I came across this footage and liked it. You might enjoy seeing Ms. McLain talk about her research and how she went about making fiction of non-fiction. I enjoyed it even though I want to be her.
Everyone’s commented on it: Hemingway’s preoccupation with women’s hair. Hemingway’s mother, Grace, whom he purported to hate, had auburn hair that was her pride and joy. She wore it often in the Gibson girl style of the day and was quite proud of it. In almost every work of fiction that Hemingway has written–and nonfiction if you want to count A Moveable Feast–the time spent on the description of any of the main woman’s character’s hair is significant.
Lady Brett Ashley in The Sun Also Rises had short, swept back hair. She wears it cut “short like a man.” Catherine Barclay had soft hair and “wonderfully beautiful hair. “I would lie sometimes watching her twist it up in the in the light that came in the open door and it shone even in the night as water shines sometimes just before it is really daylight.” From A Farewell to Arms.
Maria, whom Robert Jordan called the rabbit because of her short-cropped hair cut off by the Fascists who gagged her with her own braids which was growing out, had hair the “color of wheat.” See above, Ingrid Bergman as Maria. Gary Cooper as Robert Jordan. In The Garden of Eden, the wife cuts her hair to match her husband’s and they both are attracted to the same woman. The Garden of Eden, however, was published posthumously and as I’ve noted in earlier posts, I don’t think the same standards can be applied to something published after the author’s death since clearly he hadn’t felt it was ready to be published at the time of his death. A huge editing may have in the offing.
In his actual life, Hadley had lovely red hair. Shortly after their marriage she cut it short. It’s not clear whether she did so to please Hemingway or just for ease of care after she had Bumby. Hemingway seems to be one of the few men who prefer women with short hair.
Pauline had a boyishly short pixie cut. She had very dark hair and it was quite stylish on her. Hemingway liked it. At one point during their marriage, when he was clearly attracted to Jane Mason, a socialite and a stunning, legendary strawberry blond, Pauline dyed her hair blond and arrived home with this completely new look. There is no record of whether Hemingway liked it or reacted to it but she didn’t keep it blond for very long.
Martha had swinging long, blond hair when Hem met her which at times was shorter. had short, swept back curly blond hair that framed her face.
From their first meeting, Hemingway and Gertrude Stein were simpatico. They did have a falling out several years later and despite the fact that Gertrude Stein clearly was living in a lesbian relationship with Alice B. Toklas, he maintained that there was a true animal attraction and that at least from his end he would have liked to have consummated the relationship had the situation been different. He describes Gertrude as having lovely dark immigrant hair and the sentiment is one of admiration. Her hair also was short and swept back at times, a style Hem favored, and at other times, longer and pinned up.
Scholars have pondered for years about whether this preoccupation came from the fact that Hemingway’s mother dressed him in girl’s clothes from a young age. She often represented to outsiders that he and his sister, Marcelline, were twins (they were about a year apart) and Grace maintained his hair at a feminine length.. On occasion she called him Ernestine until he was about 6-years old. At that point he rebelled and demanded a hair cut and boy’s clothes as well as to be called by his real name. We can get psychological about the implications .
While too much can be made of this element of Hemingway’s writing, it is something to think about and it is an interesting theme that runs through the novels in particular.
This is an update from a post i wrote a few years ago. I thought since i dealt with the wives recently, I’d give Adriana her place. Thank you all readers. I appreciate it so much that you come here to learn more about Hem and to comment. I learn too from all of you. Best, Christine
Hem was infatuated with Adriana. She seems to have been fond of him but did not return love. In fact, at times, it seems that his interest embarrassed her and she turned from it. It was an open secret that he modeled Renata in Across the River and into the Woods after Adriana.
Hem and Adriana met when she was an ingénue of nineteen and he an icon of forty-nine. She was lovely in an old world Venetian way, not a modern girl look. From an aristocratic family in Italy that was no longer wealthy, Adriana met Hem through her brother who hooked up with Hem at a bar and they struck up a friendship
As is to be expected, Mary came to resent Renata. She and her mother visited them in Cuba and stayed quite a number of months. Mary first tried to be motherly and charming until she saw that Hem’s interest was more than casual. He became abusive to her, as if wanting her to leave. Mary however was made of stronger stuff. She liked being Mrs. Ernest Hemingway but not just for the reflected glory. She loved him. She loved him and their life. She made clear that she wasn’t leaving and he needed to deal with this girl
Hem is reported to have told more than one person that he was too old to divorce again and it would cost him too much. Adriana had no interest in marrying Hem but she seemed to like the attention and adoration. In 1980, some nineteen years after Hem’s suicide, Adriana wrote a book called The White Tower ostensibly to tell her story of the relationship. She said,
“I let the scandal freeze into oblivion and my sons grow up but I owe this book to Papa. This was a responsibility I had to face. I am the missing link in his life.” With all due respect to Adriana, I don’t think she was the missing link in his life. It’s a bit grandiose to think so.
The book did hit the best seller list in Italy with the omnipresent photo of Adriana leaning into Hem’s chest shyly. At the age of fifty, she claimed,
“What happened when we met is a little more than a romance. I broke down his defenses; he even stopped drinking when I asked him to. I’m proud to remember I led him to write The Old Man and the Sea.”
Across the River has long been considered Hemingway’s worst novel. “Yes, naturally he wrote it for me, thinking of me, but I didn’t like the book and I told him so,” Adriana says. “I always criticized him when I felt something was wrong, and he changed, and something in me changed too. I shall never stop being grateful to Papa for that.”
Adriana committed suicide in 1983. Are you seeing a theme here?
“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 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.
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.
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.”
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. If you are the third to guest post, you get 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!
The one thing I know is that a woman should never marry a man who hated his mother. Martha Gellhorn.
I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket. Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway Misogynist (Definition) – noun, jargon. A male heterosexual individual whose misogynistic beliefs are seen predominantly when he is in a relationship with a strong, independent female who is, most likely, smarter than him. The Hemingway Misogynist is capable of having powerful lifelong friendship bonds with a few strong, independent women smarter than him, but only if he never enters into a sexual relationship with them. He will often say and believe hateful things about women in general, citing his own female friends as individual exceptions. Don’t sleep with this dude, because he will leave tire marks on your lawn when you publish your dissertation to rave critical reviews. Hemingway misogynists, Hemingway cats. Andrea Grimes
Hmm. May I protest?? Pauline, Martha, and Mary were all smart strong women. And Hadley was no dope. And he seems to have slept with all of his wives. Pauline and Mary did tend to defer to Hem but I’d say he liked that both were smart. Martha did challenge him and he did like his wives to be home with life revolving around him. However, I never saw him as disliking women. He just liked his life the way he liked it.
If we look at his literary women, what can we see? Brett, from The Sun Also Rises was smart and strong although troubled. Jake presumably slept with Brett before his injury. Catherine, from A Farewell to Arms, was a career woman before her time and she drove a good amount of that relationship. Maria, in For Whom the Bell Tolls, was young but strong. Pilar was a mountain of a woman, brave, and a hero in my book. Not one was a wimp or simpering girly-girl who just wanted to be dominated. Falling in love is not the same as wanting to be subservient.
Yup, there were many manipulative bitchy women in the short stories and novellas but many of the men were no prizes either. Helen in the Snows of Kilimanjaro and Margo in The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber were wealthy, entitled, and limited. Still Harry in The Snows freely admitted his weaknesses and Helen’s efforts to help him as a writer. When honest, he admitted it was he who chose to be seduced by the easy life more than it was Helen forcing his hand. Margo was not easy in her condescending way but Francis was without backbone until the tragic end.
Hemingway was attracted to women with spirit: Marlene Dietrich, Jane Mason, Josephine Baker, Gertrude Stein, Adriana. All had opinions, attitude, and grace. Yes, Hem hated his mother but he didn’t hate women-kind. In fact, there is ample evidence that he enjoyed women quite a bit not just as lovers but as friends and sounding boards. But, hey, who knows? what do you think?
“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
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.
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.”
Hem even became a Catholic for Pauline, who was a true believer. As for Hadley, she went back to New York temporarily, dated various men (and ultimately married journalist Paul Mowrer), 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
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 (although with Gregory known as Gigi, there was estrangement when he was an adult), 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.
In 1922, Hadley did the only thing that Hemingway has ever seriously criticized her for: She lost the valise that had his early manuscripts. Hadley was heading out on a train at the Gare de Lyon Paris railway station to meet Hemingway for vacation of skiing. She filled a valise with his early manuscripts, parts of short stories and all notes that she could find, in the belief that he could work on them while they were away.
When she got off of the train, she realized that she didn’t have the valise. To say that she was horrified doesn’t begin to describe how she felt. Hem found her in tears, totally inconsolable, and while on the surface he took it better than anyone ever could have thought he would, it’s the one thing that rankled for just about forever.
He was more than jolly on the holiday but was devastated when talking to his writer friends. Hemingway went back to Paris immediately and a reward was offered for the manuscripts return but they never were found. The early works would have given great insight into the development and evolution of Hemingway’s writing style.
All that was salvaged was an early version of Up in Michigan and My Old Man, some sketches, and some notes for short stories. What were lost were 11 stories and 20 poems that Hemingway wrote between 1921 and 1922. Ezra Pound suggested that since Hem knew what he was writing about, he should be able to recreate the stories in a better way. However, as most writers believe, your first efforts capture the raw power of your intent and then it’s refined. I know from my own writing that it’s rare that I can recreate the vision of the first draft, even if the first draft is not very good.
Hem tried to be cheerful despite this catastrophe but he did not write on the trip and it’s likely due to the incessant pain of this loss of his works. A publisher however wanted to publish My Old Man and he did begin to write after that. The shocking Up In Michigan was always a tough sell, particularly in the twenties, and his parents found it almost too upsetting to read. His mother’s criticism of it for its sexual themes was especially biting when Hen sought her approval despite his disdain for her.
Some critics and Hemingway scholars believe that since the first drafts were Hemingway’s first efforts at the economy of style that he developed over time, his use of simple language, the idea of leaving out as much as you put in, the loss may have benefited him by letting him begin afresh with the knowledge he’d learned. That’s putting a kind spin on it all. There is no way the loss was good but it was not, perhaps, devastating. Since Hemingway went on to have a career that’s unparalleled in literary history, it wasn’t crippling.
Those who knew Hemingway said he mentioned this incident often in later years. In early years he didn’t talk about it and preferred that no one else talk about it. It was just that painful. The incident was discussed in A Moveable Feast. Hemingway’s sister and some of his friends believe that this event was the beginning of the breakup of the marriage and that Hem never forgave Hadley. As cantankerous as Hemingway could be, I think he did forgive her since in essence A Movable Feast is a love poem to her and their life in Paris in the 1920s.
I finished reading Paula McLain’s new novel called Love and Ruin: A Novel.It’s the story of Martha Gellhorn, Hemingway’s third wife, and begins in 1937 when she is struggling to become a war journalist – which for a woman in those days was a formidable challenge – and her meeting fortuitously or unfortunately depending upon how you look at it with Ernest Hemingway.
Love and Ruinfocused a great deal on the Spanish Civil War and that may become tedious for some readers. However, it truly was extraordinary that Martha Gellhorn was able to cover those sorts of stories. I didn’t feel that Paula McLain portrayed Hemingway as a villain. Since the book stopped at the end of the marriage to Hemingway while giving a wrap up, I will let all of you read more about Martha and come to your own conclusions about her. She was an extraordinary woman and while Hemingway definitely wanted her in his life more as a wife than as an independent journalist, the association was definitely beneficial to her.
I very much enjoyed the portions of the book about Martha’s discovery of the Finca Vigía, Hemingway’s Cuban home, and her efforts to restore it. It must have been hard for her to leave when they divorced and to know it was taken over by Mary Welsh, her successor and Hemingway’s fourth wife. I also admired (and have read this many other times) Martha’s relationship with Hemingway’s sons. It was very good. She was kind, generous, and caring toward the boys.
(That being said, she knew very well that Hemingway was married to Pauline when they began their affair but could not resist his magnetism and of course he knew he was still very much married with children.)
In reading some of the reviews on Amazon, it seems well received. I have to note that many people just don’t like Hemingway. I think that there is so much written about him but I hardly read anywhere that he had a good sense of humor, or that he was driven and a hard worker, or that he loved his first wife to the end even though he knew he’d been a poor husband, or that he loved his animals and was kind and generous to veterans, his staff, charities. Perhaps it is easier to focus on his bad points, which again are not hard to find. His drinking, his insecurities, his desire to dominate are not pretty.
I do recommend it however as it’s good easy reading, interesting, and adds dimension and texture to Martha’s legacy.
Cleveland Heights Author Highlights Hemingway’s Competition with Third Wife Gellhorn (By Dan Polletta in IDEASTREAMING)
It might sound like a cliché, but the subject for Paula McLain’s new novel “Love and Ruin” (Random House) came to her in a dream.
After penning “The Paris Wife,” the best-seller about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife Hadley Richardson, McLain had no intention of writing any more about Hemingway until she dreamt of being on a fishing boat with him and his third wife Martha Gellhorn.
The next day McLain researched Gellhorn on the internet. She admits to being “embarrassed” about how little she knew about her.
“I knew she was a journalist, but not that she was perhaps the most important journalistic voice of the 20th century, that her career as a journalist and war correspondent covered 60 years, every major conflict of the 20th century. Of course, as we know, journalism and being a war correspondent was absolutely a man’s world, so it was an extraordinary feat in itself, let alone that her voice was so iconic and her accomplishments so everlasting,” McLain said.
The 28-year-old Gellhorn, who had done some cub reporting for the Albany “Times Union,” met her literary hero in a Key West bar at the end of 1936.
“She literally bumped into Hemingway in his own watering hole, ‘Sloppy Joe’s.’ He was there reading his mail. He was about to go off to report on the Spanish Civil War for the North American Newspaper Alliance,” McLain said.
McLain said Gellhorn saw meeting Hemingway, who was heading to a war that many saw as romantic, as her chance to attach herself to “noble and larger than herself.” She agreed to go with him to Spain, where she too would cover the war.
During her time reporting from Madrid, Gellhorn found her journalistic voice and fell in love with Hemingway.
From 1936 until 1940, the two lived together off and on until they married. During that time Gellhorn covered the rise of Adolph Hitler in Germany as well as Czechoslovakia a few months before sections of it were annexed by the Nazis. She wrote about that experience in her 1940 novel “A Stricken Field.”
That same year Hemingway also published his novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” McLain said it was a major turning point in both of their lives.
“Hemingway was already quite famous at that point, but this book catapulted him into literary stardom. I can’t really imagine what it would have been like for her, under his roof, also trying to be a writer. She was trying to get her own literary ambitions realized. She loved her own books, as he loved his. She devoted herself to her novels and stories but of course didn’t have the success. Hemingway became completely involved in “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” which I think changed his life. The book became the focal point of their lives. It took all of the air and all of their attention.”
McLain said the book’s overwhelming presence in their lives started the process of driving them apart.
“I think Hemingway forgot what attracted him to Gellhorn when he first met her. Here was this incredible woman, so bold. He called her ‘the bravest woman he had ever met.’ She was clearly ambitious. Yet, once she became his wife, that ambition and devotion to her own career, that independence began to threaten him,” McLain said.
In 1944, Hemingway, feeling more and more abandoned when Gellhorn went off to cover war, offered his services to “Collier’s” magazine, for whom Gellhorn wrote. “Collier’s” accepted, replacing Gellhorn with Hemingway, just as she was preparing to go Normandy in 1944 to cover the D-Day invasion.
“She had no magazine for which to report, no credentials, no way to get over to the most important battle in history. Instead of rolling over, she found a way over to Europe on an ammunitions barge. When she got to London, she stowed away on what proved to be a hospital barge, which she didn’t know. She lied her way onto ship, locked herself in the john, and when she woke up she discovered she was on the first hospital barge for the Normandy Invasion,” McLain said.
McLain said Gellhorn going overseas in spite of Hemingway’s attempts to stop her was the breaking point of their relationship.
“They don’t recover after that. He really never forgave her. Of his four wives, she’s the only one to leave, and she’s really the only one who is his equal in every way. When they split in 1945, Gellhorn made it a point to never have his name spoken in her presence. She said ‘I don’t believe I should be remembered as footnote to anyone else’s life,’” McLain said.
Reprint from last year as there was some interest in the Coop/Hem friendship. Best, Christine
THE TRUE GEN: HEMINGWAY’S PHRASE FOR DISTINGUISHING THE REAL FROM THE FAKE, THE GENUINE ARTICLE FROM THE PHONY
I re-watched The True Gen, a documentary about Hemingway’s relationship with Gary Cooper. It’s narrated by the wonderful Sam Waterston and has fantastic footage of Idaho and of both men.
They seem like polar opposites: The cowboy from out West in Helena, Montana, and the suburbanite born in Oak Park, Illinois; the world’s greatest actor of his era and the world’s most imitated and celebrated writer perhaps of the 20th century; the conservative (Cooper) and the liberal (Hemingway); and yet they became the closest of friends. Cooper was one of the few close friends that Hemingway never had any lasting falling out with. Hem claims he wrote the character Robert Jordan (For Whom the Bell Tolls) with Cooper in mind. Cooper also starred in A Farewell to Arms.
They met on September 28, 1940 in Sun Valley, Idaho. Both men were at their peak. Hemingway, who had no use for Hollywood stars and did not seek out celebrity, had always wanted to meet Gary Cooper. Gary Cooper, the taciturn, very polite westerner, had always wanted to meet Hemingway. His friends were surprised to hear that he wanted to meet the allegedly boorish, womanizing, drunken Hemingway.
Nevertheless, he did want to meet him and he found Hemingway to be shy, self-effacing, fun, very different from what he had been led to believe. He could be boorish and he certainly could be drunk, but he often wasn’t. As Gary Cooper’s daughter Maria said, if Hemingway were the way he was portrayed in the press, i.e. a double-fisted drinking lout, her father would not have gotten along with him or liked him because her father was not that way. Hemingway was attracted to Cooper’s true devotion to a lack of artifice.
Gary Cooper was a genuine westerner who grew up on a ranch and on a horse. It’s no wonder that he looked good as The Virginian or in High Noon. He also had a real talent in art and began attending an art institute. He was sidetracked on his way through California to his next school, when he stopped in Hollywood and saw a few of his friends from ranches near home who had become stuntmen. He thought he could do that because he really could ride a horse and in short order, he became a stuntman. With his tall lanky good looks, he was given a small part in a film but he’d shone brightly even in that small role and shortly thereafter was cultivated into a star.
Hemingway never completed high school. He tried to enlist in the service in 1916 but his eyesight was so bad that he was rejected. He qualified however to be an ambulance driver, which he did in Italy. He was wounded and it forever shaped his view of war, courage, and concern about senseless violence.
Cooper and Hemingway met regularly over the years. At times, Cooper’s wife Rocky recoiled from Hemingway’s bad behavior. Coop just shook his head but rarely was affected by it. Further with just a look, he could make Hemingway behave in a best version of himself. One example given in The True Gen was when Cooper and Hemingway with their families were staying at a hotel, and a young employee at the hotel interrupted Hemingway when he was writing and HEm was peeved. When he saw the young man later in the day, Hem chewed him out. He was so harsh that Rocky, Cooper’s wife, said she wasn’t going to continue the trip with Hem. With very few words, Cooper took Hemingway aside. Hemingway then humbly apologized to the assistant and went so far as the next day to give him a large tip and apologize again. Hemingway came back to the car after the apology and said to Cooper, “Are you happy now you long-legged son of bitch?” It was said in good humor and Cooper just nodded. The trip continued.
To Be Continued