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The Reeler Blog

Norman Mailer, 1923-2007

Author Norman Mailer onstage at the Walter Reade Theater following a July 22 screening of Tough Guys Don't Dance (Photo: STV)

By S.T. VanAirsdale

As Ray Pride so succinctly put it at Movie City News, "He's donated his ego to God": Novelist, journalist, filmmaker, mayoral wanna-be, serial husband and all-around 20th century icon Norman Mailer called it a life Saturday, when he succumbed to acute renal failure in New York. He was 84.

While Charles McGrath has the Times obituary and Lou Lumenick unearthed his revealing, long-lost Mailer interview from 1987, I wanted to also point back to July of this year, when The Reeler covered Mailer's final public appearance following a screening of his film Tough Guys Don't Dance at Lincoln Center:

"I thought, 'If Tough Guys does well, I'll be able to make films the rest of my life.' And I loved it, because when you're a film director, it's equivalent to being a director in a war where no blood is shed. You have all the pleasures and embodiments of being a general. As a man who's been married six times, I could confess that in all six marriages, I had one predictable but repeated failure, which would be that in each, I remember saying to each wife at a given moment, 'Darling, I think I'd love to see a little curl over here.' (Holds finger to forehead) And they'd say, 'Oh, get lost! You don't know what you're saying.' That happened over and over in each marriage. Then I was making Tough Guys. The hairdresser brought in Isabella Rossellini, and I said, 'You know, I think I'd like to see a little spit curl here on Isabella's forehead.' And the hairdresser said, 'Yessir.' So I wanted to be a director, yes."

There's lots more about Maidstone, Andy Warhol, John Cassavetes, Jean-Luc Godard and his least favorite man here, and expect even more discussion elsewhere as Mailer's complex memory expands, unfolds and captivates in the days and weeks ahead.

Posted at November 11, 2007 2:36 PM

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