Serge Obolensky
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Serge Obolensky
Prince Serge Obolensky
Serge Obolensky.jpg
Obolensky circa 1943
Sergei Platonovich Obolensky

(1890-11-03)November 3, 1890
DiedSeptember 29, 1978(1978-09-29) (aged 87)
Alma materOxford University
Catherine Yurievskaya
(m. 1916; div. 1924)

Ava Alice Muriel Astor
(m. 1924; div. 1932)

Marilyn Wall
(m. 1971; his death 1978)
ChildrenIvan Sergeyevich Obolensky
Sylvia Obolensky Guirey
Parent(s)Platon Sergeyevich Obolensky
Maria Konstantinovna Naryshkina

Prince Sergei Platonovich Obolensky Neledinsky-Meletzky (November 3, 1890 in Tsarskoye Selo, Russia - September 29, 1978 in Grosse Pointe, Wayne County, Michigan, USA) -- known as Serge Obolensky -- was a Russian-American aristocrat, U.S. Army paratrooper, socialite and publicist. He served as vice chairman of the board of directors of the Hilton Hotels Corporation.[1]

Early life

Obolensky's parents were Prince Platon Sergeyevich Obolensky-Neledinsky-Meletzky (1850-1913)[2] and Maria Konstantinovna Naryshkina (1861-1929).[3] He had a younger brother, Vladimir (1896-1968),[4] who died unmarried and childless.

He was an enthusiastic polo player and played for his University Team 1914 in Oxford.[5]


Obolensky was a soldier in two World Wars and in the Russian Civil War and fled his native country after battling Bolsheviks as a guerrilla fighter. He was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. paratroopers and a member of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), forerunner of the CIA, and made his first five jumps in 1943 at the age of 53.[6]

After his second marriage, he settled in the U.S., working with his new brother-in-law, the real estate entrepreneur Vincent Astor.[6] He also started a business, Parfums Chevalier Garde, with fellow emigre, Aleksandre Tarsaidze (1901-1978). Tarsaidze was president until 1940 when they were cut off from their French suppliers during World War II.[7] When Obolensky was president of the Sherry-Netherland Hotel, Tarsaidze became his assistant. Tarsaidze later wrote a novel about the parents of Obolensky's first wife, Alexander II and Catherine Dolgorukov.[7]

In 1949, he started his own public relations firm in New York City, Serge Obolensky Associates, Inc.,[6] handling accounts like Piper-Heidsieck champagne. "Serge", a friend once remarked, "could be successful selling umbrellas in the middle of the Sahara".

In 1958, Obolensky was made Vice Chairman of the Board of Hilton Hotels Corporation.[6] In the same year, he released his autobiography, One Man In His Time. The Memoirs of Serge Obolensky.[8] He maintained a substantial art collection.

Personal life

On October 6, 1916, he married Princess Catherine Alexandrovna Yurievskaya (1878-1959) at Yalta. Catherine was the youngest daughter of Russian Emperor Alexander II (1818-1881) and his second, morganatic wife, Princess Catherine Dolgorukova (1847-1922), and was the widow of Prince Alexander Vladimirovich Baryatinsky [ru] (1870-1910), with whom she had two children.[9] They divorced in 1924 without any issue.

On July 24, 1924, he married Ava Alice Muriel Astor (1902-1956) in London, Middlesex. Ava was the daughter of John Jacob Astor IV (1864-1912) and his first wife Ava Lowle Willing (1868-1958).[10] Before divorcing in 1932,[11] Obolensky had two children with Ava:

  • Prince Ivan Sergeyevich Obolensky (born 1925[12]), who married (1) Claire Elizabeth McGinnis (1929--2015[13]) div. 1956, (2) Garrick C. Stephenson (1927-2007), and (3) Mary Elizabeth Morris (1934-2006).
  • Princess Sylvia Sergeievna Obolensky (1931-1997),[14] who married Jean-Louis Ganshof van der Meersch (1924-1982) in New York City on November 1, 1950,[15] they divorced in 1957 without issue. She then married Prince Azamat Kadir Giray (1924-2001),[16] at East Hampton, New York on August 11, 1957. He was the son of Kadir Giray, Prince of Crimea (1892-1953)[17] and Vaguide Sheret-Luk, and had issue before divorcing in 1963. Through his father, the Prince was a direct male line descendant of Genghis Khan and Börte through Jochi and the Khans of Crimea.

On June 3, 1971, he married for the third and final time to Marilyn Fraser-Wall (1929-2007) of Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, with whom he did not have children.[10][18]

Obolensky died in 1978,[19] and is buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Southfield, Michigan.[1]


The "Serge Obolensky Room", at the back of the 1st floor at the Soldiers', Sailors', Marines', Coast Guard and Airmen's Club in Manhattan, memorializes his services as a soldier. Portraits and memorabilia festoon the walls.


  1. ^ a b "Died". Time. October 16, 1978. Retrieved . Serge Obolensky, 87, Russian prince who became a publicist and international socialite; in Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich. Scion of a wealthy White Russian family and husband of Czar Alexander II's daughter, the Oxford-educated Obolensky fled his native country after battling Bolsheviks as a guerrilla fighter. The tall, mustachioed aristocrat subsequently divorced Princess Catherine, married the daughter of American Financier John Jacob Astor, settled in the U.S. and worked with his brother-in-law, the real estate entrepreneur Vincent Astor. During World War II, Obolensky at 53 became the U.S. Army's oldest paratrooper and earned the rank of colonel. He started his own public relations firm in New York in 1949, handling accounts like Piper-Heidsieck champagne. "Serge," a friend once remarked, "could be successful selling umbrellas in the middle of the Sahara."
  2. ^ Moscow, June 12, 1850 - Saint Petersburg, June 27, 1913
  3. ^ Moscow, December 22, 1861 - Paris, February 2, 1929; they were married at Saint Petersburg, January 31, 1888; divorced 1897
  4. ^ Saint Petersburg, March 14, 1896 - New York, New York County, New York, October 12, 1968
  5. ^ "Polo Monthly" (PDF). November 1914: 140. Retrieved 2013. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ a b c d Jr, Robert Mcg Thomas (27 September 1970). "Thriving Society Legend: Serge Obolensky at 80". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016.
  7. ^ a b Times, Special To The New York (28 February 1978). "Alexandre Tarsaidze, 77; Czarist Emigre Acquired OwnPublic Relations Firm". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016.
  8. ^ "Came the Revolution. The Memoirs of Serge Obolensky. Illustrated. 433 pp. New York: McDowell, Obolensky. $6.95". The New York Times. November 16, 1958. Retrieved 2016.
  9. ^ "Princess Yourievsky, Who as Princess Dolgorouki Wed Alexander II". New York Times. March 11, 1913. Retrieved . As the representative of Princess Catherine Yourievsky of Paris, who as Princess Dolgorouki contracted a morganatic marriage with Czar Alexander II. of.....
  10. ^ a b "Historical Import Goes to Auction at DuMouchelle Art Galleries". Reuters. 11 January 2008. Retrieved . Prince Serge Obolensky, former husband to Russian Czar Alexander II's daughter, Princess Catherine Yourievsky, and later to U.S. real-estate tycoon Colonel John Jacob Astor IV's daughter, Ava Astor. ...
  11. ^ "Princess Obolensky In Reno For Divorce. Former Muriel Astor, Sister of Vincent, Married an Ex-Russian Minister to Poland". The New York Times. December 4, 1932. Retrieved 2016.
  12. ^ May 15, 1925
  13. ^ "Person Page". Retrieved .
  14. ^ Vöcklabruck, Austria, May 18, 1931 - London, Middlesex, June 27, 1997
  15. ^ Saint-Gilles, Belgium, July 14, 1924 - Le Temple, Lacanau, France August 22, 1982
  16. ^ New York, New York County, New York, August 14, 1924 - The Bahamas, August 8, 2001
  17. ^ 1892 - June 2, 1953
  18. ^ She was born on August 13, in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan and died on 5 October 2007, in Arlington County, Virginia
  19. ^ Times, Special To The New York (6 November 1978). "OBITUARIES". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016.
  • Obolensky, Serge, One Man in His Time: The Memoirs of Serge Obolensky (New York. McDowell, Obolensky, Inc. 1958). 433 pp. with index.[1]

External links

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