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Art Anecdotes : Norman Mailer Stabs His Wife

Through ART ANECDOTES, Art From Us brings you funny, heart-warming and sometimes heartbreaking stories that shape Artists and their work. Today we look at the story of Norman Mailer Stabbing his Wife.

Art From Us and Divvya Nirula bring to you a curated collection of Art related events, from suspected murder, to love affairs, to grand theft and curious cases of creation through ART ANECDOTES. Join us on this fun-filled ride of exploring and reliving these art-tales.

The Unfortunate Incident

 American novelist, playwright, film-maker, actor, and liberal political activist Norman Mailer, had decided to enter the race for New York Mayor in 1960. On the night of November 19, Mailer and his wife, famous painter -Adele Morales hosted an informal party to make an informal announcement in their Upper West Side apartment.

To aid the campaign Mailer had enlisted his well-connected friend, journalist George Plimpton, intending to attract the rich and powerful of New York.

Mailer wanted to bring together the elite with the “disenfranchised” population. For Mailer this was  he saw as his natural constituency. Following his 1957 essay “The White Negro”—which he hoped would convert to a voting base that would see him into office.

The party was bustling with well known fellow academics like Alan Ginsberg and Jason Epstein. The atmosphere was uncomfortable with fights and disagreements frequently breaking in. The room was divided between those who supported him and those who didn’t.

The Gruesome Attack

A drunken mailer went down to the streets and picked fights with people on the streets. He returned to his apartment after 4 AM.

It was 4:40 AM and nearly all the guests had left. Mailer and his wife Adele Morales broke into a heated argument. Morales had taunted Mailer’s masculinity, hinted at his homosexuality and finally his decision to run for Mayor. 

The fight escalated. Enraged and out of control, in his inebriated state Mailer stabbed Adele with a rusty penknife, twice. He maintains that he didn’t want to kill but harm her. “Let the bitch die”, he was reported to have said. The knife narrowly missed her heart but injured her seriously.

Adele was transported to a hospital by two of the guests. She battled for her life from the stab wounds and the trauma that Mailer had put her through. However, till the end Adele refused to press charges against her husband.

Mental Ill Health

A battle ensued between the couple. A war of ego states that showed severe emotional impairment alarming mental ill health. Though Mailer raged against being sent away to a safe facility, he was admitted to the Bellevue Hospital where he was kept under observation.

Norman was arrested after his confession and remained in prison for six months.  He was let off with a suspended sentence, and probation for three years. Mailer never became Mayor.

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