Monday, May 01, 2017

Jean Stein, Author of Noted Edie Sedgwick Biography, Jumps to Her Death

Wow, had heard about this horrifying suicide on the Upper East Side over the weekend. But didn't realize it was the author of one of my favorite books as a higher schooler, one that further fueled my fascination with the New York City scene. The building where writer Jean Stein died was apparently once home to heiress Gloria Vanderbilt, who lived in the penthouse. Vanderbilt's son, Carter Vanderbilt Cooper — the brother of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper — inexplicably jumped to his death from the apartment's terrace in 1988. A friend mentioned that in Stein's most recent book, "West of Eden," she wrote about the daughter of David O. Selznick and Jennifer Jones who leaped to her death from the roof of a skyscraper. Now she's done it herself. RIP.

The New York Post reports that an elderly woman who jumped to her death from a ritzy Upper East Side apartment building over the weekend was an acclaimed author whose life read like one of her books, police sources said Monday. Jean Stein, 83, lived her life among and wrote books about New York and Hollywood’s elite. She jumped to her death from her 15th-floor bedroom balcony and landed on an eighth-floor terrace at 10 Gracie Square around 10:30 a.m. Sunday, police sources said. Stein suffered from depression and had attempted to kill herself in the past, sources said. Her first marriage was in 1958 to William Vanden Heuvel, a lawyer who worked in the Justice Department under Robert F. Kennedy. They had two daughters. In 1985, she married Torsten Wiesel, who was a co-recipient with David Hubel of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1981. They were married until 2007.

The book was renamed "Edie: American Girl" when it was reissued in 1994.

Stein is best known for writing “Edie: An American Biography” in 1982, a book about Edie Sedgwick, artist Andy Warhol’s muse. In 2016, she published “West of Eden: An American Place,” a tale of Hollywood told through the eyes of insiders, including Lauren Bacall, Arthur Miller, Dennis Hopper, Frank Gehry, Ring Lardner and Joan Didion.

Born in Los Angeles in 1934, Stein came to the Big Apple to attend Miss Hewitt’s Classes, a private school on the Upper East Side that would later become the Hewitt School. Stein then attended Wellesley College in Boston for two years before switching to the Sorbonne in Paris. At age 19, she met author William Faulkner, then 56, during a vacation in St. Moritz in 1953. Years later, she told People Magazine that she had a relationship with the married author. “He had a great influence on my life,” she told the magazine in 1982. “He gave me a sense of values.” She interviewed Faulkner in 1956 for The Paris Review. In 1970, Stein published “American Journey, The Times of Robert Kennedy.” In “West of Eden,” Stein wrote of growing up in her family’s Beverly Hills mansion, known as Misty Mountain: “I had the sense that my world was make-believe.”

No comments: