At his 50th birthday party (celebrated on 5 February at the Four Seasons restaurant in New York), he announces, after too much drinking and a dirty joke, his idea for “The Fifth Estate,” a citizen watchdog group to keep tabs on public agencies and officials. It fizzles out in a few years, but Mailer is prescient: the Watergate break-in occurs in June.
Preceded by excerpts in Ladies Home Journal, Atlantic and New York Review of Books, Marilyn: A Biography is published on 1 August, and becomes a best seller with over 400,000 copies in print. It is the first of a string of biographies Mailer will publish over the next thirty years.
On 18 August, he is awarded the Edward MacDowell Medal at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, after remarks by his good friend, George Plimpton.
“A Mystery,” chapter 11 of The Martian Invasion. In As They Were, edited by Tuli Kupferberg and Sylvia Topp, no pagination. New York: Links, softcover. One page, one chapter, excerpt from space adventure written by Mailer at age 10, or perhaps earlier. Volume consists of childhood photos of famous people and some juvenilia. Rpt: First Glance: Childhood Creations of the Famous, edited by Tuli Kupferberg and Sylvia Topp. New York: Hammond, 1978.
“Norman Mailer Talks to Melvyn Bragg about the Bizarre Business of Writing a Hypothetical Life of Marilyn Monroe.” Interview. Listener, 20 December, 847-50. Transcript of a Second House (BBC 2) television interview. Conducted during his British promotional tour for the book, this is Mailer’s longest and best interview on 73.30. Rpt: 88.6. See other 1973 entries.
Advertisement for Marilyn: A Biography. New York Times, 9 December, 13-15. Mailer composed this advertisement, which consists of both positive and negative quotes from reviews of 73.30 (similar to 55.5), a response to Mike Wallace’s editing of his interview with Mailer on 60 Minutes, and publication figures: 400,000 copies in print. See earlier 1973 entries, 74.12, 77.7.
“Norman Mailer at the Tufts Gym.” Article by Martin F. Kohn. Providence Sunday Journal Leisure Weekly, 2 December, Sec. H, p. 23. Report of Mailer’s appearance at Tufts University where he spoke on journalism and the novel: “It is my profoundest idea, at least my profoundest idea tonight, that if we cannot perceive an idea for ourselves, we should know the observer through whom we perceive it secondhand.” See 81.2.
“Chasing the Great White Whale; Interview: Norman Mailer, Part I.” By Frank Crowther. Changes, no. 85, December, 1, 42. Crowther, whom Mailer later eulogized (see 76.10), was one of the organizers of Mailer’s 50th birthday party (see 73.18), discusses Heidegger, dread, the occult and odors in this important interview this New York-based cultural tabloid. See 74.3.
Untitled interview. By William Baises, Robert Harvey, Robert Merrill, Henry Nuwer and William Wilborn. Brushfire (University of Nevada at Reno) 23 (no. 1), November or December, 7-20. Wide-ranging interview with faculty and students of the Department of English conducted after his 4 October reading at the University. Mailer comments on several of his books, the writers of the 1930s, John Updike, Stephen Crane, and James Agee, whom Mailer knew slightly.
“Norman Mailer Takes the Stand.” Article-interview by Dave Rothman. Lorain New-Journal (Ohio), 26 October, 1. Speaking at Berea College in Kentucky, Mailer answered questions about the Marilyn plagiarism dispute, and his appearance on 60 Minutes with Mike Wallace.
“‘Marilyn Would Have Eaten Me Alive.’” Article by Jane Shapiro. Village Voice, 11 October, 87-88. Report on Mailer’s appearance on Bob Cromie’s television show, “Book Beat,” where he discusses Marilyn Monroe and his biography (73.30) of her: “You know, you always live on the edge of mystery when you’re dealing with a beautiful woman.” See 73.39.
“Norman Mailer: Narcissus and an Untold Joke.” Article by Judy Flander. Washington Star-News, 2 October, Sec. C, p. 3. Report of Mailer’s appearance before the Woman’s National Democratic Club in Washington, where he commented on 73.30, his 50th birthday party, and the profession of journalism. See other 1973 entries.