Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sleeping With the Enemies

And several others, including Napoleon:

Lady Jeanne Campbell , who has died aged 78, was a journalist who reported for the Evening Standard from New York for many years; she was also the former wife of Norman Mailer, the daughter of the reprobate 11th Duke of Argyll and the favourite granddaughter of Lord Beaverbrook.

....Lady Jeanne was wild. So numerous were her love affairs that James C Humes (a speechwriter for many American presidents) claimed in his memoirs, Confessions of a White House Ghostwriter, that she was the only woman to have known "Biblically" Presidents Khrushchev, Kennedy and Castro — and all, he claimed, within the space of a year. Humes suggested that Kennedy went through his paces at her Georgetown house in October 1963; Khruschev at his dacha in April 1964; and Castro in Havana the following May.

[She] was the daughter of Ian Campbell, the handsome playboy who was heir to Niall, the bachelor 10th Duke of Argyll, his eccentric first cousin once removed. Her mother was Janet Aitken, daughter of the proprietor of the Daily Express.

Jeanne's parents had met at a casino in Le Touquet, when Janet was 17 and Ian 24. Janet later recalled that her husband had been "long on charm but short on judgment at the gaming tables". They married in December 1927, but the union got off to an unpropitious start when the groom — intending to instruct his bride in her marital duties — took her to watch a display of graphic lovemaking in a brothel. He was soon selling his bride's jewels to pay his gambling debts.

Jeanne was born on December 10 1928....

After the war Jeanne trained as an actress, even joining the Old Vic, before going down with pneumonia. In 1949 she went to live with Beaverbrook, and travelled with him to the Far East, Europe, Barbados and the United States.

While she remained close to her grandfather, particularly in his old age, he frequently berated her for her wilful and extravagant behaviour....She attributed this characteristic to his Presbyterian background; whenever he had acquired a mistress, he felt guilty about her, and thus began treating her badly.

When Beaverbrook died he left Jeanne the income from a $500,000 trust. Jeanne grew up rather "fresh", in the words of one of her passing admirers, Claus von Bulow. In 1953 it appeared that she might be about to marry William Ropner, a scion of the British shipbuilding clan, but instead she outraged her grandfather by succumbing to the charms of Sir Oswald Mosley, Bt, the former Blackshirt leader and a well-practised seducer.

By this time Jeanne was tall, vivacious, somewhat buxom and possessed of sparkling eyes. Mosley pursued her partly because he saw her as a conduit to Beaverbrook and hoped for favourable publicity for his Union Movement. The old man was not taken in, however, and the couple met clandestinely in a series of London flats. In the end Beaverbrook threatened to cut her off if she stayed with Mosley, and in 1956 he dispatched her to New York to write for the Evening Standard.

....Between 1959 and 1961 Jeanne had an intense affair with Henry Luce II, founder and owner of Time-Life Inc, and the husband of the redoubtable Clare Booth Luce. Jeanne had met him on holiday with Beaverbrook, at a time when she was working as a researcher at Time. He secured her a job at Life magazine, and came close to leaving his wife for her.

In the spring of 1961 Jeanne met Norman Mailer, and soon became pregnant by him.

....After a short, tempestuous marriage, which ended with Mailer's infidelity, she left him, and they were divorced in Mexico in 1963. He rewarded her by depicting her as the bitch in his novel An American Dream. He later described her as "a dear pudding of a lady" and "a remarkable girl, almost as interesting, complex and Machiavellian" as himself.

....It was said that Jeanne received a large advance on her memoirs but blew it on a villa in Greece without ever writing the book. Latterly she lived in a tiny walk-up flat in Greenwich Village, New York, and slept in her last surviving treasure — Napoleon's campaign bed.

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