Archive for May, 2009

Where, Oh Where, Are Nina’s Heirs? Part I: Jules Schmidt

Friday, May 8th, 2009

When Mark Twain’s granddaughter Nina Clemens Gabrilowitsch wrote her will, she left small monthly annuities to four friends.

One of those four was Jules Schmidt. From a letter in the collection of the Mark Twain House in Hartford, CT, we know that Jules was an actor and friend of Nina’s. Nina was, apparently, no fan of Jules wife, per the letter! The letter implies that he had at least two children.

Are there any serious old film junkies out there who might recognize Jules Schmit as a bit actor in Hollywood in the 1940’s and 1950s?  Or is there anyone related to this fellow out there?  I would guess that he was born circa 1910 as he appears to be about Nina’s age.  It seems likley that Nina wrote addtional letters to Jules and we would love to see them!

Quick Background on Nina Clemens Gabrilowitsch

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

To begin the story, here’s some bare bones facts about Mark Twain’s only grandchild, Nina Clemens Gabrilowitsch.  You can see some photos of her at

Nina was born August 18, 1910 in Redding, CT to Clara Clemens, only then surviving child of Mark Twain, and her husband Ossip Gabrilowitsch.  Ossip was a world renowned pianist who later served as the conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for years. The family trio of Clara, Ossip, and Nina appear to have been very happy.

The family spent Nina’s early childhood mostly in Germany and New York. Perhaps because of all the travelling, Ossip’s pet name for his daughter was “International Monkey” per Clara in her book “My Husband Gabrilowitsch.”

From around 1919 until she enrolled at Barnard College in 1929, Nina lived in Detroit, Michigan and was enrolled in the private Liggett School there.

During her college years, her steady boyfriend was Carl Roters who went on to become an artist of some renown. While Nina claimed later in life that she had married Carl briefly, he maintained that no such marriage ever took place.

The death of her father in September 1936 appears to have shattered the world of both Nina and her mother Clara.

In the late 1930s, Clara decided to move to California and Nina shortly followed. While the two attempted to live together for awhile, the relationship was stormy as Nina had begun a lifelong pattern of excessive drinking and disturbed mental health episodes.  She moved off on her own fairly quickly and made some attempts to pursue an acting and photography career. Nina was checked into various rehabilitation facilities over the years.

In January 1966, Nina was found dead at a hotel room in Los Angeles with bottles of pills around her. While her estate executor Marvin Harpole still believes that her death was accidental, the LA Coroner’s Office ruled her death a suicide.

The Search For More Info on Mark Twain’s Nina

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Last time I mentioned that a doucumentary is in the works about our research on Nina Clemens Garilowitsch, only grandchild of famous author Mark Twain. Contrary to all belief, it seems very possible that Nina left a child (born out of wedlock). If so, Mark Twain’s line has NOT died out. In a series of blog posts, we will be talking about Nina and some of the people in her life. Maybe you will be able to help with more information!


Friday, May 1st, 2009

For some time, I have been working on a genealogical mystery related to famous author Mark Twain. Visit to follow the story. Two days ago, my cousin and I were contacted by a German film maker about developing this story into a documentary! After some discussion, it looks like this project will be going forward. We are hoping that with the filming of this story, perhaps it will draw enough information out of the woodwork to prove (or disprove) once and for all our belief that Mark Twain’s gene pool did not, in fact die out. Stay tuned!