Saturday, November 17, 2007

Jean Kronski: Revealed?

I received an anonymous post on my blog in the past day, highlighting an incredibly interesting reference to the apparent actual identity of Jean Kronski. The quote is taken from page 11 of an autobiography by blacklisted screenwriter Bernard Gordon, called Hollywood Exile, Or, How I Learned to Love the Blacklist: A Memoir (2004). In this excerpt, Gordon talks about the life of his wife, Jean Lewin. I'll let you read it first, before I continue:

"Despite her youth and inexperience, she [Jean] found a niche for herself in the Village where she was taken in hand by the legendary June Mansfield of Henry and June, who was already involved with the legendary Henry Miller. June arranged for Jean to live with her, not only because she felt a maternal affection for the innocent kid from the sticks but because it was convenient. She used Jean as a buffer between Henry Miller and her other lover, a moneyed man who paid the rent, showered June with gifts, and provided the funds June spent supporting Miller, who was supposed to be in the dark about this liaison. Occasionally Jean had to answer the door and keep one of them from entering and finding June engaged in the bedroom with the other man. But the mercurial June eventually took off for Europe with Henry, coolly abandoning Jean. By now, the crash of 1929 had occurred."

Whoa. I don't know what to make of this. I've previously posted about the mystery of the actual identity of "Jean Kronski." In the last issue of the Nexus journal, an article by Karl Orend entitled Dear Ghost--A Few Fragments on Henry Miller's Nemesis identifies her as Marion Fish or Marion McCarthy from Baltimore. For me, that was the authorative and definitive answer. So, now, what do I do with this new information? Should I doubt Bernard Gordon? Why would he make this up? If I have little reason to disbelieve him--with his account of the life of his own wife of nearly 50 years--then I must accept this as true. Right?
Thanks to "Anonymous" for posting this. I'll continue to look into this theory, and invite readers to leave their thoughts in the Comments section.
Here is a biography of Bernard Gordon's wife, Jean Lewin. Following this biography, I'll address a few inconsistencies and observations about this and the supposed story of Miller's Jean Kronski.

JEAN LEWIN - A BIOGRAPHY
Jean Lewin was born in West Virginia on December 4, 1909 (mother's maiden name: Skinner). [1] When she was 18, she moved from Morgantown, West Virginia to New York City. Jean was only 5-feet tall, 100 pounds, with fair complexion, blue eyes and wavy blonde hair. [2, p.11]. According to Gordon, she met June Mansfield in Greenwich Village, and was invited to move in with her, during which time she acted as a "buffer" between Henry and June's sugardaddy. When Henry and June ran off to Paris together, Jean found herself broke and unemployed. Sick of New York, she and a female friend dressed as boys and hitchhiked to California. The friend has a small gun, which came in handy when one driver tried to impose himself upon them once he realized they were actually girls. [2, p.12]
For the next decade in California, Jean found odd jobs here and there, sometimes with the help of FDR's make-work program, but she endured poverty for part of the 1930s. Jean taught herself to type and managed to get into Republic Studios as a receptionist. Bernard Gordon met Jean when he arrived in Hollywood in 1940. Jean was at that time working in the Screen Office Employees Guild, where she was involved in union activites. [2, p.12] Through the Guild, she became involved organizing the Hollywood Canteen when the United States entered WWII. As the Executive Secretary, she was brought shoulder to shoulder with prominent Canteen organizers like Bette Davis (who was the President). [3]

Jean Lewin, seen at far right, next to Bette Davis at a Hollywood Canteen function in 1942. (photo: Jack Albin)

Jean encouraged inter-racial mingling at the G.I. dances (which were segregated), and for this, was written up in an FBI file, where is was noted that she was a "possible Communist." [4] According to Gordon, she was in fact a member of the Communist Party. [3] Jean and Bernie married in 1946, and had a daughter soon afterward. Jean collaborated on screenplays with her husband; the two of them were employed for a time by Columbia Pictures, in their B-picture unit, then by Warner. They had no luck having their projects developed. In 1952, a Gordon script, Flesh And Fury (with Tony Curtis), was finally produced. But he was soon after black-balled during the Hollywood blacklisting frenzy of the early 1950s. He continued to work on B-pictures, but had to assume an alias.

Jean moved with Bernie to Mexico and later to Europe. They eventually returned to California. Jean Lewin Gordon died in Los Angeles on February 12, 1995. [1] [5] Bernard Gordon just died recently, on May 11, 2007. [5]


INCONSISTENCIES & OBSERVATIONS
The problem here is deciding which is the "fact" to be compared to. We can never be sure in Miller's writing that he hasn't taken liberty with the facts. It's possible that he's made a fact up or exaggerated it, as he's done in much of his writing. Also, it's possible that Bernard Gordon has remembered details incorrectly.

HAIR: Miller describes Vanya (Jean Kronski) in Crazy Cock [p.3] as having black hair (also in Plexus, p. 586). Gordon says blonde. Jean Lewin's photo in 1942, however, shows darker hair. Also, the Lewin account references her dressing as a male, which is consistent with the Kronski accounts. As a "male," Lewin very likely did not have blonde locks by this time.

EYES: Lewin had blue eyes. In Plexus (p. 587), "Anastasia" has violet-blue eyes.

BODY SIZE: Lewin's description makes her petite. Miller, however, described a Vanya who has "broad shoulders and a towering build" (Crazy Cock, p.11). Perhaps he exaggerated her size to make her more of a butchy, masculine threat to him in the story?

AGE: In Plexus (587) Miller has June guess she is 22 or 23. Lewin was 18.

ARRIVAL: Gordon says Lewin came to New York when she was 18 -- this would be 1927. Kronski appears to have arrived into their lives late in 1926.

DEPARTURE: Henry & June left for Europe in 1928. Gordon is a bit off on this timeline, implying that it was 1929.

MOUNTAINS: Crazy Cock opens with Jean Kronski leaving her small town to go to New York. Miller describes the "snowcapped mountains" around her. According to Wikiepdia, West Virginia is the "only state in the nation located entirely within the Appalachian Mountain range, and in which all areas are mountainous; for this reason it is nicknamed The Mountain State." Lewin was from West Virginia.

I'll post some more as it comes.

______________
References
[1] Rootsweb. California Death Records.
[2] Gordon, Bernard. Hollywood Exile, Or, How I Learned to Love the Blacklist: A Memoir (2004).
[3] Gordon, Bernard. Letter to the editor. Marxism Mailing List: June 2002.
[4] Gordon, Bernard. The Gordon File: A Screenwriter Recalls Twenty Years of FBI Surveillance: 2004.
[5] Various obituaries and articles on Bernard Gordon, which reference Jean's death and their marriage: New York Times; Alternative FIlm Guide; The Independent (London); The Guardian (UK).

NOTE: There are some great points being made in the Comments section. Please read them. I would also like to clarify that I'm not making a definitive declaration that Jean Lewin is our mystery Jean Kronski. Judgement is reserved. But keep the comments coming--We may get somewhere yet.

31 Comments:

Blogger B.E. Méndez said...

Whoa...cognitive shift!

10:31 am  
Anonymous kreg said...

Very interesting stuff there! I wonder if June may have see a resemblance between the two -- see this image I stitched together for reference.

Also of note is that the link you provided for Flesh And Fury lists Miller's friend Joe Gray as one of the actors. Miller wrote a chapter on Joe Gray in My Bike & Other Friends. Here's a few photos of Gray and Miller together.

10:52 am  
Blogger Funnypants said...

I'll add another whoa to the list.

This is the kind of stuff keeps me coming back to the CTC.

And forgot to mention in my earlier comment how much I like the banners you create for the tops of your posts.

10:33 pm  
Anonymous Eric L said...

Great work as always, RC.

This is the sort of "note" that Nexus might like? (once you have followed this path to a conclusion)

10:15 am  
Anonymous Pierre from Montreal said...

Exciting and intriguing post, RC!

Jean Kronski is indeed a never-ending mystery, although one fact remains in all her literary appearances : the trip she took to Europe with June Mansfield in 1927. Such a trip is not mentioned in Jean Lewin’s bio. Interestingly June met Roland Freedman, her future sugar daddy, in 1927 when she was in Paris, and Jean Lewin came to New York that same year. It is quite possible that after she met June in Greenwich Village, she was invited to move in with her, during which time she acted as a « buffer » between Henry and June’s « Pop », until Miller left for Paris in 1930.

Moreover, one must remember that June knew a lot of people in the Village. I’m sometimes inclined to think that all these Vanya, Anastasia and Thelma are for Miller, the novelist, an amalgam of the different women June had known : Marion Fish-McCarthy, Jean Bakewell, Martha-Mara Andrews, Jean Lewin, etc.

The real Jean Kronski however has to be the one who went to Europe with June in 1927 and, as I said in a previous post, finding the passenger list of the boat she and June sailed on, in April 1927, would be the only way to know her passport name; but does such a list exist 80 years later? and, just to complicate things, Robert Ferguson says the boat was the « Rochambeau » (p.152), Jay Martin the « S.S. Suffren » (P.132).

Take care, RC!

4:17 pm  
Anonymous JamesD said...

This is an interesting new theory, but I'm troubled that Gordon does not give us any details that are verifiable (e.g., a letter, specific addresses, etc.) Adding that with the skewed chronology, and I'm skeptical. June used to tell Henry mysterious tales, and it's conceivable that Jean Lewin might tell a romantic white lie or two--and that Gordon swallowed them. Alas, Gordon died last May, so we can't ask him follow-up questions.

7:43 pm  
Anonymous kreg said...

Bernard Gordon's books make clear that he and Jean attracted considerable attention from the FBI. If Jean's FBI file could be acquired through some sort of FOIA request, it might provide enough background information to confirm or deny Lewin as a candidate for the real Jean Kronski. Also, a surviving daughter named Ellen Gordon is mentioned in Bernard's obituaries. She may know enough family lore to shed light on the subject.

12:09 pm  
Anonymous Eric L said...

Ah, James comes in with the cold hard facts of scholarship.

Just be glad you're not trying to do an annotated biography/literography of, say, Shakespeare. At least a good deal of 20th Century information is 'trackable.'

7:19 pm  
Blogger Carles Reig said...

Another appearance of Henry Miller in this hilarious excerpt from The Soul of Kindness (1964), by the excellent Elizabeth Taylor.

There’s this holier-than-thou bitch do-gooder who

“...sat gazing in front of her. On a table at her side was a piece of knitting which had not grown for days, and the book by Henry Miller Patrick Barlow [that’s a homosexual writer ‘friend’ of hers] had lent her, which she was reading with such mild surprise. (‘What does this word mean, Richard?’ [Richard is her husband.] ‘Truly? Well I suppose it had to be called something.’ How had she lived so long without knowing? He wondered.)”

Enchanted, I’m sure.

6:52 pm  
Anonymous Kreg said...

For another view on whether Jean had blonde or black hair, note that Perlès described her as "Lucrezia Borgia painted by Pinturicchio."

I found the quote about Lucrezia Borgia in Jay Martin's biography on page 124. His notes on page 520 show that he is quoting from Perlès' The Renegade.

You can see Pinturicchio's painting of Lucrezia Borgia here, in which she has wavy blonde hair, just as Gordon describes Jean Lewin.

9:45 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

come on, Miller always changed the people showed in his books, not only the names but the psychical and character details too. He do it in order to protect them and himself and, most important, to have more "freedom of movement" when picturing them. A great example of that was the description of his relationship with Brassäi, who becames to Miller a suject really different of the real one, with a name and a history who has no relation to true. The thing is that Brassaï later becames a famous person and had the chance of publish some books where he points this opposite versions of the reality, but with photos to prove it. So I will not take the "differences" involving Kronski has a important fact. That doesnt mean that she was that lady, but we cannot take Miller's descriptions as an relevant factor.

5:46 pm  
Anonymous viagra online said...

Wow I heard some cases like this, people who you see in movies and you said who's that ? and some years later they just appear like nothing happends, usually have a base in which one they can't stand up and if they fall it's not gonna hurt.
You know what I mean.
Nice post

11:57 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From The Journals of Anais Nin Volume 1 (1931-1934): "The first time Jeanne came to Louveciennes all I noticed were her eyes...She was tall, blonde; she looked like Danielle Darrieux with less softness of contour, a more austere quality. She limped. She dragged her leg and talked continuously".

2:08 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scratch that. wrong jeanne. Though "Jean" the poet-sculptor that June is involved with is indeed mentioned several times in the beginning of this journal. No hair or eye colours though...

2:53 am  
Blogger Gege Dai said...

05028wangjuan1
miami heat
new york jets jersey
tennessee titans jerseys
new balance outlet
indianapolis colts jersey
bills jerseys
fred perry polo shirts
miami heat jersey
mizuno running shoes
colts jerseys
san antonio spurs
oakland raiders jersey
converse shoes sale
packers jerseys
washington redskins jerseys
cleveland browns jersey
ysl outlet online
carolina jerseys
abercrombie outlet
cardinals jersey
bears jerseys
los angeles clippers
atlanta falcons jersey
browns jerseys
san francisco 49ers jerseys
chicago bears jersey
new orleans saints jerseys
hollister
denver broncos jersey
abercrombie outlet

11:40 pm  
Blogger 艾丰 said...

jianbin0528
nike air force 1
true religion uk
longchamp outlet
ray ban sunglasses
coach outlet store
coach outlet store
dior sunglasses
thomas sabo outlet
michael kors outlet
ferragamo shoes
prada sneakers
fitflops shoes
celine outlet
ferragamo outlet
cheap oakley sunglasses
true religion jeans
christian louboutin outlet
coach outlet store
michael kors outlet
mulberry bags
coach outlet
ralph lauren outlet
versace sunglasses on sale
true religion jeans
chaussure louboutin
michael kors outlet
fitflops sale
ghd hair straighteners
cheap nba jerseys
nfl jersey wholesale
longchamp pliage
polo ralph lauren
oakley sunglasses

1:39 am  
Blogger 艾丰 said...

jianbin0528
nike air force 1
true religion uk
longchamp outlet
ray ban sunglasses
coach outlet store
coach outlet store
dior sunglasses
thomas sabo outlet
michael kors outlet
ferragamo shoes
prada sneakers
fitflops shoes
celine outlet
ferragamo outlet
cheap oakley sunglasses
true religion jeans
christian louboutin outlet
coach outlet store
michael kors outlet
mulberry bags
coach outlet
ralph lauren outlet
versace sunglasses on sale
true religion jeans
chaussure louboutin
michael kors outlet
fitflops sale
ghd hair straighteners
cheap nba jerseys
nfl jersey wholesale
longchamp pliage
polo ralph lauren
oakley sunglasses

1:39 am  
Blogger Fangyaya said...

louis vuitton bags
coach outlet store online
louis vuitton outlet
nike roshe run
coach outlet store online
true religion
michael kors outlet
louis vuitton bags
adidas outlet
christian louboutin outlet
longchamp outlet
oakley sunglasses
adidas yeezy
louis vuitton
coach outlet
ralph lauren polo outlet
kobe shoes 11
fitflop sandals
michael kors handbags
tory burch outlet
toms
oakley vault
louis vuitton outlet
ralph lauren uk
kevin durant shoes
nike outlet store
louis vuitton outlet
michael kors outlet
polo ralph lauren
adidas shoes
oakley outlet
michael kors outlet clearance
ray ban sunglasses outlet
michael kors outlet online
ghd hair straighteners
air jordans
louis vuitton outlet stores
true religion jeans
celine outlet
20167.28chenjinyan

4:10 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

jianbin0902
links of london jewellery
air max 90
true religion outlet
cheap nike shoes
michael kors handbags
coach factory outlet
coach outlet online
polo ralph lauren
puma outlet
tory burch shoes
michael kors outlet online
rolex orologi
rolex watches
michael kors outlet clearance
cheap uggs
asics,asics israel,asics shoes,asics running shoes,asics israel,asics gel,asics running,asics gel nimbus,asics gel kayano
michael kors outlet
moncler outlet store
ugg boots
ralph lauren polo
michael kors outlet
ralph lauren outlet
michael kors canada
michael kors wholesale
louis vuitton outlet
moncler coats
ugg boots clearance
coach outlet online
celine outlet
dior sunglasses
jordan pas cher
coach outlet

4:10 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

jianbin0927
ray-ban sunglasses
ray-ban sunglasses
louis vuitton
longchamp pas cher
the north face outlet
coach handbags outlet
kobe 9
salomon shoes sale
snapbacks wholesale
ghd hair straighteners

6:14 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

JIANBIN0929
chaussure louboutin
nhl jerseys
oakley sunglasses
nike roshe run shoes
true religion canada
yeezy boost 350
mizuno shoes
tory burch outlet online
oakley sunglasses sale
rolex orologi

3:40 am  
Blogger mmjiaxin said...

yeezy boost 350
michael kors outlet online
http://www.kobeshoes.uk
Kanye West shoes
cheap nfl jerseys
kobe shoes
lacoste outlet
links of london sale
http://www.tiffanyandcooutletonline.us.com
michael kors outlet online
gg

10:06 pm  
Blogger xjd7410@gmail.com said...

20161122 junda
cheap jordans
tory burch outlet
swarovski uk
timberland boots
canada goose jackets
nike trainers
michael kors handbags
coach outlet clearance
louis vuitton outlet stores
michael kors outlet clearance

3:37 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

michael kors handbags
mcm outlet
moncler outlet
ralph lauren uk
valentino outlet
rolex watches
lululemon outlet
michael kors wallets for women
louis vuitton sunglasses
canada goose outlet
chanyuan11.22

4:52 am  
Anonymous Viagra pas cher livraison gratuite said...

Retrouvez une santé de fer et dite fin aux pannes d’érections et autres dysfonctionnement érectiles et éjaculation précoce commander le Viagra pas cher livraison gratuite disponible en pharmacie en ligne en France et dans toute l'UE.

6:29 am  
Blogger dada24 Xu said...

michael kors handbags
pandora charms sale
coach outlet store online clearance
hollister uk
coach outlet online
yeezy boost
ugg canada
ugg australia
tory burch outlet online
michael kors outlet online
zhi20161219

10:53 pm  
Blogger dong dong23 said...

timberland boots
cheap nhl jerseys
christian louboutin
christian louboutin shoes
goose outlet
cheap uggs
uggs australia
giuseppe zanotti
oakley sunglasses wholesale
mlb jerseys
20171.11wengdongdong

10:57 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

jianbin0227
tiffany jewelry
gucci handbags
true religion outlet
cheap oakley sunglasses
fitflops outlet
ralph lauren uk
kobe 9
swarovski uk
coach outlet
tiffany jewelry

3:34 am  
Blogger raybanoutlet001 said...

new england patriots jerseys
hugo boss sale
ray ban sunglasses
cheap nike shoes sale
michael kors handbags outlet
moncler outlet
49ers jersey
oakland raiders jerseys
cheap oakley sunglasses
nike air huarache

9:50 pm  
Blogger raybanoutlet001 said...

michael kors uk
michael kors handbags
adidas nmd runner
michael kors handbags wholesale
michael kors handbags outlet
mlb jerseys
moncler jackets
toms outlet
adidas nmd
golden state warriors

2:04 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

minnesota vikings jerseys
new balance outlet
chaussure louboutin pas cher
ferragamo shoes
armani exchange
michael kors handbags
cheap nike shoes sale
longchamp bags
michael kors handbags wholesale
nike tn

8:36 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home