Born in Beacon, Dutchess County, New York, on February 15, 1892, to an immigrant father and an American-born Irish mother, he sought through much of his early life to escape his origins. He attended Princeton University, where he became a major figure on campus but, for reasons that are not clear, left in the Spring of his senior year and so failed to graduate. This setback notwithstanding, he went to work for the Wall Street investment firm of William A. Read and Company (later known as Dillon Read Company). Rarely mentioning his past, or even visiting his family, he began an astonishingly swift ascent in the world of finance. He was a workaholic with a burning desire to join the ranks of the super-rich. Within a few years of his arrival on Wall Street, he made a substantial fortune in the bull market of the Roaring 20's and was moving in glamorous social circles. In 1926, at the age of 34, he married the beautiful Josephine Ogden, a columnist for Vogue Magazine and who had once been a chorus girl with the Ziegfeld Follies. Yet as he skyrocketed to success, there were hints of the later tragedy to come. His marriage would prove to be a difficult, at times harrowing, union with a deeply unstable woman. And h himself had serious emotional problems. He was "instinctively resistant to any genuine surrendering of himself," it has been written, and unable to make deep commitments to other people, including those he ostensibly loved. The consequences of this failure was a barren personal life and, eventually, mental collapse.