In the trophy-filled gun room of their mansion, August A. Busch Jr. and his wife Trudy, 28, hold baby Beatrice Alice and Adolphus Busch IV.
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Caption from LIFE. "In the trophy-filled gun room of their mansion, August A. Busch Jr. and his wife Trudy, 28, hold baby Beatrice Alice and Adolphus Busch IV."Margaret Bourke-White—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
In the trophy-filled gun room of their mansion, August A. Busch Jr. and his wife Trudy, 28, hold baby Beatrice Alice and Adolphus Busch IV.
Out for the daily ride, Trudy astride Happy Landing and Gussie on Miss Budweiser amble across the lawn of the 34-room brick mansion Gussie's father erected in 1911.
Photo shot in 1954 for 1955 LIFE magazine story on the Busch family; not published.
Photo shot in 1954 for 1955 LIFE magazine story on the Busch family; not published.
Photo shot in 1954 for 1955 LIFE magazine story on the Busch family; not published.
Dancing outdoors at hunting lodge during annual outing. Gussie and Trudy in peasant dress jig to German band with guest Dr. John C. Martz (left).
Singing at Schlachtfest, Gussie sits with guest, Mrs. Charles Thomas, wearing chef's hat and apron which his male guests received.
Carriage collection at the Bauernhof ranges from six three-ton coaches aligned at the rear to gigs and donkey cart in front and a ladies' phaeton and French sailor wagon right behind fountain.
Paul Victor von Gontard, general manager of San Fernando Valley brewery, sniffing hops.
Photo shot in 1954 for 1955 LIFE magazine story on the Busch family; not published.
Photo shot in 1954 for 1955 LIFE magazine story on the Busch family; not published.
Photo shot in 1954 for 1955 LIFE magazine story on the Busch family; not published.
Photo shot in 1954 for 1955 LIFE magazine story on the Busch family; not published.
Touring the stables in their formal dress, guests at the Bridlespur Hunt Club ball, held at Grant's farm, inspect the Busch hunters and jumpers.
Photo shot in 1954 for 1955 LIFE magazine story on the Busch family.
Toast to their master and mistress is drunk in champagne at annual gathering of 20 Grant's Farm workers, who just received envelopes containing their annual bonus. In dark jacket at left is zookeeper Frank Parko and alongside him are stablemen, grounds keepers. Butler and cook are at right.
Photo shot in 1954 for 1955 LIFE magazine story on the Busch family.
Photo shot in 1954 for 1955 LIFE magazine story on the Busch family.
Percy Orthwein, Gussie's brother-in-law, is a board member, handles firm's advertising and collects old Budweiser posters like those on the wall.
Photo shot in 1954 for 1955 LIFE magazine story on the Busch family.
Donkey cart is hitched up by coachman Henry Gersman to give John and Karen Flanigan, children of Gussie's daughter Carlota, a ride around courtyard.
Photo shot in 1954 for 1955 LIFE magazine story on the Busch family.
Photo shot in 1954 for 1955 LIFE magazine story on the Busch family.
Photo shot in 1954 for 1955 LIFE magazine story on the Busch family.
Rolling through the Deer Park on a pleasant afternoon, Gussie, Trudy and Adolphus Busch IV ride a Vigilant coach drawn by four hackneys.
Frances the Camel, a recent addition to the zoo, eats a banana from Gussie's hand. The zoo now has a full-time keeper.
Jerry the Chimp, one of four in the private zoo, essays a headstand with an assist from Gussie. Jerry also roller-skates.
Photo shot in 1954 for 1955 LIFE magazine story on the Busch family.
Expertly manipulating a team of six matched white mules, Gussie Busch rolls through the Deer Park at Grant's Farm atop a pony coach.
Caption from LIFE. "In the trophy-filled gun room of their mansion, August A. Busch Jr. and his wife Trudy, 28, hold baby Beatrice Alice and Adolphus Busch IV."
Margaret Bourke-White—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Imag
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House of Suds: Portrait of the Busch Beer Dynasty at Play

Jul 14, 2014

In May 1955, LIFE published an article—and a series of pictures by Margaret Bourke-White—featuring what the magazine called "the liveliest, lustiest family dynasty" in America: the Busch clan.

Here, apropos of nothing, really—other than that it's summer, when so many people's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of beer—LIFE.com presents a whole series of Bourke-White's portraits, most of which never ran in LIFE, of the family whose fortune was built, and even today is sustained, on suds.

In 1865 [LIFE wrote] a German immigrant named Adolphus Busch took over a small, failing brewery in St. Louis. In the decades since, the brewery has become the largest in the world, last year selling over 719 million foamy quarts of beer. In that same period period the Missouri family Busch has become just about the liveliest, lustiest family dynasty in the country.

Today the chief executive of Anheuser-Busch Inc., and in consequence the head of the sprawling family, is Adolphus' grandson, a gregarious, impulsive, hoarse-voiced, 56-year-old extrovert name August Anheuser Busch jr., who is hardly ever called anything but Gussie. Gussie and the other present members of the family have lost little of the fierce, competitive genius with which their predecessors kept he world of hops hopping. And unlike the later generations of some robust business families, they have not noticeably slid into the sedentary or intellectual pleasures of wealth. They continue to love the outdoors, fine horses, huge houses full of hunting trophies, big families, roaring parties and beery choruses of "Im Wald and auf der Heide."

The baronial splendor amid which Gussie lives with his handsome wife and their children prompts St. Louisans to say the Busches really live like German merchant princes of an earlier age. But their way of life adds a memorably exuberant and expansive segment to the American scene.

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