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  Rockefeller, Margaretta Large Fitler Murphy "Happy"
NameMargaretta Large Fitler Murphy "Happy" Rockefeller
, New York , United States
Born June 09, 1926
DiedMay 19, 2015 (88 years)
ContributorThomas Walker
Last ModifedIndyGeorgia
May 19, 2015 10:14pm
InfoBorn in Bryn-Mawr, Pennsylvania. Daughter of William Wonderly Fitler Jr. and Margaretta Large Harrison. She is a great-great-granddaughter of Union general George Gordon Meade, the commander at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Happy Rockefeller, is the widow of Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller (1908–1979), the 41st Vice President of the United States of America and a Governor of New York. She was the Second Lady of the United States from 1974-1977.

Her first husband, from 11 December 1945 until their divorce on 1 April 1963, was Dr. James Slater Murphy, a virologist associated with Rockefeller Institute who was a close friend of Nelson Rockefeller. They had four children: James B. Murphy 2nd, Margaretta Harrison Murphy, Carol Slater Murphy, and Malinda Fitler Murphy (1960-2005), who married Francis Menotti, the adopted son of composer Gian Carlo Menotti.

At the home of Laurance S. Rockefeller in Pocantico Hills, New York, on 4 May 1963, a month after her divorce—which was granted for reasons of what The New York Times called "grievous mental anguish" and her former husband's lawyer called "irreconcilable differences"—she married Gov. Nelson Rockefeller. She previously had worked as a member of his office staff until her resignation in 1961. He had divorced his first wife, Mary Todhunter Clark, on 16 March 1962. Happy and Nelson Rockefeller had two sons: Nelson Rockefeller, Jr. (born 1964) and Mark Rockefeller (born 1967).

Happy Murphy's involvement with Gov. Rockefeller was controversial at the time. As the British journalist Lady Jeanne Campbell wrote in the London Evening Standard, when the Murphy-Rockefeller involvement became a subject of media scrutiny after the announcement of Rockefeller's filing for divorce from his first wife and Happy Murphy's resignation from his staff, "Already people are comparing Happy Murphy to the Duchess of Windsor when she was plain Mrs. Simpson."[1] More damaging still was the political fallout. Echoing the party-wide concerns, an official of the Michigan Republican Party told The New York Times that the couple's potential marriage likely would cost Rockefeller the 1964 presidential nomination. "The rapidity of it all—he gets a divorce, she gets a divorce—and the indication of the break-up of two homes. Our country doesn't like broken homes."[2]

Happy Rockefeller served as the chairman of the board for the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in 1971. She was appointed as a public delegate to the United Nations by President George H. W. Bush in 1991.

She is a breast cancer survivor, having undergone a mastectomy in 1974, two weeks after Betty Ford underwent the same operation.


Title Purchase Contributor

Start Date End Date Type Title Contributor

Date Category Headline Article Contributor

Importance? 6.00000 Average

Husband Nelson A. Rockefeller May 04, 1963-Jan 26, 1979
Father In-Law John D. Rockefeller, Jr. 1874-1960
Mother In-Law Abby Aldrich Rockefeller 1874-1948

  12/19/1974 Second Spouse - Appointment Won 100.00% (+100.00%)