Million Dollar American Princesses

Watch Million Dollar American Princesses

  • 2015
  • 2 Seasons
  • 7.7  (185)

Million Dollar American Princesses is a fascinating historical documentary series featuring the lifestyles, love stories, and adventures of American heiresses who married into famous European aristocratic families in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Directed by Chris Malone and produced by RDF Productions, the series premiered on the Smithsonian CHANNEL in January 2015 and was narrated by Elizabeth McGovern, an Emmy-nominated actress known for her role on Downton Abbey.

Each episode of Million Dollar American Princesses explores the lives of different women who left the United States in search of love, status, and excitement. Through rare archival photographs, letters, diaries, and interviews with experts, the show sheds light on the challenges and rewards of being a transatlantic bride in a time when social conventions, language barriers, and cultural differences could create both fascination and frustration.

Some of the episodes focus on single American women who traveled to Europe with their mothers or friends in order to attract eligible aristocratic bachelors. These women, known as 'dollar princesses', were often daughters of self-made millionaires, such as John Jacob Astor, William Vanderbilt, and J.P. Morgan, who sought to secure their families' financial status and enhance their social prestige by marrying into old-world nobility. The show reveals how these women adjusted to their new homes, often bringing American style and values to the staid and formal European court life.

Other episodes delve into the romantic and political intrigues of these marriages, such as the union of Consuelo Vanderbilt and the Duke of Marlborough, which was arranged by her domineering mother but turned into a fiery battle of wills between the young bride and her cold-hearted husband. Another example is the passionate love affair between Waldorf Astor and Nancy Langhorne, who became the first woman to sit in the British Parliament after marrying Waldorf and inheriting his father's title.

The series also explores the social impact of these marriages, which often resulted in the intermingling of American and European cultures, arts, and ideas. For instance, Million Dollar American Princesses features interviews with writers and scholars who explain how the influx of American money and talent sparked a 'second Renaissance' in Italy, gave rise to the Ballets Russes in Paris, and influenced the Art Deco movement in London. By tracing the footsteps of these pioneering women, the show provides a rich and insightful portrait of a fascinating period in history.

In addition to Elizabeth McGovern's eloquent narration, the show benefits from the entertaining and knowledgeable contributions of several well-known historians, authors, and commentators, such as Charles Jennings, an acclaimed London-based writer and broadcaster, and Lorelei King, a versatile actress and voice-over artist who brings humor and vivacity to her hosting duties. With its blend of personal stories, historical context, and expert analysis, Million Dollar American Princesses is a must-watch for anyone interested in American and European history, gender and class dynamics, and the enduring allure of royalty and romance.

Overall, Million Dollar American Princesses is a captivating and informative documentary series that offers a fresh perspective on the lives of some of the most intriguing women of the Gilded Age. Through elegant and informative storytelling, the show captures the drama, pathos, and glamour of their adventures and sheds light on their wider cultural and historical significance. Whether you are a history buff, a fashion enthusiast, or a romantic at heart, this series is sure to delight and inspire you.

Million Dollar American Princesses is a series that is currently running and has 2 seasons (16 episodes). The series first aired on January 4, 2015.

Million Dollar American Princesses
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Tonight's is the story of three women who sought after love, but ran into disaster. Barbara Hutton, Clara Ward, and Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy married into European nobility but were shunned by everyone and the happy endings they tried for.
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January 10, 2016
Elizabeth McGovern, from "Downton Abbey," reveals how Winnaretta Singer, Sara Murphy, and Peggy Guggenheim influenced some of the most innovative creative talents of the 20th century.
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January 3, 2016
How Grace Kelly, Gloria Swanson, and Rita Hayworth transformed from Hollywood royalty to part of European nobility.
Where to Watch Million Dollar American Princesses
Million Dollar American Princesses is available for streaming on the Smithsonian CHANNEL website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Million Dollar American Princesses on demand at Paramount+, Amazon Prime, Philo, Amazon, Vudu, FuboTV, Google Play and Apple TV.
  • Premiere Date
    January 4, 2015
  • IMDB Rating
    7.7  (185)