Posts Tagged ‘Jack Hemingway’

Sins of the Mother: The Story of Pauline Hemingway

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY

Sins of the Mother: The Story of Pauline Hemingway

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Ernest Hemingway and his second wife Pauline

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UPDATE / UPDATE

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery has placed a marker on the unmarked grave of Pauline Pfeiffer Hemingway, the 2nd wife of author Ernest Hemingway. Evidently the reason that no one could find her location was because her name was misspelled which would place it out of order. The cemetery reached out to the Hemingway family to let them know that the cemetery was willing to provide a marker at cemetery expense, but they received no response.  Thank you to Tyler Cassity and the staff of Hollywood Forever for marking Hemingway. Please stop by and pay your respects when you are at the cemetery. Below is a picture of the new marker which includes her full name and birth and death dates. Also, an article I recently published about Hemingway, her death and her son follows.

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

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According to those that knew her, Pauline Hemingway was intelligent, had a great sense of humor and was a great storyteller. That is how friends remembered her. The public would know her best as the second wife of the great American novelist Ernest Hemingway, having the distinction of being at his side during the most prolific era of his career. Among Hemingway’s books that were published during their marriage are: The Killers (1927), A Farewell to Arms (1929), To Have and Have Not (1937), The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1938), and For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940).

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She was born Pauline Marie Pfeiffer to her parents Paul and Mary (née Downy) Pfeiffer on July 22, 1895 in Parkersburg, Iowa. Her father was the son of a German Lutheran immigrant and her mother the daughter of an Irish Catholic. Also, there were younger siblings Virginia (Jinny) and Max (who died during the influenza epidemic at age 11).

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In 1900, the family moved to St. Louis where Mr. Pfeiffer made a fortune as a commodity broker. Then, twelve years later, not liking the city scene, they relocated to Piggott, Arkansas. Here the Pfeiffer’s cleared the woods; planted several crops and became an even richer landowner.

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Pauline furthered her education as an early graduate of the prestigious University of Missouri School of Journalism. After school, she worked for newspapers in Cleveland and later for chic New York magazines, all while under the watchful eyes of her two uncles, Henry and Gus Pfeiffer.

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In 1925, while in Paris for an assignment from Vogue, she met a promising writer, Ernest Hemingway and his wife, Hadley. Pauline’s sister Jinny had joined her and at first, Hemingway was interested in her, thinking she was better looking than Pauline, but she was a lesbian. They all became great friends, however, even taking vacations together.

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When they first met, Pauline was 30 years old, yet it’s unlikely that there was ever a man in her life, other than a cousin, to whom she was engaged when she met Ernest. Though inexperienced, eventually, Pauline was able to work her way into Hemingway’s bed. From this he had the idea of a ménage à trois with Hadley, but neither woman would agree to that so he asked for a divorce.

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Hadley conceded, but with the proviso that the couple agrees to a 100-day separation to test their love. So Pauline returned to Arkansas where she edited several of Hemingway’s manuscripts. When Hadley released them early from their separation commitment, Pauline returned to Paris, but before they married, she asked that he join the Catholic Church, which he did. They were married in the City of Light on May 10, 1927.

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A little more than a year later, Pauline gave birth to their first son Patrick. It was a difficult delivery (C-Section) and became the fictional basis for Catherine’s death in A Farewell to Arms. Doctors recommended that she wait three years before having another child, so it wasn’t until November 12, 1931 that their son Gregory Hancock was born; an even more difficult Caesarian birth. Now doctors insisted that they have no more children, but because of her Catholic faith, Pauline refused to use birth control, forcing them to practice coitus interruptus. The couple’s sexual and marital problems began at this time.

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Unfortunately, Pauline had hoped to please her husband by giving him a daughter. Because of that, there may have been some resentment against the child who not only threatened her life, but was the wrong sex. Gregory—or Gigi (pronounced ‘Giggy’) as he was called, was cared for by a nurse (Ada Stern) from the age of two weeks and rarely saw his mother. Sharing her husband’s resentment against infants, Pauline once admitted to her son: “Gig, I just don’t have much of what’s called a maternal instinct, I guess. I can’t stand horrid little children until they are five or six.”

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Gigi with his nanny Ada Stern

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In fact, Pauline had little to do with either son so that she could devote herself only to Ernest. In her day, people of wealth often left their children with nurses for extended periods, so she may have denied that her children paid some price for her dedication to her husband’s needs.

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There’s no doubt that Pauline loved her husband until the day she died and truly enjoyed being Mrs. Ernest Hemingway. She took a lot of satisfactions from the idea that she had helped him become one of America’s greatest writers.

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Even though she was a writer herself, Pauline chose not to pursue that career. Instead, she focused solely on Ernest’s writing. Hemingway once called her the best editor he ever had, but aside from some poems and her abundant letter-writing, there is not much with her name on it. It is difficult to know even the extent of what she wrote for Vogue since articles in that magazine typically did not carry bylines.

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Jack Hemingway, the writer’s first son by Hadley, had the most positive comments about Pauline, yet she was his stepmother. He enjoyed having two mothers and never felt that she treated him differently than her biological sons. Patrick, however, did not express much about his feelings toward his mother, and Gigi disliked talking about either parent. The best thing Pauline had ever done for him was to hire a good nurse.

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Back: Hemingway, Pauline, Jack. Front: Patrick and Gigi

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At the heart of Gigi’s troubles was a “flirtation with femininity” that infuriated Hemingway. A friend remarked that the boy “was trying on his mother’s clothes from age four, but it wasn’t until age ten, on a trip to Cuba, that Ernest walked in and discovered him. He stood there frozen and then turned and left.”

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Two years after their divorce, Hemingway told Pauline that Gigi had “the biggest dark side in the family except me, and you and I’m not in the family. He keeps it so concealed that you never know about it and maybe that way it will back up on him.” That led to a series of father-son confrontations that scarred Gigi as a boy and haunted him as an adult.

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Finally, Ernest and Pauline’s sexual and marital problems reached its limits—too many affairs and too little sex—and they divorced in 1940 after the publication of For Whom the Bell Tolls. Later, when Pauline lost her faith, she complained to a friend: “If I hadn’t been such a bloody fool practicing Catholic, I wouldn’t have lost my husband.”

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From then on, Pauline would spend most of her time at their Key West home that they bought the year Gigi was born and running a high-end fabric shop. She often visited her sister Jinny who was now living in Hollywood.

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As for Gigi, in 1950 he dropped out of college and briefly was enrolled as a student researcher in the early days of Scientology. The following year he married Shirley Jane Rhodes, against his father’s wishes. When they were expecting their first child, Gigi wrote to his father the news after the fact. It was just the “logical thing to do if we are going to have a child,” he wrote.

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Both were working in a $65-a-week job at Santa Monica’s Douglas Aircraft factory. They set up residence at 1056 Doreen Place, in the nearby seaside community of Venice. There on Doreen Place, Gigi practiced his cross dressing—wearing his wife’s girdle, painting his nails red, and swaggering behind closed doors.

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Then, on the evening of Saturday, September 29, 1951, Gigi was arrested for entering the women’s restroom of a local movie theater while dressed in drag (in his 1976 memoir he described it as a drug arrest). At the time, Pauline was in San Francisco staying with Jay McEvoy, a wealthy art dealer in his big house on Russian Hill. Feeling out of sorts, she complained of headaches, poundings of the heart and a general feeling of anxiety. She planned to get a full check-up at the Mayo Clinic when time allowed.

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The next day, Pauline received a call from Gigi explaining that he was in jail and the basic reason why. “My mother… did not seem at all alarmed by my predicament but thought my father should be notified. When I said that it would be simpler if papa were not brought in she said, ‘yes… a lot of things would simpler if you had only one parent.’ But she wasn’t really at all upset. I can remember this as clearly as if it were yesterday.”

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Irrespective of Gigi’s memories of that day, Pauline was upset. Apparently, she sent Hemingway a cable, something to the effect that their son was arrested, and that the circumstances were muddled. She would be on the next plane to Los Angeles to get more facts and to try to get him out of jail and keep it out of the papers. She would call him from Jinny’s house.

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Jinny and her lover Laura Archera, a violinist and film producer, met Pauline at Los Angeles airport. At the couple’s Hollywood Hills home on Deronda Drive, she told Jinny that she wasn’t feeling well, that she had a sharp pain in her stomach. Regardless, Pauline contacted lawyers while Jinny and Laura prepared dinner. She couldn’t eat so she went upstairs to bed.

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At nine o’clock she forced herself from bed to take a call from her ex-husband, the first of several that evening. They quarreled bitterly when Hemingway blamed her for “how Gigi was.”

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“See how you brought him up?” he screamed over the telephone. Gigi later said that his “aunt, who hated my father’s guts and who certainly couldn’t be considered an unbiased witness, said the conversation had started out calmly enough. But soon Mother was shouting into the phone and sobbing uncontrollably.”

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Around midnight, Pauline woke up screaming from pain. Jinny and Laura drove her to St. Vincent’s Hospital (Third and Alvarado Streets), a 30-minute drive from Hollywood. Once Pauline was in the operating room, Jinny and Laura returned to Deronda and went to bed. Gigi said: “I can imagine the wild frustration of the surgeons as they searched for a bleeding point in the abdomen, where Mother had originally felt the pain.”

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Shortly after three o’clock Monday morning, October 1, 1951, Jinny and Laura were awakened by a call from the attending physician: Pauline had died of shock on the operating table. They’d tried everything.

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Pauline Hemingway’s death certificate

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Within hours, Jinny had Pauline’s body sent to Pierce Brothers Funeral Home on the northwest corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Tamarind Avenue, directly across the street from Hollywood Cemetery. Later that morning, Jinny notified family members and cabled Hemingway at 9am, her time.

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Gigi, however, was clueless about the events that supposedly led to his mother’s death. “But Aunt Jinny told me nothing of the details of the phone conversation the next morning,” Gigi recalled, “just that Mother was dead… My mother’s face looked unbelievably white at the funeral [he means the viewing since there was no funeral], and I remember thinking through sobs what a barbarous ritual Anglo-Saxon burial is.”

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Jinny wanted to bury her sister in a Catholic cemetery, but Pauline was a divorced Catholic, so there was no chance of that either. The easiest way was chosen for them—the non-denominational cemetery across the street in a plot that cost $350.

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Pauline’s casket was closed during the brief graveside ceremony on the grounds nearest to the lily pond. There were five mourners attending—Gigi, Jinny, Laura, Jay McEvoy, and Garfield Merner, who was Pauline and Jinny’s first cousin. Pauline’s eldest son, Patrick, was in Africa, and it wasn’t possible for him to get home in time.

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A few days later, Gigi spoke to his father in Havana. Letting down his guard, Gigi told him: “Referring to the trouble I’d gotten into on the Coast,” he said, “It wasn’t so bad, really, papa.”

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“No? Well, it killed mother.”

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“Whatever his motives were,” Gigi later said, “the yellow-green filter came back down over my eyes and this time it didn’t go away for seven years. I didn’t say anything back to him. He’d almost always been right about things, he was so proud, he was so sound, I knew he loved me, it must have been something he just had to say, and I believed him.”

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Six weeks after Pauline’s death, Gigi and Shirley took a flight to Havana to meet Hemingway; there was a wary distance between father and son. At the end of that visit, as they were heading for the airport, Hemingway remarked: “Well, don’t take any wooden trust funds.” Gigi saw the humor in that and smiled as they parted. Then Gigi writes, “I never saw my father again.”

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Gigi spent the next several years trying to find himself. Because of his father’s ill-chosen words, he had blamed himself for his mother’s death.

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In 1960, he entered medical school at the University of Miami. Initially, he had thought his mother died from a heart attack and a ruptured artery. At medical school, one of the first things he did was order his mother’s autopsy report. It showed that Pauline died of a rare and undiagnosed tumor in the core of her adrenal gland called a pheochromocytoma, causing her blood pressure to sore due to extraordinary secretions of adrenaline. Immediately, Gigi knew what happened.

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“It was not my minor troubles that had upset Mother but his [Hemingway’s] brutal phone conversation with her eight hours before she died,” Gigi determined. “The tumor had become necrotic or rotten and when it fired off that night, it sent her blood pressure rocketing…”

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Gigi wrote to his father and confronted him with his interpretation of Pauline’s autopsy. “According to a person who was with him in Havana when he received my letter,” Gigi said, “he raged at first and then walked around the house in silence for the rest of the day.” Nine months later, Ernest Hemingway was dead.

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Over the next forty years, Gigi was married and divorced three more times. He is believed to have had eight children. He received his medical degree and practiced medicine, including time in Montana, but lost his license while struggling with alcohol and his own personal demons. He received electric shock treatments and had several nervous breakdowns. At times, he was a drifter, living in cars, motels or friend’s houses. Finally, in 1995, Gigi had a sex change and became Gloria.

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In 2001, she was arrested in Key Biscayne on charges of indecent exposure and resisting arrest without violence. “He said his name was Gloria,” the arresting officer said. “He looked like a man, but his nails were painted, and he was wearing jewelry and makeup… He was very nice to me.”

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Gloria was taken to the Miami-Dade Women’s Detention Center to await a hearing. Six days later, on October 1, 2001, the 50th anniversary of Pauline Hemingway’s death, Gloria rose early for a court appearance, began to dress and suddenly collapsed onto the concrete floor. The cause of death was hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Hemingway was 69.

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Since the grave of Pauline Hemingway is unmarked, for several decades its location has been a mystery. At least if anyone had that information, no one was talking. Even the cemetery claimed to have no records of her burial—I know because I was told that by a cemetery worker many years ago. In their defense, when Tyler Cassity took over the cemetery in the late nineties, he allowed me to go through the cemetery’s records to look for the famous and the infamous, and I could not find her.

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Then, while doing research for this posting, I came across an article about the writer and Gigi entitled, Hemingway and Son, by Paul Hendrickson. When Hendrickson discusses Pauline’s funeral, he writes:

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“And a stone? It’s a hard and strange fact that, all these years later, there is still no marker of any kind at Pauline Hemingway’s grave. She’s there, anonymously, at what is now known as Hollywood Forever Cemetery, two rows in from the pavement, down from Nelson Eddy Way, under a spongy piece of ground, alongside the modest markers of Lydia Bemmels and Leiland Irish, in almost the literal shade of Paramount Studio’s main lot…”

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Pay dirt! By chance, I was familiar with the grave of Leiland (Atherton) Irish, who is on my list of Hollywood Forever luminaries. His wife Florence, always referred to as Mrs. Leiland Irish, was one of the three founders of the Hollywood Bowl and was its director for nearly thirty years. Ironically, Mr. Irish passed away only five days after Pauline, but he received a marker and sadly Pauline did not.

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In conclusion, an explanation for that oversight may be explained by the following excerpt from Strange Tribe, a Hemingway memoir written by Gigi’s son, John Patrick Hemingway:

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“Pauline was buried in the Hollywood Memorial Cemetery, and as a student at UCLA I must have passed by it a thousand times on my way to classes. Still, it wasn’t until a friend asked me to spend a couple of hours there with her that I actually visited the place. ‘We could have a picnic on the grass,’ she had suggested.

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“Yet it was the first time I’d ever set foot inside a cemetery, and while I rejected the idea of the picnic, I had to admit that it was peaceful and well kept, and not at all what I’d expected. It was a sunny day, and we had the grounds to ourselves. ‘Let’s sit here,’ she said, pointing to a grassy area devoid of any markers. For all I know, I could have been sitting on my grandmother’s grave.

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“Years later, I found out from Dr. Ruth Hawkins, the director of the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center, that my father and uncle had never bothered to put up a tombstone. They could have afforded one, but clearly felt that Pauline didn’t deserve it. ‘I can’t stand horrid little children’ was how she had once tried to justify her treatment of my father, and when she died, those horrid little children probably had better things to do than worry about tombstones. No sign was left of her passing, nothing that might remind them or anyone else that here lay the remains of the woman who’d once been their mother.”

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Pauline Hemingway’s unmarked grave is simple to find. It’s located in Garden of Legends (Section 8) on the west side. Park near the two Chinese lions on the edge of road and walk two rows in. Find the Irish and Bemmels markers and Pauline is in the unmarked plot between them.

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There is more to the life of Pauline Hemingway than can be documented here.Recommended reading:

Hawkins, Ruth A. Unbelievable Happiness and Final Sorrow: The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Marriage. Little Rock: University of Arkansas Press, 2012.

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