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Wife of Igor Cassini Dies of Overdose

Apr. 9, 1963 - Mrs. Charlene Wrightsman Cassini, wife of Igor Cassini, the society columnist, died in New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital today, apparently as the result of an overdose of barbiturates, the police reported. Mrs. Cassini, 38, had collapsed in her Fifth Avenue apartment shortly after midnight while watching television. Mr. Cassini was not at home, but arrived as a private ambulance was taking his wife to the hospital. Mr. Cassini, who for years wrote a society column for The New York Journal-American and other papers under the name of Cholly Knickerbocker, was indicted Feb. 8 by a Federal grand jury. He is awaiting trial on charges of failure to register as an agent for the late Dominican Republic dictator, Generalissimo Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina. Mr. Cassini’s brother, Oleg, the fashion designer, is one of Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy’s dressmakers. Mrs. Cassini was the daughter of Charles B. Wrightsman, millionaire oil man, who is a long-time friend and neighbor of the Kennedy family in Palm Beach, Fla. The President has stayed at the Wrightsman home on a number of occasions. At the hospital, an attempt was made to save Mrs. Cassini’s life by the use of a stomach pump and other emergency treatment. She died at 10 a.m. A police spokesman said after a preliminary investigation that “we have nothing to indicate whether she took the pills accidentally or otherwise.” “No notes were found,” he said. “We are continuing an investigation.” Mrs. Cassini had been under treatment by Dr. Philip Polatin of the New York State Psychiatric Institute. The police said Dr. Polatin had given a prescription for 30 sleeping pills for Mrs. Cassini. At 10 p.m. last night, her 14-year-old stepdaughter, Marina Cassini, had been watching the Academy Awards on television with Mrs. Cassini. After the program, Mrs. Cassini went to the bathroom. When she came out, the child said, Mrs. Cassini’s color started to change, and she appeared to have trouble breathing. The girl called the family physician, Dr. Gustav J. Beck. He gave emergency treatment to Mrs. Cassini, who was by then unconscious, and summoned an ambulance.


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