Clemens Claude Oscar Heymann was born in Manhattan on 14th January, 1945. A member of a German-Jewish family he earned a bachelor’s degree in hotel administration from Cornell University in 1966, followed by a master of fine arts from the University of Massachusetts in 1969.
Heymann then attended the State University of New York where he carried out a detailed study of Ezra Pound. During this period he used the Freedom of Information Act, to gain access to previously classified files from the Federal Bureau of Investigation documenting Pound’s pro-Fascist activities during the Second World War. This material was used in his first published work, Ezra Pound, the Last Rower: A Political Profile (1976).
Adopting the pen name, C. David Heymann, his next book, American Aristocracy: The Lives and Times of James Russell, Amy, and Robert Lowell was published in 1980. Heymann found it difficult to make a living from writing and later recalled: "I learned from this that you should never write a book about a poet if you want to sell books.... Obviously, I couldn’t continue to write literary biography and support a family... I don’t mean to suggest I write just for money, but a person does have to make a living.”
Heymann's next attempt to become a successful writer also ended in failure. His biography of Barbara Hutton was published in 1983. Reviewers pointed out factual errors in Poor Little Rich Girl: The Life and Legend of Barbara Hutton, and Random House decided to recall and destroyed 58,000 copies of the book. Heymann attributed the errors to researchers he had engaged to conduct interviews on his behalf.
After the book was withdrawn, Heymann claimed he attempted suicide with a dozen Valium tablets and half a bottle of Scotch. He moved to Israel and later told interviewers that he worked for Mossad, the Israeli spy agency. On his return to the United States he began a biography of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The book, A Woman Named Jackie (1989), was a major commercial success. This was followed by another best-selling book, Liz: An Intimate Biography of Elizabeth Taylor (1995).
Heymann researched the life a Robert F. Kennedy over the next few years and RFK: A Candid Biography of Robert F. Kennedy was published in 2002. Heymann argued that Bobby felt that he might have been partly responsible for the death of his brother, John F. Kennedy: "Bobby's advice to visit Dallas, however, weighed less heavily on him than did his conduct over the whole of his brother's term in office, for he had been the driving force in the Kennedy administration's most aggressive operations. He had pushed the government to hound the mob, to chase down Hoffa, to destroy Castro." Heymann quoted Kennedy as telling Larry O'Brien that he thought it unlikely that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone: "I'm sure that little pinko prick had something to do with it, but he certainly didn't mastermind anything. He should've shot me, not Jack. I'm the one who's out to get them."
In 2003 Heymann published The Georgetown Ladies' Social Club. The book looks at the lives of Katharine Graham (the wife of Philip Graham), Evangeline Bruce (the wife of David Bruce), Lorraine Cooper (the wife of John S. Cooper), Pamela Harriman (the wife of Averell Harriman) and Sally Quinn (the wife of Ben Bradlee). The book included an interview with CIA official, Cord Meyer in February 2001, about the death of his wife, Mary Pinchot Meyer. When he asked him who was responsible he replied "The same sons of bitches that killed John F. Kennedy."
In 2009 Heymann published his most controversial book, Bobby and Jackie: A Love Story, in which Heymann argued that Jacqueline Kennedy had an affair with her brother-in-law Robert F. Kennedy after her husband’s assassination. This book received a great deal of criticism. Elaine Woo of the Los Angeles Times has argued: "Though some critics gave Heymann points for assiduous research and engrossing subject matter, others found major flaws, including his reliance on single sources giving accounts of important events they did not witness and on sources who could not be questioned because they were dead." Margalit Fox, writing in the New York Times, has pointed out: "Though some critics admired Mr. Heymann’s biographies for their comprehensiveness, others were far more caustic. Their concerns included his use of single rather than multiple sources in reconstructing historical events, and his reliance on hearsay accounts by people not directly involved in incidents he was describing."
C. David Heymann died of a heart attack on 9th May, 2012.
Bobby's despair was in no small measure a result of survivor's guilt. JFK had been warned of a climate of hatred in Dallas. Senator William Fulbright, the target of vicious attacks by the Dallas News, had declined several invitations to visit the city and had pleaded with JFK to do likewise. Byron Skelton, the Democratic National Committeeman from Texas, had written to Bobby on November 4, 1963, "Frankly, I'm worried about President Kennedy's proposed trip to Dallas." The city wasn't safe, Skelton argued. But political commitments had been made, and RFK, preparing for his brother's reelection campaign, had favored keeping them. Moreover, it was RFK who suggested that the president ride through the streets of Dallas in a car without using the specially outfitted bulletproof bubble top. "It will give you more contact with the crowd," he had said.
Bobby's advice to visit Dallas, however, weighed less heavily on him than did his conduct over the whole of his brother's term in office, for he had been the driving force in the Kennedy administration's most aggressive operations. He had pushed the government to hound the mob, to chase down Hoffa, to destroy Castro. He had "taken care" of Marilyn Monroe. Less than a day after Jack was declared dead, Bobby told Larry O'Brien, "I'm sure that little pinko prick had something to do with it, but he certainly didn't mastermind anything. He should've shot me, not Jack. I'm the one who's out to get them." News about Jack's assassin, and about the assassin's assassin, was not slow in coming. By the day of the funeral, Bobby knew that Lee Harvey Oswald had Communist ties and had demonstrated in New Orleans as a member of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. He knew that Jack Ruby was a Dallas racketeer connected to the national Mafia. As John H. Davis observed in his book Mafia Kingfish: Carlos Marcello and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, RFK "could not possibly have escaped the awful suspicion that his aggressive campaigns against Castro and the mob might have backfired on his brother."
The CIA's John McCone remembered conversations with the attorney general shortly after Jack's death: "He wanted to know what we knew about it and whether it had been a Cuban or perhaps Russian hit. He even asked me if the CIA could have done it. I mentioned the mob, but RFK didn't want to know about it. I suspect he thought it was the mob. He said, 'They whoever they were should have killed me. I'm the one they wanted.' He blamed himself because of all the enemies he'd made along the way and also because he'd advised his brother to go to Dallas." At the time of Jack's death, the pursuit of the Mafia was proceeding unabated. Indeed, when the telephone rang with J. Edgar Hoover's word of Jack's shooting, RFK was awaiting another call: one supplying news of the verdict in the federal trial of New Orleans godfather Carlos Marcello. (The don was acquitted that day.)
Over the next year, Bobby kept his distance from the Warren Commission, the blue-ribbon panel, headed by the chief justice, created to look into the assassination. J. Edgar Hoover, whose Bureau was a key investigative arm of the commission, sent the attorney general none of the raw materials developed by FBI agents during the probe, but neither did Bobby seek to acquire them. Earl Warren's group issued its final report to Lyndon Johnson on September 24, 1964. Oswald and Ruby, the document concluded, had both acted alone. Did RFK maintain his odd detachment from the inquiry into his brother's death - an inquiry for which he, as master of the FBI, had significant official responsibility because he was too heartbroken to dwell on the grisly details? Or did he fear that a truly comprehensive investigation might uncover details of Marcello and Roselli, Giancana and Campbell, Monroe and Castro? Was his brother's assassination the act of a solitary lunatic, or an expertly devised reprisal for the administration's efforts and Bobby's vendettas? At a champagne party following Jimmy Hoffa's court convictions in early 1964, a glum RFK said, "There's nothing to celebrate." The labor leader had gloated after Jack's death, "Bobby's just another lawyer now." Hoffa was only one of the attorney general's enemies with a motive to see the president eliminated.
Jim Garrison, the flamboyant New Orleans district attorney who challenged the Warren Commission's conclusions, recalled a telephone conversation he had with RFK in 1964: "I told him some of my theories. He listened carefully, then said, 'Maybe so, maybe you're right. But what good will it do to know the truth? Will it bring back my brother?' I said, 'I find it hard to believe that as the top law man in the country you don't want to pursue the truth more ardently.' With this he hung up on me."
Cord Meyer gave expression to his support of Angleton in, Facing Reality, an autobiography subtitled, "From World Federalism to the CIA." In the same volume, he comments briefly on the murder of his wife: "I was satisfied by the conclusions of the police investigation that Mary had been the victim of a sexually motivated assault by a single individual and that she had been killed in her struggle to escape." Carol Delaney, a family friend and longtime personal assistant to Cord Meyer, observed that, "Mr. Meyer didn't for a minute think that Ray Crump had murdered his wife or that it had been an attempted rape. But, being an Agency man, he couldn't very well accuse the CIA of the crime, although the murder had all the markings of an in-house rubout."
Asked to comment on the case, by the current author (C. David Heymann), Cord Meyer held court at the beginning of February 2001 - six weeks before his death - in the barren dining room of a Washington nursing home. Propped up in a chair, his glass eye bulging, he struggled to hold his head aloft. Although he was no longer able to read, the nurses supplied him with a daily copy of The Washington Post, which he carried with him wherever he went. "My father died of a heart attack the same year Mary was killed , " he whispered. "It was a bad time." And what could he say about Mary Meyer? Who had committed such a heinous crime? "The same sons of bitches," he hissed, "that killed John F. Kennedy."
C. David Heymann, a quintessential New Yorker, has written a book about some quintessential Washingtonians - five women who through their marriages, friendships, and careers set the scene of mid-to-late twentieth-century D.C. The women are Katharine Graham, Evangeline Bruce, Lorraine Cooper, Pamela Harriman and Sally Quinn (the only one of the quintet still living), along with dashes of Jacqueline Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor (presumably Heymann couldn't help himself, having written biographies of those two in the past).
Heymann is an entertainment writer (several of his books have been TV miniseries), and this book does not try to act as history - instead, it's a fast-moving mix of interviews, hearsay, anecdotes, quotes and fact. New York Post gossip columnist Liz Smith said the book is "one juicy story after another." However juicy they may be, most of the stories in The Georgetown Ladies' Social Club have been told before: Phil Graham's mental illness and suicide, Joe and Susan Mary Alsops's sham marriage, Jackie Kennedy's distraught widowhood, Mary Pinchot Meyer's still-unsolved murder, Pamela Harriman's easy-to-bed, easy-to-wed persona, Elizabeth Taylor's gluttonous time in Virginia - these have all been fodder for Smith and her ilk for decades.
What hasn't been told before is how these women were interconnected. One of the most fascinating things Heymann shows readers is just how small Georgetown is, and therefore just how amazing it is that all of these women had residences within minutes of each other. However, between all of the marriages, affairs, divorces, births, deaths, scandals, elections and parties, it is sometimes difficult to keep track of who knew whom when and why. A timeline would not have been a bad addition to the book, along with some kind of historical exegesis, especially considering that there are huge gaps of more than years between the English Pamela Digby's wartime wedding to Winston Churchill's son and Smith graduate Sally Quinn's seventies marriage to recently divorced Ben Bradlee.
Despite the sometimes breathless and rushed pace, Heymann's writing is entertaining and - when it comes to the two women whose stories have rarely been told - informative as well. Evangeline ("Vangie") Bruce, wife of Ambassador David Bruce, and Lorraine Cooper, wife of Kentucky Senator John Sherman Cooper, were very powerful women in their own right, although the general public did not hear their names with the same frequency as Graham's or Harriman's or Quinn's. After all, neither Bruce nor Cooper had a spouse who killed himself, a string of wealthy lovers, or a career as a sharp-nibbed reporter.
The work of these women was behind the scenes, as they carefully crafted dinner parties and cocktail hours with all of the cunning and cleverness of four-star generals. Both had high standards for themselves and others, going so far as to tell members of Congress where to find a good tailor and providing safe havens for presidential misbehavior. It was Ronald Reagan who coined the term "the Georgetown Ladies' Social Club," and no wonder - the politician from Hollywood recognized others who were involved in acting.
Though some critics admired Mr. Heymann’s biographies for their comprehensiveness, others were far more caustic. Their concerns included his use of single rather than multiple sources in reconstructing historical events, and his reliance on hearsay accounts by people not directly involved in incidents he was describing.
The most dramatic response to Mr. Heymann’s work was engendered by his first celebrity biography, Poor Little Rich Girl: The Life and Legend of Barbara Hutton, an account of the Woolworth heiress that arrived in bookstores in the autumn of 1983.
That December the book’s original publisher, Random House, recalled and destroyed 58,000 copies of the book because of factual errors. Chief among them was Mr. Heymann’s assertion that Edward A. Kantor, a Beverly Hills doctor, had prescribed excessive drugs for Ms. Hutton in 1943.
Dr. Kantor, who became Ms. Hutton’s physician in the late 1960s, graduated from medical school in 1954. In 1943, as the news media reported after the error came to light, he would have been 14.
Mr. Heymann, who did not dispute this and other errors ascribed to the book, attributed them to researchers he had engaged to conduct interviews on his behalf.
C. David Heymann, a bestselling biographer whose titillating accounts of famous lives often were criticized as inaccurate or dishonest, including a book on heiress Barbara Hutton that was recalled because of factual disputes, has died. He was 67...
Though some critics gave Heymann points for assiduous research and engrossing subject matter, others found major flaws, including his reliance on single sources giving accounts of important events they did not witness and on sources who could not be questioned because they were dead.