Lois Evans Olson Radziwill.

Over the centuries, many American women have married into European royal and noble families. One of the most unknown is Princess Lois Radziwill. Everyone knows of Caroline Lee Bouvier, who married Prince Stanislaw Radziwill in 1959. Understandably, very few are aware of Lois, who married Stanislaw’s first cousin once removed in 1950.

The birth certificate of Lois Lorine Evans.
Irvin and Hazel Evans with their daughter Lois, 1928.

On 10 February 1928 at Minot, North Dakota, Lois Lorine (later changed to “Lorraine”) Evans was born as the first child of Endre Irvin Evans (1900-1966) and his wife Hazel Viola Hills (1903-1995). Lois Evans had four younger siblings: Joyce Arlene Evans (1929-1995), Irvin Howard Evans (1932-2003), Marilyn Jean Evans (1936-1991), and Yvonne Lee Evans (1944-2011). Lois Evan’s paternal grandparents were born in Norway: Edward Gilbert Evensen (1866-1938) and Inga Marie Iversdatter Sollid (1871-1949). Her maternal grandparents were Adrian Bloomer Hills (1879-1965) and Rena Susan Muir (1880-1959).

Lois Evans photographed in a bridal veil around the time of her marriage to sailor George Olson, 1945.
Photo (c) The Bismarck Tribune.

Lois was raised in Bismarck, ND. Her father worked as a foreman at a crematorium. Lois began her high school studies in Bismarck, but she moved west and graduated in 1945 from high school in Santa Monica, California. In 1944, her parents had relocated to California. Aged eighteen, Lois Evans married George Conrad Olson, a member of the US Navy and the son of Mr. and Mrs. Horace Olson of Minnesota, on 1 December 1945 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The marriage was of short duration; however, it is uncertain as to when or if it was terminated legally. A girlfriend of Lois, Mrs. Beatrice Johnson Betts, who was an attendant at Lois’ wedding to George Conrad, was not certain as to the particulars surrounding the end of the Olson/Evans marriage. Reportedly, Lois moved to New York and worked as a model before going to Paris to study fashion design. 

Princess Lois Radziwill on holiday in Rome, July 1950.

While in France, Lois met Prince Wladislaw Jerzy Gogislaw Radziwill (1881-1963) at a dinner party in December 1949 at Cannes. The prince was the only child of Prince Karol Radziwill (1839-1907) and Princess Teresa Lubomirska (1857-1883). His great-grandparents were Prince Antoni Radziwill (1775-1833) and Princess Luise of Prussia (1770-1836).

Prince Wladislaw and Princess Lois Radziwill.
On 7 April 1950, the sixty-eight year-old Polish prince and the twenty-two year-old American model were married at Neuilly near Paris. Wladislaw and Lois had known one another for four months. In an interview with the New York Daily News, Lois stated: “It’s true that he was much older than I was, but he is a striking man, so polished and suave; so considerate, too. He is one of the most famous big game hunters in the world and he shot 24 elephants. He fascinated and intrigued me. He was a hero.” The princess from humble origins had to quickly adapt to her new husband’s social circle. “Just a day ago I was plain Lois Evans Olson and now look at me, a princess, I thought to myself. When people went on calling me princess I could not believe it because I never considered myself to be anything else than what I was – an American girl.” However, Lois quickly discovered that her parents were not initially keen on her marriage to a (much older) nobleman. “My people are old-fashioned, small-town folks. They dreamed about a church wedding for me, to someone of my own kind. Eventually they learned about my marriage through my sister. There were real fireworks by cable and mail but finally they realised I was happy and reconciled themselves to the idea.” According to Lois, she and Wladislaw were quite happily for a brief period. “I am a good skier and I spent a great deal of time without my husband in Switzerland.” Prince Wladislaw seemed to understand, but then, according to Princess Lois, one evening the couple had a row in Paris. It was over a very trivial matter: Lois wanted them to go have dinner at one of her favourite restaurants, and Wladislaw did not want to go. One imagines that there were many more complications in this relationship to explain the events that followed. Princess Lois Radziwill left Paris for New York for three months. When she returned to France, Prince Wladislaw and she agreed to a Mexican divorce. The divorce occurred in late 1951, according to press reports. Lois noted: “He [Wladislaw] is wonderful and we’ll be friends until we die. But a marriage is a 50-50 proposition, and I wanted a normal life.” Upon reflection, Lois offered this small piece of advice for young American women: “Stop dreaming about becoming a princess. Just stay where you are and what you are. It’s best.
Lois Radizill.
Photo (c) Ebbs Breuer.

The life of Princess Lois Radziwill after 1951 is a sad story. In 1952, Lois was living in Los Angeles, where several of her friends were charged with stealing jewels at a party in which Lois was also present. In 1954, Lois filed a lawsuit in a Manhattan court against industrialist Alexander Berglas for $2,000,000. The reasons for the suit were never publicly disclosed. On 18 June 1955, Lois was arrested at her 732 South Normandie Avenue apartment in Los Angeles by a vice squad, consisting of two detectives, one of whom recalled the former princess showing them a fresh needle mark on her arm and confirming that she had just given herself a “fix.” She was released on a $2,500 bond. Upon reflection, it seems as though the young woman had definitely developed a substance abuse issue. In early July, before her arraignment, she was admitted to Los Angeles General Hospital after apparently overdosing on pills. On 13 October 1955, Lois Evans Radziwill pleaded guilty to possession of heroin in a Los Angeles court. She was twenty-seven years-old. In November, Superior Judge Allen T. Lynch sentenced Lois Evans Radziwill to a one to ten year term at the California State Prison for Women at Corona. 

What became of Princess Lois Radziwill afterward is not known by this author.

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