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Norris Church and Norman Mailer Marriage Profile

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Norman Mailer and Norris Church

Norman Mailer and his wife Norris Church in New York, New York in 1992.

Photo: Rose Hartman / Getty Images
After five marriages and a turbulent and scandalous past, Norman Mailer was said to have finally found the right partner when he married Norris Church in 1980.

Here is information on how Norman and Norris met, their apparent stormy marriage, his previous marriages, and more.

*"When asked: "Which wife are you?" she would reply: "The last one."
Source: "Norris Church Mailer." Telegraph.co.uk. 11/21/2010.

Born:

Norman Kingsley Mailer: January 31, 1923 in Long Branch, New Jersey.

Barbara Jean Davis aka Norris Church: January 31, 1949 in Washington state. Norris was raised in Arkansas.

Died:

Norris: After suffering from gastrointestinal cancer for many years, Norris Church Mailer died at the age of 61 at her home in Brooklyn Heights, New York on November 21, 2010.

Norman: November 10, 2007 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, New York. Norman died at the age of 84 from acute renal failure.

How Norman and Norris Met:

Norman and Norris met on a lecture tour when she was 26 and he was 52.
Norris on how she and Norman met: "I was an art teacher in Arkansas with a young child, and he was on a lecture tour. I thought: "Oh my gosh, there's Norman Mailer, I can get my book signed!" I wasn't thinking about romance -- he was older than my dad. Then I met him and thought: "This guy's not that old! He's very interesting. And cute!" From that moment on we were together. I quit my job, sold my house and car, and got my kid and moved to New York to be with him. It was a totally nutty thing to do. Everyone thought I was out of my mind. I didn't think about all the what-ifs; I knew Norman had seven children and had been married five times before, but when it's the right thing for you to do, you don't even question it."
Source: Katherine Kingsley. "Norris Church Mailer Interview." Sunday times of London. 08/26/2007.

Wedding Date:

Norman and Norris were married on November 11, 1980 at their Brooklyn Heights home. They had both a priest and a rabbi there for the wedding ceremony. His son Steve was the ring boy. All his children were present.
Liz Smith: "Guests included Alexandra Schlesinger, Philip and Joan Kingsley, Jose Torres, Jean Stein vanden Heuvel, Patricia Kennedy Lawford, Doris Goodwin, Emmanuel Olympitis and his very pregnant wife, Jan, who was matron of honor."
Source: Liz Smith. Chicago Tribune. 11/18/1980.

Norris and Norman honeymooned in London, England.

Children:

Declaring himself an "enemy of birth control", Norman was father to nine children. He had ten grandchildren.
Source: NYTimes.com
  • Susan Mailer: Born in 1949. Her mother is Beatrice Silverman.
  • Danielle "Dandy" Mailer: Born in 1957. Her mother is Adele Morales.
  • Elizabeth Anne "Betsy" Mailer: Born in 1959. Her mother is Adele Morales.
  • Kate Mailer: Born in August 1962 in New York, New York. Kate is an actress. Her mother is Lady Jeanne Campbell.
  • Michael Burks Mailer: Born in 1964. Michael has worked as a producer, actor, writer. His mother is Beverly Bentley. Michael is married to Sasha Lazard, an actress. They have one child.
  • Stephen McLeod Mailer: Born March 10, 1966 in New York, New York. His mother is Beverly Bentley. An actor, Stephen is married to Lindsay Marx, a producer. They have one child.
  • Maggie Alexander Mailer: Born in 1971. Her mother is Carol Stevens.
  • Matthew Norris: Born in 1972. Matthew's mother is Norris Church. His father is Larry Norris. Matthew was informally adopted by Norman. Matthew has worked as a director and writer.
  • John Buffalo Mailer: Born April 16, 1978. His mother is Norris Church Mailer. John is an actor, writer, journalist, playwright, and producer.

Occupations:

Norris: Model, writer, painter, art teacher.

Norman: Writer, Pulitzer Prize winner, infantryman during World War II, actor, director, producer, editor, politician, playwright, screenwriter, and journalist.

Previous Marriages:

Norris was previously married to Larry Norris. They were married on August 15, 1969, separated in October 1973, and divorced in February 1974.
Norris: "It was a satin Empire waistline [wedding] dress with a lace mantilla, and I carried daisies, so at least I had a touch of yellow. A friend, Martha Bowden, made the cake, and we had punch and nuts and mints at the reception. I think the whole thing [wedding to Larry Norris] must have cost less than fifty dollars."
Norris Church Mailer. A Ticket to the Circus: A Memoir. 2010. pg. 41.

Norman had five previous marriages.

  • Beatrice Silverman: Norman and Beatrice were married in late 1943. They were divorced in 1952.
  • Adele Morales: Norman and Adele were married in 1954. They divorced in 1962.
  • Lady Jeanne Louise Campbell: Norman and Lady Jeanne Campbell were married in 1962. They divorced in 1963.
  • Beverly Rentz Bentley: Norman and Beverly were married in 1964. They divorced in late 1980.
  • Carol Stevens: Norman and Carol were married in November 1980 and divorced a few days later.

Norman Mailer's Previous Marriages -- Quotes and More Details

Residences:

Later in life Norman and Norris lived in an ocean side home in Provincetown, Massachusetts. They also had an apartment in a Brooklyn Heights brownstone in New York City. They both enjoyed the roof top view of the New York harbor, the Statue of Liberty, and lower Manhattan.

Quotes About the Marriage of Norris and Norman Mailer:

E.B.: "What the last Mrs Mailer seemed to understand was that for all of her husband's snarling and swiping, he lacked claws and fangs. He was just trying to keep things interesting."
Source: E.B. "Remembering the Last Mrs. Mailer." Economist.com. 11/26/2010.

Norris: "Why had I been so consumed by this old, fat, bombastic, lying little dynamo? ... "I've had a wonderful life, but it was Norman's life," she said shortly before her death from cancer. "You don't realise how much of yourself you have sublimated until you are alone."
Source: "Norris Church Mailer." Telegraph.co.uk. 11/22/2010.

Norris: “Sex was the cord that bound us together."
Source: Joseph Berger. "Norris Church Mailer, Artist and ally, Dies at 61." NYTimes.com. 11/22/2010.

David Usborne: Although he was reportedly more mellow after his marriage to Norris, a woman declaring to have been Norman's mistress from 1983 through 1992, Carole Mallory, sold seven boxes of papers concerning her weekly writing lessons and affair with Norman Mailer. The papers were sold to Harvard. "I knew they were valuable and I wanted to have some more money."
Source: David Usborne. "Former Fling Sells her Stash of Norman Mailer's Saucy Secrets." NZHerald.co.nz. 4/04/2008.

Norris about their marriage: "I spend most of my days in New York now. Norman goes back and forth between here and Provincetown on Cape Cod. He likes it there because it's so quiet, he can work better. But it is a little too quiet for me ... Norman and I eat breakfast separately, each reading our paper in different rooms. We're both very solitary. He's got his room and I have mine, and we don't really get on each other's toes ... Norman and I eat lunch at different times. We do talk during the day, but he likes to keep his thoughts on his work, so unless it is something special we don't chat a lot ... Norman and I always meet at 6 and have a glass of wine and talk. We'll have dinner together, at home or out. It's nice, almost like having a date. At night he watches TV and I read."
Source: Katherine Kingsley. "Norris Church Mailer Interview." Sunday times of London. 08/26/2007.

Carl Rollyson: "Marriage and family had always been important to him, but only with Norris had he been faithful to his vision of the family man."
Source: Carl E. Rollyson. The Lives of Norman Mailer: A Biography. page 349.

More Quotes About Norman Mailer and Norris Church's Marriage

Norman Mailer's Previous Marriages -- Quotes and More Details

Timeline of Norman Mailer's Relationships

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