Pulitzer Prize-winning author Philip Roth’s new biography was among the most highly-anticipated works in recent years, promising to lift the lid on the celebrated writer who made his name in 1969 with his infamous – and sexually explicit – novel, Portnoy’s Complaint.
The controversial book told the story of a sexually driven teenage protagonist – which many speculated was based on Roth himself – who famously masturbates on a piece of liver that his mother later cooks for dinner.
Not surprisingly, it was dubbed one of the ‘dirtiest books ever written’ by The New Yorker. Others believed Roth was writing about a bizarre sexual encounter that he actually had growing up in a middle class Jewish family in Newark, New Jersey.
Philip Roth: The Biography, released earlier this month, was expected to raise some eyebrows further due to the lurid subject matter which details his apparent misogyny and ‘sexual depravity.’
But this week, the 898-page book was pulled by publishers W.W. Norton after biographer Blake Bailey, 57, was accused of depraved sexual acts himself as well as rape and sexual harassment by several women.
Shipping and promotion of Philip Roth’s only authorized biography, released earlier this month, has been halted as its author, Blake Bailey, faces multiple allegations of sexual harassment and abuse
Roth is said to have had a brief romantic fling with Jackie Kennedy, which was revealed just 15 months after her husband was assassinated, however the novelist ultimately decided not to pursue their relationship any further after their encounter
Ironically, it was initially feared that Roth, who died in 2018 aged 85, would be ‘canceled’ due to the controversial contents of the new biography.
But not everything in the book, which had been in the works since 2012, is crude and lewd.
The now-‘canceled’ biography, obtained by DailyMail.com, also tells a sweet story of Roth’s brief encounter with widowed Jackie Kennedy, a mere 15 months after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
It began at a dinner party at writer Norman Podhoretz’s New York home where Roth was seated on one side of Jackie and civil rights leader Bayard Rustin on the other.
‘Mrs. Kennedy was beautiful, alert, alive and very sad,’ he told his friend, novelist Alison Lurie.
‘I don’t think she knows what to do with herself. I was very taken with her, to be frank.’
Bailey’s book was published on April 6
And it seemed Jackie was taken with Roth as well. The former first lady would have her social secretary ask him to be her dinner partner a few nights later.
Roth, however, only owned two suits and three pairs of shoes, none of which were black, according to the book.
He then went out to buy a pair of shoes at Brooks Brothers and walked around the city so they wouldn’t look new.
After the dinner party, Roth offered to hail a cab for Jackie but she preferred to walk.
When he expressed concerned about her heels, she raised her hand signaling her black limo that appeared beside them.
Outside of her upper Fifth Avenue apartment, she asked: ‘Do you want to come upstairs?’
‘Oh, of course you do’, she said, and assured him that her children John and Caroline were fast asleep.
They sat chatting for an hour, then one lingering kiss before saying good night – ‘though not before she gave Roth a card with her private phone number and asked him to call her.’
The biography details Roth’s ‘breathtaking tastelessness towards women’ that included his students, his sexual addictions, masturbation and medication-induced impotence
‘I wasn’t up to it,’ Roth confessed years later, Bailey wrote.
‘What business did he have dating the widow Kennedy, with only two suits and four pairs of shoes?’
They met again at a literary event and he called her when he learned she was ill with cancer. He sent her a book, she thanked him and died two months later.
Of course the book also details Roth’s ‘breathtaking tastelessness towards women’ that included his students, his sexual addictions, masturbation and medication-induced impotence.
Roth visited London brothels and chose female students to attend a seminar based on their attractiveness and he regularly boasted of his adultery, Bailey’s book claims.
And with the book now out of circulation, readers won’t learn who the famous women were that Roth claims to have seduced, or tried to seduce, such as Mia Farrow, Nicole Kidman, Ava Gardner, and actress Claire Bloom who became his second wife.
The book names several high-profile women Roth claims to have seduced, including Jackie Kennedy, Mia Farrow, Nicole Kidman, Ava Gardner, and actress Claire Bloom (pictured) who became his second wife
Roth was married to first wife Maggie Martinson (pictured together left in 1962). The marriage ended after Roth was caught having an affair with a one-time Playboy Playmate Alice Denham (pictured right) who spilled the beans on their sexual encounters in the same Playboy issue in which she was featured as the centerfold
And one of these beauties – a one-time Playboy Playmate by the name of Alice Denham, Miss July 1956, agreed to tell all in the same Playboy issue in which she was featured as the centerfold.
In her memoir, Sleeping with Bad Boys, she wrote Roth feared he wouldn’t ‘measure up (or down) in bed against these drunken literary mastodons’ that included Norman Mailer, William Styron, Nelson Algren, Joseph Heller – to name a few – but there was no worry.
‘Philip Roth was a sex fiend’, Denham wrote. ‘He moved from tits to – aaaah! – so fast I was breathless. Speeded up like his talk and his head. But once he got there, he hung in long and steamy. Tepid men never move me. Philip was on fire.’
Denham was so turned on she sent Roth a card requesting they resume the affair which sent his first of two wives, Maggie Martinson, into a rage and a suicidal attempt with pills and whiskey.
Roth helped save his wife’s life by putting his finger down her throat and making her vomit, but the incident marked the end of their marriage.
He moved on to an affair with one of his students, according to the book.
Roth also developed a friendship with actress Mia Farrow – that at one point turned romantic -during the summer of 1992, when Woody Allen was accused of sexually molesting his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow
In 1965, Roth was going to parties looking for a new girl in the crowd of ‘American’s wealthiest, most famous and most creative people’ that included Greta Garbo, Truman Capote, William Paley.
He also hobnobbed with Frank Sinatra, Claudette Colbert and actor, producer Martin Gabel.
Roth’s friendship with Mia Farrow began at the same time as the scandal was breaking with Woody Allen during the summer of 1992 when he was accused of sexually molesting his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, in Mia’s home in Bridgewater, Connecticut.
Roth’s wife at the time, actress Claire Bloom, had suggested they invite Mia for dinner at their nearby Litchfield County home in Roxbury, Connecticut.
Roth was game because he despised Woody as did Claire, who loathed Allen and considered him ‘a fake from top to bottom’ and bearing ‘little resemblance to a human being’.
Mia rendezvoused with Roth at a close-by liquor store and followed him home.
Roth, widely considered a giant of American literature, was awarded the National Humanities Medal in March 2011 by Barack Obama
Mia found the dynamics at Roth’s house strange and when he drove her back to the liquor store to help her find her way back to Bridgewater, Roth considered running away with her.
Some two years later, both were single and found themselves at the same party.
‘That little smile that passed between us erupted like a baby atomic bomb’, Roth confessed.
They flirted and then disappeared.
When Mia returned alone, the visiting Czech president, Václav Havel who was at the same party, asked if Roth was okay.
‘He seemed fine as soon as he got his tongue out of my throat,’ Mia reported.
They canoodled in Roth’s car and continued to see each other in what Farrow described as ‘bursts of romance here or there, through the years, but the way good friends would have a friendship that has sexuality as a component.’
Roth often said in a routine between the pair, ‘Wasn’t I once married to you between Sinatra and Andre Previn?’