NEW YORK: Haunting Echo

Rockabye baby

Up on a writ,

Monday to Friday, Mother's unfit.

As the week ends, she rises in virtue;

Saturdays, Sundays,

Mother won't hurt you.

Thus with a cynic's lullaby closed the final chapter—just 24 years ago this month—of one of the most tempestuous custody battles ever fought. The baby was eleven-year-old Gloria Vanderbilt, solemn-faced, button-cute heiress to a $4,000,000 trust fund, headlined in that Depression year as the "Poor Little Rich Girl." Mother was Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, one of the most publicized Continental gadabouts of the day, who lost the fight for her daughter's custody—except for weekends (with Christmas and July tossed in)—to her...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!