Saturday, March 19, 2016



"Loosely" is the word when it comes to this book based on the murder of Vicki Morgan.  This book was published in 1990.  Vicki Morgan was killed in 1983.  Of course, those of you who know the fiction and non fiction of the late Dominick Dunne, who once had a highly interesting monthly article in Vanity Fair Magazine about crime in high society, know that his own daughter was murdered by her boyfriend and so he had a special kind of empathy for murdered women.  Dunne he was both in Los Angeles and New York, as well as here, there, and everywhere,  accepted as a member of the upper class.  Therefore, it's likely that some of the fictive characters in his books were based on real people he knew so that his readers were often guessing who he meant.  (In this book I think possibly Frank Sinatra,  Johnny Carson, and a Mafia boss.) So how very much he was in the know about the Alfred Bloomingdale/ Vicki Morgan relationship, is anyone's guess.
What I wish to focus on here is the Mistresshood of Vicki Morgan and how and why she has been vilified. In many ways, Vicki was the Classic Mistress, as is the character of Flo March in this book.  From a poor, even very poor background with a lack of education and manners that are in need of an upgrade, much younger, beautiful, and - here goes the stereotype - and sought out as a kind of sexual servant because the wife is many wonderful things but also an infrequent, cold, or bad, or no longer desired lover.  Therefore sexual frustration is the key motivation for the man who has everything but the sex he wants can easily "buy" the sex from a Mistress, making her into a high glass prostitute.  Stereotype also played out is, that in the end the virtuous upper class wife keeps her wealth, goes on to another such or better marriage, and manages to get away with murder vicariously, because she simply gets others to take the hint and do what she wants; the important power of her reputation and family laurels allows her to do this. The Mistress on the other hand, such a Bad Girl, as if she is only defined by what she will do, is punished by abandonment, being financially cut off by the legal wife who prevails, and ends up a drunk or a suicide or is murdered.
How infinitely more interesting if we were not believing in these stereotypes which are actually not helpful to our understanding of mistresses (or wives) in all their varieties.
In Dunne's book, although the Jewish businessman with the Wasp Wife from the very right side of the tracks, is initially motivated, at the sight of the sexy Flo, to chase her down and make her the deal of a lifetime, he is also charmed by her and comes to love her, as she does him.  Perhaps it is she who accepts him as he is, undressed, as his wife only accepts him suited up in the finest.
It could be argued that Flo loves him more or better than his wife.  He doesn't want to leave his wife or his marriage, appreciating how it has benefitted his business and social standing, and it is the wife who uses the knowledge that he has cheated to end a marriage and move on.  He wants them both.  In this book, husband dies of a heart attack, which is one of the few natural deaths in it, and that leads to the wife's revenge of cutting the mistress off, even though the amount of money that mistress was entitled to via legal documents made right prior to his death provide a measly one million dollars to be paid over five years and a nice house when the couple are worth many times that. 
Flo ends up bludgeoned to death (as was Vicki Morgan) by an intruder (Vicki by a roommate) who was hired to find the "incriminating" tapes that she was making with a ghost writer so that she could bail herself out of poverty by writing a memoir.  (Many a mistress has had to do just that!)
As a side note, I'm only aware of Betsy Bloomingdale, Afred's wife, because of her frequent appearances in Women's Wear Daily and other society pages.   It does seem that no matter what scandal was occurring in her life, like the wife in this book, she kept up her appearances, acting as if she was untroubled by the realities of her marriage, and soldiered on. 
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