Doris Duke image

Doris Duke

  • Trustee, 1933–1993

Ms. Duke, the only child of James B. Duke, was born in New York City on November 22, 1912. When Doris was 13, Mr. Duke died and left most of his fortune to her. The press called her “the richest little girl in the world.” At 22, Ms. Duke married aspiring politician Jimmy Cromwell, which ended in divorce. In 1945, Ms. Duke became a foreign correspondent for the International News Service and later wrote for Harper’s Bazaar. She met and married Porfirio Rubirosa and divorced a year later. She loved to travel, explore world cultures and furnish her five homes. She was an astute businesswoman, but her real passion was for the arts. She amassed a sizable art collection through her travels around the world and was both a patron and a participant of the performing arts, including jazz piano and modern dance. Her $2 billion Doris Duke Foundation today supports the performing arts, medical research, child well-being and environmental programs. She served as a Trustee of The Duke Endowment from 1932 until her death in 1993. Her fellow Trustees had long sought to diversify the Endowment’s financial assets beyond the Duke Power stock Mr. Duke used to fund it, but Ms. Duke blocked that change until her death. In 1994, the Endowment announced plans to sell 16 million shares of Duke Power stock. The Endowment’s Trustees continue to administer the Doris Duke Trust, which was established to benefit 24 named beneficiaries and their lineal descendants. A resolution in her honor, passed by the Endowment’s Trustees upon her death, praised her “wide-ranging intelligence, her multi-faceted interests, and her inquiring mind.”

“wide-ranging intelligence, her multi-faceted interests, and her inquiring mind.”

The Trustees