Sunday, September 8, 2013

Famous Ephebophile: Author J.D. Salinger


I wrote about J.D. Salinger's affair with 19-year-old Joyce Maynard in The Allure of Nymphets, but I didn't know the extent of the famous author's ephebophilia until I read the review in The Village Voice of Salinger, the new documentary about the author's life

The review mentioned that Salinger was "... enraged that Charlie Chaplin, well past 50, once stole his girlfriend." The girlfriend the article is referring to is Oona O'Neill, the daughter of playwright Eugene O'Neill. Salinger's affair started when O'Neill was 16-years-old, but ended after the Pearl Harbor attack and Salinger joined the Army. Subsequently, O'Neill moved to from New York City to Los Angeles and married 55-year-old Charlie Chaplin. 


Oona O'Neill and Charlie Chaplin

According to New York magazine, after Salinger finished his stint in the military and moved to Cornish, New Hampshire, he [boldly] started entertaining high school girls and openly "escorted teenage girls to school dances and sporting events." Those exploits lead Salinger to meet 19-year-old Radcliffe preppy Claire Douglas. Salinger and Douglas eventually married and had two children. The marriage lasted a little over a decade until Douglas filed for divorce after Salinger continued to lock himself in his studio for over 14 days at a time.


Claire Douglas

Salinger was so impressed by Joyce Maynard's "An Eighteen Year Old Looks Back On Life" article in the April 23, 1972  issue of The New York Times Magazine that he mailed her a letter via the New York Times. After they wrote each other approximately 25 letters, Maynard visited Salinger in New Hampshire, withdrew from Yale and moved in with the author. That affair ended after 10 months, because Salinger didn't want anymore children. 


Joyce Maynard
Eventually, Salinger moved up to middle-aged women. When he was 62 he had a romance with 36-year-old actress Elaine Joyce. And when he was 69 he started a relationship with 31-year-old Colleen O'Neill.