The Vanderbilt name is still famous to this day. So you might be surprised that, at one point in the 1800s, the Vanderbilts were rejected by high society, because they were a part of the nouveau riche thanks to their success in railways and shipping.
So how did the Vanderbilts become one of the most important families in New York City? Aw, Alva Erskine Smith married to the family.
Using her husband’s wealth, the new Mrs. Vanderbilt built prominent family homes in the city and in Newport, launched his own Opera House and threw pomp. But he just didn’t have access to New York’s miserable society. He overcame it, replacing Mrs. Astor — with fellow socialites Mamie Fish and Theresa Fair Oelrichs—At his death.
Further proving that she was not afraid of change, Alva eventually divorced Mr. William K. Vanderbilt and remarried family friend Oliver Belmont. She is also a promoter of the women’s voting movement.
Even if Alva Vanderbilt is just a name mentioned The Gilded Ageshe clearly inspired the character Bertha Russell (Carrie Coon), who tried to use his enormous wealth to enter high society.