Norris Church Mailer
About the artist:
Norris Church Mailer (born Barbara Jean Davis; January 31, 1949 in Atkins, Arkansas – November 21, 2010 in Brooklyn Heights, New York City, New York) was an American novelist, actress, artist, and model. Norris published several novels but is best known for her memoir, A Ticket to the Circus, which offers readers insights into her near thirty-three year marriage to acclaimed American novelist, Norman Mailer. Norris grew up in Atkins, Arkansas, where her mother owned the local beauty shop and her grandparents were sharecroppers. As a child, she was severely affected by her mother's bouts of depression and was hospitalized and given electroshock treatments. When she was twenty years old, she married her high school sweetheart, Larry Norris, and together they had one son, Matthew. By 1975, Norris, at just 25 years old, had divorced her first husband and had worked several jobs including working in a pickle factory and as a bookkeeper. Shortly after her divorce from Norris, she claimed to have "had a fling" with future U.S. President Bill Clinton. Norris was interested in writing and wrote about a hundred pages of a novel loosely based on herself as a young girl growing up in Arkansas. Still in the early days of their relationship, Norris showed her rough draft to Mailer for his opinion to which he callously responded, "It's not as bad as I thought it would be", causing Norris to put her work aside for the next several decades. Years later, amidst a successful career as a Wilhelmina model and accomplished artist, Norris reshaped her rough draft into her first novel, Windchill Summer, which was published in 2000. Windchill Summer illustrates the challenges of a young girl struggling to grow up in Arkansas during the Vietnam War era. In 2007, Norris followed with the sequel, Cheap Diamonds, a story about a young woman leaving her small town home and moving to New York to become a model in the tumultuous 1970s. Church's last novel was her own memoir, A Ticket to the Circus, published in 2010, explaining that the title described her life with Mailer, his seven children by his other wives, and her own two children: "Well, I bought a ticket to the circus. I don't know why I was surprised to see elephants". Norris, then a single mother living in Russellville, Arkansas and teaching high-school art, met her soon to be second husband, famed American author, Norman Mailer, at a book signing event. Norris gave birth to Mailer's son, John Buffalo Mailer, in 1978 and eventually married Mailer in 1980. Upon marrying Mailer, Norris became stepmother to two stepsons and five stepdaughters. Norris spent the next three decades juggling successful careers as an artist/actress/writer, managing her home life, and her husband's career demands. Norris described Norman Mailer as "the Henry Higgins to my Eliza Doolittle." Norris often defended Norman Mailer against critics who claimed Mailer was a misogynist; she also asked for his feedback on drafts of her novels, though his response was sometimes negative, including his remark that one of her works in progress was "not as bad as I thought it would be." Church said she decided to leave Mailer in the early 1990s because of his many affairs, but he dissuaded her. Mailer died in 2007. Although Norris dedicated much of her time during the 1980s to caring for her extended family, she had a keen interest in the arts and held several successful one-woman showings of her art and worked as an actress in several films and television. Norris' work as an actress includes 5 films: Jet Lag (1981), Ragtime (1981), The Executioner’s Song (1982), Exposed (1983) and Chinese Coffee (2000). In 2010, Norris portrayed herself in the documentary, Norman Mailer: The American. Norris also acted in the daytime soap All My Children.
Norris Church Mailer (born Barbara Jean Davis; January 31, 1949 in Atkins, Arkansas – November 21, 2010 in Brooklyn Heights, New York City, New York) was an American novelist, actress, artist, and model. Norris published several novels but is