Prince David Mdivani Profile

Prince David Mdivani
Prince David Mdivani
Photo of Prince David Mdivani
(David Z. Mdivani)
4 February 04 is born in Batum, Georgia, the first son of General Zakhari/Zachariah/Zacharie/Zarhary Mdivani, a former aide-de-camp of Emperor Nicholas of Russia, and his wife Elizabeth Viktorovna Sabalevska. He has an older sister, Nina, born 1901; and an older brother, Serge, born 1903.
7 June 05 his sister Isabelle Roussadana is born in Georgia
07 his brother Alexis is born
February 21 General Zakhari, his wife Elizabeth and the children Nina, Roussie and Alexis, leave Georgia on an Italian ship and escape to Konstantinopel
23 his family reunites in Paris, where Elizabeth and her younger children rented a flat in the Rue Montparnasse
he and Serge arrive in Paris from the States
? his mother, Elizabeth, dies after a family party
? Zakhari moves with his daughters to the Hotel Versailles at Montparnasse; David and Serge return to the States
? meets Marie Adrienne Koenig, a.k.a film star May Murray, when working in the oil fields of Signal Hill, California
27 June 26 marries Mae Murray in Beverly Hills, becoming her fourth husband. He's about 26; she's 37. Screen idol Rudolph Valentino is best man and actress Pola Negri is maid of honor.
? the Mdivanis are off to Europe for a lengthy honeymoon
February 27 their son, Koran David, is born in Los Angeles/Paris. His mystic name is taken from the Mohammedan scripts. Neither of his parents will ever reveal to him where and when he was born, and because of this he will never have a passport.
Mid-27 a movie magazine expresses doubt about the Mdivanis' princeliness, calling it "the bunk." Serge Mdivani claims the title was bestowed on the family by Czar Irakly II of Georgia, then a monarchy separate from Russia, in 1752.
June 28 the Los Angeles Examiner reveals in a copyrighted story that Mdivani and his wife are parents of a 16-month-old son, whose birth "was known to only a few friends of the couple." The child reportedly never leaves the Westwood mansion of the Mdivanis, watched over by a Japanese nursemaid. "My wife is a motion picture star and many people think actresses should not have children," David says.
Mid-March 31 is best man at his brother Serge's marriage to operatic singer Mary McCormick in Phoenix, Arizona
1 August 31 Murray files suit for divorce from him in Los Angeles. She claims he repeatedly beat and cursed her. His profession is given as Hollywood artist. The press heralds: "On January 1, 1928, in Buffalo, New York, while they were at the Statler hotel, Miss Murray declared her husband beat her with his fists, locked her in a bathroom, and kept her a prisoner for several hours. On her release, she left the apartment and stayed at another hotel for the night, she stated. On March 2, 1928, at their home in Los Angeles, Mdivani was alleged to have beaten his wife in the presence of a servant, to have cut her lip, to have chased her with a loaded gun, and to have used profanity and called her ugly names."
18 April 33 his father dies in Paris of uremia and heart disease
Mid-June 33 is sued for divorce by Murray, who claims unreasonable jealousy
Late June 33 Murray and her sister-in-law, Mary McCormick, are pictured discussing marital troubles. "They have had receivers appointed for the oil interests owned by their husbands, both asserting that they furnished the money for the investments."
24 October 33 Murray obtains her divorce from him in Los Angeles. He does not appear to contest the case, and Superior Judge Robert W. Kenny enters a default decree. Under a settlement, David will establish a $5,000 trust fund for the benefit of their 6-year-old son, of whom Murray obtains custody. She doesn't ask for any interest in community property and waives alimony testifying, about David's jealousy: "He showed this by sulking and not speaking to me for days at a time. If I danced more than once with another man, my husband would pull me away and sometimes he'd pinch me."
11 December 33 Murray's rose-colored beach mansion in Playa del Rey is auctioned off for $11,000 on the steps of the Hall of Justice by a sheriff's deputy. It cost $100,000.
15 January 34 he and his brother Serge have to appear in Los Angeles Superior Court, charged by the state of California with stealing $30,747 from the Pacific Shore Oil Company, which they organized four years ago. His brother Alexis, married to heiress Barbara Hutton and subpoenaed as a witness, fled pursuing process servers and took a boat from Seattle to Yokohama.
Early February 34 Murray declares herself bankrupt. She files a petition in federal court at Los Angeles listing liabilities of $228,196, and assets of $324,500, most in real estate.
5 February 34 takes the witness stand in his own defense. He denies that in selling an interest in one well to Robert Vignola, motion picture director and state witness, that he told Vignola none of the officers of the firm were to receive salaries.
January 35 his son, Koran, is object to a double mastoid operation performed by brain specialist Dr. Daniel Cunning of New York City. Afterwards, Koran is sent to the home of the surgeon's sister, Bessie Cunning, in Averill Park, upstate New York.
1 August 35 his brother Alexis is killed in an automobile accident in Spain
6 August 35 he and his brother Serge leave for Spain
4 September 35 he and Serge arrive in Cherbourg, France, on the Cunard-White Star liner Majestic from New York
March 36 en route to Europe aboard an ocean liner, he learns the news of the death of his brother Serge under the heels of his polo pony at Delray Beach, Florida. He plans to return to the States immediately following his arrival in France.
February 37 columnist Walter Winchell hints there's "no truth to that gab about Whitney Bourne marrying David Mdivani. She's only seen him three times. Doesn't care a bang for him, isn't in love at all, doesn't intend falling in it and that's why she feels lousy..."
June 37 Winchell reports "Toni Lanier and David Mdivani trying hard to become an item..."
c. 22 July 37 former Prince Bydy Mdivani, an old Bolshevist leader in Georgia who is alleged to have strayed into the Trotskyist fold, is executed with seven associates on charges of treason and terrorist conspiracy against the leaders of the socialist state. Lavrenty Pavlovich Beria, Communist party leader in Georgia, relates him to the “marrying Mdivani princes," but David denies him to be his brother.
? meets French actress Arletty in Venice, Italy. He falls madly in love with her, and they start an affair.
Early August 37 the press tells: "Friends of Prince David Mdivani said today they expected his engagement to blond Muriel 'Honey' Johnson to be announced soon as a result of a whirlwind romance, which began ten days ago in Venice." David met her at the hotel in Venice where she's staying with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Harry T. F. Johnson, of Bronxville, New York.
12 August 37 Muriel "Honey" Johnson denies the rumor on her arrival from Italy on the Italian liner Conte di Savoia. With her father, who is said to have opposed the romance, standing watchfully by, she asserts: "There is absolutely no truth to the engagement reports. I met Mdivani, but that's all." Later the press will discover that Jesse Livermore, Jr., young son of the famous market operator and who introduced "Honey" and David, is holding her hand upon her return to New York. In the end she will marry Richard Berlin, New York magazine executive, in December 1938.
July 38 is noted escorting Ethel and Rose Davies to Slapsie Maxie's
August 38 purchases two boilers in Bakersfield, California, to drill for oil on the 250 acres of mesa he owns near Santa Barbara
December 38 his sister Roussadana, a.k.a. Madame Jose Maria Sert, approximately 32 years old, dies at a Lausanne, Switzerland, hospital
39 Arletty becomes pregnant but refuses to keep the child, as she knows too much about the whole family and Pola Negri's and Mae Murray's terrible situations. She and David stay in touch, and, until his death, he often visits her in Paris.
1 February 39 his brother Serge's will is made public in New York City. Half of Serge's estate goes to his widow, Louise Astor Van Alen Mdivani, and one-sixth each goes to David and his two sisters
21 August 39 Los Angeles Superior Judge Benjamin J. Scheibman rules the court will go to David, who is confined to bed by a leg injured in a polo game. The date for the hearing is set for September 1 in "the luxurious Hollywood apartment of the prince."
22 August 39 Murray weeps convulsively in Los Angeles court as she gives a deposition in her suit to force him to support their son, Koran. She claims she is impoverished while her polo-playing former husband has $1,000,000. She seeks $12,000 a year to support their son. "He took my stocks and bonds, and money, and my whole life," she charges. He fixes his wealth at $300,000 and claims that he has sent her approximately $1,500 since their divorce in 1933.
28 August 39 his attorneys obtain an order for Murray to show cause why Koran should not be brought to California and to disclose his whereabouts
in court, Murray has to reveal the whereabouts of Koran. Her previous refusals to tell his address were prompted by fear that David might take him from her forcibly.
28 September 39 in Albany, New York, court, Murray seeks to regain custody of her son from Bessie Cunning of Averill Park, who refuses to give up the 12-year-old boy
29 September 39 Albany Judge Francis Bergen/Bergan declares a short recess after Murray testifies in a sobbing voice that her divorce from David has cost her her fortune. She is also cross-examined by counsel for the Cunnings, who claim she had relinquished Koran to them. Bessie Cunning and her two brothers, John and Cortland, are defendants in the custody trial.
30 September 39 for an hour, Murray's granted a visit with Koran, whom she presents with a statuette of the Immaculate Infant Jesus of Prague. Afterwards she tells that they wanted her to talk to him inside the house "where they could hear me," while she wanted to speak to him on the lawn alone.
4 October 39 Dr. Daniel Cunning testifies in court that in 1935 he sent Koran to the suburban Cunning home at the urgent request of Murray. The press notes that she seeks "Koran's custody after instituting a California suit against his father for $12,000 annual maintenance for the boy. Prince David in turn sought his son's custody and the court instructed he be presented in court."
15 January 40 Murray loses the court fight for her son's custody. State Supreme Court Justice Bergan decides Koran should remain in the Cunning's custody in Averill Park. Koran ruled against his mother during questioning in judicial chambers by Bergan. The Cunnings declare their belief that "the money love, not mother love," is Murray's motive in seeking custody of the child.
22 January 40 Murray's reported heading for California, determined to make a comeback in films and establish a home so that she can regain the custody of her son
February 40 is sued by Murray, who claims that he’s responsible for the loss of her $3,000,000 fortune, gone since 1926
19 February 40 Los Angeles Superior Judge George Dockweiler permits her to sue David for $1,000 a month support so that she might establish a home for Koran
Early March 40 is ordered by Dockweiler to pay his former wife $400 a month for support of Koran
March 40 the press asks: "Prince or Pauper? The Youngest Mdivani Must Decide!" telling that in ten months Koran will be legally able to decide among David's home in Westwood Village, California; the Cunnings' home in Averill Park, New York; or his "penniless mother"
27 March 40 his attorneys say they are preparing to apply for a writ of supersedeas, which, if granted, will nullify the interim order
8 April 40 a San Francisco court denies the writ of supersedeas
25 May 40 Murray is reported en route by air to the bedside of her son in Albany, where he was rushed to a hospital for an emergency appendicitis operation
40 Koran becomes Daniel Michael Cunning through adoption by Sara E. Cunning of Sand Lake, New York
July 40 in court, Murray reports she’s able to support her child on $400 a month. When asked if she could cook, she replies: "I can learn. I'm not stupid!"
15 December 40 during a polo match at the Riviera Country Club in Hollywood, a teammate’s mallet knocks out 10 of his teeth and badly cuts the inside of his mouth, and he is taken to a hospital
27 December 41 he and Mike Romanoff, "prince" of Russia by self-election, get involved in a row at a prenuptial party for Gloria Vanderbilt and Pat DiCicco, held at the Mocambo. In the audience are Errol Flynn, Howard Hughes, Charles Freedman, Albert Broccoli and Franchot Tone.
5 July 44 gets involved in a brawl with producer Bert Friedlob when he tries to kiss the hand of actress Marianne O'Brien in a Hollywood nightclub. "He got her hand, and the fist of Bert Friedlob, Miss O'Brien's escort. Then the brawl broke loose."
17 September 44 marries Virginia Sinclair, daughter of Harry F. Sinclair, founder of the Sinclair Oil Corporation and infamous Teapot Dome figure, in Las Vegas, Nevada. He's 44; she's 29. The ceremony is performed at his home by the Reverend Frederick Lovett, pastor of the Las Vegas Baptist Church. It's his second marriage and her first.
14 September 45 his second son, Michael David, is born in New York
13 April 49 sues Louise Van Alen Mdivani Saunderson, widow of his brothers Serge and Alexis, in Los Angeles alleging she defrauded him of a $1,000,000 part of the brother's estate. He claims she and her attorney, Edna Covert Plummer, convinced him that the two and one half shares of stock he was willed from the American-Naphtha Oil Corporation were worthless.
10 July 50 his son, Daniel Michael Cunning, formerly known as Koran David Mdivani, announces he’ll marry Patricia Ann Maloney of Cohoes, a telephone office girl, this fall
c. 7 October 50 as Daniel Michael Cunning, his son Koran marries Patricia Ann Maloney at St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church in Cohoes, New York. He's 24; she's about 25. Neither David nor Mae Murray attends the ceremony, which is performed by Revered William T. Donaldson of Holy Cross College. Dr. Daniel Cunning is best man. A reception follows at the Crooked Lake Hotel.
23 February 51 his wife files a missing persons report when he fails to come home Friday. She claims he left their Bel-Air home on a business trip and hasn't been seen since.
26 February 51 is reported back home again saying, "I guess I should have told my wife I was not coming home over the weekend. It is most unfortunate." Earlier, the manager of the La Quinta Hotel in Palm Springs told police that David was seen there Saturday and Sunday. Asked about this, David smiles and replies, "Well, perhaps."
23 May 55 is sued in Los Angeles Superior Court by El Rancho, Inc., operator of the El Rancho Hotel in Las Vegas, which claims that a $3,000 check written by him bounced. It is asserted in the legal action that on June 25, 1954, David presented the check, drawn on the Chase National Bank of New York and made out to "cash,” to the hotel. The suit says the check was returned for "insufficient funds."
c. 56 he and his wife separate
July 59 his 15-year-old son Michael is reported having acquired a large sub-deb following during his recent visit to New York. "Mike will inherit an oil fortune from his grandfather, the late Harry Sinclair. Princess Mdivani renewed rift rumors when she took her son back to California with her shortly after Prince Mdivani arrived in New York."
13 October 59 is sued for divorce by his wife in Los Angeles. She charges "cruel and inhuman treatment" and obtains an order restraining him from molesting her and from disposing of any of her property. She seeks custody of their son, claiming she and David separated three years ago.
? his wife drops the divorce suit
Late November 59 files a million dollar suit in Tucson, Arizona, charging that Virginia Kent Catherwood of Tucson alienated the affections of his estranged wife, luring her away by lavishing her with expensive gifts. Catherwood, asked to comment on the suit, declares she has "nothing to say to anyone." His wife cannot be reached for comment.
April 63 he and his wife separate again
26 December 63 is sued for divorce by his wife in Los Angeles for a second time. She charges cruelty and seeks custody of their 18-year-old son.
18 January 64 is divorced by his wife in Los Angeles Superior Court. She testifies he harassed her continually. "I had no peace of mind," she says. A property settlement, signed earlier, provides for division of income from a Santa Barbara County, California, oil lease between him and his wife and their son.
February 64 Murray is reported found penniless on a St. Louis, Missouri, street
March 65 his first wife, Mae Murray, dies at age 75 in poverty at the Motion Picture Country Home in Hollywood. She succumbs to a long illness that followed a stroke and a heart ailment. Her only living relative is Daniel M. Cunning, who is reported operating a shoe store in Troy, New York.
77 his son Michael resigns from the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department after eight years of service
1 July 79 his second wife, Princess Virginia Sinclair Mdivani, dies at age 64 at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica after a long illness. Her son inherits approximately $30 million.
5 August 84 dies in Los Angeles, approximately 84 years old. He talked about Arletty until his last day.
2 September 84 his son Michael, a resident of Malibu, is arrested at Cabasas Park, California, after a 30-mile chase, crashing into three pursuing patrol vehicles
January 85 his granddaughter, Cynthia Ann Cunning, marries James Wilbur, IV, in Albany, New York
26 July 90 his son Michael dies at age 44 in Los Angeles
04 his son David and his wife Patricia reside in Troy, New York
Susanne Buck, Hugues Marc Antoine Bartoli, The New York Times, The Standard Examiner, Oakland Tribune, Syracuse Herald Journal, The Lincoln Star, The Middlesboro Daily News, The Piqua Daily Call, The Daily Messenger, The Times and Daily News Leader, The Daily Gleaner, New Castle News, Logansport Pharos-Tribune, The Wisconsin State Journal, The Abilene Reporter-News, The Hammond Times, Nevada State Journal, The Ogden Standard-Examiner, Jefferson City Post-Tribune, Dunkirk Evening Observer, The Lowell Sun, The Burlington Daily Times-News, The Hayward Daily Review, Times-News Sports, The Stars and Stripes, The Times Record, Long Beach Press-Telegram, The Galveston News, Big Spring Herald, Tyron Daily Herald,
Recommended Books:
Mörder, Mode, Mitgiftjäger by Susanne Buck
The Marrying Mdivanis