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Lady Susan Marie Meriwether ‘Susie’ Cavaliere (b. 1979) is a Paradisian actress, media presenter and junior baroness. Edit
She is the adopted child of Sir Jonathan Cavaliere, Lord Paradise, and Jeanne Cavaliere, Lady Paradise. Her adopted siblings are Caroline Anne Marie ‘Sissy’ Cavaliere (b. 1979), Jonathan Christopher Cavaliere, III (b. 1980), George Andrew Jacob Cavaliere (b. 1981), and Kimberley Jeanne Elisabeth Cavaliere (b. 1984).
Personal information Edit
- Full name: Susan Marie Meriwether Cavaliere
- Nickname(s): Susie; ‘Leigh’
- Nationality: Naturalised Paradisian citizen, belonger; naturalised British subject
- Title: Junior baroness (till 2000); formally addressed as ‘Lady Susan Cavaliere’
- Birthdate: 14 November 1979
- Birthplace: Jacksonville, Florida
- Parents, birth: not revealed
- Parents, adoptive: Sir Jonathan Cavaliere, Lord Paradise; Jeanne Cavaliere, Lady Paradise
- Ethnic background: French, Irish, unknown
- Religion: Anglican
- Occupation: actress, model, media personality
- School: North Eden High School, Eden I
- Musical instruments: piano, keyboards, voice
Early life Edit
The child called Susan was born at a Jacksonville crisis clinic and within a few months had been nearly abandoned by her crack-addicted mother. Neighbours intervened and recommended the mother’s case to a small Roman Catholic shelter, Meriwether House, in rural central Florida. Nuns there counselled the mother and cared for the infant child; but the mother’s frequent returns to life on the streets, and dependence on crack and other drugs, ultimately resulted in the child being left to the care of the sisters of Meriwether House.
Jonathan and Jeanne Cavaliere (now Lord and Lady Paradise) visited Meriwether House sometime in early 1982, having been recommended by (now Sir) David Holloway who regarded the facility as a worthy object for their charity. During the two-hour visit, Jonathan Cavaliere settled $250,000 on the institution and the couple met Susan, then two years old and the youngest child at the centre. The couple became too emotionally invested in the child to leave her without a proper family and during a second visit asked permission to take her home with them for a weekend, for the celebration of their daughter Caroline Cavaliere’s third birthday. Upon returning the child, on 21 March 1982, they initiated formal adoption proceedings.
The adoption process did not go smoothly, encountering numerous legal snags. Ultimately the mother was induced to give over all custody to the toddler, whom she had not seen above six weeks since the child had been six months old, in return for a year’s worth of narcotics-addiction counselling services and a cash settlement. Accounts vary; but the amount of the cash settlement is generally believed to have been $25,000.
The mother later attempted to reclaim some custody of the child; but her failure to keep to the narcotics-addiction counselling for even the one year stipulated was determined in court to be a bar to any change in the contract and the claim was dropped. The Cavalieres and Meriwether House were never named in the settlement and in turn have kept the mother’s name a secret. Staff at Meriwether House report losing contact with the mother after 1984 and it is generally believed she resumed her life as an addict
Susan’s birth name has never been released.
The child’s Roman Catholic baptism was received by the Episcopal Church of America in May 1982, at which time her name was formally changed to Susan Marie Meriwether Cavaliere. The Cavalieres amended their will to include Susan on an equal basis with their other children; and after Jonathan Cavaliere was named first Earl of Paradise in 1991, the children’s trust funds and allowances were further revised. Each of the five children is entitled to a territorial barony in the British Paradise Islands, a ceremonial role as cultural ambassador, and a formal responsibility as a junior attending member in the territorial House of Peers.
Role in foiling attempted kidnapping of Kimberley Cavaliere Edit
On 11 February 1986, Jeanne Cavaliere was shopping at Boscov’s in Tobasco Mall with Kimberley, then 2 years old, and Susan, then 6 years old, when two ‘well-dressed’ men approached her near the jewellry counter. The men were later identified as Robert Crave and Stephen Davey, undercover agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration. Whilst Crave distracted her, Davey attempted to push the stroller containing Kimberley towards the nearest exit doors. As neither of the men was able to confine Susan, she chased after the the stroller, crying aloud for help, till Davey got the stroller stuck in the automatically-closing door of the store and ran off without the toddler, who was upset but unhurt.
In formal statements to the media, Jonathan Cavaliere claimed the DEA had premeditated the stunt as a form of political intimidation in reaction to his success in identifying and hampering narcotics traffickers throughout southern Florida and the western Caribbean. The DEA have never acknowledged any complicity in the incident. Cavaliere later cited the attempted abduction of his child as ‘the last straw’ in his decision to relocate his family and business interests to the Bahamas and subsequently to the United Kingdom.
Family move to British Paradise Islands Edit
On Easter Monday, 31 March 1986, Jonathan and Jeanne Cavaliere, with their children and several close members of household staff, departed Tobasco on their yacht Excalibur and arrived on 2 April at St Simon’s Cay, a semiautonomous island within the Berry Islands chain of the Bahamas. Till October 1988 they kept their remodelled their 19th-century manor house there, Sandswell, as their primary residence and conducted most of their business from offices on the island, filing no personal US income tax returns, declining to vote in US elections and effectively renouncing their American citizenship. Susan and the other Cavaliere children swam in the pool, romped on the beach and played in the gardens, receiving primary lessons from their governess, former Anglican nun Amanda Nevins and instruction in musical instruments, dance and sports from their parents and private tutors
Following Jonathan Cavaliere’s successful bid to invest in and redevelop the British Paradise Islands (BPI), the family relocated to Stonesea, in Suffolk, England, where they lived full-time another fourteen months. During this time her father was knighted KCMG by HM Queen Elizabeth II for preserving the BPI and was awarded the territorial baronetcy of Eden Island. In January 1990, the family sailed aboard Excalibur to settle at the newly-constructed Camelot, a 150-room castle at the Cavalieres’ private-island estate on Treasurers’ Cay in the BPI.
Education and youth Edit
At the time of her arrival in the BPI, Susan Cavaliere was ten years old and attended private academic lessons for half a year. In September 1990 she began her first form at North Eden High School (NEHS) in Devon Township. Cavaliere took readily to the academically-advanced university-preparatory curriculum and maintained marks in the middle-90th-percentile range. Her best subjects have been maths, sociology and literature. She is fluent in French and Danish and has taken private lessons in piano, voice, ballet, archery, shooting, equestrian and tennis. At NEHS she participated in the netball and cross-country teams, presided over the debate team, and co-founded a club meant for Peerage children.
She completed her O-level examinations at NEHS in June 1995, after which she took a single (half-year) term of sixth form and passed her A-levels in January 1996. Though accepted at Oxford, Cambridge and others, she has not yet enrolled at university.
In 1993, to fill a needed third seat for Eden Island in the Territorial House of Peers, Paradise’s upper house of parliament, Jonathan Cavaliere was created first Earl of Paradise and his wife Lady Paradise, thus elevating their children to junior barons and baronesses in the territory. Since the age of 13, Susan is properly addressed as ‘Lady Susan Cavaliere of Paradise’. At the age of 21 she will assume the ceremonial role and formal title of Paradisian Baroness of Caravelle Island.
Acting work Edit
Even before she became involved in scholastic theatre, Cavaliere’s first roles were small bits in her father’s films for White Knight Productions (WKP). She played an orphan child in Spirit of Heaven (1989) and a school student in Make Your Way Home (1991).
Her role as the teenaged princess in The Legend of The White Knight, released in May 1994, has generally been considered her watershed; her success in a vital and logistically and technically challenging role paved the way to interest from major British producers. Following her A-levels in June 1996, she travelled on the family’s yacht, Excalibur, to New York, where she modelled for several advertising campaigns, auditioned for a Broadway production of Peter Pan, and met with her agent, Jeninne Christopher, over the signing of a contract for BBC-TV’s Pamela, in which she played the title role. The mini-series was filmed in London during October-December 1996, during which period Cavaliere turned 17, and aired on BBC-1 in February-March 1997.
While in London she settled at Strawberry House, her family’s pied-a-tierre in Sloane Street, took formal acting classes, and pursued further roles, amongst them The Mirror Crack’d and Joseph Andrews for BBC-TV.
Cavaliere is slated to appear as a luckless singer in Do What You Do Best, a film about teenaged groupies in punk-era London, due to be released in June 1999, in which film her sister Kimberley has a major role.
As a media personality Edit
Naturally outgoing and known as essentially fearless, Susan Cavaliere has long gravitated to the limelight. From a young age she has been featured in child roles in music videos, in television advertisements and in print media.
She has also worked in modelling fashion designs for Angel of Paradise, a boutique owned and operated by its designer, Angel, Lady Cavaliere, her second cousin. Cavaliere has appeared numerous times as a guest hostess on the BPI television series Dorrie Paradise, an informational chat and variety programme aimed at the tourist market, including one memorable episode in 1996 during which she interviewed pop artistes Global Tree, securing the series’ highest viewing audience amongst BPI locals. She also hosts several video presentations for her father’s White Knight Productions and for other business concerns.
Personal life Edit
Susan Cavaliere enjoys sailing, swimming, music and dance. One of her favourite pursuits is the role-playing mock-warfare game Strategy, in which players assume military or other roles and develop schemes to defeat each other according to predetermined rules of engagement. The game is very popular amongst young people in the BPI, where competition tournaments are common and medals and accolades awarded. Cavaliere commanded her own team, the Ménage Maroon, from 1993 till 1996.
She also enjoys travel, having been to major tourist and business centres with her parents over the years as well as to her family's homes in the Bahamas, Connecticut, London, Suffolk and New Zealand.
At 14 she gained a junior driving permit in the BPI and was given a compact antique-styled roadster, with which she commuted to school for the next two years till gaining her unrestricted driving licence.
Highly popular at school and readily recognised, Cavaliere has enjoyed overwhelmingly positive notoriety throughout the BPI. Whenever abroad, she, like all her parents’ children, is accompanied by armed security staff.
As a junior baroness, part heiress to a media fortune, and daughter of parents who have been admitted to the Peerage and who admit Conservative-party tendencies, Cavaliere confesses to being essentially Conservative in her own opinions as well.
She is a confirmed Anglican and attends Holy Eucharist services regularly.
Nickname of ‘Leigh’ Edit
Sometime in 1995, to avoid attracting attention and to permit herself a degree of anonymity in public and whilst travelling, Cavaliere assumed the alias of ‘Leigh Meriwether’, inspired by the American actress Lee Meriwether and drawing on her own childhood history. Under the name of Leigh she entered the Underwear 500 for muscular dystrophy, a charity footrace in which competitors wear only undergarments or lingerie, on the beach at Tobasco Beach, Florida, in April 1996. As a result of winning the women’s division, she was invited to perform on stage at a Tobasco Beach with the local band The Spinz, with whom she sang Aerosmith’s ‘Sweet Emotion’, whilst dressed in mauve-coloured satin lingerie, that evening before a packed house, print, TV and radio media. Whether or not she was successful in not being recognised as either Lady Susie of Paradise or as the daughter of Jonathan Cavaliere was not immediately certain; and the stunt itself was a success in providing her an opportunity for showing off with a minimum of hassle or consequences.
Relationships and sexuality Edit
Cavaliere is known to have had only one serious romantic relationship, having been the near-constant companionship of New Zealand model Chloe Jamison from when they met on Caravelle Island in October 1996 till March 1998. However she has never confessed to being exclusively lesbian and, since breaking off a dating relationship with Jamison, with whom she remains close friends, has been seen with London impresario Brian Clune and rising tennis star Josh Mickleby.
She is admittedly a virgin with men and in 1997 admitted having taken a vow of sexual chastity till marriage.
Of all her siblings Susan Cavaliere is perhaps closest to Kimberley, with whom she shares a penchant for Strategy, sailing, sunbathing and nudism. Kimberley considers Susan her best role model and one of her closest confidantes.
- Spirit of Heaven, WKP; June1989
- ‘Potent Dream’ (music video); 1991
- The Legend of The White Knight, WKP; May 1995
- The Body in the Library, BBC TV; January 1997
- The Return of The White Knight, WKP; May 1997
- Murder at Hazelmoor, BBC TV; September 1997
- Pamela, BBC TV; February 1998
- The Revenge of The White Knight, WKP; May 1998 (first nude scene, albeit obscured)
- The Mirror Crack’d, BBC TV; August-Sepember 1998
- Do What You Do Best, WKP; June 1999
- The Dark Horse, WKP; May 2000
- Joseph Andrews, BBC TV; June 2000
- Clarissa, BBC TV; September 2001
See also Edit
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