Sigmund Freud famously asked, “What does a woman want?”
Norristown model/actress/party-girl-turned-author Carole Mallory wants her day in court.
She had one last May, in U.S. District Court, but the judge dismissed her suit, denying her a jury trial to decide if she was defamed by author J. Michael Lennon in his 2013 biography of the novelist Norman Mailer, published by Simon & Schuster.
Mallory had a well-documented nine-year affair with the two-time (and two-timing) Pulitzer Prize-winning author starting in 1983. She claims libel and defamation, saying that Lennon’s book, Norman Mailer: A Double Life, portrays her as an inconsequential use-for-sex-only trinket of the world-famous novelist. Lennon also concocted a quote that he put in Mailer’s mouth, that Mallory was “totally on the make,” says Mallory, who sought $3.5 million in damages in her original suit.
It’s unlikely a sex trinket could have wound up with seven boxes of Mailer memorabilia — including notes, letters, and photographs — for which his alma mater, Harvard University, in 2008 paid $80,000, a figure she is making public for the first time.
Mallory has lived a life as colorful and raucous as Mailer’s. A native of Springfield, Delaware County, the twice-divorced Mallory, 76, is no longer famous but is still fabulous, living quietly in Norristown. She wrote five books, including a memoir, Loving Mailer, about the pugnacious novelist who was married to his sixth wife when he launched into the affair with Mallory.
After graduating from Penn State, after flying for Pan Am as a flight attendant, after modeling in Paris, after marrying artist Richard Mallory in 1968, after heading to Hollywood for an acting career, she became “the proverbial good time had by all,” as I wrote in a 1988 column.
Her conquests — and I use that word deliberately — include Warren Beatty, Rod Stewart, Peter Sellers, Sean Connery, Marcello Mastroianni, Louis Malle, Robert De Niro, and Richard Gere.
Have I missed anyone? Probably. How many has she slept with? Mallory won’t say.
There’s no slut-shaming here. Sexually liberated, Mallory wasn’t doing anything much different from any guy who could.
“It’s always believed that the man is a Romeo, the woman is regarded as a slut,” Mallory tells me. She decided if it was OK for men, it would be OK for her. And, yes, it was fun.
That was her thinking at the time, but the times have changed, and even before the times changed, Mallory changed. She came to understand that during the years she was carving notches on her bedpost, she was an alcoholic, and the alcohol fueled her sex addiction. Her quest for Hollywood success turned her (by her own admission) into a drunk, drug addict, and sexual toy for the stars. In addition to booze, she was snorting coke and on Valium. Life at the top was a perpetual high.
She had made a couple of movies (Looking for Mr. Goodbar, The Stepford Wives) and a bunch of commercials, including a memorable one for English Leather. Acting as her mentor, Mailer suggested she focus on writing and bolstered her ego as a preface to the bedroom.
She wrote five books, plus articles for the New York Times, Esquire, Playboy, Parade, and Elle. (Even a book review for the Inquirer.) One specialty was interviewing celebrities — from Kurt Vonnegut to Jesse Jackson — none of whom she slept with, she tells me.
In the appeal she wrote herself, now in the hands of the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, she variously refers to Mailer as a mentor, friend, lover, sexual predator. The hard-drinking Mailer died of liver failure at 84 in 2007.
Their affair ended in 1992. In her long view, with the #MeToo movement in her mind, Mallory has come to regard Mailer solely as a predator who manipulated her into a long-running affair.
While she is not proud of that relationship, it was enduring and the Mailer biography, she believes, demeans and disrespects her. To answer Freud’s question, what this woman wants is a day in court to prove she was no pissant plaything.