Just Who Is Maria Papadakis?

The daughter of the late Drexel president Taki Papadakis is the city’s new It Girl. Is she a budding Philly power player, or just another pretty face?

There are two pictures Maria carries with her everywhere. One is of Jesus. The other is of Taki. In her apartment is a framed copy of “The Papadakis Laws”—nine can-do aphorisms written by her dad. And when Maria got married to investment banker Kent, it was a decision very much influenced by Taki.

On their first date, at Alma de Cuba in 2010, Kent told her he wanted to marry her. Maria, whose father had wooed her mother in near-identical fashion, was emotionally fragile. “After the death of my dad, family became super-important,” she says. “It was just a matter of picking the right person for that marriage.” That she tried to fill the void so soon suggests an overly rigorous interpretation of Papadakis Law No. 3—“If it’s worth doing—it’s got to be done right now!”

Maria may have jumped into marriage, but the wedding itself was far from a rush job. Several attendees evoked the film The Philadelphia Story to describe the genteel glamour of it all. It was the social event of the season.

Maria and Eliana (and, of course, HughE) took Amtrak to New York to gown-shop at the salon where the reality show Say Yes to the Dress is filmed. Maria fell for a $20,000 gown adorned with faux pearls, but it ultimately proved too pricy (says Maria) or too clunky (says HughE). The Monique Lhuillier dress she went with instead was more reasonable: in the $7,000 range.

The dress was from New York, but the wedding couldn’t have been more Philadelphia. The ceremony took place at St. George’s Cathedral, where Maria walked down the aisle alone, to “leave space” for her father. Everyone—Jannie Blackwell, Carl and Roberta Dranoff, Charlie Pizzi—was there. Garces Catering did the filet mignon and sea bass; a soprano and a tenor from the Opera Company of Philadelphia sang “Maria” from overhead. HughE was the best man.

Seven months later, it was all over. “The Papadakis laws say, ‘You can make anything work,’” Maria says, shaking her head. “We just weren’t people who fit right together. Unfortunately, Maria found something she couldn’t change or fix.”

The precise reason for the breakup, which a writer from—you guessed it—Philadelphia magazine first reported in June, remains maddeningly murky. (Kent didn’t respond to requests for comment.) Maria’s friends all said the same thing about the breakup.

Hadas Kuznits, CBS 3 reporter: “I have no idea what happened.”

Marisa Magnatta: “See, that’s, like, a really weird thing. I just really didn’t know that much about that part of her life.”

Andrew Rosenthal, Bay Area entrepreneur: “We didn’t talk about that in detail.”

To be sure, there were some potential clues dropped along the way. In a post-separation interview with a publication called Society magazine—Maria’s on the cover, standing next to a horse—she was asked what she admires most in a man. “Well, mental stability. Ha ha!” she answered. “It’s harder to come by than you think!”

At one point Maria called me twice, then texted me in a huff, telling me she needed to “clear up some facts.” HughE—try to follow along here—somehow got the impression I thought Maria had cheated on Brendan with her new boyfriend, Chris. So he called Maria to tell her. And Maria called me. In between when I talked to him and she talked to me, HughE sent out this cryptic tweet: “It’s a darn shame the wrong story’s going to get out, but the right one would destroy someone’s life.”

Finally, over dinner at her apartment one night, a few details begin trickling out. The view from her windows is spectacular. She shows me the little terrace where she likes to hang out at night and listen to the reggae emanating from the Jamaican Jerk Hut on South Street.

Over moussaka and braised lamb shank—she and her mother cooked before I got here—we get down to business. Maria dispatches several rumors: No, Brendan never cheated on her or abused her. And no, he’s not gay. So why they did break up? She’s not saying.

“We all kept it really quiet,” she says. “People are so fascinated. I would rather be on my own, in pain, suffering quietly.” But the truth is, she can’t say: An airtight prenuptial agreement forbids her from talking about certain aspects of the marriage.

I tell Maria I thought only celebrities signed pre-nups. “I’m a celebrity,” she says.

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  • baba booey


  • Robert Higgins

    This girl is everything that is wrong and bad about Philadelphia. First, she isn’t that pretty. She needs her teeth shaved down and her hair style that she walks around town with on a normal basis looks like the girl who works at the local Jersey diner HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Funny about the one poster on this, but she has baba booey teeth. In fact, my friends are going to start calling her Baba Booey. Just another way to make fun of this girl who really does nothing and means nothing. It’s sad that Philly Mag has shrunk so low that they feel that this girl is worthy of an article inside of their magazine.The fact that the writer is making fun of her and her Mom, this girl is too dumb to see that. She’s the female Arthur Kade. Another low-life loser. If Philly Mag wants to do an actual newsworthy article about pseudo philly wanna-be celebs, you should find out how Arthur Kade actually has any money (or makes any money). While HugeE Dillon is a really nice guy in real life, he doesn’t get or understand that people are using him, as he’s probably using them too. Wasn’t it a few years ago that Sabrina Tamborino was the Philly “it” girl. . At least Sabrina is actually cool . Maria from what I’ve been told by multiple people was a really fat girl for the longest time and then dropped some weight and now considers herself pretty. I’m sure her husband, errr, I mean ex-husband (of 6 months) has some interesting stories. Philly Mag, you should tell your writer to dig deeper for the better story. How happy can her Mommy be of her to have a $300,000 wedding to have her daughter end the marriage 6 months later. My father would KILL me. But of course, the wedding wasn’t about them, it was about the “look at me” that her mommy installed. The writer did a good job of showing that and does make that clear.
    The world of Philadelphia doesn’t need Maria. The world of Philadelphia doesn’t want Maria. I’m sure if HugeE told Maria, “look hon, I’ve been paid $50K to not mention your name in any press or take a pic of you for 1 year” she’d drop him like a hot potato. Basically, fake friends. Self-promotion at it’s finest. Maria, take Webster and the whole Papakapolis family back to Drexel and please don’t think that you are newsworthly. You are a joke in Philadelphia. All the real power players and real people who have real meaning in this town know it. They either don’t even know who you are, talk behind your back, or they quickly shuffle away from you when you walk by. HugeE and Philly Mag, at least have a hot-ass chick like that Christina Honickman as the Philly “it” girl. At least, she’s hot to look at.

  • Amy

    I graduated Drexel with Maria. The way she was treated was insane. She had 5 majors, an entire floor of a dorm hall to herself and every teacher was scared to death of her. During graduation they stopped the whole ceremony just so she could walk on stage and get her diploma from her dad. No one liked her and she was very heavy. She is hardly an it girl….I agree there are better candidates out there.

  • Eileen Siways

    Philly Mag, you must really need readership and your desperation is showing. September’s issue featured ‘The Dead Girl in The Bathtub” and now in this issue you are trying to hype up pseudo Philly celebrities that are non-existent. Why don’t you act like a top tier magazine and start producing more substantive stories rather than this crap.

  • Chuck

    HughE Dillion a “Society Photographer”? Oh, Please.

  • kg

    I only read 3 lines of this article and it was a waste of my time. The fact that someone got paid to write this is shocking- or not. It’s phillymag, it’s not supposed to be good, and I have to remember that.

  • MB

    I think people are missing the point here, Simon included. Maria is just at the beginning of her career and has a lot going for her. Part of what people are missing is that today, the media is always changing. There is no one way to do things anymore. So what she is doing and has accomplished is much different than what what people are use to. A regular 9-5 job is not the norm now-a-days, especially in the line of work Maria is in. Simon missed some key points in Maria’s current life like where she works and what exactly it is that she does. You don’t need a 9-5 job to be successfull in today’s world. Her charity work is just one part of who she is and God bless her for taking advantage of her resources and using that to not only help her grow as a person, but to keep her family’s legacy in this city alive. Not everyone is fortunate to be able to have such resources in life but if anyone is so greatful and appreciative, it’s Maria. And shame on those who took a stab at what she looks like. She needs to shave her teeth? Unreal.

  • Charlie D

    I am a fan of Maria’s show, I think she’s a riot, and the
    writer touches upon how ridiculously down to earth she is. I met her at a
    Flyers game she was taping at; she stopped her shoot so me and all my friends
    could talk to her when we asked for a photo. She was the nicest, funniest girl
    I’ve ever met. Wasn’t expecting that.

    I googled her after reading this article and I found out she interviewed the
    Dalai Lama and Christopher Reeves?! I had no idea, because it’s not in the
    article. So I see why the writer says she does more funny segments like they do
    on the morning shows. But Katie Nolan is my girl for that sole reason. And she
    is a kid, and with a great personality; I’d rather watch her be fun and that’s
    not a bad thing to me. I do like the title of the article on the cover of
    the magazine, “who doesn’t love maria papadakis”. I guess some
    commenters on here don’t though lol. Me and my friends fell in love with her
    after talking to her. I see why some dude proposed to her on a first date.
    Maria, will you marry me? Charlie from Lehigh you met at the Flyers game. I
    follow you on twitter: Go orange and black!

  • Shannon Maria

    At 28, I think she’s doing well for herself in a city that is known for quickly turning on its own. If she had five majors, then it sounds like she’s got a lot of interests, many of which are combined into her current ventures. Thanks to the internet and social media, the world is no longer 9-5. My hat is off to Maria for making a living doing what she loves and promoting a city that obviously means a lot to her.

  • Dana

    As a patron of many charities Maria is involved in, and having helped run a few myself, I’d like to better highlight her involvement to to help this be a more enlightening piece. Maria started working with one of the organizations I am involved with over 4 years ago (a childrens nonprofit theatre group), and she started half of the city’s young friends organizations for non profits before they became “the norm”. I have seen support these organizations through website revision, accounting guidance, and fundraising. There were no cameras or publicity in most of what I saw Maria do, but she still helped from the ground up. . Although her now “famous” name can garner a powerful team to help in many ways, I saw first hand how she just wants to make a difference, like her dad whom I adored. If that means a charity who normally gets little publicity may get some now because of her fame, God bless her and them. She wields the fact that a city “loves” her (which is the cover page title) and follows her to help others. The article somewhat showed that, but not in the humble way I know Maria to be. For me, there was too much about a gala or celebrities (though I get that is what people like to read). It just would have been been nice to read more about the many organizations she’s helped so much, like FringeArts- which is why she emceed Feastival mentioned in the article. Maria has depth and heart – as well as a beautiful face and personality.

  • AL

    She’s fat with a skinny neck & jawline.

  • anon

    I believe the point of the majors was that she had 5 majors and a dorm room floor for free……

    • Cassie F

      Oh come on that was a ridiculous comment, obviously untrue…if Chelsea Clinton can’t get a whole dorm floor, no one can. Student rumors also said she had a helicopter and a jacuzzi. Really? You don’t think anyone would have noticed a black hawk picking up people at the dorms. LOL…And 5 majors, don’t you think the writer would have mentioned any of this. Seriously guys lol?
      You guys just turned this into exactly the point the writer is making, our city’s fascination with celebrity. Our own TMZ and gossip!