ANNE MCDONNELL AND CRISTINA AUSTIN FORD
Henry Ford II left the Navy in July 1943 and joined the company's management a few weeks later. After 2 years, he took over the presidency of the company on September 21, 1945. Sure, the Deuce had his faults. He was a mean drunk and he began to copy most of the ultra rich of marrying, philandering, divorcing, re-marrying and immediately re-philandering.
The announcement of the Ford separation and divorce followed months of rumor in which Mr. Ford was linked romantically to the Italian-born Cristina Austin, the divorced wife of a British naval officer. Mr. Ford and Mrs. Austin were married in 1965.
Shortly after her divorce, Mrs. Ford, moved to Manhattan, was with a friend having a cup of espresso at the Regency Hotel. She noticed Mrs. Austin, who was with a friend at another table. "This had to happen some time," she whispered to her companion. "I think the only gracious thing is to go over and say hello. You know I've never met her." The two went over, introduced themselves and shook hands. Mrs. Ford's friend later reported: "It was all very civilized, but if there were a way to bottle up the electricity in that little room, it would run the Ford industries for a solid year."
Thus he left his first wife, Anne McDonnell Ford, the daughter of a Catholic Wall Street banker, for the Italian bombshell Cristina Austin.
When Ford first met Cristina in 1960 at Maxim's in Paris, they chatted all evening before she asked his name—twice, as it turned out. Henry was delighted that the young divorcée did not (or pretended not to) recognize the Deuce or his famous family. Cristina came to New York to wait out Ford's divorce from his wife of 23 years.
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