Elaine Guthrie Lorillard (October 11, 1914 – November 26, 2007) was an American socialite who, with her husband Louis Lorillard, founded the Newport Jazz Festival.
Elaine Guthrie was born in Tremont, Maine to Walter Edward Guthrie and Eliza Pray Guthrie. After Phillips Exeter Academy, Harvard and serving in World War I, her father founded the family printing company in Boston, MA; her mother, called Lida, was a classical singer. Elaine attended the New England Conservatory of Music, and in 1943 she joined the Red Cross, where she taught piano and painting to orphans in Naples, Italy. It is in Naples where she met United States Army Lieutenant Louis Livingston Lorillard (1919–1986) and they married in 1946. Louis was a descendant of Pierre Lorillard, the founder of the P. Lorillard Company in 1760. While serving in Naples, Elaine and Louis Lorillard shared an interest in listening to jazz, which, separately, they had first experienced when living in New York City before going overseas.
Newport Jazz Festival
During a visit to Storyville Nightclub in Boston, Massachusetts with her brother Thomas T. Guthrie and his friend Professor Borne from Boston University in 1953, Elaine and Louis Lorillard met George Wein, who worked at the nightclub, and they discussed the possibility of bringing an outdoor jazz concert to Newport, Rhode Island, where they lived. With the guidance of John Hammond and George Avakian (record producers and executives at Columbia Records) they came up with a smashing list of performers. With a $20,000 grant from the Lorillards the first jazz festival in July 1954, attracted--a surprising number of--11,000 fans. The Lorillards continued to support the festival until 1961. The Lorillards maintained even after their divorce in the seventies that the Newport Jazz Festival was founded by Elaine and Louis Lorillard as a nonprofit organization, proceeds of which would have gone to local music education.
The 1956 movie High Society, with a storyline by family friend Cleveland Amory, documented the Lorillard's love story and marriage. Grace Kelly was chosen for her resemblance to Elaine Lorillard. Filmed in Newport, RI, there are scenes from the Lorillards' life, from a convertible passing their house, "Quatrel," on Bellevue Avenue, to their daughter sitting at their piano with Louis Armstrong.
She died in the Heatherwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Newport, Rhode Island where she had been treated for pneumonia/MRSA at the age of 93.