Get Real: Bea-ing There

Get Real with Carla Stockton

There are many stories like Beatrice Schwartz’s in New York City, each one noteworthy for the perseverance of the individual behind it.

A graduate of Cornell and Columbia Universities and a hard-working employee of the City of New York, Beatrice Schwartz is not a writer, but she was married to one, and she understands better than most that no writer, no matter how rich and famous s/he is, can hide from the threat of obscurity. Bea’s husband was C. David Heymann, and she has spent the last two years of her life making sure that Heymann’s place in the literary pantheon is secure.

C. David Heymann died suddenly before he had finished work on his last book Joe and Marilyn, Legends in Love.  His wife Beatrice Schwartz commandeered the process, and the book was released by Emily Bestler Books, an imprint of Atria Books at Simon & Schuster.

C. David Heymann’s last book was published posthumously. Courtesy of Beatrice Schwartz.

C. David Heymann thrived on controversy, which kept him ever in the limelight. He made it his business to pry into the lives and loves of the rich and famous, and he had a reputation for skirting fast and loose around the facts. He had a nose for the salacious, and he was not shy about embellishing it. His celebrity biographies of intriguing personalities like Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Hutton, Jacqueline Kennedy, et al., always attracted attention, and he lived his own life – before he met Bea – on the wild side, which kept him ever in the public eye. His books were best sellers because he went out of his way to make sure they were seen and known by his audience. Whenever he finished the difficult process of writing one of his books, he threw himself into the grueling task of selling it.

But Heymann never even got to finish his last book, and that’s where Bea stepped in.

C. David Heymann died suddenly in May of 2012, while working on Joe and Marilyn: Legends of Love, a book about the relationship between Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe.

He had done the research, conducted the interviews, sleuthed out tidbits of new information to astonish even the most ardent fans of the Yankee Clipper and his Hollywood Princess. He was especially proud of anecdotal evidence he had unearthed that enabled him to flesh out the relationship between Joe and his only son Joe Jr. and the way in which Monroe enhanced and enabled that relationship. “It’s my best book,” he would often tell his wife.  “I know it is.”

Which is why, after the fog of disbelief cleared, Bea Schwartz made it her noblesse oblige to get the book finished. She hired a writer (yours truly), read and re-read every proof as it came off the press, paid for the photo permissions, coordinated with the publisher and the agent, made sure all the necessary clearances were obtained so the book could proceed. Emily Bestler, Editor-in-Chief of Emily Bestler Books, an imprint of Atria Books at Simon and Schuster, knew from the start that the book would make it into print. “I never doubted it.” She affirms.  “We have done well with David’s books, and Bea was there to usher it along!”

Beatrice Schwartz relaxes on the bed in the suite at the Lexington Hotel, where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio lived whenever they were in New York, before, after and during their marriage.  The suite, called the Centerfield Suite, was the site of the launch party she and her stepdaughter hosted to celebrate the release of her last husband's last book.

Beatrice Schwartz relaxes on the bed in the suite at the Lexington Hotel, where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio lived whenever they were in New York, before, after and during their marriage. The suite, called the Centerfield Suite, was the site of the launch party she and her stepdaughter hosted to celebrate the release of her late husband’s last book. Courtesy of Beatrice Schwartz.

It was never a no-brainer. When David’s Bobby and Jackie: A Love Story debuted, there were many lawsuit threats, but David was around to field them, to absorb the financial and emotional stress. Even knowing the book would be vetted by the Simon & Schuster legal team, Bea took nothing for granted and left nothing to chance. Further, she thanked and remunerated all the people who had been laboring with and for David, and she stayed on top of the process for two full years.

The effort paid off. On July 1, at the Lexington Hotel, in the Joe and Marilyn Centerfield Suite, she co-hosted a launch party with David’s daughter Chloe, a private, intimate affair where she toasted those who had worked with her to bring the dream to fruition and thanked David’s agent Mel Berger and rookie editor Megan Reid – Joe and Marilyn was her first! – for making her dream come true.

The real proof is in the pudding. Reviews are overwhelmingly positive, and of course they refer to David’s propensity for hyperbole and fabrication. What intrigues readers most are the degree of deliciousness David folds into the scandal, the height of the non-sentimentality he weaves into his characters’ emotional revelations and the authenticity he carves out of his very flawed subjects, rendered all the more believable for their inconsistencies.

The book probably is C. David Heymann’s best work, but the achievement does not belong to him alone. His never-say-die New York wife Beatrice Schwartz drove this train to the station and made sure all the cars were coupled securely in order to ensure that C. David Heymann’s last book would reach their destination safely, shielded from the ignominy of obscurity.

When friends tell her she is a hero, Bea shrugs ingenuously.  “I don’t get that.” She says.  “Wouldn’t anyone have done the same?”

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Carla Stockton, Nonfiction Editor of Issue #53, is a lifelong on-and-off New Yorker, who, after living for 13 years in exile in the southwest desert, brings a returnee’s perspective to the city. As a fully licensed sightseeing guide, she has a particular intimacy with the area and is never reluctant to share it with others. Carla’s semi-weekly column will discuss people, places and events in and around Manhattan. Follow her here.

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