin)

Early life

Nina Gore Auchincloss was born in 1935[4] to Hugh Dudley Auchincloss, Jr. (1897–1976) and Nina (née Gore) Auchincloss (1903–1978). Her father was an American stockbroker and lawyer, and a cousin of the novelist and lawyer, Louis Auchincloss. Her father had previously been married to Maya de Chrapovitsky,[5] a Russian noblewoman with whom he had one son, Hugh Dudley Auchincloss III.[6] Her mother had previously been married to Eugene Luther Vidal, a commercial aviation pioneer, with whom she also had one son, the writer Gore Vidal. Hugh and Nina had married in 1935 and besides young Nina, the marriage produced one additional child, Thomas Gore Auchincloss.[7] Young Nina's parents divorced in 1941, and a year later, Hugh remarried for the third and final time to Janet Lee Bouvier, in 1942. Janet was the mother of future First Lady Jacqueline Lee Bouvier and Caroline Lee Bouvier. Nina's father had two more children with Janet, half-siblings to young Nina, Janet Jennings Auchincloss and James Lee Auchincloss. Hugh and Janet remained married until his death in 1976. Also in 1942, Nina's mother remarried for the third and final time to Robert Olds, but only remained married a short time until Robert's early death of pneumonia in 1943, after hospitalization for constrictive pericarditis and Libman-Sacks endocarditis,[8][9] at the age of 46, just prior to his son Robin Olds' graduation from West Point.[10]

Nina's paternal grandparents were Hugh Dudley Auchincloss, Sr., a merchant and financier, and Emma Brewster (née Jennings) Auchincloss, the daughter of Oliver Burr Jennings, one of the original stockholders in Standard Oil.[11] Her maternal grandparents were U.S. Senator Thomas Gore and his wife Nina Belle (née Kay) Gore.[2]


In 1955, Auchincloss made her debut at a formal ball with given by her father and stepmother Janet (who lived in McLean, Virginia), at their summer home, Hammersmith Farm in Newport, Rhode Island. The ball was attended by over 700 guests.[12] In 1957, she inherited a $225,000 (equivalent to $2,007,000 in 2018) trust.[2]

Education and career

Nina attended the Potomac School in Washington, D.C. and Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut. She attended and graduated from Bryn Mawr College, just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[13]

Nina subsequently attended and earned a masters degree in journalism from Columbia University in 1961. While she attended Columbia, she worked part-time for columnist Charles Bartlett. In 1964, she earned an M.A. in history from Columbia, her second degree from Columbia. From 1963 until 1971, Nina worked as Washington correspondent and bureau chief[14] for the Chattanooga Times, while raising her three sons.[2]

In 1981, her novel Ariabella: The First, was published by Random House. At the time, she was in her second year of evening law school at American University and was working on a biography of her maternal grandfather, Oklahoma Sen. Thomas Pryor Gore.[2]

Personal life

In 1957, Nina married Newton Ivan Steers, Jr. (1917–1993), after having briefly dated Ted Kennedy.[13] Jackie Kennedy was her matron of honor at the wedding[13] and then Sen. John F. Kennedy was one of the groomsmen.[15] During their marriage, Steers became a member of the Maryland State Senate.[14] Together, they had three sons:

Nina and Newton separated in 1972[14] and divorced in 1974.[18] In 1977, Steers was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland's 8th congressional district. Steers remarried to Inge Wirsich Irwin in 1978, whom he remained married to until his death in 1993.[15]

In 1974, Nina married her second husband, Michael Whitney Straight (1916–2004), a member of the Whitney family who was a publisher and novelist. Straight was the son of Willard Dickerman Straight, an investment banker who died in Michael's infancy, and Dorothy Payne Whitney, a philanthropist. After his mother's remarriage to Leonard Knight Elmhirst, Straight lived in England. The wedding was attended by Janet Auchincloss, Jackie Kennedy, Renata Adler, Beatrice Straight, and Peter Cookson.[3] Nina and Michael's marriage ended in divorce in 1998. He later married Katharine Gould, a child psychiatrist and art historian, whom he remained married to until his death in 2004.[18]

Published works

  • Ariabella: The First (1981) ISBN 039449346X

See also


  1. "For Gore Vidal, a Final Plot Twist". The New York Times. 8 November 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  2. Vespa, Mary (May 11, 1981). "Jackie & Gore Launch a Gossipy Novel—and Make a Name for Nina Straight". People Magazine. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  3. "Mrs. Steers Wed to Michael Straight". The New York Times. May 2, 1974. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  4. The Kennedy White House: Family Life and Pictures, 1961-1963 By Carl Sferrazza Anthony, page 149
  5. "Maria Nikolayevna "Maya" Chrapovitsky Rand". Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  6. "Hugh Dudley "Yusha" Auchincloss, III". Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  7. Kauffman, Bill (2006-11-20) The Populist Patriotism of Gore Vidal, The American Conservative
  8. Zamzow 2008, p. 85
  9. Fogerty, Ronald P. (editor, 1953), USAF Historical Study 91: Biographical Data on Air Force General Officers, 1917-1952, Vol II: "L-Z".
  10. Anderson 2004, p. 187
  11. "Oliver Burr Jennings". The New York Times. 1893-02-13. p. 4. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
  12. The New York Times Staff (August 13, 1955). "NINA AUCHINCLOSS MAKES HER DEBUT". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  13. The New York Times Staff (June 9, 1957). "Miss Nina Gore Auchincloss Wed to Newton Ivan Steers Jr". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  14. Cheshire, Maxine (February 24, 1972). "Potpourri". The Tuscaloosa News. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  15. Barnes, Bart (February 12, 1993). "REPUBLICAN NEWTON I. STEERS JR. DIES". The Washington Post. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  16. "Hugh Steers, 32, Figurative Painter". The New York Times. March 4, 1995. p. 25. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
  17. "Film; A Family's Legacy: Pain and Humor (and a Movie)", The New York Times, September 15, 2002.
  18. Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher (January 5, 2004). "Michael Straight, Who Wrote of Connection to Spy Ring, Is Dead at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
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