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"Queen of Mean" Leona Helmsley Dead at 87

Leona Helmsley, the real estate developer and hotelier who was dubbed the "queen of mean", died today of heart failure at her summer home in Greenwich, Connecticut. She was 87.

HelmsleyVia NYT City Room: "In 1968, Mrs. Helmsley, already a millionaire and a successful condominium broker, met the real estate magnate Harry B. Helmsley. They married in 1972. Together, they built a real-estate empire that included landmark buildings like 230 Park Avenue and the Empire State Building, the Tudor City apartment complex on the East Side of Manhattan, and Helmsley-Spear, their management and leasing business. The couple developed properties that included the Park Lane Hotel, the New York Helmsley Hotel and the Helmsley Palace Hotel, and hotels in Florida and other states."

In 2001, Helmsley made headlines after raising a stink in the lobby of her Park Lane hotel after she saw a group of gay tourists there. For the hotel's gay general manager, Charles Bell, Helmsley's outburst was the last straw, according to a report in The Advocate: "She said in a loud voice, 'What are all of these gay men doing in my hotel? It's disgusting. I want it stopped.'"

It was one in a long string of disgusting slurs and outbursts from Bell's boss. Bell filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Helmsley after being fired from his job, citing "wrongful and discriminatory termination and intentional infliction of emotional distress."

A jury awarded Bell $11.2 million in damages. This amount was later reduced by a judge to $554,000.

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  1. She looks like Cruella Devill

    Posted by: Travis | Aug 20, 2007 11:24:31 AM

  2. the world is a better place...

    Posted by: jombi | Aug 20, 2007 11:27:56 AM

  3. Can I be the first to say "Good riddance"?

    Posted by: Tread | Aug 20, 2007 11:28:34 AM

  4. I hope it hurt like a motherfucker.

    Posted by: Princess Superstar | Aug 20, 2007 11:39:17 AM

  5. She had a heart? When the hell did that happen?

    Posted by: Vince | Aug 20, 2007 11:42:19 AM

  6. I thought the bellmen on 42nd st looked a little happier than usual.

    Posted by: Davey | Aug 20, 2007 11:48:59 AM

  7. I wouldn't die anywhere but Greenwich - why should you?

    Posted by: Harry | Aug 20, 2007 11:49:30 AM

  8. my fave story about that shrew was that when she swam laps, the servant would be at the pool's end with a silver platter of shrimp, and upon completion of every lap Leona would clap her hands like a seal yelping "feed the fishy" !!
    (New York magazine)

    Posted by: A.J. | Aug 20, 2007 11:49:52 AM

  9. I thought the bellmen on 42nd st looked a little happier than usual.

    Posted by: Davey | Aug 20, 2007 11:50:03 AM

  10. On top of all of her other excesses and her psycho behavior toward her employees, I suppose it's not surprising that she was also a gay-hater. It's kind of astounding that she lived in a fantasy world in which no gay men ever set foot in New York City hotels, though.

    Posted by: Frank L | Aug 20, 2007 11:52:25 AM

  11. She's stoking the furnaces of hell alongside Merv doubt.

    Last week Leona (who really did look like a cartoon character).

    I wonder who will be next to kill over? I have my wish list though, and it's not even Christmas!

    Posted by: Jordan | Aug 20, 2007 11:57:30 AM

  12. pure. evil. Down the hatch!

    Posted by: invisiboy | Aug 20, 2007 11:59:37 AM

  13. Yeah, she's mean and evil and all that, but more importantly, why do people think face-lifts EVER look good?

    Posted by: Zinc Alloy | Aug 20, 2007 12:21:37 PM

  14. "Ding dong the w..." oh forget it, it's too easy!

    Posted by: soulbrotha | Aug 20, 2007 12:32:55 PM

  15. I intend to have facelifts until my ears meet.

    Posted by: Brian | Aug 20, 2007 12:35:05 PM


    Posted by: CLIFF | Aug 20, 2007 1:29:34 PM

  17. Ding dong, the witch is dead.

    Posted by: fangirlhater | Aug 20, 2007 2:59:51 PM

  18. The rich are greedy swine. Fortunately for us Bacon Day is coming.

    "When a man tells you he got rich through had work, ask him: 'Whose?'"
    Don Marquis - 1878-1937

    Posted by: Bill Perdue, RainbowRED Organization | Aug 20, 2007 3:22:55 PM

  19. LOL @ Harry...I remember those ads.

    Posted by: Myackie | Aug 20, 2007 4:08:30 PM

  20. she lived 87 years too long. Let's hope she's a maid for roy cohn where it's so hot and steamy, the poor little thing just can't do a thing with her hair.

    Posted by: sean | Aug 20, 2007 4:29:17 PM

  21. Irregardless of how you queens feel, I liked working for Mrs. H. At least I knew where I stood with Leona being an out gay male executive. It is sure better to know your enemies and be able to deal with them in the open than to trust alleged folks who are supposed to be friends like Bill and Hillary "don't ask don't tell" Clintons and Rudy Guilliani and Mitt Romney!

    Posted by: veejay | Aug 20, 2007 5:50:32 PM

  22. And now we ALL know where VeeJay stood.
    I'm sorry you can get off your knees and stop bowing and scraping you queen.

    Posted by: MCnNYC | Aug 20, 2007 7:12:58 PM

  23. She had a mean temper,didn't pay her taxes, abused those around her-- sounds as though she needs to lay in rest in the East Room of The White House!

    Posted by: John | Aug 20, 2007 8:02:15 PM

  24. There's a special place for people like her - an it an express escalator ride down!

    Posted by: TyInTenn | Aug 20, 2007 8:19:20 PM

  25. i think she looks more like Mario Cantone than Cruella DeVille.

    Posted by: A.J. | Aug 20, 2007 8:57:05 PM

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