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TIMES PAST

Mary Astor's diary ends up in court

August 12, 2006

Aug. 12, 1936: A sensational court case came to an end when actress Mary Astor and Dr. Franklyn Thorpe, her surgeon ex-husband, agreed on joint custody of their 4-year-old daughter, Marylyn.

But it wasn't news of the custody arrangement for which the public waited breathlessly. People wanted to know the fate of Astor's famous diary -- in which she wrote more than 200 pages in lavender ink, sometimes of extramarital assignations.

Thorpe had used the diary as evidence of Astor's immoral conduct. She wrote of her affair with Broadway playwright George S. Kaufman, saying of one of their early meetings that after going to a show, "we went to a little flat in 73rd Street where we could be alone and it was all very thrilling and beautiful."

Then, as part of the custody agreement, the judge ordered that the diary be locked away in a bank vault and eventually destroyed.

In 1952, a judge and several officials supervised as the diary was burned page by page.

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