Wife # 3: Martha Gellhorn (Giveaway prize soon! Details at end of post.)

Only one marriage I regret. I remember after I got that marriage license I went across from the license bureau to a bar for a drink. The bartender said, ‘What will you have, sir?’ And I said, ‘A glass of hemlock.’ Ernest Hemingway

One afternoon in late December as he prepared to leave the cool sawdust interior of Sloppy Joe’s, a trio of tourists walked in.  One was a young woman with beautiful hair—tawny gold, loosely brushing her shoulders. She wore a plain black cotton sundress whose simplicity called attention in a well-bred way to her long, shapely legs. Bernice Kurt, The Hemingway women. Page 28.

Martha

 

Martha was lovely, smart, and determined. Born on November 8, 1908, her parents were well educated, a physician and a worker for social causes. Just as Pauline was determined to get Hem from Hadley, Martha knew she needed Hem as her mate. Martha was from St. Louis, just as Hadley and Pauline were.  Coincidence but an interesting one. Martha attended Bryn Mawr but left at the end of her junior year. She wanted to be a foreign correspondent and did work in Europe for several years. She returned to the US, became a life-long friend of Eleanor Roosevelt’s. Money was tight but Martha persevered. She wrote a well-received book called the Trouble I’ve Seen, about four age groups who were caught in the cycle of unemployment.

Hem was nine years older than Martha but seemed older. He was a world acclaimed novelist. Compared to Pauline, she was flashy and accomplished. As for her early impressions of Hem, she wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt, “an odd bird, very lovable and full of fire and a marvelous story teller. So I sit about and have just read the mss of his new book and been very smart about it.” Kurt, page 291.

Martha And Hem

 

The relationship progressed as they bonded over the Spanish Revolution. Hem was on the fence as to allegiance, in true newsman fashion.  Martha was for the Rebels.  Both cared deeply about the cause and about Spain. Martha was brave and despite bombings of buildings regularly, both continued their work without complaint. Per Martha, “I think it was the only time in his life when he was not the most important thing there was. He really cared about the Republic and he cared about that war. I believe I never would’ve gotten hooked otherwise.”

As Martha secured her position in Hem’s life, Pauline suffered the loss. With several health issues afflicting her, it became clear that Hem was leaving and there was nothing she could do about it. Hem wrote a letter to Pauline’s mother in 1939 trying to explain the estrangement.  Her family had been generous and accepting and it was painful. It also was painful for the boys. “When you were with my father, it was the Crusades. He was Richard the Lion-hearted, and my mother was the woman you left behind in the castle with the chastity belt.” One benefit though was that Patrick and Gigi (Gregory) started to spend summers and vacations with hem which created memories that were irreplaceable. Their half-brother Jack (John/Bumby) had been enjoying those times with his father since the Hadley divorce.

Hem, Martha, boys

 

Martha developed a good relationship with the boys. She was loving to all three and they enjoyed her. She had a friendly relationship with Hadley as well.

Hem wrote much of For Whom the Bell Tolls while with Martha. He dedicated it to her. It was selling well and there were bids for the movie rights. He did pay Pauline alimony which he resented as she “didn’t need it.”

Frustration

Martha found that her husband drank too much, didn’t bathe enough, and embellished his stories. Still she made an effort to be a good hostess, partner, mother, and appreciator of his cats.

As time passed and Martha pursued assignments in China and Europe, Hem felt rejected and their love declined. Hem began to rant and rail against Martha and to heap abuse on her. When they finally divorced, Martha was sad but relieved. No alimony for Martha. She went on to write and establish a successful career in her own right. She married in 1954 and divorced in 1963, living the balance of her life in London. She committed suicide at age 89 with a drug overdose after suffering from cancer and blind.

In a couple weeks, I’ll be giving away three copies of the Hemingway cookbook.  It is actually pretty great.  There are not only recipes of Hemingway meals but stories and anecdotes related to the novels, stories, and Hem’s life. I really like the cook book. (Details to follow on how to win).

Also, I’d love to have guest posters. The first to guest post gets one of the cook books. You laugh, but it’s really great. You can write about anything. Review Gellhorn and Hemingway. Talk about his impact on you. Tell us what you hate. did you like Midnight in Paris? Please share!

Girl with long legs
Portrait of Martha Gellhorn

Part II: Pauline Pfeiffer, Wife # 2

Fanning in Key West’s heat

“She shot very well this good, this rich bitch, this kindly caretaker and destroyer of his talent. Nonsense. He had destroyed his talent himself. Why should he blame this woman because she kept him well? He had destroyed his talent by not using it, by betrayals of himself and what he believed in, by drinking so much that he blunted the edge of his perceptions, by laziness, by sloth, and by snobbery, by pride and by prejudice, by hook and by crook.”


Ernest Hemingway,The Snows of Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro
..

 

Pauline Pfeiffer was Hem’s second wife. She was petite, lively, chic, and in love. Since equality in a relationship was not his thing, Pauline seemed to know intuitively that she would have to defer an awful lot of the time to his dreams and wishes. That deference came naturally to Hadley, less naturally to Pauline, and not at all to Martha. (More of Martha next week.)

Once Hadley allowed the divorce to take place, Hem seemed less eager to seal the deal with Pauline although he ultimately adjusted and set a date.  He wrote to Isabelle Godolphin that “I’m cockeyed about Pauline and going to get married in May . . . I felt like hell before, but now everything is very very good and everyone is feeling swell.”

Love crazy

Hem even became a Catholic for Pauline, who was a true believer. As for Hadley, she went back to New York, dated various men, and had a cordial meeting with Max Perkins, Hem’s editor.  Max had arranged for the direct deposit of royalties from The Sun Also Rises to Hadley’s account. She received them for her life.

Pauline and Hem were married on May 10, 1927 in Paris. In fairly short order, Hadley’s bitterness faded and she became quite friendly with Pauline due to their shared interest in Bumby’s welfare, as well as Ernest’s welfare.  Pauline did her best to keep up with Hem, letting him be him, going to Africa, and

Key West

finally settling in Key West, a place that Dos Passos drew Hem to, noting its climate, its fishing, and its undiscovered beauty.

 Hem needed little more persuading. He and Pauline found a house on Whitehead Street. Jack aka Bumby had a nice relationship with Pauline, who treated him like one of her own boys.  She did in fact have two sons with Hem: Patrick and Gregory.  Hem by all accounts loved all of his sons and they adored Papa. Being with him was enchanting and he had an air of excitement. Hem said that while not partial to kids, he rather liked these three.

As years passed Pauline and Ernest became cooler to each other.  Hem spent time with Jane Mason, wife of Grant Mason, and an affair seems clear. Jane was a flashy, blonde, risk-taker, and not emotionally stable. She later jumped from a balcony. Whether Jane did so purposely or accidentally, is not clear but most believe it was a suicide attempt. Jane survived. Hemingway, per Bernice Kert, author of a wonderful and fascinating book about all of Hemingway’s women (and aptly called The Hemingway Women) avoided emotionally unstable woman.  This seems true as Hadley, Pauline, Martha and Mary were all strong, intelligent, stable women. Even his closest women friends such as Marlene Dietrich were women with good heads on their shoulders.

Kert in her book, page 262, cites a story about Hem and Dietrich meeting.  She notes that on his way back to NY from Paris on the Ile de France, Dietrich recalled, “I entered the dining salon to attend a dinner party.  The men rose to offer me a chair, but I saw at once that I would make the thirteenth at the table. I excused myself on grounds of superstition, when my way was blocked by a large man who said he gladly would be the fourteenth.  The man was Hemingway.”   This is what Pauline was up against.

Ultimately, Hem left Pauline for a younger flashier model: Martha Gellhorn. He doesn’t seem to have had the sentimental look back at Pauline that he had at Hadley although he does praise her spirit in going to Africa with him, even though it meant leaving their sons for a significant period of time.

Pointedly, A Farewell to Armswas is dedicated to Uncle Gus, Pauline’s uncle, not to Pauline.

When he left, a great deal of Hem was left in Key West as he moved on to his next home in Cuba with Martha and on to write one of the greatest novels ever written: For Whom the Bell Tolls.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hemingway and the Movies

Hemingway’s big novels have all been made into movies, some several times. He

Saturday Night at the Movies

claims to have hated to go to see his books as cinema. Aside from enjoying the paycheck that came with the adaptations, (he was paid $ 80,000 for A Farewell to Arms in 1932, which was an enormous sum in those day and $ 150,000 for the rights to The Old Man and the Sea in 1958) he was disturbed to see the ending of A Farewell to Arms altered in the first movie version.  Death is apparently unacceptable and well, a downer, we know, but that was the true ending. David O. Selznick did better in the 1955 version but Hem was still not thrilled. The entire production of The Old Man and the Sea was a frightening tug of war among all involved.

The Snows of Kilimanjaro

Hollywood only made the kind of pictures that people wanted to see and the public had bad taste”, Hem opined.

Still, over fifteen of his short stories and novels were adapted for movies, and Hemingway became a Hollywood star leading to a major gripe he had with Hollywood: that it had no respect for his need for privacy and he became a product available for  marketing or, put less benignly, image exploitation. He did not like that one bit.

Frustration!

A few of the novels/short stories that were made into film were:

A Farewell to Arms (1932): Gary Cooper, Helen Hayes ( The ending was changed so that Catherine lived.  More recent adaptation called In Love and War with Sandra Bullock and Chris O’Donnell.

For Whom the Bell Tolls(1943): Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman

Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman as Robert and Maria

 

To Have and Have Not (1944): Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall

The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952): Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Susan Hayward.  Ending changed so that Gregory Peck lives.

The Sun Also Rises (1957): Ava Gardner, Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn.

The Old Man and the Sea(1958): Spencer Tracy. Anthony Quinn and Tracy had lobbied hard for the role and Tracy won out. Hemingway thought he was too portly for the role of the gaunt Santiago. This movie was two years in development and another two years in production. It was beset with troubles upon troubles despite being a one character story. Hemingway’s contempt for Hollywood was well known but he reacted badly to the first screenplay by Paul Osborn which eliminated all flashbacks and narration and added whole new scenes.  Hemingway insisted that Osborn be replaced by Peter Viertel, who had adapted the Sun Also Rises to the screen.  Hemingway was named technical advisor. The movie ultimately garnered respect and Academy Award nominations but not before Spencer Tracy almost walked off the set, started drinking during the filming, and tore up a bar with Hemingway.

Spencer Tracy as Santiago

 

Ultimately, Hemingway was cynical about Hollywood and his literature. He once said “that the best way for a writer to deal with Hollywood was to meet the producers at the California state line, throw them your book, they throw you the money. Then you jump into your car and drive like hell back the way you came.” Oliver. A Hemingway Retrospective.

All was not a loss however. He met Marlene Dietrich, Ava Gardner, Gary Cooper, Howard Hawkes, and Ingrid Bergman, who all became close friends, especially Gary Cooper.

Next post, I’m going to suggest who could play these roles in modern versions. I have ideas and am interested in yours!

I love a good movie!