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.


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

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