Aline Griffith, an American-born former model who became a World War II spy and later a member of the Spanish elite as the Countess of Romanones, died Monday. She was 94.
Griffith, who was born in Pearl River, N.Y., in 1923, had suffered from pulmonary emphysema for many years before her death Monday, sources confirmed to local press.
A former model, Griffith studied literature, history and journalism before she was recruited by the newly created Office of Strategic Studies, the forerunner of the CIA, when the U.S. entered World War II.
In 1941, at the age of 21, Griffith was sent to Madrid -- the capital of so-called neutral Spain -- to infiltrate the small circle of social elites surrounding the Franco regime, many of whom had ties to Nazi Germany.
Her cover story, using the codename "Tiger," was that of a young American model from a rich family who wanted to have a good time in Madrid.
During her time there, she rubbed elbows with aristocrats, bullfighters, singers and actors -- all while trying to identify Nazis and their roles in the Spanish capital.
“I will die with my secrets,” Griffith was quoted saying several times over the years, El Pais reported.
Once the war ended, she reportedly stayed in Madrid, still sending information she gathered to U.S. officials.
She gave up espionage when she met Luis Figueroa y Perez de Guzman el Bueno, who would eventually become her husband and the Count of Romanones.
According to reports, Griffith told her husband she had been a spy the night before their wedding.
The countess went on to have three children and 13 grandchildren. She became an author when she published her memoirs, “The Spy Wore Red,” in 1987.
In the book’s author’s note, she wrote she had changed the names of many people mentioned because most were still alive and “might be embarrassed.” She also said she “occasionally omitted or altered insignificant incidents…and the sequence of events” but that “the core of the story is accurate.”
"I always knew I had a good story," Griffith once told the Los Angeles Times. "My stories are all based on truth. It's impossible that whatever details of any mission I did would be in a file."
Throughout her life, the countess could name painter Salvador Dali, former first lady Jacqueline Onassis, the Duchess of Windsor, Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and actresses Ava Gardner and Audrey Hepburn among her many friends.