Generous philanthropist, Hollywood actress, and Chicago socialite—Bonnie Bolding Swearingen was all of these things and more, but her legacy as a Samford graduate stands out to us here at Bham Now. Read on to learn more about Bonnie’s life PLUS get info about Bonnie Swearingen’s estate sale.
From Miss Alabama to Hollywood
Who is Bonnie Swearingen? Born in Joppa, Alabama in 1933, Bonnie was one of 5 sisters lovingly known as the “Alabama Gabor Sisters”. Bonnie received first runner-up in the Miss Alabama contest and attended Howard College (now Samford University).
At Samford, Bonnie was a cheerleader, drum majorette and drama student. Her love of theatre led her to Hollywood and performances in TV shows “Cheyenne” and “Have Gun-Will Travel”. Seems like Birmingham’s faces are no stranger to the screen.
Leaving a Legacy of Philanthropy
After her time in Hollywood, Bonnie started working as a New York stockbroker and married John Swearingen, the CEO of what’s now known as BP America. They hosted and attended parties with guests like former Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, Bob Hope, Prince Charles and more.
No matter where Bonnie and John went, they always kept Samford close to their hearts. During their lifetimes, the Swearingens gave almost $3.5 million to the university, especially in support of the Samford arts community.
“I learned then that it is not what you do that are successes, it’s the failures that make you what you are.”Bonnie Swearingen, at the dedication of Samford’s Bonnie Bolding Swearingen Hall
In August of 2020 Bonnie Swearingen passed away, but her remarkable life will always be a part of Birmingham’s history. She is buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham.
Bonnie’ Swearingen’s Estate Sale
KW Estate Sales are holding Bonnie’s estate sale with items including collectible glass and crystal, Blue & White porcelain, couture clothing, fine art and more. Stop by to learn more about Bonnie and even get some holiday shopping done.
- When: Saturday, December 5th 10 AM – 3 PM; Monday, December 7th 10 AM – 3 PM
- Where: Regency Crown. 1200 Beacon Parkway East Unit 600
- COVID-19 Precautions: Masks are required, only 15 customers are allowed in at a time, and social distancing rules are in place.
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