“The SS Normandie: A Tragic Story of the Most Majestic Ocean Liner”
Monday, November 7, 2016, 6:00PM
Dixon Education Building

No charge | Reservations Required

“The SS Normandie: A Tragic Story of the Most Majestic Ocean Liner,” with RICHARD RENÉ SILVIN”

Most people are familiar with the dramatic sinking of the Titanic. However, 30 years later an even more opulent French ocean liner burned and sank in New York harbor. Author Richard René Silvin brings to life (and shares the tumultuous ending) of one of the most beautiful objects built by man during the 20th century.

Book Signing to Follow

Richard_Rene_SilvinRichard René  Silvin

Born in New York, René Silvin grew up in Swiss boarding schools. After earning his bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in 1970 and an MBA from Cornell in 1972, he spent 25 years in the investor owned hospital industry. He rose to the head of the International Division of American Medical International, Inc. which owned and operated hospitals in 10 countries.

Since retiring after surviving a late stage cancer in the late 90-s, René has published five books. They include two autobiographies, a memoir about his friendship with the late Duchess of Windsor, a history of Palm Beach, Florida seen through the eyes of the famous society architect Addison Mizner, and his latest book about the SS Normandie, the French Line’s magnificent 1930’s flagship.

In the early nineteen seventies René was hired by the U.S. State Department to take over the management of the famous American Hospital of Paris. At that time the beleaguered but famous hospital was the Duchess of Windsor’s only charity and the sole beneficiary of her estate. Silvin, being the son of a friend of the Duchess’, became the Duchess’ confidant on what was occurring with her charity, and quickly turned into the widowed Duchess’ escort to the few social events she attended after the Duke died.

Silvin has made a lifelong study of understanding the complex lives of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and is here today to share that knowledge and personal experience with us. He owns one of the largest collections of pictures of the famous couple, and has access to the few televised interviews they ever made.

Rene’s always wanted to write a book about a great house, which became reality when he met the owners of Villa Mizner on Worth Avenue. The book introduces the reader to the life and work of the flamboyant, socialite architect Addison Mizner, and the effect he had on Palm Beach. It includes details of Mizner’s colorful personal life and the grand palaces he designed and decorated for America’s elite in Palm Beach during the “Roaring Twenties.” Numerous pictures of the mansions, most of which have been demolished, are included while the lives of Mizner ‘s best known clients and the architect-turned entrepreneur’s failed attempt to create the model city of Boca Raton are explored.

René’s parents lived on opposite sides of the Atlantic throughout his childhood. This unusual situation created the opportunity for him to travel frequently on the great French and British liners, those which survived the Second World War. These regular crossings constitute his happiest memories and gave rise to a life-long study of ocean liners, most notably the legendary “floating museum” Normandie. His latest book focuses on the development, the glamorous 4-year life, and the sad demise of this most magnificent ship.

He has lectured widely on hospital administration and comparative international health care systems. René is now a leading authority on the Duchess of Windsor, society architect of the 1920’s Addison Mizner, and the SS Normandie, and is lecturing extensively on all three topics.

René is listed in Who’s Who in the World (1988) as well as Who’s Who in Finance and Industry and Who’s Who in Health Care.

 

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