We are saddened to report the loss of one of the stars of our recent video, 'Who Is the American Woman?' Aline, Countess of Romanones, died on December 11 at the age of 94 at a hospital in Madrid. Today we celebrate her remarkable life.
Aline Griffith was born in Pearl River, New York on May 23, 1923, one of six children. After graduating from the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, NY, she went to work as a fashion model in Hattie Carnegie's Manhattan salon. In the fall of 1943, with one brother a fighter pilot and another a submariner, she was impatient to do something herself for the war effort. When her interest became known to a companion at a dinner party, she found herself recruited into the Office of Strategic Services or OSS, the World War II forerunner of the CIA.
After training in weapons, hand to hand combat, and communication by coded message, Aline, code name Tiger, was sent to Madrid to spy for the United States. During World War II, neutral Spain was a hotbed of espionage, teeming with Allied and Axis agents for whom abduction and murder were part of doing business. With a cover of an American socialite working for an oil concern, Aline carried out her assignment by befriending daughters of the Spanish aristocracy and becoming part of the elite social scene of wartime Spain. Through her social connections she gathered important information and and spread disinformation, including components of the elaborate ruse to mislead the Germans about the location of the D-Day landings. At times her work was extremely dangerous.
During her years in Spain, Aline met and married Luis, Count of Quintanilla and Romanones, scion of an ancient family. As a Spanish countess, her life became what she had been sent to wartime Spain to pretend to be. A fixture of the Jet Set for decades, she was an intimate of Jacqueline Onassis and the Duchess of Windsor. A stunning woman with an eye for beautiful clothes, she was a member of the International Best Dressed List since 1962. And though the wife of a grandee of Spain, she still completed the occasional clandestine operation for the country of her birth.
The Most Excellent the Countess of Romanones is survived by her three sons Alvaro, Luis, and Miguel, and more than a dozen grandchildren. Her life story asks us to look for some serious stuff in the heart of the beautifully dressed woman.