The Valley Native Who Went From Model to Spy to Spanish Aristocrat

Aline, Countess of Romanones and Pearl River native, died at age 94. She wrote of her escapades in NYT best-sellers.


Photo Courtesy of Facebook | Aline, Countess of Romanones

The storybook life of a Pearl River girl who became a model, then a WWII spy, then a Spanish countess, came to an end on December 11. Aline, Countess of Romanones, passed away at age 94 in Madrid, her family has confirmed.

The former Mary Aline Griffith was born in 1923 and grew up in the Rockland County hamlet, not far from the Dexter Press papermaking factory founded by her grandfather. She graduated from the College of Mount St. Vincent, and became a successful model with Hattie Carnegie. 

But wartime beckoned and she longed to fight alongside her friends and brothers. A chance blind date with an agent of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) led to a job as a code clerk in Madrid; soon, Aline enrolled in “spy school” near Langley, VA.

Her looks, poise, and charm landed Aline in the OSS, where she posed as a socialite, got the dirt on Nazi sympathizers, and passed that information on to the government. She later recounted her exciting escapades in three books: The Spy Wore Red, The Spy Went Dancing, and The Spy Wore Silk. 

It didn’t take Aline long to become a real socialite: In 1947, she married Count Luis de Figueroa y Pérez de Guzmán el Bueno, Conde (Count) of Quintanilla. They later became the Count and Countess of Romanones. Along the way, Aline ended up many times on the New York Times’ Best Dressed List, from 1955–1975, and was elected in 1962 to The International Hall of Fame, Vanity Fair. She was often photographed alongside celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Her husband died in 1987. She is survived by three sons, Alvaro, Luis and Miguel, and 13 grandchildren.

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