Stephen Colbert’s Larchmont Roots

Stephen Colbert

Back in early 2012 we ran a piece about Stephen Colbert’s family connection to Larchmont. On June 12, 2013, his mother, Lorna Tuck Colbert, died at the age of 92.  Here is a re-run of that article.

From the Archives – January/February, 2012

“Why Is This Man Smiling?”

Last November I was in Larchmont Library and on my way out I stopped to glance at some new books on display.  Imagine my surprise when I spotted a biography of Stephen Colbert, faux conservative TV pundit on Comedy Central’s satirical news show, “The Colbert Report”.   Intrigued, I snapped it up, and ran home to throw some dinner at my family and then get to the real meat, Nothing But the Truthiness by Lisa Rogak.

And it was as early as page 11 when I hit the prime rib, if you will.  The book relates that Stephen’s mother, Lorna Tuck, born in 1920, lived in Morningside  Heights right next door to the Juilliard School with her sister and parents, Andrew and Marie Tuck.  In 1921 her father, a lawyer, “did so well in his practice that he moved his family to Westchester County, purchasing a house at 54 Chatsworth Avenue in Larchmont”.

Further on I learned that Stephen’s father, James William Colbert, Jr., born in 1920 to Mary and James, Sr., had lived in the Bronx, first on Jerome Avenue, and then the Grand Concourse.  And, in the early 1930’s, they, “moved their family to Monroe Avenue in Larchmont”.   It was at St. Augustine’s Church, to which both families belonged, that Lorna and Jim met as early teens.  Lorna attended a convent school in Providence, R.I. and Jim attended St. Augustine’s school for a couple of years and then went on to Iona Prep.

Wow!  That got my attention and I was off on the hunt down the rabbit hole for all the information I could find on these two families in Larchmont.

First I searched the county land records to find deeds to property owned by the Tucks and the Colberts.  It’s always good to check the sources!  I discovered that in 1921 the Tucks had, indeed, purchased  property on Chatsworth Avenue, but it is #80, formerly #57 back in the 20s and 30s.  House numbers changed when more houses were built. The Tucks sold that house in 1965.  Our 1920s street directories also showed the Tucks on Chatsworth Ave.  Mr. Tuck was listed as A. Edward Tuck and so, was perhaps known as Edward, though in the 1930 directory as Andrew E. Tuck, so we can’t know for sure without further information.  I could not find any records of purchase by the Colberts, so I have concluded that they were probably renting a house on Monroe Avenue at that time.

Mrs. James W. Colbert, Jr.

Microfilm at Larchmont Library of the Larchmont Times August 31, 1944 issue reveals that on the previous Saturday, Lorna Tuck of 80 Chatsworth Avenue was married to Pfc. James William Colbert of Chatsworth Garden Apartments at St. Augustine’s Church and “Breakfast” followed at the Larchmont Shore Club.  So, evidently the Colberts had moved to the apartments at the intersection of Myrtle, No. Chatsworth and Murray Avenues.

The bride “wore a gown of ivory satin with Alençon lace…modified sweetheart neckline…her tulle veil was held in place by orange blossoms…”—you get the picture.   The mothers of the bride and groom were turned out in “pink chiffon” and “midnight crepe” respectively.

The book goes on to relate that in 1945 while Lorna and Jim Colbert were awaiting the birth of their first child, her brother Andrew Edward Tuck, 3rd, serving as a first lieutenant in the 101st Airborne Division in Europe, and, having “made it through the Normandy invasion and the Battle of the Bulge”, was killed in a vehicle accident in Austria just a month after the war had officially been declared over.

I discovered that the August 2, 1945 issue of the Larchmont Times carries his obituary on the front page, a common occurrence during the war years.  His father is referred to as Major Tuck and is described as being a Trustee of the Village of Larchmont.  Other details to be gleaned from this local source include the fact that his mother had been Program Chairman of the Woman’s Club for two recent years and that his sister Lorna Colbert lived at 12 Chatsworth Ave. at that time.  She and husband Jim must have moved into an apartment after the wedding.  That’s the building between Villa Maria Pizza and Milk Mart, with the shoe repair shop and the Silver Canvas on the ground floor.

From our collection of bound editions of The Larch Tree, the monthly newsletter of the Woman’s Club of Larchmont, in the February, 1943 issue, I found a piece by Marie F. Tuck about an upcoming event presented by the Drama Dept. – “the Miriam Marmein Dance group….in a concert program so original, charming and vivid as to have won acclaim in many cities all over the U.S. and Canada.”  In most of the issues during the war years there appeared a list, an Honor Roll, of names of the Woman’s Club relations serving in the armed services and we see Marie Tuck’s son, Andrew Edward Tuck, 3rd, listed among the others.

The Aug. 30th issue of the Larchmont Times has a photo of Lt. Tuck on the front page and reports that a Solemn High Requiem Mass was held for him that day at St. Augustine’s Church.  I think I can see a family resemblance to his nephew Stephen.  Lt. Tuck’s name is listed on the WWII memorial plaque at St. Augustine’s Church as well as on the Kemper Memorial by Mamaroneck High School.  Photos of these and other war memorials are on our website, www.larchmonthistory.org.

Lorna and James Colbert went on to have eleven children, born in various cities as they moved around following Jim’s career as a physician and hospital administrator.  Stephen Colbert, the youngest,  was born in Washington , D.C. but the family moved to Charleston , South Carolina when he was young, and so, he  identifies himself as being from South Carolina, and who am I to suggest he should do otherwise?…. However, I think we can all agree that it is fun to make some claim that his origins reside…. or resided…. in Larchmont, New York.

Lynne Crowley, Archivist