Quick Background on Nina Clemens Gabrilowitsch

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 www.marktwainonline.com.

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.


One Response to Quick Background on Nina Clemens Gabrilowitsch

  1. Amy Kenyon says:

    I am interested in knowing more about Nina too. I am sorry, but I don’t really have any information to add to your site here. I guess you have seen the various connections on line, the portrait by Eulabee Dix, Nina’s inscription on Clara’s book, the Hannibal photos. I am a historian and writer and have long been thinking of trying to write something about her. So I would be very grateful to know if anything further is uncovered. Best wishes, Amy Kenyon