Douglas Thmopson - Author and International Journalist

 


In ‘Islands in the Stream', the most autobiographical of his novels, Hemingway's hero Thomas Hudson talks of the love of his children but the author kills all three of his fictional offspring while they are young. They go from the pages before they can disappoint -- or challenge? -- him.

When Hemingway discovered his son Gig was a transvestite -- he walked in on the boy wearing nylons -- he said:' Gig, we come from a strange tribe, you and I. ' It is head-shaking to imagine the most macho author of the 20th Century and his troubled son. Gregory Hemingway was devastated by his need to cross-dress and so much so that when he was arrested in 1951 he said it was for possession of drugs rather than for dressing as a woman in public.

Like his brother Patrick who suffered ‘a complete mental breakdown' in 1947 he underwent courses of electric shock therapy. Their brother Jack, the father of Margot, Mariel and Joan ( always known as ‘Muffet'), was wounded during ther Second World War. His view was: ‘ The fatal word is fame. I don't think it's kind to people.'

The most famous of the Hemingways was blunt to a complaining F. Scott Fitzgerald with the advice:' Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start.'

What comfort could he give his son Jack today? Jack Hemingway lost an infant son in 1951. His eldest daughter Muffet,45, has spent time in psychiatric hospitals. She claims an LSD ‘trip' when she was sixteen turned her into a manic-depressive. ‘I've been on lithium and Prozac and they've really helped.' She told an American magazine:' I'm an alcoholic. I started drinking red wine again six months ago to help me stop smoking. No kidding. I wound up in a rehabilitation centre.'

The pattern of self-destruction seems like a domino game in the Hemingway family. Mariel Hemingway is the rule-proving exception. She was born four months after her grandfather committed suicide. At age 14 her big sister Margaux did her a ‘favour' and got her a role in her film ‘Lipstick' in 1976. Mariel stole the film, Margaux was devastated by reviews.

Mariel Hemingway returned to the family home in Ketchum , Idaho , emerging in 1979 to star in and win an Oscar nomination for Woody Allen's ‘ Manhattan '. Since then she has maintained a serious film and television career and a strong marriage to restaurateur Stephen Crisman with whom she has two young daughters.

Her older sister was playing the fame fame in the fast lane. She met both her husbands in the Palm Court of the Plaza Hotel in New York . The now Trump-owned hotel was once home to her.

It began in 1974 when she as 19 and arrived in New York from the altogether differently wild spaces of Idaho . She was open, infectious, ambitious and beautiful. The jaded Manhattan set were enchanted by her unaffected and exuberant behaviour. Within a year -- with the help of fashion photographers like Francis Scavullo -- she became an international supermodel. She landed a $1 million contract as the image of Faberge's Babe perfume.

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