Memoirs of a Maharani

the untold story of an American Princess

an autobiography by Nancy Valentine

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The long, lost autobiography of an American Princess emerges 47 years after being written. An epic tale of true love. This legendary book is a timeless treasure for the ages.

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Light on The Book

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“My dreams were interrupted by the frightened, trumpeting elephants: the crashing roar of a Bengal tiger as he lurched frantically from the protection of the jungle, only to meet with the ear-splitting report of guns. The piercing lead found it’s mark quickly in the heart of the tiger. He roared once, then fell quietly to his side. The shooters smiled, the viewer’s sighed in relief. Bhaiya yelled, “Good shot.” I cried. I always cried when animals were hurt or dying.”

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Nancy will take you on a fateful journey…

from the harsh realities of the depression era, through the glamours of fame and fortune and into the arms of her beloved Maharaja.

You’ll experience the tragedy of poverty and alcoholism, heights of Hollywood glamour, volatile political division and the heart-wrenching tragedy of star-crossed love.

Ultimately, the journey ends in true surrender in faith with one of the great spiritual leaders of all time Paramahansa Yogananda.

If you are:

a classic Hollywood fanatic,

a lover of all things New York,

intoxicated by the golden age of royal India,

a historic and political buff,

or simply someone who believes in true love and faith …

this story will touch you deeply.

Light on the Author

Nancy Valentine was a top model in New York City, a starlette during the golden age of Classic Hollywood and the first wife of the Maharaja of Cooch Behar, Jagaddpiendra Narayan, at the end of the British Raj era…

 

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After tragedy and political strife tore the star-crossed couple apart Nancy took refuge as a Yogini renunciate at Paramahansa Yogananda’s Self Realization Fellowship.

Following three years as a Hindu nun she resumed her acting career and remarried twice more: having two daughters. She now lives on the sea in Malibu, California. She completed her autobiography in 1968, and it was discovered by her Granddaughter in 2015.

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This is Her Story … 

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Ice tinkled rhythmically against glasses. The evening’s conversation was at it’s peak. Soft music drifted with cigarette smoke as I stood at the steps leading into the gracious living room where the guests were mingling.

Before descending I observed His Highness sitting on an appropriately brocaded couch. Noticing his eyes were fully upon me I kicked slightly letting the zipper of my dress make it’s planned plunge, and walked like a Queen to the bar. A state of momentary immobility passed over me when I saw the long, graceful hand of a Hindu reach over my shoulder depositing an empty glass for the bartender. The pounding of my heart almost drowned out the, “Hello, Miss Valentine.”

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The Starlette

fame & folly

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I was becoming a well-known figure in New York.

My picture covered Pageant Magazine, Coronet, Cover Girl, billboards and subway posters. Thumbing through Esquire I would be found in a provocative pose. A funny incident happened when I later went to India.

While in Bombay a friend of Bhaiya’s invited us to his apartment. During the course of the evening I excused myself as I made my way to the powder room. Upon entering, I discovered pictures of Esquire girls scattered around the walls. Above the toilet, in a chosen spot, I stared in surprise at myself.

“Interesting picture in the bathroom,” I remarked on joining the group.

“Aren’t they,” my host replied, in the familiar English accent of the East Indians.

“Do you know the girl in the above toilet?”

“No, but isn’t she a pip?”

“Quite!” I mimicked the english. “She’s me!”

While Bhaiya choked on his martini my host dropped his mouth in amazement.

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Watch Out for Hollywood…

“Howard Hughes has asked that you sit next to him at dinner. Looks like things will be happening for you, Keet. But watch out for Hollywood, it’s a bad place for young keets.”

It did seem Lady Luck was gracing me with her smile. Hughes was waiting to sign me with 20th Century-Fox. Morty told me a few other studios were also very interested, and Melvyn LeRoy, who loves horses, cigars and playing his hunches, felt without a doubt I was a “sure thing.” 

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The Maharajah

महाराज (great king)

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“I dream of you in India …

Bless you for the sweetness of your smile that made me want to cry. Bless you for breathing the words to our song in my ear. Bless you for leaving me when I was high.

Your lips have told me in a second what the poets strove a thousand years to say. These I have had and am thankful. Thankful for the moments of greatness, which you forget in a day perhaps: but are mine forever.

Bless you my darling for these riches, and now in my innermost heart I cry for them again. I realize that I am miserly, who having had so much, want more. Believe me, I had lived careless for so long that I had almost forgotten what it was to really care. And then having rediscovered: I ached to be believed, just that once, that I did care.

Aurevoir darling. I pray for you and long for your letters.

All love always,

Bhaiya “

(An excerpt from a love letter from Maharaja Jagaddipendra Narayan of Cooch Behar to Nancy Valentine)

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The Marriage

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We entered the house and Bhaiya laughed, “No, I promise you, no pythons today. You’re going to like this surprise.” None-the-less, I advanced slowly.

Prithi, Bhaiya’s closest and dearest friend, and Bhaiya, were giggling like two school children. They escorted me into a dimly lit room that was sweet with the incense and the aroma of flowers. I looked around carefully at the mystery unfolding before me. I gazed beseechingly at Bhaiya. He returned a serious glance.

Two Hindu priests, and Bhaiya’s friend Boris Lisonivitch, were mysteriously peering at me. Suddenly the priests started speaking in Hindustani. I was guided around a flaming fire, and told to say some strange words; we exchanged flowing garlands.

My mind buzzed with excitement as I thought, “Is it possible, could it be that…” but my thoughts were interrupted when Bhaiya placed his arms caressingly around me.

I looked up and saw a tear in his eye.

He softly whispered, “My wife.”

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The Maharani of Jaipur

Gayatri Devi

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I’m going to be very honest with you.

It is very unfortunate that you have both fallen in love so deeply. Your romance can never blossom into anything lasting. My mother is doing everything in her power to see that Bhaiya marries a Hindu princess. Bhaiya knows that he is battling the strict customs of India.

~ Gayatri Devi, Maharani of Jaipur, sister to Bhaiya.

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Nervously my hand knocked on the door to Their Highness’s suite.

I don’t know what I was expecting. Probably trumpets blowing with turbaned, Indian bearers bowing to the floor as they presented their Queen in flowing chiffon sari. I was delightfully surprised when a young, beautiful girl opened the door.

2004042901200101Her long, black hair flowed carelessly over her shoulders giving emphasis to the largest, black eyes I had ever seen. She wore beige slacks with a simple cotton, beige blouse. A piece of ebony flock fell across her face. With tapering, graceful fingers she quickly placed it aside and extended her other hand toward me.

“I’m Ayesha. Would you like to walk in the garden with me. Jai is just getting dressed.”

At that the bathroom floor flung open and a strongly built, handsome Hindu darted out attired in a towel.

”Oh my God!” he yelled in a slight accent.

Grasping his towel he dashed back to the bathroom. “See what I mean,” giggled Ayesha.

We strolled through the gardens remarking about it’s beauty, viewing the graceful swans swimming silently on the stream in front of the Hotel and finally she turned bluntly to me and said,

“My brother is very much in love with you.”

I lowered my eyes because I didn’t want the emotion of tears interfering.

“I’m very much in love with him.”

“I’m going to be very honest with you. It is very unfortunate that you have both fallen in love so deeply. Your romance can never blossom into anything lasting. My mother is doing everything in her power to see that Bhaiya marries a Hindu princess. Bhaiya knows that he is battling the strict customs of India. He fell in love once before, to a girl that looks very much like yourself and my mother broke it up.”

I admired her for her sincerity and honesty.

“I don’t care, Ayesha, I love him and if I never see hi again I will always love him.”

Her pouting lips smiled,

“I love him too. He is my favorite.”

She gently pushed her hair aside. I noticed it was always falling towards her face, but I was glad she didn’t pin it back. Her graceful gesture of pushing it aside became part of her charm. She continued,

“I know it’s the wrong thing, but I’ll be happy to be your chaperone in India. Bhaiya wants you to come as soon as possible. He’s arranging for the tickets.”

“Honest?” I almost screamed, “Honest, oh gosh, oh for heaven’s sake.”

She laughed and shook her head, “Where are you going?”

“Excuse me Your Highness, I’ve got to go home and pack.”

Tragedy Upon Tragedy

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And a roaring tiger I became.

The next thing I remember, a nurse came into my room, handed me a paper and pen and asked me to sign. With all my strength I focused my eyes to see what was before me. Being an old ham-actress I wouldn’t sign anything without first reading it. My eyes finally focused to:

“Burial Papers for Cremation.”

Mother tip-toed in after that and whispered, “Oh Nancy, she was such a beautiful girl. Her black hair reached her shoulders and her eyes were as large as plums.”

As I left the hospital and watched the many mothers leave with their babies held close to them, I looked at my empty arms and thought, “What kind of a life is this that takes love and baby from you. From now on I’m going to live like I never lived before. The jungle tigers will be mild compared to me.”

And a roaring tiger I became.

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The End or The Beginning?

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Friends came to me and begged, “Your Highness, please don’t leave. We will acknowledge you. Bhaiya needs you.”

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How could I explain to these dear people that life had swallowed Bhaiya and myself up like a grain of sand in a tidal wave; that the tender bubble of love had broken.

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I felt there was still a spark where once there had been a bright flame, but we were both running so fast … the wind stamped it out. I feel if we had both slowed down a little and faced life it could have been rekindled. But the Cosmic Director was about to place me in another play….

Bhaiya was quietly waiting on the dock. He was hiding behind a post avoiding what would-be questioning reporters. The ship’s whistle blew, the vessel lurched, and I raised my hand in farewell. Tears flowed unashamedly as my memory took me back to the happy years we had spent together. It was no longer, “Goodbye, I love you: God willing we will meet again.” This time we silently exchanged, “Farewell, we loved and lost; what has God in store for us now?”

Bhaiya returned my flowing wave. I watched long until he was just a speck on the dock. Then he was no more.

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The Master

Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda Ji

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The Lost Chapters…

Nancy returned to the United States in search of spiritual guidance. She explored every possible spiritual and religious path so much so that her best friend Leslie Snyder remarked, “Nancy, we need eight days a week to visit all these churches, temples and synagogues.” When she arrived to the great yogi Paramahansa Yogananda’s Self Realization Fellowship on Sunset Boulevard she was immediately struck by the inclusiveness and universality of the teachings.

Maharani of Cooch Behar Nancy Valentine gives up film career for religion

That night, in her room at home she received a vision of the great master Paramahansa Yoganada. It was just following Yogananda’s Mahasamadhi when he appeared in full technicolor before her. She describes that the room filled with the most beautiful fragrance of perfume she has ever experienced. The master approached her and touched her third eye. She went to turn on the light and the vision disappeared. 

The next day she returned to the SRF and became a renunciate and devotee of the great Master. She sold all of her possessions including her jewelry and furs and gave the money to her mother and family, who squandered away the wealth. She spent three years as a celibate Hindu nun practicing Kriya yoga and working in administration. 

She left the Self Realization Fellowship and was married twice more, having two children. Later, Nancy resumed her acting career and tragically fell into the burden of her inherited alcoholism. She  later recovered through the support of her spiritual practice, Alcoholics Anonymous and Christian Science. 

She now lives on the sea in Malibu, California. 

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