|Intro||American actor and art collector|
|Was|| Artist |
|From||United States of America|
|Type|| Arts |
Film, TV, Stage & Radio
|Birth|| 3 June 1918 |
, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
|Death|| 11 December 2005 |
(aged 87 years)
George Gordon Meade Easby (June 3, 1918 – December 11, 2005), also known as Meade or Mr. Easby, was a multi-talented person, from an artist to acting and producing films. He also served as an employee of the U.S. State Department for over twenty-five years and as a talk host on an AM radio station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Easby was the great-grandson of General George Meade, victor of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg against Robert E. Lee, and a descendant of seven signers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Easby’s mother was a descendant of Nicholas Waln, who came to Philadelphia in 1682 aboard the ship Welcome with William Penn, and was later given the section of the city now known as Frankford.
Early life and family background
Easby was born on 3 June 1918 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father was Major May Stevenson Easby, a banker in Philadelphia and World War I hero. Easby’s mother was Henrietta Meade Large Easby, described as “prim and reserved, a Victorian lady of few words”. He also had a younger brother Steven who died at a very young age in 1931 from some type of childhood disease. The family “traces its roots to Easby Abbey in 12th Century Yorkshire, England; that crossed over to America in 1683 aboard the Welcome with William Penn, and that counts among its descendants three – “at least three that I know of,” says Easby – signers of the Declaration of Independence.” General George Meade, victor of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War, was Easby’s great-grandfather through Meade’s daughter. “My mother’s mother was General (George G.) Meade’s daughter,” said Easby.
Education and careers
Easby graduated from Chestnut Hill Academy in June 1936, after reaching the age of 18. To celebrate all of this, on July 9, 1936, his parents purchased for him a brand new convertible Packard Super Eight luxury automobile from the nearest Packard dealership (Goldner Brothers) on Germantown Avenue. By the fall of the same year, he began studying illustration at the University of the Arts in Center City, Philadelphia.
After the start of World War II in 1939, Easby was drafted into the United States Army and was assigned to patrol (by air) the Atlantic Coast. At the end of World War II Easby continued work as an artist and became a recognized cartoonist. He then got involved in acting and producing low budget Hollywood films. Later, he worked as a radio talk host and as a U.S. State Department employee for over twenty-five years. He served on the Commission of Fine Arts and often met with highly important figures.
In the meantime, Easby became a major art and antique collector, who inherited more than 100,000 antiques and personal items, many of which had been in his family for centuries. His collection includes items belonging to General George Meade, a chair and other high valued items belonging to Napoleon of France as well as jewelry belonging to Joséphine de Beauharnais. It also includes the very utensils that were used by the founding fathers of the United States during the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. Many pieces from his collection have been loaned to the White House, U.S. State Department for its diplomatic reception rooms, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Some of his pieces are also housed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Easby’s furniture items were often traded at auctions such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s in the above one million dollar range each. Among many of the antique watches and clocks left to Easby, one was made for the 18th-century Queen Marie Antoinette of France.
Easby was also a collector of antique cars. He owned the 1954 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith that was previously owned by Prince Aly Khan (husband of the famous American actress Rita Hayworth and father of Aga Khan IV), his first vehicle (the Packard) and a few others.
Following the January 1969 death of his father Easby has been living by himself in the family’s Baleroy Mansion, which is located in the historically affluent Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It has been given a title as the “Most Haunted Home in America”, due to its infestation of spirits, ghosts, jinns, demons, angels or other supernatural beings that came to the 32-room mansion with the large collection of antiques. In 1990 Easby told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “The neighbors worry that it might become a Disney World with buses and tourists, but heavens, I’ve assured them that it won’t.”
Easby died on December 11, 2005, at a hospice (Keystone Hospice) in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania. He was 87 years old at the time of his death and had no living siblings or children. The cause of his death was reported as “multiple organ failure”. According to a 2008 Philadelphia court record:
Easby was buried at Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, the same cemetery where his family, ancestors and relatives are buried. He was known as an extremely kind and generous person.