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don't look down
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Béal Feirste
Someone once asked Ernest Hemingway if he had a happy life. “I have never heard a happy life defined,” he answered, “Personally, I am happy when I work hard and love someone.” After the debacle of
, Margaux went for love, leaving Wetson for Bernard Foucher, a Venezuelan filmmaker and the man whom friends say she probably loved best.
“Bernard was a bohemian and an artist,” said Milan, “and I think she thought they were going to have a creative marriage, like Jean Paul Goude and Grace Jones, but after he got a taste of the high life, all that bohemian stuff went out the window.” By the time the bill came due, Margaux and Bernard had split and she was deeply in debt. When she filed for bankruptcy in 1991, she listed debts of $815,900 and assets of $6,765.
Her grandfather was famous for never seeking professional help for his demons. “My typewriter is my psychiatrist,” he once said. Even at the end of his life, when his suicidal impulses were obvious to everyone, his wife, Mary, refused to have him committed. She didn't want the bad publicity. Not Margaux. As the New Age dawned in the late eighties, she visited its gurus, healers, psychics, and spas, endlessly looking to heal whatever it was that was broken inside her. Afterward, she tried to turn those liabilities into assets by openly speaking of them in what was then the newly minted media of the confessional talk show. “She used the press as her therapist,” Zachary Selig recalled. “She wanted compassion from the world.”
“By the time Margaux died,” one news reporter wrote, “she had almost nothing at all. She lived alone in a studio apartment – no kids, no lover, only an agent/manager left to offer a lukewarm eulogy on CNN.” But these were the harsh pronouncements of a newspaper reporter on deadline. The people in her life were much more sympathetic.
“Modeling is a business where you really don't make friendships because everyone is in a different place all the time, but Margaux was different,” Beverly Johnson said. “She threw herself into you. When she'd ask, 'How are you?,' she meant it. We both knew it wasn't about us.”
“Los Angeles is not a nurturing place,” said Maryam d'Abo. “You have to be a survivor to be here, and it gets harder after 30. Margaux was warm and trusting; I don't think she was cut out for this town.”
Mariel had her own idea about how she might help revive her sister's career – by casting her in a TV sitcom. “She could be herself,” Mariel explained. “My sister was a big girl, bold and uninhibited. She had that presence. For drama, it was overwhelming. But in comedy, I think she could really have been amazing.”
One thing is certain – none of her friends believed she killed herself. Margaux, they reasoned, always liked to make a big statement. She would have left a note. “If she were going to commit suicide, everyone would have known,” said Mariel. “She would have made a big flipping deal out of it. I don't even mean that as a bad thing, but she let people know. She was not suicidal at all. She was never in a better place in her life. She was physically in great shape and getting herself together mentally. She was only going forward.”
Why, then, and how did she die? The Los Angeles County coroner's office ruled the death a suicide, saying the autopsy revealed levels of phenobarbitol “well above the therapeutic level.” Yet, somehow, those findings did not fully answer the questions. Margaux told friends she took phenobarbitol to control her epilepsy, but the vial found in her apartment contained no doctor's label, and it's hard to believe any doctor would prescribe a habit-forming barbiturate to someone with a well-known history of addictions.
What's more, the Santa Monica police investigator questioned the official death report. “Based on what I saw at the scene, I do not agree with the coroner's conclusion that this was a suicide,” said Detective Sargeant Ray Cooper. Hemingway seemed, he said, to have prepared for bed in the usual way, cleaning up after herself and propping her legs up on a pillow to ease pain from an old skiing injury, and had made doctors' appointments for the coming weeks.
“No matter what the coroner finds,” Stuart Sundlun, her last boyfriend and an investment advisor in New York, said, echoing all her friends, “it's a mystery. We'll never know what happened.” Then he, too, endorsed the “Margaux would have left a note” theory.
The last note she did write was to her friend Linda Livingston, in whose apartment she spent the night two days before she died. It read:
I love you feel a bit
Margaux [smiley face] MM
The note seemed to sum up Margaux. She was a sweetly naïve optimist, albeit one trapped in a depressive's body. No matter how bad things got, she would always be the kind of woman who closed her letters with a smiley face. Maybe that's why she couldn't bring herself to leave a note explaining what happened last summer in that studio apartment where you could hear the ocean, but could not see it.
You're perfect, yes, it's true. But without me, you're only you.
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