Elaine Lorillard
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Elaine Lorillard
Elaine Guthrie Lorillard
Duke Ellington and Elaine Lorillard.jpg
Duke Ellington and Lorillard
Elaine Guthrie

(1914-10-11)October 11, 1914
Tremont, Maine, US
DiedNovember 26, 2007(2007-11-26) (aged 93)
Newport, Rhode Island, US
Known forNewport Jazz Festival
Louis Lorillard

Elaine Guthrie Lorillard (October 11, 1914 – November 26, 2007) was an American socialite who founded the Newport Jazz Festival with her husband, Louis Lorillard.[1]

Early life

Elaine Guthrie was born in Tremont, Maine, to Walter Edward Guthrie and Eliza Pray Guthrie. After attending Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard, and serving in World War I, Walter founded the family printing company in Boston. Eliza, called Lida, was a classical singer.

Guthrie attended the New England Conservatory of Music, and in 1943 she joined the Red Cross where she taught piano and painting to orphans in Naples, Italy. In Naples she met Louis Livingston Lorillard (1919-1986), a United States Army lieutenant. While serving in Naples, Guthrie and Lorillard shared an interest in listening to jazz, which they had experienced in New York City.

Newport Jazz Festival

In 1953, Guthrie and Lorillard visited the Storyville nightclub in Boston with her brother, Thomas T. Guthrie, and his friend, Professor Borne from Boston University. They met George Wein, who worked at the nightclub, and they discussed the possibility of bringing an outdoor jazz concert to Newport, Rhode Island, where they lived.

With the guidance of John Hammond and George Avakian, two record producers and executives at Columbia Records, they came up with a list of performers. With a $20,000 grant from the Lorillards, the first Newport Jazz Festival took place in July 1954, attracting 11,000 fans. The Lorillards supported the festival until 1961.[2][3] The Lorillards said that the festival was founded as a nonprofit organization.[]


The movie High Society (1956), with a storyline by family friend Cleveland Amory, documented the Lorillards' love story and marriage. Grace Kelly was cast for her resemblance to Elaine Lorillard. The move was filmed in Newport with scenes from the Lorillards' life, from a convertible passing their house, "Quatrel", on Bellevue Avenue, to their daughter sitting at their piano with Louis Armstrong.

Personal life

In 1946, Elaine married Louis Livingston Lorillard (1919-1986). Louis was a descendant of Pierre Lorillard, who founded the P. Lorillard Company in 1760.[4] Before their divorce, they had two children:

  • Edith Lorillard[4]
  • Pierre Livingston Lorillard[4]


Lorillard died in the Heatherwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Newport, where she had been treated for pneumonia/MRSA at the age of 93.[1][5][6]


  1. ^ a b Hevesi, Dennis (2007-11-28). "Elaine Lorillard, 93, a Founder of the Newport Jazz Festival, Is Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved . Elaine Lorillard, a socialite who with her husband, Louis, lured jazz greats to their hometown in Rhode Island for a two-day concert series in the summer of 1954, starting the Newport Jazz Festival and creating the model for what became a worldwide circuit of outdoor jazz festivals, died on Monday near her home in Newport. She was 93.
  2. ^ "Our Man in Jazz". The Nation. Retrieved . It all began in 1954, with the first American jazz festival at Newport. Elaine Lorillard, one of the cultured women who appear again and again throughout jazz history, showed up at Storyville, with the idea of bringing jazz to the seaside-cottage elite.
  3. ^ "Elaine Lorillard co-founded the Newport Jazz Festival with her husband Louis Lorillard". The Boston Globe. 2007-12-03. Retrieved . Mrs. Lorillard and her husband, Louis, hired George Wein, then an employee of Storyville. On Saturday and Sunday, July 17 and 18, 1954, at the hallowed Newport Casino on Bellevue Avenue amid the manicured courts of the Tennis Hall of Fame, the sounds of Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Gene Krupa, and Billie Holiday filled the night and day. A tradition was born.
  4. ^ a b c Ennis, Thomas W. (7 November 1986). "Louis Lorillard, A Co-founder of Newport Festival, Is Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017.
  5. ^ "Elaine Lorillard, jazz festival pioneer, dies". Newsday. Associated Press. 2007-11-29. Retrieved . Elaine Lorillard, the socialite who encouraged a club worker to start the Newport Jazz Festival, has died of an infection, nursing home officials said. She was 93.
  6. ^ "Jazz festival founder Elaine Lorillard dies". Newport Daily News. Elaine Lorillard, whose dream of a small local jazz festival mushroomed into one of America's legendary ...

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