Monday, May 17, 2010

The Wives Of Artie Shaw

I guess they were bewitched, bothered and bewildered. They picture, in order:
Lana Turner, Betty Kern, Ava Gardner, Kathleen Winsor, Doris Dowling and Evelyn Keyes. Not pictured are wives no. 1 and 2: Jane Cairns and Margaret Allen. Shaw's 100th birthday is May 23, 2010. He was born on the LES at 255 E. 7th Street. He had a son, Jonathan Shaw, with Doris Dowling. He also had a son, Steven, with Betty Kern. His whereabouts are unknown. Neither had any kind of relationship with their father. He was a miserable guy, but what a musician!
from an interview with Jonathan Shaw:
"SINATRA really went crazy when he broke up with Ava - Artie was married to her first. One day Ava came running into Artie's apartment to hide, and Sinatra came in with one of his henchman. Sinatra had a gun. Artie made fun of him. He said, 'What do you think, you're HUMPHREY BOGART? She's not here. And if she was, she wouldn't want to see you.' "
Mr. Shaw, who died late last month, could be charming, Mr. Stuart said, but he was not an easy man. He said Mr. Shaw was self-absorbed and brutally frank; he was estranged from his two sons.
His son STEVE KERN was the product of Mr. Shaw's 1941 marriage to ELIZABETH KERN, the daughter of JEROME KERN. His 1952 marriage to the actress DORIS DOWLING produced JONATHAN SHAW. Once, Mr. Stuart said, Steve, who had not seen his father in several years, came to see him at his office. When Mr. Shaw abruptly asked what he wanted, his son said he was a musician and wanted to play for his father. Mr. Shaw reportedly told his son he should seek another profession.
Steve Kern could not be reached. KAY PICK, a longtime friend of Mr. Shaw's, told us "no one knows where Steve is." She also said Steve and his father had not talked in years.
We were, however, able to speak with Jonathan Shaw, who is 52 and lives in Rio de Janeiro. A painter who for several years ran a tattoo parlor on St. Marks Place, and who said he was a recovering alcoholic, he has written a screenplay about his relationship with his father and has just completed the first draft of book on the same subject.
"My father was a deeply miserable human being," Jonathan Shaw said in a telephone conversation yesterday. "That's the side of him that most people who haven't been closely associated with him don't get to see. He was a genius, and he was also a very difficult man."
Where was his brother Steve?
"God only knows," Jonathan Shaw said, adding that he had written a long letter and sent a copy of his manuscript to a post office box address, but had never heard back.
"According to Artie's version," he went on, "when my brother first went to visit him, my father said, 'What do you want? You're nothing but a biological happenstance to me.' He had said the same thing to me. I just made it difficult for him to dodge me."
Jonathan Shaw was estranged from his father for most of his life, he told us. Then, about two years ago, he made contact and spent a year with him. When Jonathan Shaw started having a relationship with his own son, he said, his father cut him off.
"I got to know him very well and we had some great times together," Jonathan Shaw said, "but bottom line is that he was absolutely unable to maintain a relationship. He was abusive, condescending, mean-spirited. I felt it was to my advantage to maintain the relationship because it was in many ways cathartic, but no one with any self-respect will put up with that kind of abuse."
So he was not with his father when he died? "No," Mr. Shaw said. "He died alone and miserable, as he chose to do."

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