Carole Mallory (standing, right, with her Maltese companion, Monsieur Herbert), is seen at Spring Mill Presbyterian Village, a retirement home in Lafayette Hill, on July 12 in an interactive, inspirational lecture by the former celebrity model, actress and author.

by Len Lear

Carole Wagner Mallory is an unpretentious, matronly 77-year-old native of Springfield, Delaware County, who now lives in the Norristown area and would look right at home on a cruise ship or retirement home. In fact, she does spend a great deal of time in Philadelphia area retirement homes, not as a resident but as a lecturer who, accompanied by her lovable 10-pound Maltese dog, Monsieur Herbert, discusses her extraordinary, colorful, major movie-worthy life at such senior citizen facilities as Spring Mill Presbyterian Village in Lafayette Hill, St. Mary’s in Lansdale, Bellingham in West Chester, Brightview in Norristown, Symphony Square in Bala Cynwyd, Devon Manor in Devon, The Solana in Doylestown and Juniper Village in Bensalem, among others.

You’d never know it to look at this unassuming 77-year-old area resident, but Mallory has led a life that few, if any, other people on earth could match. That’s because Carole Mallory is an author and former actress, supermodel, teacher and critic who appeared in the films “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” and “The Stepford Wives,” among others. She was the nine-year companion of Norman Mailer, one of America’s greatest novelists, and kept notes and her writings with his edits, selling seven boxes of documents and photographs to Harvard University in 2008 after his death for a sum she won’t disclose.

A list of the movie stars she dated reads like a Who’s Who of Hollywood greats, and while any journalist would be skeptical, she has enough photographs of herself with the stars to lend credence to her claims. (If you Google her name, you will find magazine articles that support her claims and photos of her on the covers of national magazines.) During her talks, Mallory shares her experiences of meeting Princess Grace and Prince Rainier, “who asked to sit by my side at a luncheon on Sam Spiegel’s yacht off the coast of Corsica,” and of meeting Jacqueline Kennedy, the Picasso family, etc.

Mallory, a former supermodel (before there was such a term) who was once married to an artist named Ronald Mallory and was once engaged to Pablo Picasso’s illegitimate son, Claude, maintains that she had relationships with Robert DeNiro, Richard Gere, Warren Beatty, Robin Williams, Matt Dillon, Peter Sellers, Anthony Hopkins, Rod Stewart and Sean Connery. Mallory preferred the British stars because “they’re so much more fun than the Americans.”

Mallory had a tempestuous romantic relationship with Norman Mailer, one of the giants of American literature, for the last nine years of his life. He died in 2007 at age 84.

She counted The Who’s drummer Keith Moon, Dudley Moore and Monty Python’s Terry Jones among her close friends, and freely admits there was a time when she lived on sleeping pills, cocaine, valium and wine. “Being sober 37 years now,” she told us recently, “I try to offer my experience, strength and hope and instill a will to live because today, most days, I am able to live in the now with a smile.”

If she had it all to do over again, Mallory says she “would not have supported Claude Picasso from 1971 to 1975. He was so poor, he wore my ex husband’s pants and my blouses. Also I would not have tested for ‘The Fan Club.’ I had been jilted by Claude and needed as new career. I had quit modeling and filmed ‘The Stepford Wives’ against Claude’s wishes. I was asked by Columbia Pictures to test for Irving Wallace’s ‘Fan Club,’ produced by Larry Gordon and Peter Guber.

“Raquel Welch, Brigette Bardot and Sophia Loren had all rejected the script. Director John Hough told me there would be nudity, but my tummy would be on the bed. During the test Hough said, ‘Now lie with your back on the bed. I was fully naked and cried and fought, but Hough said, ‘All the other actresses have done it. If you want the part and want to be a star, you must drop the blanket.’ I gave up … ”

As a young woman, Mallory was awarded an art scholarship to Penn State University, where she graduated with a BS degree in Art Education. After attending Temple University’s Tyler School of Art for her Master’s, she taught art in Pennsylvania schools for two years. She then became a Pan American Airlines stewardess and began modeling in Paris while still employed by the airline. Her first assignment was for French Vogue. Mallory has appeared on the covers of a variety of magazines including Cosmopolitan, Newsweek and three separate covers of New York Magazine.

Mallory filmed over 50 TV commercials. Her first spot was for Olympic Airlines, the award-winning “No dancing in the aisles” campaign while on leave of absence from Pan Am Airlines. She also appeared in the “English Leather” commercial campaign (“All my men wear English Leather, or they wear nothing at all”), which ran on TV all over the country for 10 years. Her commercial for Faberge’s “Tigress” campaign titled “Are You Wild Enough to Wear It?” directed by Michael Cimino, was banned as too risqué for one of the networks because her crocheted bathing suit with its spider web effect did not have support.

Carole appeared on many magazine covers, including this February, 1970, cover of Cosmopolitan magazine. The price of the magazine was 75 cents.

As she ran towards the camera while performing a strip tease, her breasts jiggled. In the early 1970s “jiggling breasts” were forbidden on TV. “60 Minutes” aired her Faberge Tigress commercial in one of its segments about sex in television. Mallory starred as Madge in the play, “Picnic,” and as Tiffany in “Mary, Mary” at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope. When she moved to Hollywood, she studied with Harvey Lembeck in his Comedy Improvisation Workshop.

Mallory authored the 1988 novel, “Flash,” about a female alcoholic surviving Hollywood. Gloria Steinem wrote that it was “fast, smart and irresistible.” In 2010, she published a memoir, “Loving Mailer.” Her writing has been published by The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Esquire, Playboy, Parade, Elle, New Women, Time Out and M Magazine.

Other books she has written are “Vidal vs. Mailer” (2016), “My Friendship with Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller” (2013) and “My Friendship with Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal (How They Buried The Hatchet),” (2013).

According to Mallory, “The ‘downs’ (in her stormy relationship with Norman Mailer) were cataclysmic, but the ‘ups,’ meaning his edits on my writing being honored and respected by Harvard, who bought my archive, were gratifying, so I’d say it was 50/50 because a writing lesson from Norman Mailer kinda made his abuse palpable.” (The documents she sold to Harvard contained extracts of her letters, books and journals as well as those of Norman Mailer.)

More information at carolemallory.com. Len Lear can be reached at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com

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