William Vincent Astor (he did not like to be called William, a long standing Astor name) was born on November 15, 1891 in the Fifth Avenue mansion where his grandmother, Caroline Astor, reigned over American Society. He was the son of John Jacob Astor IV and Ava Willing. Vincent endured a difficult childhood. His mother was embarrassed by his Astor appearance and would humiliate him in public. In addition his parent's marriage was less than perfect and they were divorced in 1909. While a student at Harvard University in 1912, he inherited an estimated $200 million when his father went down with the Titanic. At this time, his mother (who had remarried an English Lord) had returned to the United States to help her grieving son.
Vincent married the first of three wives, Helen Huntington, in April 1913. At the ceremony, Vincent was stricken with the mumps, a disease that made him sterile. At the outbreak of World War I, Vincent took advice from his friend and Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt and joined the Navy. He served overseas with his wife, who did charity work with the YMCA in France. Vincent was promoted from an Ensign to a Leuitenant during the War.
In 1940, Vincent divorced Helen and married Minnie Cushing. In 1953 they divorced and he married Brooke Russell Marshall. Vincent, along with Brooke, whom he called Pookie, developed the Vincent Astor Foundation, a foundation that was designed to give back to New York City. Vincent died in 1959 leaving all of his money to Brooke, surprising many. John Jacob Astor VI, Vincent's half brother who was not yet born when the Titanic sank, contested Vincent's will. John Jacob lost his case, the two had never been on good terms.