Skip to comments.Lady Jeanne Campbell — obituary
Posted on 09/23/2007 5:57:48 PM PDT by dighton
Lady Jeanne Campbell , who has died aged 78, was a journalist who reported for the Evening Standard from New York for many years; she was also the former wife of Norman Mailer, the daughter of the reprobate 11th Duke of Argyll and the favourite granddaughter of Lord Beaverbrook.
As a journalist she covered the funeral of John F Kennedy in 1963, observing memorably that Jackie Kennedy had given the American people from this day on the one thing they always lacked majesty.
Lady Jeanne was wild. So numerous were her love affairs that James C Humes (a speechwriter for many American presidents) claimed in his memoirs, Confessions of a White House Ghostwriter, that she was the only woman to have known Biblically Presidents Khrushchev, Kennedy and Castro and all, he claimed, within the space of a year. Humes suggested that Kennedy went through his paces at her Georgetown house in October 1963; Khruschev at his dacha in April 1964; and Castro in Havana the following May.
Jeanne Louise Campbell (sometimes known as Jean or Jeanie) was the daughter of Ian Campbell, the handsome playboy who was heir to Niall, the bachelor 10th Duke of Argyll, his eccentric first cousin once removed. Her mother was Janet Aitken, daughter of the proprietor of the Daily Express.
Jeannes parents had met at a casino in Le Touquet, when Janet was 17 and Ian 24. Janet later recalled that her husband had been long on charm but short on judgment at the gaming tables. They married in December 1927, but the union got off to an unpropitious start when the groom intending to instruct his bride in her marital duties took her to watch a display of graphic lovemaking in a brothel. He was soon selling his brides jewels to pay his gambling debts.
Jeanne was born on December 10 1928, and as her mother was recovering from serious haemorrhaging (from which she almost died) her husband again demanded her jewels; when she refused, he seized a shotgun and threatened to shoot himself. After hearing two shots outside the house Janet capitulated.
The following summer the young couple went to live at Auribeau in the South of France; but the casino soon beckoned, as did an American girl called Oui Oui Clews (later Ians second wife his third was the famous Margaret, Duchess of Argyll). Janet decided to leave, and with the help of her father she escaped and made Jeanne a ward of court. Janet was a difficult mother, a heavy drinker. When Jeanne was about four, Lord Beaverbrook asked her: What shall I do about your mother?; the child replied: Cut off all her money, grandpa.
Between 1935 and 1940 Janet was married to Drogo Montagu, second son of the 9th Earl of Sandwich, but they had separated by the time he was killed on active service at the beginning of the war. Jeannes mother married for a third time in 1942, and after the war took her younger children to Canada, leaving behind Jeanne and her half-brother, William Montagu. Relations with her mother became increasingly stormy as she grew up; it was later suggested that she had been damaged by her mothers casual attitude.
After the war Jeanne trained as an actress, even joining the Old Vic, before going down with pneumonia. In 1949 she went to live with Beaverbrook, and travelled with him to the Far East, Europe, Barbados and the United States.
While she remained close to her grandfather, particularly in his old age, he frequently berated her for her wilful and extravagant behaviour, once pointing to a maid on her hands and knees and saying that Jeanne should emulate her a real woman. Jeanne was unconvinced: [My grandfathers] great flaw was his inability to treat his women with dignity. Slowly he would turn on them and devastate them. He made them feel they had no right to exist. She attributed this characteristic to his Presbyterian background; whenever he had acquired a mistress, he felt guilty about her, and thus began treating her badly. When Beaverbrook died he left Jeanne the income from a $500,000 trust. Jeanne grew up rather fresh, in the words of one of her passing admirers, Claus von Bulow. In 1953 it appeared that she might be about to marry William Ropner, a scion of the British shipbuilding clan, but instead she outraged her grandfather by succumbing to the charms of Sir Oswald Mosley, Bt, the former Blackshirt leader and a well-practised seducer.
By this time Jeanne was tall, vivacious, somewhat buxom and possessed of sparkling eyes. Mosley pursued her partly because he saw her as a conduit to Beaverbrook and hoped for favourable publicity for his Union Movement. The old man was not taken in, however, and the couple met clandestinely in a series of London flats. In the end Beaverbrook threatened to cut her off if she stayed with Mosley, and in 1956 he dispatched her to New York to write for the Evening Standard.
In one of her early reports Jeanne wrote a critical review of the CIA, causing Beaverbrook to warn her to be careful what she said about the secret service of the country in which she was living. He further advised her: Emphasise human interest. Put the best strawberry on top of the basket. Write short sentences. Cut, cut, cut. Always interview people face to face. Never rewrite from another newspaper. Keep widening your circle of acquaintances even if it means accepting the invitations of bores. Use your feet.
Jeannes vocabulary was not extensive. When she was to visit the oil baron J Paul Getty, Beaverbrook warned he was rather priapic. She did not understand, and he explained ever ready.
As a friend of Randolph Churchill, Jeanne annoyed him by dining in his rooms at the Hyde Park Hotel in a sumptuous red velvet dress on a night when Sir Winston was expected to die. She spent the night on a sofa and was smuggled out of the hotel the next morning wearing some of Randolphs clothes. When Randolph wrote volume one of his biography of Sir Winston, she judged it a solid body of work which no critic or historian can question as an eminent and scholarly contribution to the history of mankind.
Between 1959 and 1961 Jeanne had an intense affair with Henry Luce II, founder and owner of Time-Life Inc, and the husband of the redoubtable Clare Booth Luce. Jeanne had met him on holiday with Beaverbrook, at a time when she was working as a researcher at Time. He secured her a job at Life magazine, and came close to leaving his wife for her.
In the spring of 1961 Jeanne met Norman Mailer, and soon became pregnant by him. The affair with Luce ended and she returned to the Evening Standard. When, some years later, Gore Vidal asked her what had attracted her to Mailer she replied: I had never gone to bed with a Jew before. Mailer, meanwhile, liked to go to bed with women who had slept with famous men. His second wife had been bedded by Jack Kerouac, his fourth by Miles Davis; his biographer, Mary Dearborn, suggested that this was a homoerotic thing.
Beaverbrook, who never took to Mailer, advised her to have his child but abstain from marrying him. Instead she did both, marrying the writer in 1962 and giving birth to her daughter, Kate, now an actress, the same year. After a short, tempestuous marriage, which ended with Mailers infidelity, she left him, and they were divorced in Mexico in 1963. He rewarded her by depicting her as the bitch in his novel An American Dream. He later described her as a dear pudding of a lady and a remarkable girl, almost as interesting, complex and Machiavellian as himself.
Following the assassination of Kennedy in 1963 Jeanne was one of a group that included Jones Harris and Tom Bethell that investigated various conspiracy theories. She was experienced at sleuthing, having stitched up her despised stepmother, Margaret Argyll, in 1959. At the height of her fathers divorce proceedings, he (by now the 11th Duke of Argyll) and Jeanne (dressed in trousers and headscarf) entered Margarets London house by stealth and proceeded to remove all her four-year diaries from the drawing room.
When they entered her bedroom the Duchess attempted to call the police, but the Duke pinioned her arms while Jeanne snatched the current volume. Soon afterwards the Duchess sued Jeanne for trespass and theft and Jeanne settled out of court.
In 1964 Jeanne met the Beatles at the British Embassy in Washington and put her arm round Paul McCartney. Which one are you? she asked. Roger McClusky the Fifth, he answered, extricating himself from her grip.
Jeannes second husband, whom she married in 1964, was John Sergeant Cram, a gentleman farmer and a great-great-grandson of the railway baron Jay Gould. They lived in New York and at Foot Point Plantation, Bluffton, South Carolina. Jeanne had a second daughter (possibly by a man called Guy Nicholas Lancaster), Cusi Cram, who became an actress and playwright.
It was said that Jeanne received a large advance on her memoirs but blew it on a villa in Greece without ever writing the book. Latterly she lived in a tiny walk-up flat in Greenwich Village, New York, and slept in her last surviving treasure Napoleons campaign bed.
That's what we fought to get rid of during the Revolution.
Paul was a wise young man. She sounds like a female Bill Clinton. RIP, nonetheless.
Evidently Lady Jean was no lady...
I will rip the guts out of anyone that says something like, “What a wonderful lady, we will miss her .. thanx for the memories, Jeanne” and then demands absolute piety from Newt or Rudy or whomever.
So she basically passed from one reprobate to another?
Most women earn the title, while others must marry to acquire it. ;-)
......and Campbell’s gave us all the worst tomato soup on the planet.
We don’t need no stinking majesty, unless it is from purple mountains.
"Is that a derrick in your pants, Mr. Getty, or are you just happy to see me?"
Does anyone have a picture of her?
So she was clearly a reprobate, but not on my dime.
Can’t seem to locate one. I found a pic of a woman with Norman Mailer, but it didn’t identify if it was Campbell.
Never heard of her until now, but it sounds like she had a very interesting life. Her grandfather, Lord Beaverbrook, was the Willy Hearst of the British Empire, an amazing character.
I will offer my standard, “Oh, how sad!” regarding Lady Jeanne’s demise.
Never heard of her.
“Most women earn the title, while others must marry to acquire it. ;-)”
With regard to the latter; the stink still follows them.
Not to mention the paper trail of penicillin prescriptions.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.