Nina Clemens Grabrilowitsch


Nina Clemens Gabrilowitsch, 1910 - 1966


Nina Clemens Gabrilowitsch, was born August 18, 1910 in Redding, Connecticut and died January 16, 1966 in a hotel at 2011 N Highland Avenue in Los Angeles. Several bottles of pills and alcohol were found in the room with her.
Of all the Twain relatives, perhaps the least is known about Nina. The child of Mark Twain’s only surviving child Clara Clemens and her husband Ossip Gabrilowitsch, Nina’s childhood appears to have been a happy one. Her first 9 years were spent in Germany and New York. In 1919, the family moved to Detroit, Michigan when Ossip took on the position of conductor of the Detroit Symphony. Nina lived there until she enrolled in Barnard in 1929.
Much has been written about her drinking and she herself thought she had inherited this trait from her famous grandfather, Samuel Clemens. There are also many reports of a "marriage" to a man name Carl Rogers but that is not the correct name of her longtime boyfriend. There is no record of her ever having been married. The man she was involved with for years was named Carl Roters, a famous artist. Although at first Clara didn't approve of this relationship because she thought it contributed to Nina's drinking, it's been reported by one of Carl's relatives that he refused to marry Nina because of her drinking! When Susan was seven, Nina took her out of school without permission. That is the subject of Chapter One in The Twain Shall Meet, which is the only biography of Nina.

  • "I knew Nina and tried to help her. She was always looking for something, looking everywhere.  Now I know what she was looking for. She was looking for you - her lost daughter." - Hal Holbrook


611 Boston Avenue, Detroit, Michigan

This is the house where Nina grew up with her parents.  She had everything a child could ask for: a private school education, trips to Europe yearly, summers spent in the upper peninsular of Michigan, private language and piano lessons, and the company from an early age of the rich and famous.  She graduated from high school in 1928 and there is a video of her graduation party in the gardens of this home.  Attending were Susan Bailey's aunt and uncle.  They are visible dancing through the video. Nina was supposed to go to college after this but instead she went missing for a year, as did Elwood Bailey.


The Detroit Symphony Hall

As a child, Nina spent a lot of time here as her father was the conductor of the orchestra for 18 years.  That box on the front left, was the Gabrilowitsch Family box but Clara never liked to sit in it.  Instead she liked to sit in the front row of the mid section right so she could   sneak out down the side aisle ahead of the crowd.  This is where she took little Susan the first time she attended a concert. When asked by the usher if she would be sitting in her box, Clara said, "No, we are going to be sitting on the floor."  Susan got very excited because she thought they would be sitting on the floor and having a picnic.  When the music started it was the absolute highlight of this little girl's life.  Later on, when she got to know Nina through her diaries, she thought back to that time and hoped that Nina had the same experience the first time she had attended her father's concert.