Isabelle Scott (left).(family photo/WP)
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The Deaf Music-Lover

Isabelle Scott’s helluva life

by
Marc Tracy
January 04, 2011
Isabelle Scott (left).(family photo/WP)

The story of Isabelle Scott, the Washington, D.C., heiress who died last November at 70, is cinematic in scope. Love affairs, divorces; a life of fortune, a life of philanthropy (an estimated $25 million in anonymous donations); abuse and triumph. The woman born Fredrica Linda Lehrman—and who, due to her three husbands, was at one point named Fredrica Lehrman Rosenberg Saunders Carmichael—was the granddaughter of Samuel Lehrman, who founded Giant Food (if you have ever lived in the D.C area, you have shopped at a Giant). Though she did not die Jewish (she became an Episcopalian), her relatives sat shiva for her. Did I mention the part about how she was deaf but nobody knew it until she was in second grade, and how as an adult she successfully hid it by styling her hair to cover her ears and their hearing aids? And how she donated several million dollars to various musical endeavors?

Anyway, Hollywood: Please get on this. I’m especially looking forward to the dramatization of the scene where Barry Rosenberg, then her boyfriend and later her first husband, saw through her house’s door that she was swollen and bruised the day after they had gone on a date, and Rosenberg—a 6’7”, 280-pound active-duty soldier—told her father, who physically and sexually abused her, never to touch her again. Oh and the part where she cheats on her second husband with her shrink; she divorces and then marries the shrink; and then the shrink cheats on her, prompting her to sue, successfully, for both divorce and malpractice.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

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