We've come to know and love Southern Charm's Patricia Altschul as the glamorous mother of cast member Whitney Sudler-Smith who always has a wealth of wisdom to dish out to his Charleston pals and is rarely seen without a caftan on and her "medicine," a.k.a. a martini, in hand.
But Patricia led quite the extraordinary life even before she came to call Charleston home. Get to know what makes this Southern Charm grand dame so grand, below.
1. She Had Some High-Profile Husbands
Patricia's late husband Arthur G. Altschul was a well-known New York investment banker, art collector, and philanthropist. Arthur was a major mover and shaker in the American art scene as a member of the chairman's council of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a trustee of the Whitney Museum of American Art, and a member of the trustees' council of the National Gallery of Art, according to his New York Times obituary. He and Patricia wed in 1996 and were married until Arthur's death in 2002.
Before that, Patricia was married to the late Edward Stitt Fleming, a longtime Washington, D.C. psychiatrist who founded the Psychiatric Institute of Washington and the Psychiatric Institutes of America in the late 1960s, according to his obituary in The Washington Post. From watching Southern Charm, we've also learned that Edward was related to James Bond creator Ian Fleming, so it shouldn't surprise us that he also taught Patricia how to make the best gin martini.
2. She's Not Originally From Charleston
3. She Has a Lot of Famous Friends...
We all know Patricia is a fashionista, and she has the friends to prove it. She's buds with Hamish Bowles, Vogue's international editor-at-large, and Andre Leon Talley, a Vogue contributing editor who recently curated an Oscar de La Renta retrospective at San Francisco's de Young Museum featuring one of Patricia's gowns. You're only as fabulous as the company you keep, after all.
4. ... And Famous Fans
And here's a virtual acquaintance we hope turns into a real-life friendship for Patricia. Superstar Southern Charm fan Lady Gaga praised Patricia as a "queen" on Twitter last year, which she the matriarch was very flattered by. We mean, who wouldn't be?
5. Her New York Home Was Right Out of the Great Gatsby
We'll get to her magnificent mansion in Charleston in a second, but first, let's revisit her former, stunning Centre Island, New York residence. The 10,000-square-foot house stood on more than 10 acres of land and had eight bedrooms, eight-and-a-half baths, an elevator, library, sunroom, and a servants' wing, according to a 2007 New York Times story about the estate. Patricia bought the house with her husband Arthur in 1997 but decided to sell it after his death, putting it on the market for $15.8 million. You can see a few pics of the Mario Buatta-designed interior over at The New York Times. Then check out some pics of her Manhattan apartment once inhabited by legendary interior designer Sister Parish for even more glamour.
6. Her Charleston Home Is Kind of a Big Deal
As we've seen on Southern Charm, Patricia's Charleston estate is pretty much a palace. The 9,500-square-foot, 10-bedroom home also designed by Mario was originally built in the early 1850s for prosperous cotton planter Isaac Jenkins Mikell, according to Architectural Digest. After undergoing a restoration, the historic home was honored with the Preservation Society of Charleston's 2012 Carolopolis Award for outstanding historic preservation. It's also listed in the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places. Wow, this place is even more special than we thought.
7. Her Dogs Are a Playful Bunch
We all know Patricia loves her pups, but sometimes they can be a bit mischievous. "When we tape the show, sometimes my dog makes an escape and will run into a scene and I just pick him up and sit him on the chair next to me. It’s fun," Patricia told Carolina Tails in January. And as you can see in this video from Vogue, that doesn't just happen when Patricia is filming Southern Charm. But Patricia still loves her dogs, and we do, too.
8. She's Also a Horse Lover
Lisa Vanderpump isn't the first Bravoleb to have an equestrian obsession. Patricia also has a history with horses. “I’ve rescued many horses. I even had little appaloosa minihorses, and they pulled a cart. I used to go around Centre Island in Long Island with my two little horses pulling me in a cart," she told The New York Post last year. "They’re darling.” Patricia has also been known to throw some sophisticated soirees in celebration of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. We can't wait to see the kind of shindig she throws this year.
See more of Patricia's fabulousness over the years by checking out these pics, below.