Mamie Fish was a fixture of Newport RI society

A dinner at Mamie Fish’s house was never just dinner. Guests who found themselves in possession of a coveted invitation would discover surprise and delight around every corner.

They might be entertained by a celebrity performer, enthralled by a vaudeville act, charmed by a royal visitor, or enchanted by the decor at a thematic ball. Or perhaps — as was the case on one occasion in 1898 — they might be surprised by the appearance of a little donkey, cantering into the ballroom, laden down with favors.

Cleveland Amory rightly declared that “more people had more fun on more occasions” at Mamie Fish’s house than anywhere else.  

Among the storied Gilded Age society hostesses of Newport, few loom larger than Marion “Mamie” Fish. Celebrated for her lavish parties, and better known for her caustic wit than her social diplomacy, Mamie’s legacy as a grande dame is well-documented in memoirs, reminiscences and society pages.

A symbol of ultrafashionable society, at the height of her reign Mamie was a favorite topic for the newspapers, whether it was a bit of speculation about the plans for her latest party, a description of an outfit, or a rumor regarding her most recent social squabble. 

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