Meet Carol Leavitt Adams ’47

Carol Leavitt graduated from Waynflete in 1947 and went on to a glamorous career on three continents. She is a woman of strong character with a delicious sense of humor and, above all, determination.

Her determination was always on display at Waynflete. Her classmate Gerry Arzonico Clement remembers Carol coming to school every morning wearing illegal and very red lipstick. Every morning, Miss Woodruff gave her a lecture and made her wash it off. The same scene was repeated every day for weeks.

Carol says her education at Waynflete was “a keystone for my future.” She remembers her teachers fondly—particularly Miss Hewes. Carol was always great fun. The boys loved her, the teachers loved her, and her classmates loved her. She made us all laugh.

Carol went on to college, married, and had children—an early 1950s game plan for many young women. She did not stay with the plan. She went into television. She relates, “Someone had given me a TV set—we’re talking 1953, so it was very early days for television. I watched for six weeks then rang up the station and said, ‘I’d like to write a television program for you.’ They said, ‘There is a strike on. How about moving scenery?’ And so I did, and within a month I was their weather girl.”

Being on camera gave her a desire to act. She headed for Los Angles and show business. She spent 14 years in Los Angeles writing magazine profiles of luminaries and sampling politics. She helped elect Tom Bradley, LA’s first black mayor, and was at the Ambassador Hotel when Robert Kennedy was shot.

Carol is a devoted mother. In 1968, with her marriage on the rocks, Carol moved with her four children to Aspen, Colorado. “I didn’t have any child support—I’ve always done it myself,” she recalls. “I’ve always taught my children to go for it—all they can say is no. And I do believe that apart from brain surgery, people can do most things if they set their mind to it.”

In Aspen, she landed a job with the chamber of commerce doing promotional work. She attended a travel convention where she met Australians who enthused over their country’s sun and surf. She thought it sounded like a wonderful place to bring up children. She learned, however, that Australia did not admit women with children unless they were married. Carol marshaled her determination. She recalled, “I took my two boys to San Francisco. We would go and sit in the Qantas office a couple of hours a day, and then go up to the consulate and sit there for a few hours until one day we were told, ‘You’re going tonight.’”

Carol found a series of jobs with Australian Tourmakers and American Express. She ran the National Bank Travel Service, then became Promotions Coordinator for Qantas in New York. She loved Sydney and New York, but she wanted to go to England. Again she moved and looked for a job. Carol advises, “Never stop knocking on doors, never stop working. However menial the job, you’ll work your way back up to where you should be.”

She arrived where she should be—at the top—when she landed her public relations jobs at London’s famous Savoy Hotel. As New York theater critic Frank Rich wrote, praising Carol’s work, “The Savoy is a great hotel but…much of its hospitable and glamorous image is attributable to Mrs. Adams.” She is grateful that she mastered a “wicked” curtsy at Miss Mason’s School of Dance in Portland, Maine, as she was later called on to orchestrate countless royal events. London newspaper writer Lois Rogers wrote of the wedding of Princess Diana’s brother, “It was clear that no stone was left unturned to give the wedding, masterminded by American-born media expert Carol Adams, its due status.”

Carol has retired. She lives happily with many interests, dear friends with whom she shares laughs, and memories of a life well-lived.

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