Nearing the end of her long life, it was her age itself that helped provoke the headlines. But Brooke Astor, who died Monday Aug. 13, 2007 at the age of 105, was well known for many years for her civic leadership, her philanthropy and her style. In this photograph -- taken in 1997 -- she was 95 years old.
Even as a centagenarian, Brooke Astor was often seen out on the town. Here ,she attends the opening of the play "I Am My Own Wife" on Dec. 3, 2003 in New York City.
Brooke Astor stands in front of a portrait of her late husband, Vincent Astor(1891-1959). Astor was her third and final husband, the only son of Titanic victim Colonel John Jacob Astor IV, and heir to the famous Astor fortune. They were married in 1953, six years before he died -- leaving her a widow (for the second time) at age 57.
In 1959, Brooke Astor enters surrogate court in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., during a dispute with some of Astor's relatives.
For the next half century, Brooke Astor gave away some $200 million, much of it to New York's "crown jewels," such as the New York Public Library. Here she is at the library in 2001, with the other recipients of the first Andrew Carnegie Medals of Philanthropy Awards ceremony. From left are George Soros, David Rockefeller, Irene Diamond, William Gates III, Brooke Astor and, at the back, Ted Turner.
For many years, there were few people more admired, or more fashionable, than Brooke Astor. First Lady Nancy Reagan, right, presents Mrs. Astor with an award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, as designer Oscar de la Renta looks on at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art on Jan. 11, 1988.
She was at ease with national and international figures, such as United Nations Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar. In this Feb. 15, 1991 photo, Astor presents him with the Citizens Committee for New York City's "New Yorker for New York" award.
Here she is being escorted by former secretary of state Henry Kissinger from private funeral services in New York for William S. Paley, on Oct. 29, 1990.
But Brooke Astor's philanthropies included many humble ones. Here she is on Oct. 10, 1989, celebrating the 50th anniversary of "Little Toot" by Hardie Gramatky by reading the book to children from P.S. 59 in New York.
Brooke Astor's good friend Annette de La Renta, here shown in a social event at the White House, played a role in the waning days of Astor's life. In court papers, Astor's grandson accused his father of neglecting and exploiting her, and asked that he be removed as her guardian. In 2006, a settlement was announced in which de la Renta and JPMorgan Chase would be her guardians.
Despite the circumstances of her last few years, Brooke Astor will most likely be remembered most for her philanthropy. She liquidated the Vincent Astor Foundation in 1997, having made a solid impact on such institutions as the International Rescue Committee, the Fresh Air Fund, the Lighthouse for the Blind and, perhaps above all, her beloved New York Public Library.