I first met James Leo Herlihy in June, 1971, when we both guests on The David Frost Show.
He was promoting his novel, The Season of the Witch, and I was on the publicity tour arranged by Random House for the Vintage Books edition of Living on the Earth (the second edition – the first was published the previous year by The BookWorks, in Berkeley.)
A mutual friend reconnected us in 1977, and, after that, I was a frequent guest in his home in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles. It was during those happy times that he gifted me with his book, The Midnight Cowboy, with this sweet inscription. I gifted him with a drawing of his face as a huge photo on the wall of a living room, with Marlene Dietrich admiring it from the sofa. He had a movie screen-sized photo of her face on one wall of his living room. “That’s the size I’m accustomed to seeing her,” he told me.
Jamie had been Anais Nin‘s confidante, and told me this story: In her forties, Anais told him that she wanted to die at fifty, so she would be “always the ingenue, never the dowager.” When he reminded her of this as she lay dying at seventy-two, she replied, “How could I have known that my best years would come after?”
In 1980, Jamie’s long time partner, Bill Lord, was one of the first gay men to perish from AIDS. After that, Jamie’s life centered on hospicing and eulogizing many of his beloved friends. In 1991, when it became clear that he, too, was succumbing to the virus, he took his own life. I was devastated. Only one year later, a three-drug therapy came into use that could have saved him.
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