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Josie Mansfield
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    Born in Boston, Massachusetts
    Birth name was Helen Josephine Mansfield
    Mistress to Erie Railroad financier, James Fisk.
    Conducted a blackmail scheme with his associate, Edward Stiles Stokes, eventually leading to Fisk's murder (1872)
    She was an unsuccessful actress who quit to become a courtesan.
    She was a frequent hostess to Boss Tweed and his thugs.
    She began a two-year adulterous fling with married Jim Fisk in 1867, and then cheated on him.
    She was spoiled by the extravagant Fisk, housed in a four story 24th Street apartment with a lavish wardrobe and priceless jewelry to match.
    She carried on an intense correspondence with Fisk after their relationship ended, in a series of letters which became a lightning rod for gossip. She then tried to use the letters to blackmail Fisk, claiming they contained evidence of shady dealings.
    When Fisk refused, she and Edward Stokes sued him for $200,000, but lost their court case. Fisk followed suit by filing charges of extortion.
    The conflict brewed over when an angry Stokes followed Fisk to the Grand Central Hotel, where he shot him twice. At this point Josie 'got the hell out of dodge' and fled to Paris.
    Frances Farmer objected to the whitewashing of her character for the film, 'Toast of New York' (as was normally the case, the studio ignored her concerns).
    Google searches for her name inevitably turn up results of the other buxom society-licking floozy named Mansfield (and whose name also starts with a J).
    Her father was killed in a political duel.
    She spent her final years penniless and in virtual poverty (she almost lived to the age of 90).
    She was friends with radical feminist, Victoria Woodhull.
    For the conventions of time period, she was described as astonishingly beautiful.
    She annoyed the hell out of Fisk's robber baron partner, Jay Gould (so she must have been doing something right!)
    She may have been forced by her mother and stepfather to manipulate Fisk.
    In a time when women could not attain political power, she went about as far as she could.
    Columnists tried to make comparisons between her and Evelyn Nesbit in the aftermath of the 1906 Stanford White Murder, but Nesbit lacked the ambition and agency for the connection to stick.
    One historian wrote of her, 'perhaps a colder disgrace to her sex has never helped to ruin man since the world began' (a little bit harsh).

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

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