DOWNTON ABBEY’S ELIZABETH MCGOVERN HOSTS
MILLION DOLLAR AMERICAN PRINCESSES
3-PART SERIES TO PREMIERE JANUARY 4th, 11th & 18th AT 8PM ET/PT
ON SMITHSONIAN CHANNEL™
New York, December 10, 2014 – Lady Cora was not alone. The fictional heroine of “Downton Abbey” was representative of hundreds of real American heiresses who wed British nobility at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries, merging cash with class. Hosted by “Downton Abbey” star Elizabeth McGovern, MILLION DOLLAR AMERICAN PRINCESSES, premiering on January 4 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel, chronicles the fascinating stories behind some of these celebrated unions. From Winston Churchill’s parents to Princess Diana’s great grandmother, the series examines arranged marriages that saved a fading British aristocracy and, in return, gave some American women a title and place in high society.
Between 1880 and 1920, as many as 350 British aristocrats married wealthy American brides—the so-called “Dollar Princesses.” This new series chronicles the true stories of how marriage, class, sex, ambition, power and money all converged during these four decades, as the sun began setting over the British Empire. Through sumptuous location filming, historical documents, interviews and dramatic re-enactments, MILLION DOLLAR AMERICAN PRINCESSES brings to life the stories of these extraordinary women – the romance, the heartbreak, the secrets, the scandals and their enduring legacy.
Elizabeth McGovern takes viewers into Highclere Castle, where “Downton Abbey” is shot. The three-part series reveals the lives of cossetted women whose families craved the social standing, breeding and respect a title would grant. They lived like nobility in America, in marble palaces with legions of staff, while their British counterparts lived in centuries-old family estates that were crumbling. The culture clash was often intense, and the result sometimes extraordinary. Some of these women became not just socialites but Members of Parliament and Suffragettes. They campaigned for enlightened causes and embraced sexual freedom – setting their mark on everything from the Royal Family and the British Empire to parliamentary democracy.
Million Dollar American Princesses makes an enthralling journey through history to reveal the stories of some of the most charismatic and adventurous women of their day, and how they interacted with the great social changes that ushered in the 20th century.