Photo by Salt Water New England

Monday, January 4, 2021

Prep Icons From the Last Half-Century

The Rev. William Sloane Coffin and Family. Photos by my Father.
On an earlier post, Michael wrote of William F. Buckley, "like George Plimpton and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, men of very different backgrounds, he had the wit and grace which people associate with prep élan."

This begs the obvious question: historically, who do you most associate with the prep élan?  Who are the prep icons from the last half century?

New York Mayor John Lindsay



Yale President Kingman Brewster on Left, Governor William Scranton on Right 



135 comments:

  1. I couldn't comment on prep icons as, being French, I don't feel qualified but I have just discovered your last post and these photos of a New England barn are just magical!

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  2. Maybe not "prep" but I've always viewed Katharine Hepburn as quintessential New England.

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  3. Well, writer and wrestler John Irving of Exeter, New Hampshire

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  4. Almost all of my "icons" are local folks no one in the far north have heard of but more of them in a minute. The first person that came to my mind was a national figure during the time I became acquainted with these other people and his name was Elliot Richardson. The one characteristic that suggests him to me is his government service. One of the things about preppies is their sense of obligation to national service, at least for some of them. It seems like he was everywhere for a while. True, he didn't go to Yale but Harvard is a close second.

    A gentleman that I made the acquaintence of some 35 years ago was very similiar, spending most of his career in the Foreign Service, mostly in South America. He was an army brat but somehow managed to attend Sidwell Friends for a while, finishing up at the Hoosac School, then on to Bard College. After he retired, he lived for ten years in Yarmouth, Maine. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He was the Best Man in our wedding.

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  5. With all due respect to the great Mr. Press, Ms. Birnbach is an absolute "NO".

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  6. An 80ish professor of mine, who had snowy eyebrows so unruly they practically merged with his swath of side-parted hair, was prone to banging his coffee mug on his desk when particularly riled up, was fond of telling frightened new students that he used to be dean and could do whatever he wanted, invited our class to his perfectly appointed home for cocktails, knew personally many of the figures we studied in his courses, served in the Navy, drove a beat-up old BMW wagon, often had his two Scotties in tow on campus, spent as much time in Maine as he could, and, most importantly, gave me an A. Also he dressed pretty well.

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  7. Tall order, Muffy, but here's a start.
    Men:
    John Lindsay (St. Paul's/Yale)
    James and William Buckley (Millbrook/Yale)
    John Kennedy (Choate/Princeton+Harvard)
    Robert Kennedy (St. Paul's+Portsmouth Priory+Milton/Bates+Harvard)
    Hugh D. Auchincloss (Groton/Yale)
    Kingman Brewster (Belmont Hill/Yale)
    Archibald Cox (St. Paul's/Harvard)
    Averell Harriman (Groton/Yale)
    And Women:
    Christie Todd Whitman (Chapin+Far Hills Country School/Wheaton
    Jacqueline Kennedy (Miss Porter's/Vassar)
    Caroline Kennedy (Concord Academy/Harvard
    Meg Whitman (public high school/Princeton)
    Barbara Bush (Ashley Hall/Smith)
    Grace Kelly (Ravenhill Academy)
    Katharine Hepburn (Oxford School/Bryn Mawr)
    Polly Mellen (Miss Porter's)
    Lilly Pulitzer (Miss Porter's/Finch College)
    Queen Noor, nee Lisa Halaby (Concord Academy/Princeton)

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  8. William F. Buckley Jr., George H. W. Bush, Lilly Pulitzer, Jacqueline Kennedy.

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  9. It's a tough question, right, because the point is to not be flashy. Household names are few and far between.

    I did have a funny idea though: Camilla Parker Bowles.

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  10. Replies
    1. Nice catch! The sociologist of Prep.

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  11. For me, it is not necessarily about the prep school or Ivies. It is those who are classy rather than crass, understated, sophisticated without being smug, erudite while not being condescending, and so on. It is not a WASP, in fact, many mentioned so far are Catholic. I would second Buckley and add Jaqueline Kennedy, Grace Kelly, and John Updike, and although it might seem like a strange choice: Roger Federer. He embodies the qualities that I cite above.

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  12. LG nailed it. WRJ nailed it. HHH put forth an impressive list, most accurate with the males. And Katherine Hepburn had deep WASPy New England roots. BUT, Lisa Birnbach? Ever read True Prep? The Kennedys? Loud, risk-loving poseurs. George H.W. Bush - Too Midwestern. Mrs. Bush - yes.

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    1. George HW Bush - too Midwestern? He's from New England. That makes me curious why you say he's too 'midwestern.'

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    2. Agreed that MSS's lists of who aren't preps confuses me. The Kennedy's aren't prep? Risk loving (on occasion) isn't prep? How are they poseurs? HW Bush was born in New England, lived in CT growing up, went to Phillips/Yale, etc. He then moved to Texas, which is not the Midwest. Pretty preppy in my book.

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  13. RFK: USN, Harvard, Harvard Football, Portsmouth Abbey, great style, great love of family, and brave all beyond description.

    Dr Craig Smith, Olympic Rower, Chief Cardio Thoracic Surgery Columbia, William College

    The Winklevos Twins

    Ralph Lauren

    Rene Lacoste

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  14. And how could we forget George Plimpton?

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  15. A word of caution before this process of identifying Prep all-stars goes too far. Before chiming in, please consider the following quote attributed to Mark Twain: "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."

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  16. Replies
    1. THIS! THIS! THIS! NO other woman embodies it like CZ Guest did.

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  17. I'll bet that Clara Winthrop that MGC mentioned a couple of days ago would top the list.

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  18. William F. Buckley, Jr.
    John Lindsay
    John Cheever
    Louis Auchincloss
    Nelson W. Aldrich, Jr.
    E. Digby Baltzell
    John P. Marquand
    E.B. White
    Robert Lowell

    A little earlier, but: F. Scott Fitzgerald.

    I ruled out anyone who is primarily a creation of P.R. firms or a made-for-TV "personality."

    And of course, we each have our own personal list of local role models we knew growing up. Great topic, BTW!

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  19. Hmmm, I have no idea who'd I would decide on. Many come to mind, but then are scratched off the list for one reason or another. --Holly in PA

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  20. I would add GHW Bush to Greenfield's list. The 'born' Kennedy's - not even close.

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    Replies
    1. I would also add Barbara Pierce Bush to the list.

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  21. I agree with the person above who stated the qualities rather than their association with fame or money...it's easy to pretend a lot of things when you have a never ending supply of money. But to me a prep is someone who "prepares" for life in a sensible way...frugal, but not selfish, conservative in dress, not showy, financially secure for the future whether its living in a mansion or a small sensible house...sensible and smart comes to mind most frequently!
    And also having a true sense of what quality is in every aspect of life!

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  22. I love Anonymous @504's take on what makes a Prep. I wouldn't even know where to begin applying those qualities to people.

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  23. Montgomery Burns (Skull & Bones at Yale) and Thurston Howell, III (Palm Beach, Newport and New York - Harvard)

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    1. I would add 'Lovey' Howell to this list for the ladies, although most would think she's too flashy. However, she comes from old money AND was in the Social Register....(yes. I know she's a fictional character. LOL)

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  24. Bush family, yes. Kennedy family, no. Updike, yes. Birnbach, no.

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  25. @Cranky Yankee: Never knew that Thurston Howell III went to Harvard, but of course that makes sense. Do we know where he prepped? You have my permission to make up an answer.

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  26. Robert Lovett,Dean Acheson, Jock Whitney,Henry Stimson, and the Dulles Bros....glad to see Marquand is on the dance card

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  27. My unofficial choice is my father. I remember him as an imposing figure, beautifully dressed but never flashy. He was a Republican, yet liberal on social issues. His direct male ancestor came to this country from a large estate in Scotland (the entail was a powerful cause for emigration), whose own son was a company commander at Bunker Hill, but my father’s background never prevented him from straying beyond a familiar comfort zone.

    During the war, he met Roosevelt and Churchill, de Gaulle and Eisenhower, yet his own circle of friends included Greeks, Italians, Jews and a Wingaersheek Indian named Pompey, who brought my mother squash seeds his family had cultivated since the time of the Pilgrims. The enormity of that gift was not lost on my mother, who is descended from five Mayflower passengers.

    In the early sixties, my father invited civil rights leader James Farmer to give an address at his club. Many of my father’s associates never spoke to him again, yet this never bothered him. “Weeded out my fair-weather friends,” he said cheerfully.

    I never heard him swear, or utter a single negative remark towards anyone, yet he was not without his own demons. Alcohol had defeated him by 1962. I can remember my father standing in the driveway, tears flowing as he waited for my mother to drive him to a dry-out clinic.

    When he returned with a bag of trinkets he had made in “craft therapy”, he plunged head-first into AA. Instead of focusing entirely on himself, he spent much of his time helping others deal with their addiction, and the shame associated with alcoholism in those days.

    Always a letter writer, and a voracious reader, my father wrote to me every week while I was away at school. My prized possessions are his childhood Scribner’s books illustrated by NC Wyeth and the last letter he wrote, which was waiting for me when I returned to school after his funeral.

    My official choices are two, a tie between William F Buckley and William Sloane Coffin, a very distant cousin. Graceful to the end, Buckley was a man whose life I would gladly emulate in my next incarnation, assuming I had the same prodigious energy. And Coffin, an activists for fairness and equality, helped shape his generation.

    MGC

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  28. This is such an interesting question. There does seem to be an important distinction between those who are part of a particular heritage and tradition, as you are Muffy, and those who are not but who still might embody the prep sensibility. Only those who are somehow part of the history can know and pass on certain knowledge about it. On the other hand, it is wonderful that the label can be open to anyone who shares certain attributes and values. One of the things I appreciate about this blog is its sense of history and perhaps participating in a sort of cultural/ social anthropology.

    By the way, Katharine Hepburn is my vote, too.
    P.T.
    P.T.

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  29. Not just Thurston Howell III, but Jim Backus in general. Remember "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World?" He basically played the same character, as he did often in his fine acting career.

    Here are more:

    Tucker Carlson
    Davis Love III
    Martha Stewart
    Gwyneth Paltrow
    Evelyn Waugh (for creating Brideshead Revisited, among his many masterpieces)

    I agree with the sentiments that it's not merely about schooling or heritage. There are classic preppy kids at my local public high school and non preps at private schools. Harvard has a lot of 'non preps' (Mark Zuckerberg comes to mind).

    I think a true wealthy prep has a strong sense of classiness and noblese oblige. My mother used to contrast Colonel Pickering and Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady. She would always say that Pickering was the true example of a gentleman. I am in complete agreement, and preps would do well by following his example.

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  30. My father in-law.

    Iconic? Yes, to me. He embodied every character trait and style point discussed on this blog. He passed away ten years ago and I miss him every day.

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  31. I agree with most of the above--not the Kennedys, however.

    Add:

    Millicent Fenwick
    Margaret Chase Smith
    Louis Auchincloss
    Thomas Keane
    Claiborne Pell
    Anderson Cooper
    William A.V. Cecil, Jr (and Sr.)

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  32. Two I forgot:

    Averill Harriman
    Peter Duchin

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  33. Fecundity does not help the Kennedy argument.

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  34. Millicent Fenwick for sure.
    Jonathan Dayton Stoddart, Soldier-Diplomat, who recently passed away, graduated Cornell and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He left a legacy of service to his country and the international community.

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  35. No to Martha Stewart, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the born Kennedys.

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  36. I've met Davis Love at various PGA events and he is NOT a prop Icon. He is one of the least socially adept PGA pros on tour, his commercials notwithstanding.

    William F and James Buckley were and are.

    Although I didn't care for his politics, Gore Vidal was.

    Lisa Birnbach WAS NOT!

    The Kennedys were and are not. They are nothing more than BOOTLEGGERS who extorted their place in the scheme of things FROM FDR.

    Ralph Lifschutz (aka Lauren) was not, is NOT and never will be. He is nothing more than a commercial opportunist.

    John Cheever and Louis Auchincloss were and always will be.

    R F Delderfield (see To Serve Them All My Days) - Yes, he's a Brit, but the book and the miniseries are exemplars of the 20th century and the Prep/Wasp/ Public School influence on the establishment.

    Daniel Patrick Moynihan as both UN Ambassador and Senator from NY State was and exemplified the prep icon.

    The author Thornton Wilder.

    The author SLOAN WILSON author of THE MAN IN THE GRAY FLANNEL SUIT.

    Judith Guest, author of ORDINARY PEOPLE.

    Leon Leonwood Bean as a style icon in the fashion realm, especially in the lifetimes of all of us who post here, as well as those who've written about LL Bean as a company.

    The late Christopher Reeve of Princeton, NJ and an alum of Cornell. His roles aside, look at him outside of Hollywood, how he dressed and how he conducted himself. He was an exemplar of "noblesse oblige."

    George W Bush - Prep School, youngest USN navy pilot in WW II, Yale and an impressive public service resume PRIOR to the White House. The last WW II veteran President.

    F. Scott Fitzgerald up until his death in 1940.

    George Plimpton and John Updike.

    Erich Segal, author of LOVE STORY, OLIVER's STORY, MAN, WOMAN and CHILD, THE CLASS.

    James Hilton author of GOODBYE, Mr. Chips

    Evelyn Waugh - BRIDESHED REVISITED and others.

    John Knowles - author of A SEPARATE PEACE.

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  37. I invited myself to preppiness. I know no better forum in which to advance the interests of mankind. I am preppy. I can compete with the best of them. The beauty of preppiness is the freedom it lends one to speak with actions and words, rather than with appeances. One need make one's name with deeds and statements of great worth with the knowledge that there is always a standard greater than one's self.
    New England is quintessentially preppy because those who inhabit that beautiful New World understand the value of education above all things. The true prep stands ready to aid, involve herself in, and improve the academic institutions of the home to the best approximation of Winthorpe's "City on the Hill" ever yet rendered by man.
    Those women and men, whose names do not find their way into the pages of a history book, because their modesty just as their strength of purpose and character exceeds all other men across the globe power the engine of development for their own and others.
    The literature of the law bears the names of those Americans who have created living documents that detail in clear language and are interpreted in good faith, from youth to authority the practical community of humankind. The canon of work that comprises the syllabus of those whose influence continues to form the current of justice in the United States of America ranges from the art of those thinkers who picket the outskirts of and secour the downtrodden in America's promise of "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" to the check collared attorneys who hold forth the economic weight American industry in the increasingly globalized world is a testament to the value of the staunchly pragmatic prep of the Northeast Corridor; who holds herself accountable for the betterment of humanity in word and deed even unto herself. The prep stands as a paradigm of the rigors and triumphs of a man made nation of good people.

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  38. I will have to agree with Anonymous 3:46, as I some times have too much to say, although Wm. F. Buckley, Jr. does come to mind.
    I am enjoying everyone's comments.

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  39. Whether or not Gwyneth Paltrow, a Spence alumna, is prep isn't even up for debate, whatever anyone thinks of her as an actress or a personality.

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  40. Brilliant list, Paul Connors. I agree with Anonymous 9:33PM, no to Ms. Stewart, Ms. Paltrow and the entire Kennedy clan.

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  41. I'd have to say my father and grandfather. Dad, artist, Yalie, hippie, never spent a day in public school. Grandfather, The Colonel, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Descended from Nathaniel Greene and Samuel Gorton of Warwick, RI.

    Both men of conviction and honor, both of uncompromising principle. They would each impart upon me a certain love of simplicity in life, a love of the past, and respect and graciousness toward anyone I'd meet regardless of background. In different ways and for different reasons, both imparted upon me a sense of service, of charity for all, duty.

    Those traits served me well in my time in the military.

    All that I am today I owe to two preppies, The Hippie and The Colonel.

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  42. I had mentioned Sen. John McCain in a different thread. He graduated from Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia, two blocks from where my wife lived (incidental information). That makes him preppy and having graduated from the Naval Academy is icing on the cake. Yet, somehow, to me he doesn't fit the image and I suppose it's all about image, which is what "icon" means.

    However, I am pleased that someone mentioned their father. While we often have people in mind that we could look up to and attempt to emulate, I suspect we would do better when they are people we actually know and have frequent contact with. Other, much better known people may have either a manufactured, false image, or else have one that has been so criticized that we don't see them as a model. Both of those problems are likely to occur with anyone who is well known nationally. And it has to be said that sometimes a person who you've admired from afar let's you down. Nancy Culp comes to mind. But Miss Hathaway never did.

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  43. In all fairness, I ought to add that there have been others who I've admired and sometimes sought to emulate, none of whom were preppies and some of whom had never heard the word. Admittedly, sometimes their advice steered me wrong (such as, "take all your classes early in the morning and you'll have your afternoons free) but they were good role models. Mostly they were that because they kept promises, were ladies and gentlemen, and religious. They were temperate, modest and thrifty. They were kind, thoughtful, considerate and tactful. They felt civic obligations. Most served in the military. They were neither particularly urbane or worldly, yet they all seemed to be at ease with anyone. They appeared to never feel beneath or above anyone, though they may not have quite felt to be someone's equal.

    I knew a good number of such people but I've also known many for whom none of that description would fit.

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  44. Blue Train, you have once again hit the nail on the head for me. I wish I could say I descended from the person you described, but I did not. I have seldom encountered the character - and I do mean character in every sense of the word - you described, but sadly, I have not.

    I would have liked someone like that to emulate.

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  45. Let me correct my last comment: Blue Train's description pretty much fits my husband and his father, who were American-Englishmen, if there is such a thing.

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  46. Re: the Kennedys--it seems unfair to paint with a broad brush, but then they also seem to make doing so so very, very easy. See, e.g., RFK Jr.'s most recent headlines, among too many other examples.

    I must say, these types of discussions are always interesting, and sometimes frustrating, because there are very different criteria being applied. Some base primary or sole importance on where someone was educated, and little to no importance on how they conduct themselves, dress, or live. Others, the reverse. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but it leaves a lot unresolved.

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  47. Certainly William F. Buckley comes to mind, however, the whole "preppie" as a description of one's dress to me is a misnomer. To me a "preppie" is simply one who went to prep school. I am 60 years old and came of age during the height of the "Ivy League Look". I have worn basically the same thing since elementary school, khakis, corduroy, button downs, crewneck sweaters, weejuns,camp mocs, desert boots, etc. and I never went to a private school. I have never considered my dress as "preppie".

    I have friends who went to prep schools who are atrocious dressers. One who comes to mind went to Deerfield and Williams and no one would ever accuse him of dressing preppie. However, I have a lifelong friend who dresses impeccably (nothing but Brooks and Press) who went to public school and a state university.

    My friend and I do not dress the way we do to look "preppie", it is simply the way we have always dressed from a very young age and will always do so.

    I live in an older colonial style house filled with early American furniture a golden retriever and drive an older Volvo station wagon. Am I trying to be a preppie even though I went to public school? Well, I grew up in exactly the same surroundings. It is all I have known, my parents had the same exact things that I have mentioned.



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  48. George Plimpton
    John Knowles
    Would be my two literary submission from the "old school".

    As far as current pop culture "preps" I'd submit Ezra Koenig and Nick Waterhouse as likely future members of the club.

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  49. To NEW Communications, I described in two different places in this thread, two completely different groups of people. One was really and truly preppie (meaning they went to prep school), the other who had never heard the word. I'm not sure which group you refered to. My father, for instance, a farmer's son, never finished grade school. But all the men in our wedding, in contrast, had attended private schools. I was fortunate in knowing a variety of individuals in my life so far.

    On a slightly different subject, I imagine a parochial school doesn't count as a prep school. But what about a military school? They have a certain status in the South but I can't speak for the North. It is more likely that they have their own paths in the world and though private, are not prep schools. I refer here to those schools that used to place advertisements in the back of the National Geographic, not the military academies. But like many other things, they aren't what they used to be, if they ever were.

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  50. As many have eloquently posited, the 'celebrity' preps that make up lists such as these should be distinguished by their service, and not simply for superficial reasons. I have great respect for those who were given advantages that many will never have, and yet used their gifts for the betterment of society, either through public service, philanthropy, or the creating works of art for all to enjoy.

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  51. Joanna Barnes (Milton Academy and Smith College)

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  52. John Kenneth Galbraith and his wife, Kitty (Catherine Meriam Atwater Galbraith)

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  53. Regarding MGC comment: Most excellent!

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  54. In my opinion JFK (Choate/Harvard) is the quintessential Prep. Representing the best of that generation and what we most need today.

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    1. In my opinion, JFK's treatment of women disqualifies him from any tribute.

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  55. Whoever it is will definitely be required to have attended a school on a rather short list of elite schools:

    St. Paul’s
    Groton
    Exeter
    Andover
    Deerfield
    Hotchkiss
    Choate
    Lawrenceville
    Milton
    St. Andrew’s
    Middlesex
    Peddie
    Taft
    St. George’s
    Cranbrook Kingswood
    Thatcher
    Cate
    St. Mark’s
    Episcopal
    Loomis Chaffee
    Woodberry Forest
    Webb
    Northfield Mount Herman
    Kent
    Blair
    Tabor

    Anyone else is but a wannabe. Flame me all you want, but it's entirely true...

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    Replies
    1. A few others that should be part of this list: Rosemary Hall (before joining Choate), Stoneleigh-Burnham, Ethel Walker, Miss Porter's, Dana Hall, among others. Your list included no girls' schools. Purpose?

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    2. Interesting list. There are several on it that puzzle me and others not on it that puzzle me more. Girls I knew at Madeira and Mt. Vernon Seminary certainly seemed to fit this category more than the guys I have known from St. Mark's and Thacher.

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  56. @MGC,
    I enjoyed your comments on your father. Not sure what his experience was in the war, However, most combat veterans have alcohol problems. It was not well recognized in prior generations.

    Regarding the current generation of the Kennedy family, I would grant them some latitude. The loss of three members of one family in the service of the country is a large sacrifice. Also, seeing your father killed on national TV tends not to be good for a child's development.

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  57. To 'HHH' Sept.10 at 6:16: My made up fact - Thurston Howell, III went to St. Paul's where he roomed with Angier Biddle Duke.

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  58. I'd add - regardless of politics - George F. Will and Tucker Carlson to this list.

    Funny - I know kids at those elite prep schools, and they are most certainly not preppy. Great kids, though.

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  59. Blue Train, thanks for pointing that out. This was the description that I liked best:

    "... they kept promises, were ladies and gentlemen, and religious. They were temperate, modest and thrifty. They were kind, thoughtful, considerate and tactful. They felt civic obligations. Most served in the military. They were neither particularly urbane or worldly, yet they all seemed to be at ease with anyone. They appeared to never feel beneath or above anyone, though they may not have quite felt to be someone's equal."

    I wish I'd had a father like that.

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  60. Alfred E Neuman,

    (who also stated):

    "It takes one to know one - and vice versa"

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  61. It's funny, but some commenters seem to be confusing WASP with Prep. Since Prep as a definition/label, is younger than most of us... I think it's difficult to go back to an era pre-"prep", and say who was prep, and who wasn't before the label even existed. Perhaps i'm reading into it too much!

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  62. @lostokes, I had a similar thought. I've only known several kids who went to prep school and they did not seem particularly preppy as it is being described here apart from the one qualification of having attended prep school. I also spent some years teaching at Harvard (as a very lowly teaching fellow) and don't recall many (any?) preps, but perhaps I am mistaken. Now that I think of it, though, I did have the extraordinary pleasure of meeting Mr. Jonathan Kozol. I think he is a good candidate for the prep icon list.
    P.T.

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  63. No offence, Lancer, but I don't know that most combat veterans have or had alcohol problems. My father didn't and he was even a POW in Germany for a year. Likewise, my son does not either and he spent 15 months in Iraq as a tank crewman. Incidentally, I was stationed in Germany just a few miles from where my father was held as a POW. My son, when he was in Germany, was in the same town where Elvis Presley (not a preppie icon but an icon just the same) was stationed.

    And speaking of icons, I mentioned before that it means "image." I've known a few who fit the image very well, though did not attend a prep school. My wife's uncle, the radical priest (Episcopal) in the family, together with his wife, fit the image perfectly. He would get a laugh out of it if I told him, which I surely will sooner or later. They have many friends from Episcopal High School, just up the street.

    I'm surprised no has mentioned Garry Trudeau so far. He went to a prep school and even to Yale. But more importantly, many of the characters in his comic strip are parodies of prep personas, if not icons.

    Also, thank you for the kind words, New communications. I am flattered. But I'll bet your father had qualities you never knew about. Sometimes misfortune brings out a person's better qualities.

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  64. I will amend my earlier comment about no Kennedys. I agree several of the JFK generation should be considered.

    (To the commment that Joseph P. Kennedy was a bootlegger, that falsehood has been debunked many times over.)

    I would also toss in the likes of FDR, Hope Montgomery Scott, and John Wilmerding.

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  65. @Blue Train
    Glad to hear that your dad and son were strong probably a reflection on your family in general.
    As an emergency physician and combat veteran, I have one perspective on substance issues in service members and those exposed to traumatic loss.
    The perspective also has made me more understanding of some of the issues faced by the Kennedy family.

    As a preppy quality, I always have appreciated RFK's enormous grace under pressure. I was particularly moved by his actions on the evening of the death of Dr King.
    Lancer
    LTC USAR/Brown Univ Emergency Med

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  66. As I've been told by Ferd: "you wouldn't know prep if it hit you in the face by a train"..or something like that, so, anyway, here's my un-prep list of icons in my little world.
    My lord, where to begin? There's just too many to name, but, I'll have a go at it:
    Kay and Phil Graham(poor Phil ...and to end it in the tub? )
    The Bruce's: Evangeline and Bruce (could she *ever* throw a party)
    The Sedgwicks of Boston, including Edie-drank away her inheritance, old Boston family)
    Katherine Hepburn(a prep without children? yes.)
    Alice R. Longworth
    Nan Kempner (smoked herself to an early grave)
    The Alsop brothers: Stew and Joe.
    Ave and Pam Harriman
    Kitty Lawrence
    Ali Wentworth(what a hoot!).
    Muffie Cabot (such grace).
    Babe Paley
    Minnie Cushing
    Julia Child ( she taught us all what a kitchen was!).
    Oatsie Charles ( the old gal can still party ).


    The list is endless. I could go on forever...
    W.

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    1. Although I loved Nan Kempner I think it's a huge no, and and an even bigger no for Babe Paley and her sister Minnie Cushing.

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    2. And a big YES to Oatsie Charles but she has been dead for several years.

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  67. Ben Bradlee (Dexter, St. Mark's, Harvard)

    Babe Paley (Westover School, The Winsor School)

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    1. Another Baby Paley mention? Hmm...why? Not old money but she married well both times. Attended good schools. But I'm still not seeing it.

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  68. Well, then, in that case, I'll nominate someone (presumably) well known locally who did in fact graduate from a prep school. She has established herself as the person to whom you would consult as a guide to "excruciatingly correct behavior." Miss Judith Martin, also known as Miss Manners.

    Another local personality that might be listed and is within the time frame, is Wallis Simpson. Iconic in her own way and in her own right in spite of being from Baltimore, she married an even larger icon, though not one that would be described preppie, strictly speaking.

    Mind you, I've never met any of these people, although I have met Peter Schickele, a graduate of Swarthmore, where a number of family members graduated.

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  69. Blue Train,

    I am from and live in the Baltimore area. We in fact have a very large prep culture, especially heading north from the area near Johns Hopkins University to the horse country of the northern suburbs. There are a lot of private schools and plenty of preps. Don't forget that this is one of the meccas for lacrosse, in fact, before the sport gained in popularity nationally, it was a stalwart within the Baltimore prep school scene. We also have a strong boating presence here. There is a lot of "old money."

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  70. To Anonymous @ 1:20. No offence, hon.

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  71. Arnold Palmer!

    While he did not come from old Northeast wealth, and did not even finish college, he still embodies the sole of the prep mindset. Despite his tremendous self-made wealth, he is known for his frugality and humbleness. From the way he conducts himself, to his manner of dress, to the style of his homes (again, rather modest considering his wealth), Arnold Palmer carries and promotes a great sense of tradition and old fashioned values, both on and off the golf course, that epitomizes the character of the true prep.

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  72. Blue Train,

    Good one!

    No offense was taken.

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  73. A few late additions:
    Madeleine Albright, Wellesley
    Letitia Baldrige, Miss Porters, Vassar
    Cokie Roberts Stone Ridge, Wellesley

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  74. Also for fun
    Mary-Stuart Montague Price, daughter of Captain Allen Ingram Price and founder of The National Debutante Cotillion and Thanksgiving Ball

    The entire Lester Lanin Orchestra

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  75. Katharine Hepburn and Anne Morrow Lindbergh while Camilla Parker Bowles is a great example of a Sloane Ranger.

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  76. If I may nominate, in no particular order, Whit Stillman, Samuel P. Huntington, Dave Brubeck, Adlai Stevenson, David Souter, and Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr..

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  77. A bit late, but I must mention Peter Beard (Pomfret, Yale). Perhaps a good example of a prep who bolted...?

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  78. Clare Booth Luce

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  79. Ben Bradlee in preppy garb:

    http://www.the-chesapeake.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Bradlee-Ben-ending-era.jpg

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  80. Lots of good names in these comments. Delightful to read through them. I'd add Reid Buckley, William F. and James's brother. And Robert Mueller. No political agenda here: I think RFK, JFK, and Jackie also belong in the prep pantheon.

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  81. Joseph Alsop (Groton, Harvard, Porcellian). Not really prep in contemporary terms. Old Northeastern WASP establishment, anglophile, mid-Atlantic accent.

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  82. Interesting how nobody mentioned wardrobe style as one criterion.
    Interesting how being a prep school graduate has never been a criterion in choosing idols for many of us.
    My grandmother would have found the terms "prep" and "preppy" vulgar. I can think of many people listed above who, similarly, would never have used those terms.

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  83. Archibald Cox. Thank you!

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  84. Goodness! In reading over the comments in this thread again, I am astonished at the number of posts I have made. There must have been something about the topic that energized me. Or something like that.

    I don't have any new icons to add but it should be mentioned that there is prep (that is, attended prep school) and ivy (attended an Ivy League school). One of my wife's grandfather graduated from an Ivy League school sometime before WWI and spent his working career in government service, chiefly working as an engineer on the George Washington Parkway in Virginia. He also served in the army. I have no idea what schools he attended prior to university, but he was from New York.

    On the other hand, my wife's other grandfather was employed at a prep school in Virginia, but I'm not sure about his educational background. My mother-in-law and her sister grew up there on the grounds of a boy's boarding school. You may notice in all my comments that all of the achievements in my family are on my wife's side and I'm only related by marriage.

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    1. I checked with my wife about her grandfather's schooling, for the one who worked at a boy's boarding school in Virginia. He did not attend college, there being no money, but he had graduated from Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia, presumably as a day student. He only lived a couple of blocks away on property that's still in the family.

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    2. Rules may have indeed been different back then, but even if you live nearby they still require you to board. My daughter wanted to attend and we lived a few miles away and I was NOT having it.

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    3. Oh, the rules are always changing. I mentioned that there was no money in the family and so never attended college, yet he attended a private high school. My wife believed it may have been on a scholarship basis.

      Another distant family relation, again on my wife's side, was headmaster of two different private schools. Many of these private schools went through hard times financially, particularly during the depression. I think there used to be more of these private schools than there are now. One of the schools that man was headmaster (or principal) of, Shenandoah Valley Academy, still open, had to close during the Spanish Flu epidemic.

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  85. George H. W. Bush

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  86. Never confuse money for background, breeding and confidence.

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    1. Likewise, never confuse background, breeding and confidence with class or character.

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    2. I beg to differ. Unless she has papers from a reputable kennel.

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  87. A reminder that the last half century *began* in 1971. ;-)

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  88. Tom Townsend (Pomfret, Princeton), Nick Smith (prep schools unknown, probably sent down), Audrey Rouget (Farmington). Of course, Whit Stillman (Collegiate, Potomac, Millbrook, Harvard

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    1. ^ Love it. That's a great reply. And I completely agree about Nick. Expelled from Choate, maybe?

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    2. As I recall, Nick had past connections with Rick Von Sloneker, so they may have prepped at the same school. Also, we also never learn anything about Charlie Black's prep/college background; I would put him down for Portsmouth Abbey and Harvard.

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  89. It's hard to come up with new examples, but in the category of gone but not forgotten: James Stewart, Cary Grant, J D Salinger, and Miles Davis (he went funky in the 60s but was Mr. button down collar for a long time).

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  90. From Philadelphia I nominate Richardson Dilworth, the last White Anglo-Saxon Protestant mayor of Philadelphia (1962).

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  91. Were there any non-WASP icons?

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    1. A. Bartlett Giamatti. After World War II they wouldn’t let an Italian-American into Yale.
      By 1978 this one was President of Yale.

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    2. CZ Guest - definitely the most iconic of WASPs. Also, Bunny Melon.

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  92. Replies
    1. I met Mr. Schickele at one of his P.D.Q. Bach concerts when I was a student at WVU, around 1968 or 1969. My roommate at the time was handling the sound system at the concert hall and I watched the concert from the sound booth. Mr. Schickele came into the booth to check on things. I don't suppose he was a preppie but he did attend Swarthmore. He actually grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, not in Hoople, home of the well-known University of Southern North Dakota.

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  93. I must admit I am enjoying this discussion! I live in an area in which there are no real preppies, but quite a few people who possess some of the more noticeable qualities, like dress and interests. Semi-prep? Pseudo prep?

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    1. How about just 'good breeding', 'good families' and very possibly 'old money.'

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    2. Oh YES Anonymous January 6, 2021 at 7:12 PM. How spot on and so true! I too had a canine just exactly like that, very top notch kennel she came from. Yes those qualities do make a canine don't they? But as you stated yes costly-money wise, but you get what you pay for.

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  94. Senators Pell and Chafee and their clans. John Carter Brown III, any number of the DeWolfs (especially those who found their way to the collar in the Episcopal Church), and a character I miss... Frolic Weymouth.

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  95. Reddy Finney, Buzzy Krongard, Gary Jobson

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  96. I wouldn't consider Frolic Weymouth preppy, but he certainly was a character. I would consider his best friend Anson Beard (Peter's brother) preppy.

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    1. Perhaps you knew him better. He went to St. Mark's with my uncle and we'd see him at Coaching Club events, etc... I just grew up seeing him as part of "the club" so didn't think of him as anything other, though he was certainly a colorful member. The last time I saw him was years before he passed in Newport...all dandied up.

      Can we agree on another of the dearly departed? Frank Cabot. A character is his own way and also amazingly passionate and creative when it came to gardening. While I have yet to visit his garden in Cold Spring, I did have the good fortune of a personal tour his gardens in La Malbaie, QC. It looks like perfection, but it didn't seem like he could walk more than 10 feet without pulling out his notebook to add to the list of things that needed to be done. The only being that dared mess up a leaf in those gardens was his terrier.

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  97. All the Princeton alumni who attended my Oxford college as graduate students. This includes male and female. And, yes, I am old enough for these contemporaries of mine to make the cut.

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