Polly Lauder Tunney, 100, the Carnegie Steel Co. heiress whose marriage to heavyweight boxing champion Gene Tunney made international headlines in 1928, died Saturday at her home in Stamford, Conn., her family said.
Mary "Polly" Lauder was 21 when she married Tunney in Italy a year after he successfully defended his heavyweight boxing title against Jack Dempsey in the famous "long count" fight in Chicago.
The New York Times reported that after the wedding, photographers had their clothes torn and cameras smashed in "something that looked mighty like a riot" as they tried to capture the couple leaving the ceremony.
Gene Tunney became a successful businessman after leaving the ring. He died at 81 in 1978.
Polly Tunney's grandfather was George Lauder, first cousin and close business partner of industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, founder and head of Carnegie Steel Co.
Her father, George Jr., was a philanthropist and yachtsman whose 136-foot schooner once held the record for the fastest transatlantic yacht passage.
One of her sons, John V. Tunney, was a three-term Democratic congressman when he was elected to the Senate from California in 1970, defeating incumbent Republican George Murphy. Tunney served one term before being defeated in 1976 by Republican S.I. Hayakawa.