Doris Duke Biography & Net Worth


Doris Duke Biography & Net Worth

Popular Name: Doris Duke
Real Name:
Doris Duke
Birth Date: November 22, 1912
Birth Place:
New York City, United States
Age: Died on October 28, 1993 (aged 80)
Gender: Female
Nationality: American
Height: N/A
Weight: N/A
Sexuality: Straight
Marital Status: Divorced
James H. R. Cromwell (m. 1935; div. 1943)​
Porfirio Rubirosa (m. 1947; div. 1951)
Children: 1
Profession: Philanthropist, Socialite, Art Collector
Years active: N/A
Net Worth: $1.3 Billion
Last Updated: December, 2020


Doris Duke was an American socialite and philanthropist. She was also the only child of tobacco tycoon James Buchanan Duke. She traveled extensively during her time alive, and also worked as a news correspondent briefly. Doris preserved over 80 heritage buildings in Newport and established one of the biggest indoor horticultural gardens in the United States. In spite of being married and divorced two times and having scores of affairs, she enjoyed staying away from the media spotlight. She is also popular for her philanthropy, including her huge contributions to AIDS research and child welfare. Following her death in October 1993, most of her wealth was distributed to charities working for children, arts, animals, and ecology.

Doris Duke’s Early Life

She was born in New York City, New York, United States on November 22, 1912. She was the only child of James Buchanan Duke and Nanaline Holt Inman. Her father was a tobacco and hydroelectric power baron. Following her birth, Doris was termed “the richest little girl in the world” by the Media. However, she later grew up to be a shy person who made sure to stay away from unnecessary publicity.

The Duke family made a huge fortune from tobacco fields of North Carolina. James Buchanan Duke founded the ‘American Tobacco Company’ in 1890. He was struck by pneumonia in 1925 and passed away in October that year. He left majority of his fortune to Doris, who was 12 years old at that time. Doris’s mother inherited an insignificant trust fund, and this affected the relationship between Doris and her Mother. When she was 14, Doris sued her mother in order to stop her from selling off their family assets. Even when she wished to enroll into college, her mother didn’t allow it, and decided to take her on a grand European tour instead.

Doris Duke’s Career

As soon as Doris stepped into adulthood, the brilliant young lady started to invest her inherited wealth in world travel and the arts. During the Second World War, she worked at a sailors’ canteen in Egypt. She was fluent in French. In 1945, she started a career as a foreign news correspondent for the ‘International News Service.’ She reported from many cities across war-affected Europe. Following the war, she relocated to Paris and wrote for the popular American fashion magazine ‘Harper’s Bazaar’.

Doris Duke Net Worth 2020
Doris Duke

Doris lived in Hawaii for a brief period and was the first non-Hawaiian woman to take part in competitive surfing, under the mentoring of surfing champion and Olympic swimmer Duke Kahanamoku and his brothers. An animal lover, she had pet camels and dogs, and later became a supporter of wildlife refuge. She also showed interest in horticulture. She was 46 years old when she established ‘Duke Gardens’ in 1958. The garden was opened in honor of her father, and was available for the general public. She designed the architectural components of the displays, based on the things she had seen in her tours across countries.

Doris Duke was proficient in playing the piano. She was fond of jazz and liked gospel music too. She also sang as a part of a gospel choir. She was aged 21 when she established her first Philanthropic venture, the ‘Independent Aid, Inc.’ in 1934.

Personal Life, Family, Death

Doris Duke had married twice in her time alive. In 1935, she tied the knot with James H. R. Cromwell. He was the son of Eva Stotesbury, a noted Palm Beach socialite. In 1940, Cromwell served as the United States Ambassador to Canada and then ran unsuccessfully for the United States Senate. Together, they had a daughter called Arden, who died the day after her birth. Their marriage lasted eight years and the couple divorced in 1943.

Duke got married for  the second time in 1947, to a diplomat from the Dominican Republic named Porfirio Rubirosa. She was his third wife. It is believed that Doris Duke paid his second wife, actress Danielle Darrieux, $1 million for a mutual divorce. Due to political tension, Porfirio signed a pre-nuptial agreement. Duke showered Rubirosa with many gifts such as a converted B-25 bomber and sports cars. They divorced in the year 1951 and he received a house in Paris as part of their divorce settlement.

Doris Duke had countless affairs, including with Alec Cunningham-Reid, Louis Bromfield, Duke Kahanamoku, Errol Flynn, General George S. Patton, and Joe Castro. She was a close friend of Brazilian socialite Aimée de Heeren, and avoided publicity for most of her lifetime.

In 1966, she was involved in a car crash that led to the death of designer Eduardo Tirella. While it was considered as a freak accident, Eduardo’s family sued Doris and won US$75,000.

In 1993, a day after getting a knee surgery, Doris Duke suffered a stroke. On October 28, 1993, she died of progressive pulmonary edema owing to a cardiac arrest. She was 80 years old at the time of her passing. She was cremated, and according to her will, her butler, Bernard Lafferty scattered her ashes in the Pacific Ocean. She had left a fortune worth $1.2 billion to Bernard Lafferty.

Her last living heirs are twins Georgia Inman and Walker “Patterson” Inman III, the children of her nephew, Walker Inman Jr.

Doris Duke Net Worth

Duke was an American tobacco heiress who was worth around $1.3 billion at the time of her passing in 1993. After adjusting for inflation, that is around $2.3 billion in today’s dollars. During her time alive, she was frequently called the richest woman in the world, and was best known as an eccentric billionaire.

Doris Duke owned several homes. Most of the time, she stayed at ‘Duke Farms,’ her father’s estate in New Jersey which spanned more than 2,000 acres, and was the site of the popular ‘Duke Gardens.’ She had other residences as well, and spent most of her time traveling around the world. She spent her winters at at ‘Falcon Lair,’ in Beverly Hills, California, and at ‘Shangri La,’ her estate in Hawaii. In the summers, she was found at her ‘Rough Point’ mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. She had two houses in Manhattan, and went on tours in her own ‘Boeing 737’ jet.

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