C. David Heymann

C. David Heymann


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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After the book was withdrawn, Heymann claimed he attempted suicide with a dozen Valium tablets and half a bottle of Scotch.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. 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. 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.


American Legacy

From the moment of their births, John and Caroline Kennedy occupied a central position in what is generally regarded as the most famous family in the United States, if not the world. Even as young children growing up in the White House, their most subtle gestures and actions made headlines. Yet until now they have not been the subject of a dual biography. In that sense, this volume represents a first.

In American Legacy, #1 New York Times bestselling author C. David Heymann draws upon a voluminous archive of personal interviews to present a telling portrait of John and Caroline Kennedy. A longtime biographer of various members of the Kennedy clan, including Jackie and Robert Kennedy, Heymann covers John's and Caroline's childhood in the White House, the dark aftermath of their father's assassination, their uneasy adolescence, and the many challenges they faced as adults, all under the glaring eye of the media. He reveals John's and Caroline's loving but at times trying relationship with their larger-than-life mother, as well as Jackie's own emotional struggles, romantic relationships, and financial concerns following JFK's death.

Other revelations brought to light for the first time in American Legacy include the assassination attempt made on Jackie just before she gave birth to John JFK Jr.'s romantic escapades prior to marrying Carolyn Bessette and accounts of the predominantly happy marriage they shared despite criticisms from questionable sources the shocking report of the autopsy performed on John following the tragic plane crash that killed him, Carolyn, and her sister Lauren Caroline's rise to become one of the wealthiest women in America and her life now as the sole keeper of her family's magnificently complex legacy.

Utterly compelling and full of new and fascinating details, American Legacy overturns much of what we thought we knew about two of the most talked-about members of the Kennedy family.


Kennedys and King

While I dislike intensely what [Heymann has] written, I can imagine the situation from his point of view. In his mind, he's a crafty guy who figured out a way to make a great living, while breaking, to my knowledge, no enforceable laws to do so. That he broke all laws of decency and historical faithfulness, if you put yourself in his shoes, is beside the point, writes Lisa Pease.

As a researcher into a controversial subject &ndash the assassinations of the sixties &ndash people often ask me this question: How do you know which sources to believe and which to disbelieve?

My answer is this: When you read an author for the first time, check every single fact you don't already know from elsewhere. If a nonfiction book isn't even footnoted, it's not worth your time other than as a source of leads you'll have to check out on your own. Leads are not data. They are only possible data.

Hearsay, what someone said when they were not under oath, when nothing was at risk for them personally, I also treat as a lead, not data. Personally, I don't trust interviews much because people often misremember things, or enhance or embellish the truth, sometimes without realizing it. And some will simply lie for their own reasons, and none of us is so good that we can "just tell" who is lying or not. But by interviewing people you can sometimes get a lead on data for which there is some sort of a verifiable paper trail. And that can be valuable.

If the book is footnoted, check out the footnotes. And I mean, really check it out &ndash don't just see if there is a footnote. Go to the library, go to the book referenced, go to that page number, and see if the note is correct. Was the correct reference on that page? Or did the author miss it? (Sometimes book pages change from one printing to the next so check a few pages on either side of the reference in case it's nearby.)

Most important, check to see if what is in the footnoted text is accurately represented. I've gone through people's footnotes and found sometimes, to my dismay, that the author misread the original text or is deliberately misrepresenting it.

What about things you can't check out, like interviews with people? Then two additional considerations come into play: the credibility of the person being interviewed, and the reliability of the interviewer. Did either person have a reason to lie? Did either person work for an intelligence service, a career which requires one to lie well? Have they lied or misquoted people in the past?

It is with these considerations in mind that I read C. David Heymann's latest book, Bobby and Jackie: A Love Story. If I had to describe the book in a single word it would be this: puerile. But because this book has gotten so much media attention, I will say more than one word. And because the book depends nearly entirely on hearsay, I have to examine the overall credibility of the author, as well.

When I started reading the book, I tried to look up certain items to find Heymann's source. There were some footnotes, to be sure, but never for the items that interested me. Instead, he sourced the book generally, chapter by chapter, to a list of interviews conducted by Heymann and his researchers. Lacking access to those, the only way for me to evaluate the credibility of Heymann's claims of a so-called love affair between Bobby and Jackie was to evaluate the credibility of Heymann himself.

I've been researching Robert Kennedy for years. Early on, I picked up Heymann's book RFK: A Candid Biography of Robert F. Kennedy. At the time, I knew nothing about Heymann. I was writing about Robert Kennedy's ride to the Ambassador Hotel &ndash a moment of no particular consequence. I just wanted to get the time correct and to quote something ironic that had been said on the drive.

Here is what Heymann wrote for this episode:

At six-fifteen, Kennedy and Dutton were driven by John Frankenheimer from Malibu to the Ambassador Hotel. . As Frankenheimer cruised along the Santa Monica Freeway, attempting to make the thirty-minute trip in half that time, Bobby said, "Hey, John, take it slow. I want to live long enough to enjoy my impending victory."

The footnote for the above said this:

"At six-fifteen": Schlesinger, RK, p. 980.

If you go to page 980 in Arthur Schlesinger's book Robert Kennedy and his Times, you find nothing but a page of footnotes with no reference to those events. But a page number mistake is easy to make &ndash and it was easy enough to find the correct page. So I wasn't going to be too hard on Heymann for such a simple error. I looked up "Frankenheimer" in Schlesinger's book to get the correct page (p. 913), and found this text:

About six-thirty Frankenheimer drove him to the Hotel Ambassador. He sped furiously along the Santa Monica Freeway. "Take it easy, John," Kennedy said. "Life is too short."

Schlesinger sources this quote to Robert Blair Kaiser's book R.F.K. Must Die!, page 15. Schlesinger's quote of what Kennedy said exactly matches the original in Kaiser's book, whereas Heymann's strange misquote added a touch of arrogance ("my impending victory"). Heymann evidently improvised his version, and moved the time he explicitly footnoted up fifteen minutes for no apparent reason. Add that to the wrong page number, and for this inconsequential item, Heymann managed to make three mistakes. That's way too high an error ratio for me. If he could make three errors on something so simple, what would he do with things more controversial or complex? At that point, I put away Heymann's book, realizing it would be worthless to my research.

Had I read further, I would have seen Heymann fabricating events from whole cloth. For example, on page 361 in his RFK book, Heymann wrote something wildly untrue:

[I]n May 1997, Gerald Ford publicly admitted that in 1975, while president of the United States, he had suppressed certain FBI and CIA surveillance reports that indicated that JFK had been caught in a crossfire in Dallas, and that John Roselli and Carlos Marcello had orchestrated the assassination plot.

Gerald Ford never said any such thing. What Gerald Ford did say in 1997 was in response to a document that surfaced showing it was his edits that changed the wound from Kennedy's "back" to the "back of the neck," a change of verbiage that managed to move the wound up five inches to support the single bullet theory. Never mind that the shirt (which was fitted and could not have bunched up five inches, as some have suggested) showed a bullet hole well down the back and definitely not in the "back of the neck."

Here is the passage from the 1997 AP report regarding Ford's public comment:

Thirty-three years ago, Gerald R. Ford took pen in hand and changed &ndash ever so slightly &ndash the Warren Commission's key sentence on the place where a bullet entered John F. Kennedy's body when he was killed in Dallas.

The effect of Ford's change was to strengthen the commission's conclusion that a single bullet passed through Kennedy and severely wounded Texas Gov. John Connally &ndash a crucial element in its finding that Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole gunman.

A small change, said Ford on Wednesday when it came to light, one intended to clarify meaning, not alter history.

"My changes had nothing to do with a conspiracy theory," he said in a telephone interview from Beaver Creek, Colo. "My changes were only an attempt to be more precise."

So Heymann is freely mixing a real event (Gerald Ford's public comment) with a fictional one (admitting to participating in a cover-up and naming Roselli and Marcello as the conspirators).

How could Heymann be so wrong? Heymann wouldn't deliberately lie, not in a nonfiction book, right?

Wrong. Heymann not only would, he does, and provably so, right on the book's dust jacket. Under Heymann's picture, Heymann is described as a three-time Pulitzer Prize nominee. Finding that impossible to believe, I decided to check it out. As I suspected, Heymann was never nominated for any award by the Pulitzer Prize committee. The Pulitzer Prize committee goes to some trouble to ensure that nominees, called "finalists," are listed on their Web site. Heymann is not there.

Was it possible that Heymann pulled one over on his editor? I had to find out, so I contacted his current editor, Emily Bestler, at Atria Books, a subsidiary of Simon and Schuster. It never occurred to me that an employee of a Simon & Schuster property would knowingly perpetrate a fraud regarding one of their writers. How naive I was.

When I queried Bestler about the fact that he was not listed as a Pulitzer Prize nominee on the Pulitzer Prize committee's site, Bestler explained that his previous publishers had submitted his books for nomination.

Now, I don't know about you, but no one in Hollywood would dare call themselves an Academy Award nominee just because their agent submitted their reel to the Academy. They'd be laughed out of the business. The agent and actor would both lose all credibility.

The same should be true in the publishing world. You can't seriously claim to be a nominee just because your book, along with thousands of others, was sent to the Pulitzer committee. That's patently ridiculous. Any author anywhere on the planet could then send in their book and claim the same. Is this the industry's dirty little secret? Is this a widespread practice?

I emailed the Pulitzer Prize Web site asking what the Pulitzer Prize committee does when someone claims to be a "nominee" when they've only been submitted for nomination. Claudia Weissberg, the Web Site Manager for the Pulitzer Prize committee, wrote back:

Occasionally when we see misapplication of the term "nominated", we send a straightforward message informing an author about the misstep and usually get compliance. Also, when people contact us to confirm such a claim, we try to set them straight. Unfortunately, our staff of four is too busy with other things to regularly police the situation.

So the next time you see someone claiming to be a "Pulitzer Prize Nominee," don't believe it until you first confirm it for yourself. (Search www.pulitzer.org. If the author was truly a nominee or an award winner from the year, they will show up in the search, and the date and name of their nomination or prize will be listed. Gus Russo, author of Live By the Sword: The Secret War Against Castro and the Death of JFK, has also misused that term, claiming to be a nominee when he, too, was merely an entrant.) You would think some "truth in advertising" statute should apply here to protect consumers. Whatever else it is, it's simply dishonest, on any level, and shame on Heymann and Bestler for participating knowingly in a deliberate deception. Shame on Atria Books. Shame on Simon and Schuster for misusing the prestige of the Putlizer Prize to sell some books.

Why do I spend so much time on this false claim? Because if one is willing to lie about themselves to enhance the sales of their book, what else might they be willing to lie about?

That question should be foremost in mind when reading Heymann's book Bobby and Jackie because we, the readers, are not in a position to check the factual accuracy of his most sensational claims. First of all, the most outrageous claims are not footnoted specifically, but sourced generally to people who are now dead. We can't go question them to see if Heymann quoted them accurately. So how can we check this out?

We have to go back to Heymann's past work, and hear from people he has quoted in the past, to assess his accuracy with people when they were living. As it turns out, credibility has long been an issue for Heymann.

In his book Poor Little Rich Girl: The Life and Legend of Barbara Hutton, about the famous Woolworth heiress, Heymann inaccurately accused a doctor in Beverly Hills of overprescribing drugs for Ms. Hutton. The accused doctor was provably only 14 years old at the time and incapable of prescribing drugs for anyone, and sued Random House. Random House hesitated. They were not eager to destroy a book that had all the markings of a bestseller. After all, the film rights had already been optioned for $100,000.

Heymann blamed the mistake on one of his researchers, and was upset when Random House held him, the author who had received the $70,000 advance for the book, accountable.

Shortly after the doctor's suit, Ned Rorem, an author and composer, pointed out that Heymann had lifted a passage from one of Rorem's own books and attributed it to Hutton. That was enough, for Random House. The publisher recalled the book and destroyed all copies.

Heymann was so depressed at this episode, which threatened to destroy the only career he'd ever loved, that he attempted suicide. He then changed his mind, sought emergency medical treatment, and headed to a Manhattan psychiatrist.

How was it that Random House didn't review the book for accuracy? The publicity director said Random House relied on Heymann's assurances of accuracy. (Emily Bestler, his current editor, told me the same thing, that she never questioned him about his sources, never did any independent verification. "He's the expert," she said in all seriousness, the irony of which you will understand by the time you finish this review.)

Heymann's troubles with the Hutton book were still expanding. As reporter Curt Suplee described in his Washington Post article "The Big Book That Went Bad" (Feb. 8, 1984), "Meanwhile, the unthinkable got worse. Another author cried foul some of Hutton's longtime chums claimed they had never seen her keep notebooks several people quoted in the book either denied that they had been interviewed or disowned the quotations. And in Los Angeles, some old Hutton hands openly doubted that Heymann &ndash who says he conducted six weeks of intermittent interviews with the enfeebled heiress during 1978 &ndash ever met her at all."

Heymann said he made no tapes of these alleged conversations, but that he could prove his presence there in a court of law if he had to. (In a separate interview, Heymann said the only person who could verify he conducted the interviews with Hutton was his wife.) No one put that claim to the test, although Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morganthau's office did investigate Mr. Heymann for fraud. (No indictment was ever issued from Morgenthau's investigation.)

A handwriting expert determined that the so-called "diary" (a collection of notebooks and scribblings on random pieces of paper) was not from Hutton. Regarding the authenticity of the handwriting, Suplee noted, Heymann displayed "photocopies of letters Hutton wrote decades ago in an idiosyncratic, loopy script and apparently more recent sheets of embossed letterhead stationery on which incoherent, broken sentences are printed in big block letters. How could both be written by the same hand? 'They were written many years apart,' Heymann says. 'I didn't question it.'" Sadly, neither did his editors. Fortunately for history, however, some reporters did.

David Johnston, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, said the Times contacted several of Heymann's alleged sources in an attempt to verify Heymann's work. Most of the sources were long dead, but a few were still alive.

Of the nine people contacted, all nine seriously disputed Heymann's accuracy.

Seven of the nine said they never spoke to Heymann or his researchers. Heymann told the Times he had taken their anecdotes from Hutton's notes and that neither he nor his researchers had contacted those people. Heymann claimed to Suplee, however, that these people had spoken with his researchers, which contradicts his earlier statement that he had gotten the anecdotes from the disputed journal entries. The eighth person said that, while part of what was quoted was true, nearly a page-worth of quotes attributed to that person were false. The ninth said he had been contacted by an aide of Heymann's, but refused to be interviewed. (Los Angeles Times, Dec. 24, 1983)

Johnston also noted that one lengthy anecdote in the book involved a physician who didn't exist. Heymann explained that he used fictitious names in the book "in five or six cases." The book, however, contains no disclaimer indicating that any fictitious names were used. And in a later interview with the Washington Post, Heymann changed the number of fictitious names used to two. "That's not such an unusual ploy, is it?" Heymann asked the reporter. But, of course, it is. Nonfiction is supposed to be truthful in all aspects, with no made-up names, or, if necessary, with pseudonyms clearly identified as such.

When asked if he had alerted his editor at Random House to the fact that he had used false names, Heymann said, "Yeah &ndash it would have been impossible otherwise." According to Suplee in the Post, "a company spokesman denies that Heymann said anything about fictitious names or mentioned that he would be using researchers for the preponderance of the interviews." "Clem was not forthcoming," said Heymann's agent Peter Matson, "about the way he was working."

Heymann even dared blame his editor for not insisting on the use of a pseudonym for the doctor who ended up suing. "It seems to me an experienced editor would have said, 'why use this guy's real name? Why not use a pseudonym?'" (Wash. Post, Feb. 8, 1984)

Philip Van Rensselaer, a one-time escort of Hutton's, told the Post he was thinking of suing Heymann for plagiarism, saying Heymann had copied dozens of sentences from his own biography of Hutton. Heymann had quoted a news article from Van Rensselaer's book without verifying its accuracy. Van Rensselaer had actually embellished the news item, itself a violation of journalistic standards. Yet Heymann had quoted it verbatim as if it was an actual news item, showing how poor a researcher he is.

It's odd, in retrospect, that Random House was so incurious about Heymann's accuracy, given that his two previous works by that time had already been challenged for accuracy. Had they actually bought Heymann's claim that, after any nonfiction book is published, "eight out of ten people will deny what they said"? That may be the standard for a Heymann book (and with good reason, if they didn't, in fact, say what was quoted), but he presents no evidence to support that claim on behalf of other nonfiction authors.

Random House's spokesperson told the Post that Random House had been unaware of the problems with Heymann's earlier books. The Village Voice had given Heymann's 1980 book American Aristocracy: The Lives and Times of James Russell, Amy and Robert Lowell a "Most Mistakes Medallion" for the huge number of inaccuracies in that volume.

One of Heymann's earliest books was on the poet Ezra Pound, who happened to be a close friend of none other than the CIA's former counterintelligence chief James Angleton. Heymann claimed he had interviewed Pound just before his death, which would have been at least four years before Heymann's book was published. Time magazine lauded Heymann's book, calling it "The most harshly realistic portrait of the poet so far produced." But in 1983, a noted Pound scholar, Professor Hugh Kenner of John Hopkins University, accused Heymann of claiming someone else's interview with Pound as his own. Heymann dismissed the charge, claiming Kenner was retaliating against Heymann for a negative review Heymann had given to Kenner's book. Both offered to take and pass a lie detector test supporting their view in this matter. (Wash. Post, Dec. 21, 1983)

In the wake of the problems resulting from the serious examination of his Hutton book, Heymann moved to Israel where, according to Heymann, he joined the Mossad. The Hutton book was eventually republished by Lyle Stuart (after Heymann rewrote nearly a third of it) and was made into a television miniseries.

Since Heymann was never really punished for his lax standards, if not outright dishonesty, is it any surprise the errors and misrepresentations continued in subsequent works?

When Heymann's book A Woman Named Jackie: An Intimate Biography of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, came out, Mike Wilson of the Miami Herald did an in-depth review, similar to what the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post reporters had done with the Hutton book. Wilson opens his review with this:

C. David Heymann has called his book "A Woman Named Jackie" "a search for the real Jackie Kennedy."

Sometimes, it seems, the author didn't search farther than his own bookshelf.

Wilson goes on to quote a passage from Kitty Kelley's earlier biography of Jackie, and compares it to Heymann's. It's not a direct copy, but it's a very similar passage. He does this again with a passage from Ralph Martin's book and compares it to Heymann's passage, which is even more similar than the first example.

Wilson also noted that Heymann lifted material from one of Jack Anderson's columns. "No question about it. It's obvious. That's outrageous," Wilson quotes Anderson as saying. (Heymann's publicist Sandra Bodner tried to explain this away by suggesting the story was perhaps told to Heymann by Anderson's source in exactly the same words.)

Wilson notes some of the key allegations in the book, but adds, "much in the book is not new. And much, Heymann's sources are saying, is not true." For example, Larry O'Brien challenged several remarks in the book, telling the Miami Herald he had never said those things. And worse, Heymann has O'Brien essentially lying, saying something O'Brien couldn't, wouldn't have ever said because he'd already said the opposite in his own book! (Heymann claimed O'Brien said he refused to speak to Lyndon Johnson on the plane back from Dallas after Kennedy had been assassinated. But in O'Brien's own book he noted he spoke to Johnson twice on the plane &ndash once on the ground in Dallas and a second time in the air.)

The first time I cracked Heymann's book on Jackie open, I randomly turned to a page where a name caught my eye. Heymann quotes "James T. Angleton, director of covert operations for the CIA" talking about Mary Meyer. Surely he meant James J. Angleton, director of counterintelligence for the CIA. But it's no wonder he got the name and title wrong. When I checked the footnotes, there was no source for the Angleton quote listed, and, according to the footnotes, Heymann sourced no interview with Angleton for that chapter. So whom was he quoting? What source gave him that Angleton quote about Meyer? How could his editor, Allan Wilson, have missed the fact that there was literally no source for that quote? That wouldn't pass muster in a History 101 course. I had expected more from publisher Lyle Stuart, Heymann's post-Random House sponsor.

Heymann does get Angleton's full middle name correct in his book The Georgetown Ladies' Social Club: Power, Passion, and Politics in the Nation's Capital. Unfortunately, according to Washington Post reporter Roxanne Roberts, the book had little to recommend it. Roberts opens with this line:

There are lies, damn lies, and statistics . and autobiographies, biographies and books by C. David Heymann.

As with so many before her, Roberts describes Heymann's work as "unfettered by live subjects," noting,

This makes it harder to determine what is true and what is not, assuming one cares about those things. "When you write about people who are dead, you're libel-proof," author Kitty Kelley says. "They can't sue and neither can their families. It just breaks your heart sometimes."

When Heymann wrote Liz: An Intimate Biography of Elizabeth Taylor, he told the press that "discussions will continue" with Liz Taylor about whether she would approve the biography as official. But Taylor's representatives responded they had never been in touch with Heymann and that she would definitely "not be participating" in his project. (Wash. Post, Aug. 15, 1989)

You would think Heymann would have learned some serious lessons about checking facts, not relying on researchers, verifying everything, and heeding the notion that extraordinary claims deserve extraordinary evidence. You would be so wrong.

Heymann came under the scrutiny of New York Observer reporter Andrew Goldman when, in the wake of John Kennedy Jr.'s death, Heymann put out the story that John hadn't wanted to fly to Martha's Vineyard, but that his wife made him do it. (See Goldman's article detailing challenges to Heymann's credibility with several of his books here: http://www.observer.com/node/41806.)

In the wake of John's death, Heymann had told Cindy Adams, a New York gossip columnist, that Heymann had just spoken to John a few weeks before his death, and that John had complained about having to drop his wife's sister off in Martha's Vineyard the day his plane went down.

Curiously, this is the same Cindy Adams I wrote about years ago, who wrote a biography of the Indonesian President Sukarno during the period in which the CIA was trying to overthrow him, and the same Cindy Adams who interviewed the Shah of Iran in his last days &ndash the man the CIA had installed as the leader in Iran after overthrowing Iran's democratically elected leader Mossadegh in 1953. Cindy wrote that Heymann was a frequent source of hers.

Cindy's story put Heymann in Rupert Murdoch's New York Post, and got him interviews on Chris Matthews' MSNBC show Hardball, among others.

Heymann claimed to have had a ten-year relationship with John. But, as with the Hutton stories, people close to John found that impossible to believe. No one at John's magazine George knew of any association. John's appointment secretary had no appointments with Heymann listed.

The only person Goldman could find to in any way corroborate an acquaintance between Heymann and John was Heymann's girlfriend, who claimed only to have seen a man from behind as he departed whom Heymann told her had been John.

Even Cindy Adams came to believe Heymann had lied to her, and issued a probable mea culpa to her readers, having been assured by the Kennedy clan that Heymann had never spoken to John (New York Post, July 29, 1999). Indeed, it is hard to believe on the face of it that John would have spoken one word to the guy who had trashed his parents in print.

So who is Heymann? What drives him? His father was a German Jewish novelist, who fled the Nazis with his wife and came to New York in 1937. There, the family entered the hotel business, and Heymann sometimes worked behind the desk. Suplee quotes Heymann as saying, "When I looked at these people coming and going, I always made up imaginative stories of how fascinating their lives were."

After the Hutton episode, Heymann expressed a desire to write a novel based on his experiences with the book "to examine myself as if I were a biographical subject."

Did he really join the Mossad? If so, why does he openly acknowledge it? Isn't that, like the CIA, the kind of organization you cannot admit to being a member of?

And now we come, at last, to the book I started out to review: Heymann's Bobby and Jackie: A Love Story. I submit that even the title is false, because Heymann doesn't even attempt to paint a love story. He paints a lust story, and a lopsided one at that. And really, the title should have been: Heymann and the Kennedys: A Hate Story. That would have been a more honest description of the book.

Heymann goes after nearly all the Kennedys, starting with the father, who he accused of being an "ardent admirer of the Third Reich," a gross misrepresentation of Joe Kennedy's views. Joe was an ardent pacifist, who feared that another world war would bring socialism not just to more of Europe, but to America as well. For his reluctance to go to war, or, as historian Will Swift puts it, for his willingness to explore every avenue for peace, he was branded an appeaser. And for that, people made the leap that an opponent of war was a friend of Hitler, when in fact that is an unjustified leap. Those of us who opposed George W. Bush's war in Iraq did not do so out of any admiration for Saddam Hussein. It's a ridiculous meme about Joe Kennedy that has persisted for reasons beyond the scope of this book review.

Heymann goes after John Kennedy, portraying him in such sexual terms one wonders when the guy had a chance to govern. He even claims Kennedy's youthful glow in the debates was due to his having had sex just prior to the debate, saying "The results of the exercise were obvious to anyone who watched the debates. Kennedy looked refreshed and composed on camera, whereas Nixon seemed nervous and out of sorts." And pre-debate sex is his only possible explanation? Whatever else Kennedy was, he was ambitious as hell and believed in preparation. It's just not credible that he would have allowed a moment of pleasure to interfere with the most important political moment of his career.

Heymann sources this episode to "a longtime congressional and senatorial aide to JFK," Langdon Marvin. Author David Pietrusza, in his book 1960 &ndash LBJ Vs. JFK Vs. Nixon: The Epic Campaign That Forged Three Presidencies, challenged Marvin's credibility on this episode, which first appeared in Heymann's book on Jackie.

Pietrusza notes that in the original account, Heymann's version in the Jackie book claims the sex happened at the Palmer House in Chicago. Pietrusza notes that the Palmer House is nowhere near the studio in which the debate was filmed. He also noted that the route there would have taken Kennedy "perilously close" to Nixon's "Pick-Congress" headquarters. As Pietrusza puts it, "There are risks, there are John Kennedy risks, and there are risks not even a Jack Kennedy would take."

Pietrusza also questions Marvin's assertion, conveyed by Heymann, that just prior to the debates, Jack Kennedy had sex with a stripper in New Orleans while her fiancé, Governor Earl Long, held a party in the next room. The problem with that is that the debate was filmed September 26, Long had left office in May, and had died September 5. So either Marvin or Heymann's account of what Marvin said is simply not credible.

Pietrusza notes that Marvin did have a motive to attack the Kennedys. Marvin was an aviation consultant. But for whatever reason, Bobby Kennedy wrote the following to reassure airline industry representatives who expressed concern about Marvin having a role overseeing their industry. Pietrusza quotes the following letter from Bobby Kennedy:

I assure you that Langdon Marvin will not be a part of the administration. He will not have a job of any kind and will play no role, directly or indirectly, in the policies of the administration.

Your sentiments regarding Mr. Marvin are exactly in accord with mine, and I assure you that, when I say that Langdon Marvin will have nothing to do with the government for the next four years, I mean what I say.

As Pietrusza summarized, "Langdon Marvin's story is a good story. Repeating it uncritically is not very good history."

Heymann paints Jackie as, forgive the words, a royal bitch. There is no nuance. There are no other colors. He has her throwing fits at publishers, threatening to sue, demanding payments from the Kennedys for her wardrobe and expenses after John's death, and, of course in the centerpiece to the book, sleeping with Bobby. Of course, Heymann has no direct source for that. He has all kinds of innuendo, but not one credible account from anyone who can verify their quote to show that the two were in love or had any sexual contact of any kind.

One of his racier episodes, where he claims a witness spied Bobby with his hand on Jackie's naked breast at the Kennedy estate in Palm Beach, has already been disputed by Andrew Goldman in his review of Bobby and Jackie in the Daily Beast (July 24, 2009). The witness in question is Mary Harrington, who, according to Goldman, died a year before Heymann ever quoted her. Heymann has Harrington supposedly watching the two on the grass from Harrington's third-floor window next door to the Kennedy estate.

The problem with this, Goldman notes, is that, according to Ned Monell, the listing agent for the Kennedy residence when it was sold in 1995, the entire property was walled. The only place, therefore, from which Harrington could have been staying would have been a beach shack which was 10 feet lower than the Kennedy house. And given that heavy vegetation surrounded the house, she couldn't have seen anything on the lawn at all.

Many of Heymann's sources for the affair between Bobby and Jackie are people saying they heard it through the grapevine, so to speak. Here's a typical factless piece of innuendo:

Film producer Susan Pollock had a friend who occupied a suite opposite Jackie's at the Carlyle. On several occasions, the friend saw Bobby and Jackie return to the suite late at night, then leave together in the morning. "You can look at people and tell if they've been intimate," said Pollock. "My friend could tell. In any case, their affair was an open secret. Everyone knew it."

What standards of proof does this meet? That is sheer speculation. And of course, there's a very innocent explanation for overnights. Bobby had taken over the responsibilities of father for his brother's two children. He read to them at bedtime. He took them to school in the morning. It makes sense he'd spend the night. Anything else is unproven speculation.

Only a few claim to have any direct knowledge. And while Heymann starts off quoting someone as saying that, while Bobby wasn't faithful to Ethel, he treated his paramours as "second or third wives," Heymann then has Bobby and John having sex with their respective females in the same room, being open with friends about it, and coming on to people like Joan Braden, the former wife of the longtime CIA media operative Tom Braden. And this from the same Bobby Kennedy Heymann quotes, via another source, as having said "nothing you saw or heard leaves this office. Is that understood?"

I had previously read another equally disgusting book, Nemesis, by Peter Evans. That, too, was a book designed to make Jackie look like a bed-hopping whore, selling her body to Onassis in exchange for protection for her children. Not surprisingly, in Bobby and Jackie, Heymann borrows liberally from Evans work. What did surprise me is that Evans found fault with Heymann. He implied Heymann concocted, in his Jackie book, a quote Heymann attributed to Christina Onassis. It seems even Evans has standards which Heymann cannot meet.

One episode seems inspired more by news that surfaced while Heymann was working on his book rather than by his interviewee, who died in 1998, ten years earlier. In 2008, a story surfaced in the New York Post (April 14, 2008, not April 15, as Heymann has in his footnote) about an alleged FBI tape showing Marilyn Monroe in a "perverted" sex act with a man whose face is never seen. Evidently, Hoover tried to prove, unsuccessfully, that the man was John or Robert Kennedy.

Heymann claims that Clark Clifford told him about this tape. Clifford ala Heymann even has Jackie asking Clifford if he's seen a 'certain film' of a sex act between Bobby and Marilyn, looping her into this ridiculous scenario as if to give credibility to that having been Bobby. First, Jackie would have been too discreet to ever ask such a question if she had seen such a film. Second, Clifford died in 1998. I find it hard to believe Heymann would have sat on that salacious tidbit for ten years. He would have put it in one of his earlier books.

Missing from the book is any hint of the loyalty the Kennedy operatives had to the family. He quotes Kenneth O'Donnell, who would have practically taken a bullet for the Kennedys, saying things that, even if true, he would never share. Heymann quotes from him liberally, which is extremely odd, since O'Donnell died in 1978, many years before Heymann wrote about any of the Kennedys. Did he interview him and then sit on that material for years and years? If O'Donnell had talked of an affair in 1978 just before he died, why did it take Heymann nearly 30 years to write that up? And how did he remember something O'Donnell said in 1978 for his 2009 book that he had presumably forgotten for his 1989 book about Jackie? In his 2009 book, Heymann quotes O'Donnell as saying he thought Bobby loved Jackie, but that he understood the "limitations of their romance." If O'Donnell had really said that, why didn't Heymann mention that in his book on Jackie, where he briefly quotes several people as having "suspected" there was an affair between them? If he has O'Donnell confirming it, why didn't he surface that earlier?

Pierre Salinger, who is dead, is liberally quoted talking openly about an affair. That makes no sense. Salinger was so trusted he was the President John Kennedy's press secretary. Only the most closed-mouth, trusted associates are considered for such a sensitive role in any administration. John Greenya, in his review of Bobby and Jackie for The Washington Times (August 11, 2009), challenges this point too. Greenya knew Pierre Salinger very well, as they spent over a year together working on Salinger's book P.S. A Memoir. Said Greenya:

In the hundreds of hours we spent in conversation, over the phone and in person, he never sounded the way he sounds in this book. And for him to tell Kennedy stories out of school, which he allegedly did to Mr. Heymann, strikes me as completely out of character.

And I simply cannot believe he would use a crude, locker room term in talking about Mr. Kennedy, the man he devotedly served as press secretary.

And that's another point I want to make. I've been studying screenwriting for some time now. Good writers know that people don't all speak the same. Every person has a different vocabulary, with different idioms that give them away. But in Heymann's book, everyone sounds the same. They all talk like crass older men with a chip on their shoulder. They all talk in grammatically perfect, short, clipped sentences. Most interviewees aren't writers, and don't talk like that. They wander. They get off topic. You have to bring them back. This would be indicated by an ellipses in the quote. But when Heymann interviews people, they seem to speak in ready-for-publication phrases.

Also missing from the book is any sense of the historical context. Bobby was running for the Senate, and later the presidency. J. Edgar Hoover had already tried and failed to link Bobby to Marilyn Monroe. If it was an "open secret" that Bobby and Jackie were having an affair, there's not a chance in hell that Hoover wouldn't have found out about it and run to one of his media assets, like James Phelan, with the story of the century. He would have had files on their affair, and maybe even photos.

Photos. That's another funny thing. In many research books, people include not just photos of people, but of documents. Howard Hughes books contain photos of his handwriting. JFK books include photos of CIA and FBI files. But Heymann books contain photos of no documents whatsoever. Even ones he mentions in his text. For example, at one point, Heymann mentions a letter from Bobby Kennedy to Katherine Graham. The letter sounded plausible to me, like something Bobby might actually have written. How hard would it have been to put a photo of that in the book? I asked his editor, Emily Bestler, why, given the past charges against Heymann's credibility she hadn't asked for that item to be shown. Bestler said the author was responsible for all the content, and that she didn't recall that particular item from the book, but that if she'd seen it, she would probably have asked for it to have been included. I then asked her: So what was her role as editor, if not to help shape the content? Was she really more of a proofreader? I could tell that offended her by her abrupt change of voice. She said she edited the book for flow. Well, it flows fine. It's an easy read. There were no typos that I noted. Clearly, she did her job well. But to me, that's what a copy editor does, not a book editor. A book editor should challenge one for sourcing and demand to see backup for anything not verifiable elsewhere. That's what people expect when they see a big name publisher. They expect credibility.

My takeaways from this experience?

  1. I would never believe anything Heymann writes unless I could confirm it elsewhere.
  2. "Pulitzer Prize nominee" is a deliberately misused term.
  3. Editors at major publishers do not fact-check nonfiction books. They simply trust the author. You should not. Believe nothing in a nonfiction book that you can't independently verify yourself. Check all footnotes. A pattern of honesty or deception will quickly present itself. Judge all else in the book accordingly.

I feel compelled to note that about 80% of the data in this article was compiled over a two-day period, using only the Internet (with access to past issues of newspapers via a couple of online databases) and copies of a few of Heymann's previous books. It's just beyond belief that someone would sign on to be this guy's editor and not do at least that much due diligence to find out if he's credible. Especially when he claims to be a Pulitzer Prize nominee &ndash and is provably not.

Believe it or not, I'm not mad at Heymann. While I dislike intensely what he's written, I can imagine the situation from his point of view. In his mind, he's a crafty guy who figured out a way to make a great living, while breaking, to my knowledge, no enforceable laws to do so. That he broke all laws of decency and historical faithfulness, if you put yourself in his shoes, is beside the point. In his mind, he may well be P. T. Barnum, reveling over the number of suckers born a minute. Or worse, he may actually think he did a good job with the historical record! Hey, if no editor ever holds you accountable, how do you know you are failing?

Whatever the reality inside his mind, in the actual world, Heymann's work should never have been published without a proper factual, not just textual, review. For that, the blame really must be shouldered by the enablers: the editors who functioned more as proofreaders than as shepherds of content book reviewers who were too lazy to check to see whether what he wrote was true (with a few notable exceptions) and fellow authors who recycle his writing and spread it around in their own books like a virus, infecting the historical record for future generations.

What can you do? You know I never like to leave you without a course of action. Why don't you write to his current publisher, Atria Books, and ask them to make available his audio recordings of the interviews he claims to have made for this book? That would be a real service to the historical record, assuming the voices are authentic and unaltered, and that the tapes even exist.

In his notes at the end of Bobby and Jackie, Heymann wrote, "Much of the interview material, including tapes and transcripts, has been placed in the author's personal archive, located in the Department of Special Collections, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York, where it is available for viewing and/or listening." That's funny, because when the Miami Herald went after Heymann for his book on Jackie, Heymann's publicist at the time, Sandra Bodner, said that, unless someone sued Heymann, he would not play his tapes for anyone. So who told the truth? Heymann, or his publicist? Can you hear the tapes, or would you have to sue for the privilege?

Ask Atria Books and find out. You can reach his editor, Emily Bestler, c/o:

1230 Avenue of the Americas

"I always wanted to write fiction," Heymann told a Washington Post reporter in 1989. You have the power to determine if his wish came true.


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Playing Archie Bunker’s bombastic black neighbor, George Jefferson, in “All in the Family” and later as the star of his own long-running sitcom, “The Jeffersons,” Hemsley was one of television’s most widely watched black actors. His career spanned four decades, with guest appearances on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Family Matters.” He was 74. Full obituary

The Los Angeles native, who held a doctorate in astrophysics from Stanford University, was the first American woman in space. At age 31, she was the youngest American sent into space and the first woman to make two trips into orbit. She also was the sole astronaut appointed to the Rogers Commission to investigate the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. She was 61. Full obituary

One of the top screenwriters of his generation, Pierson earned three Academy Award nominations and one win -- for his 1975 script for “Dog Day Afternoon.” He also served as president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. He was 87. Full obituary

The versatile actress who achieved fame on Broadway in the original production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s hit musical “Oklahoma!” in 1943, above left, went on to win an Oscar for her role in the groundbreaking 1947 drama “Gentleman’s Agreement.” She also had frequent roles on television, including in the 1990s series “Promised Land.” She was 95. Full obituary

The country music trailblazer was one of the first women to have a significant effect on country music. Her No. 1 hit, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” (1952), not only turned her career around but also helped upend stereotypical thinking about men who strayed and the women they strayed with. She was 92. Full obituary

The author became a household name with “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” published in 1989. On bestseller lists for four years, Covey’s self-help and management theory has sold in excess of 20 million copies in 40 languages. He was 79. Full obituary

Head of production at 20th Century Fox , the Oscar -winning producer of such films as “Jaws” helped usher in the modern blockbuster era. He followed with well-regarded films such as “The Verdict” and “Driving Miss Daisy” and produced six films by director Tim Burton and helped launch the career of Steven Spielberg . He was 77. Full obituary

Notable deaths of 2012 (Courtesy of Richard Zanuck)

The icon of American cooking’s devotion to standard American fare made her a venerated figure in the food world. Her revised edition of “The Fannie Farmer Cookbook,” a basic text for home cooks since 1896, brought her philosophy of preserving the nightly supper hour back into the mainstream. She was 90. Full obituary

The designer of classic Ferraris was responsible for the Ferrari 250 and 500, the Dino and the Daytona. He transformed his family business from a boutique manufacturer of hand-crafted designs into a high-volume producer that maintained the aesthetics of Italian automotive design. He was 85. Full obituary

The stocky, gap-toothed Connecticut native won an Academy Award for his portrayal of a lonely Bronx butcher looking for love in the 1955 drama “Marty,” above. He also played the regulation-breaking commander of a PT boat in the South Pacific in ABC’s “McHale’s Navy.” He was 95. Full obituary

A former high school music teacher, Griffith launched his career as an entertainer in the early 1950s and become one of the most beloved TV stars for his roles as the folksy sheriff in “The Andy Griffith Show” and later as a lawyer on “Matlock.” He was 86. Full obituary

The onetime underground Jewish fighter served four terms as Israeli prime minister in the 1980s and early ‘90s. His unyielding belief in the right of Jews to all of the biblical land of Israel often exasperated U.S. policymakers. He was 96. Full obituary

A rare author and screenwriter whose works appealed to highbrow readers and mainstream movie-goers, Ephron wrote fiction that was distinguished by characters who seemed simultaneously normal and extraordinary. Her hit movies include “Sleepless in Seattle,” “When Harry Met Sally. ” and “Julie & Julia.” She was 71. Full obituary

Notable deaths of 2012 (Charles Sykes / Associated Press)

Though Grady’s musical talents at a young age led him to become a Mouseketeer on “The Mickey Mouse Club,” he is best known for playing son Robbie, pictured pictured at left with Fred MacMurray , on the family sitcom “My Three Sons.” He later became a composer and songwriter. He was 64. Full obituary

Known for his colorful portraits of athletes in motion, the wildly successful American artist became an artistic fixture at such major sporting events as the Olympics and the Super Bowl. Neiman was also a longtime contributor to Playboy magazine. He was 91. Full obituary

Notable deaths of 2012 (Bebeto Matthews / Associated Press)

A film critic for the Village Voice and the New York Observer , Sarris was a leading proponent of the auteur theory -- that directors’ work reflects their distinctive styles. He elevated the status of film directors and molded a generation of movie makers and reviewers. He was 83. Full obituary

The tape of King’s 1991 beating and the upheaval that followed in 1992 opened the door to widespread police reform. King, who became an icon of the civil rights movement, was found dead at the bottom of his swimming pool in Rialto. Authorities are investigating his death as an accidental drowning. He was 47. Full obituary

Notable deaths of 2012 (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Best known for her Oscar-nominated supporting role as a blowsy barfly in the 1972 movie “Fat City,” Tyrrell’s film credits also included “Islands in the Stream,” “Angel,” and “Cry-Baby.” Critics “hailed her as one of the best screen drunks they’d ever seen,” Roderick Mann later wrote in The Times. She was 67. Full obituary

Notable deaths of 2012 (George Wilhelm / Los Angeles Times)

The Nobel Prize-winning chemist, left, helped solve a longstanding problem in the manufacture of medicines. He led development of a chemical catalyst to create safe compounds for producing L-Dopa, a drug for treating Parkinson’s disease . He was 95. Full obituary

Notable deaths of 2012 (Diether Endlicher / Associated Press)

The young woman from a working-class English town made headlines in 1978 when she was the first to give birth to a baby conceived by in-vitro fertilization. The technique raised moral and medical alarms at the time, but is commonplace today because of the more than 4 million women who have followed in her steps. She was 64. Above, John and Lesley Brown, pictured with daughter Louise Joy. Full obituary

The former head of Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry was an authoritarian who cracked down on political dissent. After a series of attacks inside the kingdom, he became a close Washington ally against Al Qaeda. He died just months after he was named heir apparent in the world’s leading oil power. He was 78. Full obituary

Notable deaths of 2012 (Hassan Ammar / Associated Press)

Dubbed “one of the true powerhouses of the pop music business” by Fortune magazine in 1986, the year she became BMI’s president and chief executive, Frances Williams Preston was a key figure in Nashville’s growth as a major music center, and nurtured the careers of numerous songwriters. She was 83. Full obituary

Notable deaths of 2012 (Ed Rode / Associated Press)

The Los Angeles native, who taught at Indiana University for almost five decades, was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in economics after demonstrating that communities can manage natural resources as well as or better than government or business. She was 78. Full obituary

Though she starred as Mickey Rooney ‘s teenage girlfriend in Andy Hardy movies, it was her portrayal of Scarlett O’Hara’s younger sister Carreen in “Gone With the Wind” for which Rutherford, at left with Vivien Leigh and Evelyn Keyes, was best known. That role turned her “golden years into platinum,” she said. She was 94. Full obituary

The onetime member of the Lucchese crime family turned government informant became the subject of the film classic “Goodfellas.” His crimes included participating in the largest single cash robbery in U.S. history and helping fix Boston College basketball games. He was 69. Full obituary

Notable deaths of 2012 (Nati Harnik / Associated Press)

The pioneering TV movie producer formed one of the first female producing teams in Hollywood, breaking ground for women in the industry. She focused on personal stories and worked on the acclaimed 1978 movie “Hustling,” about the life of a prostitute. She was 84. Full obituary

The last surviving member of the Platters’ five original members, left, founded the popular R&B group in Los Angeles in 1953 and named it after the term used by radio DJs for the vinyl records of the day. Reed was the only member of the Platters to perform on all of their nearly 400 recordings. Their hits included “Only You” and “The Great Pretender.” He was 83. Full obituary

The Nobel-winning physiologist, pictured at right with King Gustav VI Adolf of Sweden, solved a puzzle that had perplexed biologists for decades: how nerves generate the electrical impulses that control muscle activities and even thoughts. That work “did for the cell biology of neurons what the structure of DNA did for the rest of biology,” 2000 Nobel laureate Eric R. Kandel later wrote. Huxley was 94. Full obituary

Best known for his work on “Dynasty,” the acclaimed fashion designer (pictured with with Judie Argyros) also put a bra-less Farrah Fawcett in a see-through blouse for “Charlie’s Angels,” Tina Louise in a slinky nude-beige evening dress for “Gilligan’s Island” and Elizabeth Taylor in violet gowns for her “Passion” perfume commercials. Of his work on “Dynasty,” he once said, “When I’m 90, my name will still be synonymous with shoulder pads.” He was 79. Full obituary

The South African paleoanthropologist, nominated three times for a Nobel Prize , excavated the Sterkfontein Caves, one of his nation’s most important fossil sites. He was also part of the research on hominids in the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, collaborating with a British archaeologist on the identification of one the early hominids, Homo habilis, in 1964. Tobias was 86. Full obituary

Notable deaths of 2012 (Alexander Joe / AFP / Getty Images)

The Fleetwood Mac guitarist and singer was with the band in the early 1970s when it was making the transition from British blues rock band to commercial powerhouse. His work on early albums such as “Future Games,” “Bare Trees” and “Heroes Are Hard to Find” with band mates who included Mick Fleetwood and John and Christie McVie set the tone for what was to come. He was 66. Full obituary

Notable deaths of 2012 (Olivier Ferrand / Capitol Records)

With more than 27 novels and 600 short stories, the sci-fi writer’s vividly rendered space-scapes provided the world with one of the most enduring speculative blueprints for the future. In “The Martian Chronicles” and other works, the L.A.-based Bradbury mixed small-town familiarity with otherworldly settings. He was 91. Full obituary

Notable deaths of 2012 (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

The mentor to Mayor Tom Bradley, the Rev. Jesse Jackson , shown at left with Brookins, and others was the bishop and pastor of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles. He was 86. Full obituary

The guitarist and singer was one of the pioneering artists of roots-conscious Americana. He recorded more than 50 albums and won seven Grammy Awards . He was 89. Full obituary

The World Savings Bank executive was one of the first women on Wall Street. She and husband Herbert spent 43 years building Oakland’s World Savings Bank into a major -- and ultimately controversial -- adjustable mortgage lender. She was 81. Full obituary

Notable deaths of 2012 (Jakub Mosur / For The Times)

Less than three weeks after nosy neighbor Mrs. McCluskey succumbed to lung cancer on the series finale of “Desperate Housewives,” Kathryn Joosten -- who won two Emmy Awards for her portrayals of the television character -- died of the same disease. Joosten was also known for playing the president’s secretary on the TV series “The West Wing,” above. She was 72. Full obituary

Though the British actor costarred in the popular TV series “Hogan’s Heroes,” his best-known role was as the host of the TV game show “Family Feud.” His trademark was charming female contestants by kissing them on the lips. He was 79. Full obituary

Robin Gibb , left, joined his brothers Barry, center, and Maurice in forming the Bee Gees pop group that helped define the sound of the disco era. Their hits included “Stayin’ Alive,” “Night Fever” and “How Deep Is Your Love?” from their “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack. Robin Gibb was 62. Full obituary

Described as the queen of disco, Summer left an enduring legacy that helped open the way to techno and house music. Her hits include “Love to Love You Baby,” “Bad Girls” and “She Works Hard for the Money.” She was 63. Full obituary

The Mexican novelist was a towering literary figure at home and abroad. He was pivotal in raising the profile of the hemisphere’s Spanish-language writing in the second half of the 20th century. He was 83. Full obituary

The charismatic Texan parlayed a short-lived racing career into a business building cult-classic cars, including the Shelby Cobra and Ford’s Shelby Mustang. He was 89. Full obituary

He changed women’s styles with his sleek, geometric cuts, popularized the hand-held blow dryer and helped launch the age of the signature hair salon. He was 84. Full obituary

The children’s book illustrator and writer radically changed the genre with tales of outsized monsters and frolicsome humor that tapped into the fears of childhood. He also collaborated on numerous operas, films and TV programs. He was 83. Full obituary

The Southern-born character actor played dim hayseed Goober Pyle, the genial gas station auto mechanic on “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Mayberry R.F.D.” He also was a regular on “Hee Haw.” He was 83. Full obituary

The in-your-face rapper and bass player Adam Yauch, center, found fame in the transgressive, boundary-breaking trio the Beastie Boys. In later years, Yauch became a leading advocate for Tibetan independence. He was 47. Full obituary

Notable deaths of 2011 (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images)

The star linebacker at USC and for his hometown San Diego Chargers made the Pro Bowl 12 years in a row and was voted All-Pro 10 times. He apparently ended his life with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 43. Full obituary

Notable deaths of 2011 (Al Messerschmidt / Getty Images)

Born Thomas Austin Preston Jr., the colorful and quotable Amarillo Slim won the World Series of Poker in 1972 and began promoting the game on TV and in books. He brought the game “out of the back alleys,” one expert said. He was 83. Full obituary

Notable deaths of 2011 (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

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.

Heymann died Wednesday after collapsing in the lobby of his New York City apartment building, said his agent, Mel Berger. The cause was believed to be cardiopulmonary failure.

Initially a poet and critic, Heymann wrote books on Ezra Pound and Robert Lowell before turning to popular biography with “Poor Little Rich Girl: The Life and Legend of Barbara Hutton,” published in 1983.

The Hutton book had broad appeal, offering “minute reconstruction” of the life of the Woolworth dime store heiress, who was married seven times and died a nearly penniless recluse in a Beverly Wilshire Hotel suite in 1979. Featured by the Book-of-the-Month Club and excerpted in Vanity Fair, it immediately hit the bestseller list.

But shortly after it arrived in bookstores, a Beverly Hills doctor disputed Heymann’s depiction of him as having prescribed “excessive drugs” to Hutton as early as 1943. The doctor, it turned out, was only 14 in 1943 and did not start treating Hutton until 1969.

That was only one of many problems that surfaced about Heymann’s Hutton research, but it was enough to persuade Random House to recall and destroy nearly 60,000 copies of the 399-page book.

The scandal was far from the end of Heymann’s career, however. He revised the Hutton book and resold it to another publisher. It became the basis for a 1987 TV miniseries, with Farrah Fawcett as Hutton.

Heymann, who once told an interviewer that he liked to write in the nude, went on to produce six more biographies. They included the bestsellers “A Woman Named Jackie” (2000), about the life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis “Liz: An Intimate Biography of Elizabeth Taylor” (1995) and “Bobby and Jackie: A Love Story” (2009), in which Heymann alleged the former first lady and her brother-in-law, Robert F. Kennedy, commenced an affair just months after her husband’s assassination. The books on Onassis and Taylor also were adapted for television.

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.

Controversy also surrounded his first two biographies. Critic Hugh Kenner charged that quotes in “Ezra Pound: The Last Rower” (1976) were lifted from an obscure Italian journal, not obtained by Heymann, who said he had interviewed Pound before he died in 1972. Reviewers said serious errors were rife in “American Aristocracy: The Lives and Times of James Russell, Amy, and Robert Lowell” (1980).

Born in New York City on Jan. 14, 1945, Heymann was the son of a German Jewish novelist who owned hotels after immigrating to the United States in the late 1930s. Heymann studied hotel management at Cornell University, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1966. Finding literature more to his liking, he published a book of poetry in 1968 and obtained a master’s in writing at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1969.

Married three times, he is survived by his wife, Beatrice Schwartz, and two children.

His books on Pound and the Lowells taught him that poetry was not the road to riches.

“Obviously, I couldn’t continue to write literary biography and support a family,” he told the Hartford Courant in 1989. “I don’t mean to suggest I write just for money, but a person does have to make a living.”

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Elaine Woo is a Los Angeles native who has written for her hometown paper since 1983. She covered public education and filled a variety of editing assignments before joining “the dead beat” – news obituaries – where she has produced artful pieces on celebrated local, national and international figures, including Norman Mailer, Julia Child and Rosa Parks. She left The Times in 2015.


Bobby and Jackie: A Love Story

From New York Times bestselling author C. David Heymann, an in-depth and controversial look at the much talked about but never fully revealed relationship between Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Robert F. Kennedy.

Few writers have immersed themselves in the world of the Kennedys as completely or successfully as C. David Heymann, whose Jackie Kennedy Onassis biography, A Woman Named Jackie, reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, sold more than a million copies in hardcover, and was hailed by People as the Best Book of 1989. Now he draws on his impressive list of sources and impeccable insight to reveal the truth behind one of the most tantalizing relationships in American history.

Readers have long been fascinated by the rumored love affair between Jackie Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy. With Bobby and Jackie, they will finally get behind-closed-doors access to the emotional connection between these two legendary figures. An open secret for decades among Kennedy insiders, their affair emerges from the shadows in an illuminating book that only the author of The Georgetown Ladies’ Social Club and American Legacy could produce. This is the book that readers will be talking about for years to come.


Heymann was born in Pennsylvania, USA. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Pennsylvania State University and later obtained an MD from Wake Forest University School of Medicine. He also received a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Heymann did two years of practical epidemiology training with the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS). Whilst an EIS officer, he was part of the international team that investigated the first outbreak of Ebola in Zaire (with Peter Piot, Karl Johnson, Joel Breman, Joe McCormick amongst others) and the first outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease, in Philadelphia.

Heymann was appointed Chairman of the Board of the UK Health Protection Agency (HPA) in April 2009. He remained Chairman of the Board when HPA was merged into Public Health England (PHE) in 2013. At the same time, he started and became Head and Senior Fellow of the Centre on Global Health Security at Chatham House, London (the Royal Institute of International Affairs) and in 2010 joined the faculty at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology. [1]

Heymann was the World Health Organization's (WHO) Assistant Director-General for Health Security and Environment, and the representative of the Director-General for polio eradication. Previously, from 1998–2003, he was Executive Director of the WHO Communicable Diseases Cluster and from October 1995 to July 1998 he was Director of the WHO Programme on Emerging and other Communicable Diseases. Prior to this, he was the chief of research activities in the WHO Global Programme on AIDS.

Heymann was also chairman of the Strategic Advisory Group of Hilleman Laboratories.

Heymann is Visiting Professor in the Department of Medicine at the National University of Singapore, and an Associate Provost (Health Affairs).

Before joining WHO, Heymann worked for 13 years as a medical epidemiologist in sub-Saharan Africa on assignment from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He also worked in India for two years as a medical epidemiologist in the WHO Smallpox Eradication Programme, where smallpox was eradicated in 1978. Heymann also took an active role in the first Ebola outbreak in 1976, and led the response team during the 1995 Kikwit outbreak. In 2003, Heymann was at the forefront of the SARS epidemic, working with his team to mediate international effort to halt the pandemic. [2] [3]

For his work in public health, Heymann is regarded as one of the "Disease Cowboys". [4]

Heymann has also served as editor of the 18th through 20th editions of the Control of Communicable Diseases Manual, a publication of the American Public Health Association.

On 5 August 2020, Heymann was deployed as part of a WHO "surge team" in South Africa to help strengthen the national and provincial responses to COVID-19. [5]


American Legacy

From the moment of their births, John and Caroline Kennedy occupied a central position in what is generally regarded as the most famous family in the United States, if not the world. Even as young children growing up in the White House, their most subtle gestures and actions made headlines. Yet until now they have not been the subject of a dual biography. In that sense, this volume represents a first.

In American Legacy, #1 New York Times bestselling author C. David Heymann draws upon a voluminous archive of personal interviews to present a telling portrait of John and Caroline Kennedy. A longtime biographer of various members of the Kennedy clan, including Jackie and Robert Kennedy, Heymann covers John's and Caroline's childhood in the White House, the dark aftermath of their father's assassination, their uneasy adolescence, and the many challenges they faced as adults, all under the glaring eye of the media. He reveals John's and Caroline's loving but at times trying relationship with their larger-than-life mother, as well as Jackie's own emotional struggles, romantic relationships, and financial concerns following JFK's death.

Other revelations brought to light for the first time in American Legacy include the assassination attempt made on Jackie just before she gave birth to John JFK Jr.'s romantic escapades prior to marrying Carolyn Bessette and accounts of the predominantly happy marriage they shared despite criticisms from questionable sources the shocking report of the autopsy performed on John following the tragic plane crash that killed him, Carolyn, and her sister Lauren Caroline's rise to become one of the wealthiest women in America and her life now as the sole keeper of her family's magnificently complex legacy.

Utterly compelling and full of new and fascinating details, American Legacy overturns much of what we thought we knew about two of the most talked-about members of the Kennedy family.


C. David Heymann dies at 67 controversial bestselling biographer

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.

Heymann died Wednesday after collapsing in the lobby of his New York City apartment building, said his agent, Mel Berger. The cause was believed to be cardiopulmonary failure.

Initially a poet and critic, Heymann wrote books on Ezra Pound and Robert Lowell before turning to popular biography with "Poor Little Rich Girl: The Life and Legend of Barbara Hutton," published in 1983.

The Hutton book had broad appeal, offering "minute reconstruction" of the life of the Woolworth dime store heiress, who was married seven times and died a nearly penniless recluse in a Beverly Wilshire Hotel suite in 1979. Featured by the Book-of-the-Month Club and excerpted in Vanity Fair, it immediately hit the bestseller list.

But shortly after it arrived in bookstores, a Beverly Hills doctor disputed Heymann's depiction of him as having prescribed "excessive drugs" to Hutton as early as 1943. The doctor, it turned out, was only 14 in 1943 and did not start treating Hutton until 1969.

That was only one of many problems that surfaced about Heymann's Hutton research, but it was enough to persuade Random House to recall and destroy nearly 60,000 copies of the 399-page book.

The scandal was far from the end of Heymann's career, however. He revised the Hutton book and resold it to another publisher. It became the basis for a 1987 TV miniseries, with Farrah Fawcett as Hutton.

Heymann, who once told an interviewer that he liked to write in the nude, went on to produce six more biographies. They included the bestsellers "A Woman Named Jackie" (2000), about the life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis "Liz: An Intimate Biography of Elizabeth Taylor" (1995) and "Bobby and Jackie: A Love Story" (2009), in which Heymann alleged the former first lady and her brother-in-law, Robert F. Kennedy, commenced an affair just months after her husband's assassination. The books on Onassis and Taylor also were adapted for television.

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.

Controversy also surrounded his first two biographies. Critic Hugh Kenner charged that quotes in "Ezra Pound: The Last Rower" (1976) were lifted from an obscure Italian journal, not obtained by Heymann, who said he had interviewed Pound before he died in 1972. Reviewers said serious errors were rife in "American Aristocracy: The Lives and Times of James Russell, Amy, and Robert Lowell" (1980).

Born in New York City on Jan. 14, 1945, Heymann was the son of a German Jewish novelist who owned hotels after immigrating to the United States in the late 1930s. Heymann studied hotel management at Cornell University, earning a bachelor's degree in 1966. Finding literature more to his liking, he published a book of poetry in 1968 and obtained a master's in writing at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1969.

Married three times, he is survived by his wife, Beatrice Schwartz, and two children.

His books on Pound and the Lowells taught him that poetry was not the road to riches.

"Obviously, I couldn't continue to write literary biography and support a family," he told the Hartford Courant in 1989. "I don't mean to suggest I write just for money, but a person does have to make a living."


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Kennedy ‘Expert’ C. David Heymann: Do His J.F.K. Jr. Stories Hold Up?

It was 3 o’clock on the muggy afternoon of Saturday, July 24, and the author C. David Heymann was drinking a vodka tonic in the subterranean dankness of the Madison Pub, a tiny neighborhood bar on Madison Avenue between 79th and 80th streets. It was in that same wooden booth, Mr. Heymann said, that he last saw John Kennedy in the flesh, on an evening last summer when, according to Mr. Heymann, he and his girlfriend had a drink with Mr. Kennedy and his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. Now Mr. Heymann was back at the bar to discuss his own media exposure in the week since Mr. Kennedy, his wife and her sister Lauren Bessette had disappeared from a radar screen over Martha’s Vineyard. Since that day, the 54-year-old Mr. Heymann had appeared on several television programs because of what he describes as his ten-year acquaintance with Mr. Kennedy. He had been on WNBC’s Extra, CNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, and found himself sitting with ABC’s Bill Beutel and Roz Abrams as they covered the July 23 memorial service at the Church of St. Thomas More on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

What launched Mr. Heymann on his TV blitz was a story he had told New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams, about a conversation he says he had with Mr. Kennedy nine days before the fateful flight, in which, Mr. Heymann claimed, Mr. Kennedy had complained to him about having to drop his wife’s sister off on Martha’s Vineyard.

Ms. Adams did not question Mr. Heymann’s tale, which essentially portrayed the Bessette sisters as demanding women who unintentionally led Mr. Kennedy to his death, nor did she question why Mr. Kennedy would be having a friendly chat with the man who in 1989 published a salacious biography of Mr. Kennedy’s mother, A Woman Named Jackie , and last year penned R.F.K.: A Candid Biography of Robert F. Kennedy, which claimed that the late Senator had been physically intimate with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as well as with dancer Rudolph Nureyev. Ms. Adams, who said she has known Mr. Heymann for 20 years, said she made no attempt to check the facts. “With whom?” she said. “John? He was dead.”

The editors at Rupert Murdoch’s Post did not question Mr. Heymann’s story, either, but instead splashed it across the front page on Monday, July 19, with the headline “HE DID NOT WANT TO FLY” and caption, “John Kennedy Jr. told a pal he didn’t want to stop on Martha’s Vineyard, but his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, insisted they drop off her sister.” Inside, Ms. Adams reported the conversation according to Mr. Heymann, in which John Kennedy allegedly said, “I don’t even want to go to Martha’s Vineyard…”

“Unfortunately, I have to take my sister-in-law with us. She’s going to Martha’s Vineyard. My wife insists I take her there. I don’t want to do that. I told her I didn’t want to do that. I said I’d rather fly straight to Hyannis…but my wife’s insisting.”

Thus, before the plane had been found, in those first few days of media spray and spittle, before the facts coalesced, the idea that somehow the tragedy had been the fault of the Bessette sisters entered the media airspace around the story, joining the hazy weather conditions over Fairfield New Jersey and Lauren Bessette’s waterlogged garment bag as key elements of the unfolding tragedy.

Mr. Heymann’s story didn’t seem plausible to some. Was he really the confidante of John Kennedy he claims to have been, or was he just a savvy media operator who-like many other “Kennedy friends” and “Kennedy experts” who surfaced within minutes of the first reports that the Piper Saratoga was missing-knew that the press was ravenous for any first-person account of a supposed recent Kennedy encounter?

Interviews with sources at George magazine indicate that, if Mr. Heymann was acquainted with Mr. Kennedy, they did not know about it. And a source with knowledge of Lauren Bessette’s travel plans told The Observer that she did not ask Mr. Kennedy for a ride to the Vineyard until Monday, July12-five days after Mr. Kennedy purportedly complained to Mr. Heymann about having to bring her along.

“All of this [media attention] has come out after the Cindy Adams thing,” said Mr. Heymann, easing back in the booth at the Madison Pub. Wearing black motorcycle boots and a monochromatic ensemble of gray t-shirt and trousers, he resembled a slightly overfed Deepak Chopra. A baseball cap covered with sequins sewn in elephant shapes sat on the table in front of him. He sighed and said, “I called her to tell her about this conversation I’d had with John Kennedy ten days before he died. I guess it’s like people complaining they talked to Truman Capote and then he put it in book form. She is a gossip columnist.”

But another New York Post gossip columnist, Neal Travis, told The Observer he doubted Mr. Heymann’s story. “I can’t believe John Kennedy would have done anything more than punch out an author who claimed that his uncle fucked his mother,” Mr. Travis said.

Then again, Mr. Kennedy was known to disarm people by some of his alliances. He sat down with his father’s nemesis, Fidel Castro, for a George magazine interview that never ran, and he brought Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, who published nude photos of Jacqueline Onassis sunbathing on Skorpios, as his guest to the May 1999 White House Correspondents Dinner. If John Kennedy could break bread with Larry Flynt, why couldn’t he hang out with Clement David Heymann, “Clem” to his friends?

According to Mr. Heymann, about six months after his bestseller A Woman Named Jackie was released in 1989, John Kennedy, who had refused requests to be interviewed for the book, called him and told him the book was “balanced.” They agreed to meet at the Madison Pub. “He kept getting up and putting money into the juke box and playing nothing but Frank Sinatra,” Mr. Heymann said, “I said to him, `Do you like Frank Sinatra?’ He said, `No, but my mother does and since you wrote the book on her, I’m playing it in your honor.'”

Mr. Heymann said between that time and this year, he got together with Mr. Kennedy about a dozen times and spoke with him several times by phone. He said they would meet at Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel and The Oak Room at The Plaza Hotel. “I paid for the guy almost all the time,” Mr. Heymann said. “I didn’t mind doing it. He kept saying ‘Let me pay.’ I said `No, no,’ but I figured, he’s doing me the big favor.” He said Mr. Kennedy visited him at his apartment in the Belnord on the Upper West Side in 1995, to drop off a wedding gift, because he hadn’t been able to come to Mr. Heymann’s wedding to an English book publicist. (They are no longer married.) Mr. Heymann said Mr. Kennedy arrived with a gift, which Mr. Heymann described as four items of “Tiffany gold.” “It was a wedding present which we promptly lost,” Mr. Heymann said. “She and I had a fight. She went back to England, and in the course of it I drank myself into a stupor and fractured my left elbow, went into the hospital. When I got out-maybe a maid took them or something-they were gone.”

Mr. Heymann said Mr. Kennedy also visited him in his country house in Sherman Connecticut in 1997. Asked if he could provide any witnesses, Mr. Heymann, through his attorney Mel Wulf, put The Observer in touch with Roberta Feinberg, a former girlfriend of Mr. Heymann’s who is a freelance photographer and copy editor. Ms. Feinberg said she was in Mr. Heymann’s Connecticut home when Mr. Kennedy allegedly visited, although she did not exactly have a face-to-face encounter.

“I had taken some natural medicine with bovine extract and it gave me a terrible allergic reaction,” said Ms. Feinberg. “So then I had to take something to sort of ease that, because my whole face was swollen, and I have other allergies, too, but we don’t have to get into my allergy problems. So David had told me that he was having a meeting with [Kennedy]. David meets with a lot of people. At the time I didn’t’ think it was such an extraordinary event. I mean, I did want to be there, but because I had this allergic reaction, I couldn’t. So I was pretty much in one area of the house, so that I was not privy to the actual meeting, other than I was a little curious and when I heard the door close I looked outside and I saw the back of a figure leaving the house with dark hair. That was it. To the best of my knowledge, he said he was meeting with John F. Kennedy Jr. and I assumed it was John F. Kennedy Jr.”

Mr. Heymann said that while he was researching his R.F.K. book, Mr. Kennedy had helped him by calling “close family friends” and encouraging them to cooperate. “One of the conditions of his helping me is that he didn’t want to be acknowledged,” said Mr. Heymann. “He was like his father. He was very private. I did ask him to intervene to interview Ted Kennedy, but on that he said, ‘Look I’m not going to ask Ted Kennedy because I know he’s not going to talk.'” Mr. Heymann declined to provide The Observer with names of any Kennedy family friends who might have received a prompting call from Mr. Kennedy. Mr. Heymann’s editor at Dutton, Arnold Dolin, said he hadn’t heard that John Kennedy had been a source on the book. “I don’t know about his relationship with John Kennedy Jr.,” he said. “I wasn’t aware he had one, but that doesn’t mean that it is not so.”

According to Mr. Heymann, when Mr. Kennedy started George in 1995, he asked Mr. Heymann to write about his experiences in the Mossad, the Israeli secret service, of which Mr. Heymann claims to have been a member of during the 󈨔s. “As soon as he started the magazine, he started bothering me about it,” Mr. Heymann said. “Every six months or so, he would bother me about doing the piece. At first he wanted me to tell him everything about it. At first I was evasive, but he got me to talk about it.”

But Mr. Kennedy’s associates at George had no recollection of his ever mentioning Mr. Heymann. Elizabeth Mitchell, George’s executive editor from 1996 to January 1999, told The Observer , “As far as all the time I knew John, he never had talked to Heymann. Perhaps he did in the last five months of his life or so. But I can assure you that he never came up in conversation before then.”

A close associate of Mr. Kennedy at George found no listing of Mr. Heymann in Mr. Kennedy’s personal Rolodex, and a source with access to Mr. Kennedy’s phone records at George stated that there was no record to indicate that Mr. Heymann had ever called Mr. Kennedy at the magazine. Mr. Kennedy was reportedly scrupulous about having all of his meetings, lunches, saunas, drinks, and dinners arranged and scheduled through a third party at the magazine. But a person with access to Mr. Kennedy’s schedule book found no meeting scheduled between Mr. Heymann and Mr. Kennedy for Wednesday, July 21, which is the date Mr. Heymann said they had agreed upon to meet about the Mossad piece.

Mr. Heymann said he usually called Mr. Kennedy at home and that he tape recorded those conversations. He declined to play the tapes for The Observer.

Last June, according to Mr. Heymann, he and his girlfriend at the time went on a double date with Mr. Kennedy and his wife. He said they started their evening at the Madison Pub, and after having a drink, walked down Madison Avenue to the Right Bank Cafe. In Mr. Heymann’s account of that evening, Mr. Kennedy was upset with his wife. “Carolyn was like 45 minutes late and he got on that public phone and I could hear him,” Mr. Heymann said. “There was no one in here. It was about 5:30. He got very hostile about it. He always had a light hearted aspect to everything, but he was angry that she was forty five minutes late…I remember him saying, ‘Wear anything. It’s an informal thing.'”

Renci Serranos, the nighttime cook and daytime waiter at the Madison Pub, told The Observer he has worked there for the last ten years. For the last five years, he said he has generally worked seven days a week, 10 A.M. to closing. Two years ago, he saw Mr. Kennedy peering through the window of the bar Mr. Serranos said that was the last time he saw Mr. Kennedy anywhere near the bar. Mr. Serranos said he had never seen Carolyn Bessette there, and that if she had come in while he was in the kitchen, he would have known about it. “I think with a person like this, people know,” he said.

At the Right Bank Cafe, a manager named Jim who declined to give his last name, said John Kennedy hadn’t been through the doors of the restaurant in at least two years. The manager said he normally works seven days a week and has worked there for fourteen years. “When you get a guy like him, the whole place stands still,” he said. ” Believe me. And especially the couple. You wouldn’t hear the end of it. Years ago, when Bruce Springsteen came in with his girlfriend, that was a big thing. Big things like that you’d hear about.”

When The Observer asked Mr. Heymann if his date might corroborate his account of the evening, he replied that she lived in California and he saw her only “occasionally.” But Mr. Wulf, the attorney for Mr. Heymann, subsequently put The Observer in touch with Jerry Visco, who identified herself as Mr. Heymann’s date that June evening. Ms. Visco, who works as an office administrator in the department of classics at Columbia University, said she is Mr. Heymann’s current girlfriend and has lived in his apartment for two years. She backed up Mr. Heymann’s account of the drink at the Madison Pub, she said that Mr. Kennedy had used the phone to track down his wife, who arrived late. “I know that John was talking about this article that he wanted David to do on the Mossad and David was telling his stories about this intelligence stuff,” said Ms. Visco. “The wife came late, and then we went on to this other place for dinner. The Right Bank. I asked her a bit about her fashion stuff. Years ago I had gone to F.I.T. [the Fashion Institute of Technology] myself. I played a low key role, I’d say. It was really more David.”

It was to firm up details of the alleged Mossad piece that Mr. Heymann said he called Mr. Kennedy on July 7. He said he suggested meeting in the George offices on Friday, July, 16. Mr. Kennedy purportedly replied, according to Mr. Heymann, “No. Can’t do Friday. I have a wedding to go to. It’s my cousin in Hyannis.” And then, as Mr. Heymann told it to Cindy Adams, Mr. Kennedy started complaining about dropping his sister-in-law off in Martha’s Vineyard.

Mr. Heymann said he was raised by a “pushy”, “dictatorial” German Jewish émigré father and his wife on Riverside Drive and 114th Street. His father, who he said had investments in the Wellington and Peter Stuyvesant hotels in New York, and the Biltmore Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida, encouraged young Mr. Heymann to pursue an hotel administration degree and sent him packing for Cornell University. He didn’t like it. After graduating, he enrolled in a creative writing graduate program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He wrote two novels which he said he’s not proud of, then pursued a doctoral degree in English at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. While there, he wrote two nonfiction books. The first, American Aristocracy: The Lives and Times of James Russell, Amy and Robert Lowell , was about the New England family of the poet Robert Lowell. For the second, titled Ezra Pound: The Last Rower , he said he went to visit the aging poet in Venice and conducted an interview. The book was published in 1976, four years after Pound’s death, and Time magazine called it “The most harshly realistic portrait of the poet so far produced.” But Hugh Kenner, a Pound scholar from Johns Hopkins University, questioned the authenticity of Mr. Heymann’s work. In 1983, Professor Kenner told The Washington Post , “I demonstrated [ that an interview that Heymann said he had done with Pound was ] a wholesale fake. I found the book from which he had lifted the Q-and-A, a book published in Venice and done with an Italian interviewer.” Through his lawyer, Mr. Heymann denies Mr. Kenner’s claims, and chalked up the professor’s snub to a negative review Mr. Heymann had written for The Saturday Review about Mr. Kenner’s book, The Pound Era.

Mr. Heymann developed a reputation of something of an eccentric. He freely admitted that he wrote in the nude and had a nervous habit of chewing rubber bands. After neither of his first books sold particularly well, Mr. Heymann changed his literary course. “I learned from this never write a book about a poet if you want to sell books. Or a painter. Or a musician,” he said.

So as luck would have it, Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton came into Mr. Heymann’s life. He said he interviewed the ailing heiress “a dozen” times in her Beverly Wilshire Hotel rooms in 1978, the year before she died. In 1982, Random House gave him an advance of around $50,000 to write a biography. He said he had some of Hutton’s notebooks and her signature giving him permission to use the materials as he wished. Poor Little Rich Girl: The Life and Legend of Barbara Hutton, was published in 1983. A few weeks later, Random House recalled the book because a Beverly Hills doctor, who Mr. Heymann claimed had overprescribed drugs to Hutton, pointed out that in the year Mr. Heymann had him drugging Hutton, he was only 14 years old. The print run of 58,000 copies of the book was shredded, and Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morganthau’s office investigated Mr. Heymann for fraud.

“They were trying to charge that I’d never interviewed people, that this was all off the top of my head. I don’t know what they were getting at,” said Mr. Heymann. A source familiar with the investigation, which never led to an indictment, told The Observer the investigation concerned documents Mr. Heymann had submitted as documentation for the book.

Hutton’s friends, among them ex-husband Cary Grant, came forward claiming that they had never seen her keep any notebooks. And in 1984, handwriting expert Charles Hamilton, who had helped determine that the recently-published Hitler diaries were fake, told reporters that he believed the Hutton notebooks and letter of authorization provided by Mr. Heymann were not authentic. Mr. Wulf disputed Mr. Hamilton’s contentions, and offered the fact of the book’s eventual success, and its adaptation as an NBC TV miniseries, as vindication of Mr. Heymann’s work.

Mr. Heymann, who according to Mr. Wulf was despondent over the Random House recall, attempted suicide with pills, then ran off to Israel and, Mr. Heymann says, joined the Mossad after the regular Israeli army told him his eyesight wasn’t good enough.

But he soon regrouped as a biographer: the Hutton book was republished, by Lyle Stuart, and became a bestseller. In 1989 Mr. Heymann published A Woman Named Jackie and, in 1996, Liz: An Intimate Biography of Elizabeth Taylo r. He received a mid-six figure advance from Dutton Publishing, publisher of Michael Crichton and Joyce Carol Oates, to write the Robert F. Kennedy biography. When it was published, Bob Sherrill, writing in The Washington Post , called the book “a solid biography.” New York Post columnist Jack Newfield, who had also written a biography of R.F.K., attacked Mr. Heymann as “a man who defames the dead. He reads the obit, then writes the novel.”

At the Madison Pub, Mr. Heymann said he had never particularly wanted to be John Kennedy’s friend.

“I hate to say it in the wake of his death,” he said, “but for me, he was more of a curiosity than anybody that I ever felt that I could develop a close friendship to. He was a child.”

On the day after Cindy Adams published her account of Mr. Heymann’s alleged phone call with Mr. Kennedy, she reported that Mr. Heymann was working on a book about John Kennedy. “For the last dozen years,” she wrote, Mr. Heymann had “kept notes of every meeting and phone call with John. By the time you read this, Heymann will be on Chapter Three.”

That same day, the Daily News’s Celia McGee, in a story headlined “Kennedy biographies to flood bookshelves,” reported that “First out of the gate likely will be author David Heymann, who is published by Dutton, a division of Penguin Putnam. Heymann’s biography of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, A Woman Named Jackie , and last year’s R.F.K.: A Candid Biography of Robert F. Kennedy , not only steeped him in Kennedy family history, but led to a cordial relationship with John, who helped with the Robert Kennedy book `but didn’t want to be acknowledged.’ Heymann is rushing to finish a J.F.K. Jr. book proposal for consideration by publishers, several of whom tried to contact him as early as Saturday.”


Watch the video: Mr. Gaga A film by Tomer Heymann- End sequence


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