'My father... was a very, very bright man... [my mother] was attentive and charming - everybody loved her.'
In 1 March 1962, shortly after ten o'clock in the morning, American Airlines flight number 1, leaving New York International Airport (now JFK) bound for Los Angeles, went into a roll at 1,500 feet and plunged into Jamaica Bay, exploding on contact with the water about fifty feet from the shore. All ninety-five people aboard died in the crash, including Louise Sara Lindner Eastman, fifty years of age, the wife of Lee V. Eastman, a prominent New York entertainment lawyer, and mother of four children, John, Linda, Laura and Louise Jr. She had been going to visit her son John, a student at Stanford. Mr and Mrs Eastman always took separate flights when travelling to the same destination, so that if there were an accident one parent would be spared to look after the children. Which is what happened on that day. Horribly, her husband was waiting at the airport for a later flight when his wife's plane went down.
An investigation determined that the use of an improper tool at the factory caused the wiring in the rudder of the Boeing 707 to short-circuit, sending it into an unwanted full deployment on take-off. The pilot was making a left turn and could not recover control of the craft when it flipped and began to fall nose-down into the bay. No scheduled non-stop flight between New York and LA, arguably the most important air route in the continental United States (hence flight number 1), had ever crashed before March 1962, nor has any since. At the time, it was the worst single airliner disaster in America's history.
Louise Eastman, born in Cleveland on 9 November 1911, was the only child of Max and Stella Dryfoos Lindner, Linda McCartney's maternal grandparents, who'd been married the year before. Both came from prominent German-Jewish Ohio families who arrived in the Midwest well before the Eastern European Jews began settling there at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. There were 3,500 Jews, the vast majority of them German, in Cleveland in 1880, less than three per cent of the city's population; by 1920 the Jewish population of Cleveland, then a city of 800,000, was over 75,000. Between the Jews of Middle European and Eastern European ancestry there was almost no social contact, and very little inter-marriage.
The older settlers, usually rich manufacturers, had their own clubs and their own houses of worship, the most prominent of which was known simply as 'the Temple', where Linda's grandparents were married. 'They were a major part of the Cleveland Jewish community,' notes Arlene Rich, a Cleveland genealogist. 'Linda McCartney's family tree is a who's who of Jewish Cleveland.'
The Temple's approach to Judaism presents a remarkable parallel with Linda's own attitude towards religion and her ancestry. It is said of the Temple in The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia that it is a bastion of 'liberal Reform Judaism . . . one of the first to have women on the board of trustees . . . services on Sunday took the place of the traditional Sabbath [i.e. Friday evening-Saturday morning] service . . . more than a place of worship [but] the center of all communal life'.
Now, here is the transcript of a conversation I had with Linda in 1992, twenty-six years after we'd met.
DF: Do you feel totally removed from your one-half Jewishness now?
LM: I'm all Jewish.
DF: Your mother was Jewish? I thought your mother was a WASP.
LM: No, my parents were both Jews. I think my mother's people were Alsatian.
DF: / can't believe that all these years I've been imagining your mother as this horsey, WASPy type.
LM: She was WASPy, but she was Jewish. You know, Danny, you're much more into all this than I am. I could never get into all that stuff, I'm very not into religion.
DF: Did your parents observe any Jewish holidays or anything like that?
LM: / think they tried to have something for Passover once, and we all made fun of it, and we all hated it. I've always hated religion. It's the most guilt-ridden, horrible thing. 'My God is better than yours, and I'm going to fight you and kill you because of your religion.' I think it's just a sick idea. You know how people are colour-blind when it comes to other people - I mean, hopefully they are. Well, I'm religious-blind.
Linda's mother summered at Bar Harbor, Maine (if one had to pick the sociological polar opposite of the Catskill Mountains, New York's ‘Jewish Alps', it would be Bar Harbor, Maine), and graduated from Smith College, one of the 'Seven Sisters' schools of higher learning for daughters of the American aristocracy, in 1933. She became engaged to ‘Leopold Vail Epstein, son of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Epstein of New York', according to an announcement on the society page of the New York Times: 'Cleveland, Dec. 25 - Mr. and Mrs. Max J. Lindner of this city have announced the engagement of their daughter, Miss Louise Dryfoos Lindner, to Leopold Vail Epstein, son of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Epstein of New York. Miss Lindner attended the Laurel Country Day School and graduated in 1933 from Smith College. Mr. Epstein, who is practicing in New York, studied at Harvard University and was graduated from law school there in 1933.'
Louise and Leopold were married at the bride's home early in 1937. Two and a half years later, when their first child, John, was born, something had changed: 'A son was born to Mr. and Mrs. Leopold Vail Eastman of 12 East 88th Street on July 10 at Doctors Hospital', it said in the Times. Well, if 'Eastman' was an Americanization of 'Epstein', whence came the story, that persists to this day, that Linda was the heiress to the immense Eastman Kodak film and camera fortune? It happened that rumours linking Linda to the Eastman family of Rochester, New York, just sprang up around her when she began her career as a professional photographer - you know, film, cameras, Kodak film, Kodak photographer, Eastman Kodak, it made a nice kind of sense. 'I tried to exploit the rumours to become a photographer,' Linda told a British paper after marrying Paul in 1969, when the truth had to come out. 'But I'm no relation whatsoever.'
'Exploit' is a gentle way of putting it. 'She told me her ancestor was George Eastman,' recalls Chet Helms, one of the pioneers of the San Francisco mid-60s rock scene via his Family Dog organization. 'It was in 1967, and she was doing the pictures for a book that came to be called Rock and Other Four Letter Words that J. Marks was writing.' Helms and Linda became close friends and were in touch from time to time over the next three decades; she never said why she had told him she was Rochester Eastman, and he never asked. It had been, they both knew, a fib.
It turned out to be a fib that's been very hard to shake. Informal surveys have convinced me that most people think, to this day, that Linda was an Eastman descendant; it makes a good story, and it's easier to despise the girl who married Paul if she turns out to be a debutante, as well as a bachelor-snatcher.
'Once I went to some club in Hollywood; I remember Alice Cooper was there and Mickey Dolenz,' Linda told me on the phone from East Hampton in the early 1990s, 'and this guy I'd never met was at the table where we sat, and when we were introduced he said, "Oh, and are you one of the Kodak Eastmans?" I said, "Oh the press has said that, and it's not true." He said, "I'm so glad you said that, because I am a member of that family, and I've hated you for years, thinking you were going around saying that you're one of us." He was so pleased that I told him | was so sick of that story.'
In truth, she had gone around for a few months saying that most casually, although not to anyone in New York, where her real family was known. Anyhow, be wary of trying to exploit rumours; there's a reason they get started in the first place, and if you help them along they will take on an endless life of their own, as Linda learned.
Lee Eastman, ne Epstein, came from a very different background from that of Louise Lindner. He was the son of Louis and Stella Epstein (note that Linda's maternal and paternal grandmothers were both named Stella), immigrants from Russia. They met at Ellis Island while being processed for entry into the United States. Leopold Epstein was born in New York City on 10 January 1910 and grew up in the Bronx. Unlike his wife-to-be, he did not have the advantage of private elementary or high schools and spent his undergraduate years at City College, known affectionately as CCNY, where tuition was free, standards were high and most of the students were the bright but penniless children of Eastern European immigrants. Academically, it was, in its heyday in the 1930s, one of the best-rated colleges in America. One had to do very well indeed in high school to be admitted. Today, alas, the school is struggling to recover from a disastrous decline in its reputation as a result of a 1970s decision to admit any graduate of a New York City high school. Unfortunately, many of these graduates were pushed out of their high schools just to make room for younger students and entered CCNY barely literate. An influx of Asians has put some of the sparkle back into the institution, but the cauldron of intellect that CCNY used to be is but a memory, particular to its time and place in New York history. CCNY was not worthy of mention, as we have seen, in the engagement announcement cited above. But from CCNY Leopold Epstein went on to Harvard Law School, where in terms of social and financial standing he was very much an outsider, yet, in terms of intelligence and ambition, probably equal to anyone in his class. And even if they had gone to a free college, it was OK for Harvard Law School boys to date girls from Smith - it was OK for Harvard Law School boys to do just about anything they wanted, and it still is.
'My father married up,' Linda told me. 'He was a very, very bright man. From a wonderful peasant background and yet so astute, so smart.'
Class mobility is not an irrelevant factor in the life of Linda and her family: Paul McCartney's mother, for example, anxious about the perceived gentility of her children, insisted that he and his brother speak English 'properly', dropping the heavily accented Scouse dialect of Liverpool, which betrayed at once one's lower-class and Irish-immigrant status. 'We were upper-lower class,' Paul once told me. Emphasis on the 'upper'. And Linda's father 'married up'. So, of course, did Paul, although some of his Liverpool relatives hardly thought that marrying an American Jewish divorcee was a step towards heaven - not that he cared. More about that later.
Distinctions relating to birth are surprisingly powerful among the Jewish elite, like the Lindners of Cleveland, who traditionally married within their crowd. An heiress from a great New York German-Jewish banking family once fell in love with the heir of an immensely rich Russian-Jewish family, whose wealth was not of impeccable origin. (This was many years ago, when the fortunes at stake really were big time.) Her mother objected strongly to the match. 'But, Mother,' pleaded the heiress, 'they're worth a billion dollars, and we only have two hundred million.'
'I don't care,' retorted Mother. 'They're trash. You are expected to do better than that.'
The Lindners, on the other hand, were a warm and welcoming family, no doubt eager to bring in some new blood, in the person of brilliant, handsome Leopold Epstein from the Bronx. That borough of first- and second-generation immigrants, however, was not where the newlyweds could be expected to set up housekeeping. So their first home was established on 88th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues, in a handsome red-brick apartment building just a few steps from Central Park, in a neighbourhood whose elegance cannot be questioned. But although there is hardly a prettier place to live in Manhattan, Louise was not really a city person, having been raised in the lush and leafy neighbourhood of Cleveland Heights (with those summers on the coast of Maine). And there was a young child, and plans for more, so a move to the suburbs was clearly desirable.
Scarsdale, New York, is twenty-eight miles north of the city. It tries hard to be quiet and discreet, with its beautiful, winding, wooded lanes and fine large houses, but it has never succeeded, because it just screams money and always has. It is certainly not garish, nor is it at all the 'best' address in the suburban counties surrounding New York City, but for better or worse it is famous for simply being ... Scarsdale. THE quintessential wealthy suburb. Like 'Beverly Hills', 'Scarsdale' needs no explanation - it is very rich, and although it is thought of as a Jewish town, the population is pretty evenly made up of WASPs, Jews and Catholics. The Eastmans lived in the Murray Hill area of Scarsdale, perhaps the most upscale part of this already upscale town, at 4 Dolma Road, in a sprawling stucco Spanish-style mansion with a tiled roof. It was at this house that the Eastman family was living when Linda Louise Eastman was born on 24 September 1941.
(There is something a bit peculiar - perhaps it's a Cleveland thing - about the proliferation of the name 'Louise' in Linda's family. It was her mother's name, her own middle name and the name of her youngest sister, as in Louise Jr., rare for a female child in any Western culture. Jewish parents generally name their children after a deceased relative, even if it means using only the first initial - Morris might become Marc - and not after a living person, which is considered bad luck. Oddly as well, the two daughters born to Linda after her mother's death are named Mary, after Paul's mother, and Stella, after both of Linda's grandmothers. One would have thought there would be a Louise, or any name with the initial ‘L’.)
Two more sisters, Laura and Louise Jr., were born over the next seven years; the family thrived. Lee Eastman was specializing in show-business law and his clients included the very successful bandleaders Sammy Kaye and Tommy Dorsey, composer Harold Arlen and painters like Willem de Kooning. Music and the visual arts played a large part in the life of Linda's parents. Lee Eastman, not unnaturally, amassed a fine collection from the painters he represented (canvases were a welcome sudstitute for bills owed), and after his wife's death he endowed the Louise L. Eastman Memorial Lectureship in Art at Smith College. Friends of Louise donated a sculpture by the English artist Henry Moore to the college's Museum of Art. 'I was brought up all through my life with art. I was a lover of art,' Linda has said.
The Eastmans socialized with their distinguished clients, so Linda grew up surrounded by talented people - and was not unnoticed by them: songwriter Jack Lawrence ('Tenderly', etc.), a client of Linda's father, wrote the song 'Linda' for her in 1944, and in 1946, with the great Buddy Clark on vocals, it was a huge hit.
'When Linda was forty-five, I was trying to think what I could get someone who's forty-five years old,' Paul remembers. 'So I thought, aha! a 45 record. I went into the studio and recorded "Linda", and then "Happy Birthday Linda". I had it pressed, with a label and a sleeve, everything.
'When the original recording became a hit, someone decided to do a television segment of Linda and Jack. This was very early on in the TV era. She was five years old, this showbiz wife of mine. She was at it way before I was. They put her up on a piano while Jack Lawrence sang, and the piano was so hot because of the TV lights, it burned her bum. And she cried. I think she felt guilty about that, and she never cried in front of a camera again.'
(Indeed, 1946 was very early in television history; it was virtually the first year that people had TV sets in their homes, and total numbers were minuscule -just one dozen in Washington, DC, for example.)
Paul also bought the publishing rights to the song and had new sheet music printed, showing the grown-up Linda and Linda at seven sitting on a piano holding the original sheet music, with Jack Lawrence at the keyboard. She was not crying, having by then had two years to develop her professionalism.
Linda showed me the newly minted sheet music for the song in 1992, saying: 'Look at me then! I didn't realize I was such a cute kid. You never feel that you're wonderful or beautiful when you're young, you know what I mean?'
'God, I loved that song, it was my favourite!' I told Linda at the time, and even sang a few lines: '"When I go to sleep, I never count sheep, I count all the charms about Linda ..." My grandmother had it on a 78 -you know, the records that shattered if you dropped them. I knew all the words, and my cousin and I would do little performances of it when the family was all together…’
Linda interrupted me: 'Isn't it funny that we should be friends, and that was your favourite song? Danny, can I have a transcript of this tape? Because this moment is a memory.' And we sang the rest of the song together. It is a memory indeed.
From her early childhood on, Linda was an outdoors person, who formed a close alliance with her brother John, two years her senior, for the purpose of exploring the woods and streams near their house. Frogs and snakes were the objects of their fascination. John recalled in a eulogy at the New York memorial for his sister, 'We got our only spanking for scaring our parents by coming home way too late, each vainly trying to take the blame for the other when there was no blame: neither of us could tell the time.'
'Scarsdale was country when I was a kid,' Linda told Fame magazine. ‘It was farm country. Everyone thinks I'm this spoiled Westchester girl, but I'm not. I'm a country lover and a nature lover.'
Her younger sister Laura, when she was old and sturdy enough, played pony to Linda's commanding rider, as they searched the damper and darker crevasses of the woods for lilies of the valley, Linda's favourite flower for the rest of her life.
Horses became an early passion, and by the time she was a teenager Linda was a champion rider. Her sister Louise, at Linda's memorial in New York in June 1998, spoke about Linda's room at home. 'It was painted a beautiful pale blue, with the entire moulding at the ceiling hanging with ribbons won at horse shows. Most of them were blue for first prize, but there were quite a few reds, greens and yellows, but the best were the huge multi-coloured ones for the Best of Show. She was very proud of these, and so was I.'
On the other hand, there was no boasting of equine achievements outside the family. A friend from high school, looking through the yearbook of Linda's class, 1959, was puzzled by the very few extra-curricular activities and club memberships mentioned next to Linda's picture. On being told Linda was probably riding when the other kids were doing things related to the school, her friend was surprised. 'She never told anybody about it. I guess she just went and did it, and earned medals as well. It's typical of Linda that she never really sought the approval of her peers - or her teachers. She wasn't a good student, didn't like to read or study. I remember an English teacher who used to pick on her for not keeping up with the classwork. It upset her - and she was rarely upset.'
Linda's father assumed that she was at least keeping up with her studies, and was especially pleased that she had asked for and received permission to stay out late two nights a week so that she could go to the local library when it had extended hours. A chance conversation with the librarian ('You must know my daughter Linda very well.' Blank stare) put Dad on the pursuit of the truth - instead of the library, Linda was at a hang-out where kids listened to the hot new sounds of the Kingston Trio and the Everly Brothers. Music, not books. Late at night, Linda acted out the old teenage ritual of putting her head under the pillow with a portable radio tuned to the glories of rock and roll.
The teenage Linda Eastman was a natural strawberry-blonde, plump ('chunky', said a high-school classmate), pleasant looking and dressed like every other girl in town. Wealth equalled simplicity: Shetland sweaters, Weejun loafers, plaid kilts with huge safety pins and button-down Oxford shirts. The Brooks Brothers natural look dominated, whether or not you actually shopped there; the Shetland/plaid/herringbone/button-down style was the standard among upper-middle-class youth (and their parents) in the 1950s. It was called 'tweedy'. The designer Ralph Lauren became a billionaire in bringing back this look a few years ago - perhaps not incidentally, he and his wife were among Paul and Linda's closest friends in the 80s and 90s.
Hair back then in Scarsdale was simple, clean, brushed back and worn with a headband. None of the girls wore make-up. The idea, if there was an idea behind it all, was to look as if you went to a British boarding school. Adornment was out - big hair, as on the popular TV show American Bandstand - was unimaginable.
Gail Smith, who still lives in Scarsdale, remembers her classmate at Scarsdale High School.
There was nothing bad and nothing incredible or earth-shaking about her. She loved to sing. I remember our senior breakfast in the school cafeteria - there was a microphone and good piano player, and I recall thinking, 'Isn't that something! Linda's gonna get up and sing again.' But I can't recall where that 'again' comes from - she must have performed at some other event. She wasn't especially good, but she wasn't bad, and she obviously loved singing and had the self-confidence to get up and do it. Kids in those days were very supportive of each other. No one would have been mean or made fun of her for not being an exceptionally good singer. They just thought it was great that she got up and sang at all. She was an easygoing, sweet girl, well-liked, not a belle-of-the-ball type, but nice. She always had a smile on her face.
Gail's husband Joel, who was a year ahead of Linda, remembers offering her rides as she walked to and from school. 'She was a very attractive, very nice girl.'
The Eastman family spent summers in the 1940s and early 50s in the ,town of Wellfleet, about twenty miles from the tip of Cape Cod. Itself a Yankee enclave, Wellfleet was just south of the more artistic towns of .Truro and Provincetown, where the Eastmans visited such eminent modern artists as Franz Kline.
‘We'd pack our station wagon to the limit, with dogs and all our summer belongings hanging out of the car,' Louise Jr. recounted at her sister's memorial. 'My mother would pack dozens of egg salad sandwiches for the trip.
’Wellfleet was a wonderfully easygoing place. It was a fairly wild landscape, almost primitive. Our house was always full of sand and there were lovely beach parties. It was a completely different life than what we were used to, and I think that its spirit rubbed off on all of us. Linda would make the best spaghetti sauce ever, and blueberry pie, and we would have outrageously noisy games of hearts. My father would promote wild family discussions, and I confess we all became rather loud and opinionated. Somehow these summers prepared the way for a less than conventional life, a quality that Linda never forgot.'
The Eastman house was a magnet for Cape Cod's Upper Bohemia, with Louise Sr. the most gracious and elegant of hostesses. 'She cared for people,' Linda said. 'I'm not a people person like she was. She was attentive and charming - everybody loved her. She was vivacious in an understated way, she could scope a roomful of people and know what everybody wanted and needed. I envied that about her, I just never felt comfortable in gatherings. My sister Laura is more like her, I think.'
For those who knew Linda later in her life, it is interesting that she felt that way about herself, because she certainly was a 'people' person. Perhaps not in the sense of handling crowds in one's living room, or maintaining a salon, but in a one-to-one situation Linda McCartney was unmatchable. 'Sit down... are you comfortable ... it is so wonderful to see you ... would you like anything to eat or drink? ... oh don't worry about that.. . you look great. . . we've missed you, haven't we, Paul?' In the mid-50s, the Eastmans forsook Wellfleet for East Hampton. One hundred miles from New York, this beautiful seventeenth-century town near the eastern end of Long Island was being discovered by artists (the great abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock worked from his studio there until his death in 1956) and a few savvy New Yorkers. It was indeed a well-kept secret, at first glance an area of potato farms, bays and beaches and, nestled in the dunes, the great estates of ancient blue-blood families who didn't want to be involved in the heady social whirl of Southampton, that famous, exclusive resort to the west.
Of course, East Hampton was a hotbed of quiet anti-Semitism, because, after all, people went there to get away from New York, and getting away from New York meant getting away from the Jews. Still, some very openly Jewish families from Brooklyn and Queens were attracted to East Hampton, with enough of them moving in to build a temple in which to worship. Other Jews who were neither practising their religion nor very proud of it, such as Lee Eastman, were made uncomfortable by the influx of their more pious brethren, fearing it would stir up the latent anti-Semitism of the area, which it did. East Hampton became two towns; many think it still is. 'The Jews go to the restaurants, the gentiles go to the clubs. That's the way it's always been and always will be,' says a long-time (Jewish) resident. But it now appears as if there's a third town in there somewhere - Linda's brother John was voted into the hitherto extremely 'restricted' Maidstone Club; he is one of a very select number of Jews in the club, but never fear that he and his family don't fit in. His wife Jody is gentile, tall, blonde and elegant; John looks like Robert Redford, incredibly handsome in a way that Jews think only Christians can be; and their children might be any kids at the most exclusive, upper-class schools such as Groton or Foxcroft.
This whole subject, which as you have seen did not interest Linda in the least, has several interesting aspects. Her mother was very active in the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, and was quite accustomed to being both Jewish and elite her entire life. It was indeed possible to be both, and quite impossible for Louise Sr. to be anything else. And here's an irony: Paul McCartney, upon the birth of his first grandchild, Arthur, in April 1999, a year after Linda died, said to several friends at different times, 'He's a very clever little lad. His mother is Jewish and his father is Christian, so he chose to be born between Passover and Easter.'
How, this is astonishing and quite lovely. Mary, Paul and Linda's daughter and the mother of little Arthur, is of course one-half Jewish. ; Paul doesn't say 'hair, he says, 'His mother is Jewish'. We now have Paul being more upfront about Linda's religion than Linda ever was. No one had ever heard him describe his children as 'Jewish' before - Chrissie Hynde thinks that now that Linda is gone, Paul is cherishing everything about her even more than he did during all their years together. Including her religion of birth, which she cared about not at all.
East Hampton is certainly a bit of paradise, and was very important to trhe senior Eastmans, to John and his family and to Linda and Paul. For many years the McCartneys spent a few weeks there every summer, renting a different house each time but never far from Linda's father and brother, who both had (John still has) sprawling houses on Lily Pond Lane. Bob Dylan once lived on that street, and current residents of the neighbourhood include Calvin Klein, Martha Stewart and Steven Spielberg. On the south side of Lily Pond, which is beachfront, houses sell for $15 million; the Eastmans have always been on the north side of the street, but that is still not exactly a disgrace.
Frequently over the years Linda would say to me, 'We're coming to East Hampton for a while, will you be near there?' And I would respond, 'Maybe, but are you coming into the city?' and the answer was almost always, 'No,' as in 'What city?' They would come to New York every summer without setting foot in the city itself. From JFK, which is near the western end of Long Island, in the borough of Queens, a car would whisk them eastwards to the Eastmans of East Hampton. When they left, they just did it the other way around, and never ventured into Manhattan unless there was business to be done. In 1989, when the McCartneys rehearsed for their forthcoming tour at Broadway's Lyceum Theater, they would leave the theatre every night in a limousine which took them to the heliport on the river; from there a helicopter flew them to tiny East Hampton airport, where a car would be waiting to take them home. In the morning, they'd commute into the city the same way. That was after they finally stopped renting and bought a house in East Hampton, north of the Montauk Highway (equivalent to the wrong side of the tracks, but what did they care?), invisible from the road, on a hillside above the town.
So, that's East Hampton for now, an important place for Linda for nearly forty-five years.
In 1959, kids of Linda's generation and social class were expected to go to college; in fact it was an obsession to get into a 'good' school of higher learning, and Scarsdale High placed its graduates at the country's most prestigious institutions. But for Linda, a future in the halls of academe was very nearly preposterous. She loved horses, nature, art, rock and roll, 'bombing around' (driving) her mother's powder-blue Ford convertible with the top down and Alan Freed on the radio, and being alone. At her parents' frequent parties, she preferred to hang out in the kitchen with the hired help; she really didn't have much to talk about with the guests.
Назад к оглавлению
But one had to go to college; there was no alternative for a seventeen-year-old girl from a distinguished family. Linda chose the University of Arizona in Tucson; it was fairly easy to get accepted there, considering her quite unremarkable high-school grades, it was far from the pressures of home and, perhaps most important, it was deep in the horseriding country of the American southwest.
Naturally, the horses in the Tucson area took up more time than her studies, and Linda, without a great deal of reluctance (although her parents were certainly not pleased), dropped out of school well before even choosing a major. Her father refused to support her if she wasn't in school, and Linda faced one of the great crises of her life up to that time. She knew she had to start earning her own way. 'All right, I'll be a dental assistant, I said to myself,' Linda recalled. 'But I went for one interview, and thought, "Oh my God, no way!"'
She was considering alternative ways of getting by in Arizona, when in March 1962 her mother was killed, and of course she had to return home to Scarsdale.
'I had never really connected with my mother,' Linda told Zoe Heller for an article that appeared in Vanity Fair in October 1992. 'But for my father, it was a disaster. My parents had been very much in love. When de Kooning wrote to my father after the death, he described the relationship as a 25-year love affair.'
The family was shattered, and friends were called in to help with Linda's younger sisters, Louise, then twelve, and Laura, fifteen. Of course Linda should have stayed to mend the wreckage of what had , been an ideal family. Instead, she returned to Arizona.
‘It was a kind of escapism,' she said to Heller. 'I was very immature. I just escaped.' Linda went back to Arizona and her boyfriend, a geology student named Mel See. She became pregnant within weeks of her return and married Mel on 18 June 1962. Their daughter, Heather, was born on 31 December, but by the end of 1964, when her husband suggested that the family go to Africa, Linda told him to go alone and the couple separated. In 1963, Lee Eastman had been remarried, to Monique Schless Sprayregen, a wealthy New York widow and the mother of three sons, and in 1965 Linda and her baby moved back to the home of her father and his new family.