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Adele Mailer, Former Wife of Norman Mailer, Dead at Age 90

It was really just one small moment in the couple’s marriage life, but a dramatic moment: On Saturday, November 19, 1960, Mailer stabbed Adele with a penknife after a party, cut through her breast, only just missing her heart…

Adele Mailer Norman Mailer


Adele Morales Mailer, an actress and artist who studied under Lee Strasberg but found unwanted fame as the stabbing victim of her then-husband author-playwright Norman Mailer, died Sunday at age 90 at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, according to her daughter, Danielle Mailer.

The cause was pneumonia, Danielle Mailer told The Associated Press on Monday.

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Norman Mailer was married six times and had nine children. He is father for eight children by his various wives and informally adopted his sixth wife’s son from another marriage.

Adele Morales, was Mailer’s second wife. They married in 1954 and had two daughters, Danielle and Elizabeth. On Saturday, November 19, 1960, Mailer had a drunken, stoned argument with Adele in a party and stabbed with a penknife, almost killed her.

According to reports and Wikipedia “Mailer cut through her breast, only just missing her heart. Then he stabbed her in the back. As she lay there, hemorrhaging, one man reached down to help her. He snapped: “Get away from her. Let the bitch die.” He was involuntarily committed to Bellevue Hospital for 17 days; his wife would not press charges, and he later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of assault, and was given a suspended sentence. In the short term, Morales made a physical recovery, and the two divorced in 1962.

“While in the short term, Morales made a physical recovery, in 1997 she published a memoir of their marriage entitled The Last Party, and recalled it for the 2010 documentary “Norman Mailer: The American.” which recounted her husband stabbing her at a party and the aftermath. This incident has been a focal point for feminist critics of Mailer, who point to themes of sexual violence in his work.

“I came in contact for the first time in my life with the depths of my own rage, ” he later said of the stabbing.

Adele Morales spent several years with Edwin Fancher (who together with Mailer and Dan Wolf founded The Village Voice). Mailer’s biographer Mary Dearborn says of those days:

“Adele thrived in the city. She frequented the Village bars, especially those, like the San Remo and the Cedar Tavern, favored by artists and writers, and she dressed in fantastic, gypsylike outfits. By all accounts, she had extraordinary physical presence. With striking dark good looks and a beautiful body, she seemed to exude sexuality. (It was widely known that her lingerie was ordered from Frederick’s of Hollywood.)”





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