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Tragic Pairing of Tobacco Heir and Torch Singer

Image from the Winston-Salem Journal.

On November 29, 1931, Zachary Smith Reynolds married Broadway actress Libby Holman. The young tobacco heir had just spent the better part of a year following the starlet and torch singer around the world until she finally agreed to marry him.

The young couple wed in secret in the parlor of a Monroe, Michigan, justice of the peace. It took place just a few days after Reynolds’s first wife, textile heiress Ann Cannon Reynolds, was granted a divorce from him in Reno, Nevada, on the grounds of cruelty.

The marriage between Reynolds, age 20, and Holman, age 25, was a tumultuous one between two very complex individuals.  The couple kept their marriage a secret until May 1932 when they claimed to have just been married in Honolulu.

The union wouldn’t last long, either. Reynolds died of a gunshot wound to head shortly after an argument at a 1932 party at the couple’s Winston-Salem estate turned violent. While Holman was indicted for murder, the case never went to trial. The charges were dropped and the death was ruled a suicide.

For more on the mystery, check out this series that ran in the Winston-Salem Journal.

Vist: Winston-Salem’s Reynolda House, the estate where the shooting occurred, is now a museum of America art museum open to the public.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.