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The curse that plagued the family who inspired ‘The Philadelphia Story’

Helen Hope Montgomery was perfectly suited to a life of excess. She regularly made the best-dressed lists beside Babe Paley and once sang a naughty song to the Duke of Windsor. She won a Charleston contest judged by Josephine Baker. A legendary bon vivant, she would become the inspiration for Katharine Hepburn’s character Tracy Lord in “The Philadelphia Story” — a spoiled Main Line heiress who remarries her debonair ex-husband, played by Cary Grant. “She was charming, flirtatious, disciplined, competitive and driven,” writes her granddaughter Janny Scott in her new book “The Beneficiary” (Riverhead Books), out now. Montgomery grew up on Ardrossan, a storied estate dubbed “The American Downton Abbey” that her fathe ...
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