Tuesday, August 2, 2016


in a photo she gifted William Faulkner
which was taken by a photographer
working for Samuel Goldwyn Studios.
This picture, which appears in the book below,
also appears on the web site
The long-term love affair between Hollywood "script girl" Meta Carpenter, and the literary, eventually Pulitzer Prize (1963) winning author William Faulkner, who off and on also made money in Hollywood as a writer working on screenplays adapted from other author's literary works, is one that that began because they felt like two foreigners in the movie business.  They were both born and raised in the traditions of the American South to families with enough money to have servants. At first, when they met in 1932, it was this understanding of being two people from an alien culture that pulled them together.  She was a divorcee and he was unhappy and unfulfilled in his marriage to the stormy Estelle.  There was also a compelling sexual attraction between the two of them.
For many years these two lovers lived with their hearts divided, for Faulkner never did divorce, and Meta married, divorced, and remarried the same man, German-Jewish concert pianist Wolfgang Rebner, during these years.  Her marriage to Rebner was horribly effected by the Nazi's, World War II, changes in the economy, and poverty due to diminished employment for both of them. Yet, even when there were lulls in the relationship between Meta and Bill, due to physical distance or time passing, they were never completely out of each other's hearts, and a strong correspondence kept them together, as lovers, as friends, as special.
It's been suggested that Meta and Bill were involved for eighteen years but these were not all years in which their sexuality, which was highly erotic, was able to be expressed. Mostly they were apart.  When they began, in their early years, though Meta struggled with involvement with a married man and the relationship gradually unfolded, she went from a woman's residence called The Studio Club where many a starlet stayed, to a room mate, to renting her own place where they could feel more coupled, their relationship mostly played out in the hotel rooms William Faulkner lived in. 
Bill would arrange it that Meta spend time with his daughter, who she came to love, and meet his wife, who later went ballistic when he did actually ask for a divorce, all which made things more difficult.

And, unlike other Mistresses I've elected to be Mistresses of the Month here at MISTRESS MANIFESTO, who are at least in part defined as Mistresses because there is evidence of the woman (or man) being Kept financially, there is no reason to think that William Faulkner, who pled poverty due to familial responsibilities and debt from the start, ever Kept Meta. 
This woman was independent and sacrificial and unspoiled.  When he brought Estelle out to Hollywood and rented a house for them in the Pacific Palisades, complete with their servants, I have to wonder if Meta didn't wonder if he was telling her the truth about his inability to make her life easier.  I think he was cheap with her, but then again, in her early twenties she was pleased with his poetry and a ribbon for her hair.  She was willing to be a "careerist" and would never have children.
Was he full of promises?  Yes and No.  He seemed to diminish her expectations while also pledging his eternal love.  He also said, and she believed, that she excited him like no other, that he wasn't womanizing, and what they had was what he wanted.
According to Meta, when they were seeing each other two or three times a week, he said, "I know that right now I'm a married man... I know I'm piss poor... I can't give you anything"  (page 47)  Like the Mistress of the notable musician-poet Bob Dylan, Ruth Tryangiel, who said the only gift she got from Bob was an orange, Faulkner gave small gifts such as a cocker spaniel puppy and a warm coat - not a fur but a full length evening brocade for $75 dollars at Bullocks-Wilshire, or a locket that she kept his picture in.  But he also tried to help her 2nd husband get work and when came a day that she was skeletal and sick in New York and wanted to leave that husband,  Faulkner provided her the money for a train ticket to visit him, and begged her to take some work on films being made in the South. 
When in Hollywood, the couple were regulars dining and drinking at Old Hollywood writer's hang out, Musso and Franks restaurant, but they never went to concerts or plays, as she would have loved.  Their involvement wasn't exactly a secret but it felt isolated. His lawyer and agent and some of her friends were in the know, that's how he got her letters, and there was a lot of whispered gossip about the two of them at various studios where they worked, more than she realized at the time.
But perhaps the material things didn't count so much.  What he did give her was this: "He was my best friend, the lover who exalted me, the teacher who gave me wisdom, the source from which I drew strength."  (page 242)

Faulkner he screwed up his Hollywood script doctor job eventually, because of his alcoholism.  He apparently drank too much in response to learning of her marriage, and got blackballed by all the studio chiefs, though after he won that Pulitzer years later, he was brought back, but still for a demeaning fraction of what he used to get paid.  The Pulitzer put him in demand as never before elsewhere though, and, as Meta one day accepted, she would never see him in the flesh again.  When she was told he had died, in 1962, she "felt like a widow."
The book below, which is the primary reference for this post, has a lot about Hollywood before and through and after World War II, as well as the effect that the Nazi's had on her husband Wolfgang Webner's family, and his career.
Meta's loved music and culture. Not so long after it became clear that Bill would not or could not divorce, she thought she'd take care of her life and get married.  She married a concert pianist who had pursued her for a long time and who was in love with her. On their honeymoon to see his wealthy family in Germany, in the days before World War II, it became clear that the Nazis were going to wipe them out, and in fact they did suffer the loss of their wealth and several family members commit suicide before it was all over.  The couple made it to New York where Wolfgang's ability to make money was thwarted.  Many of their musician friends suffered the same and yet at first Meta had told Bill she was happy and that they had a wonderful cultural life, attending concerts, operas, and recitals.  As their fortunes dwindled, Meta sacrificed, sold a platinum bracelet the family had given her, and began to starve and sicken, then needed surgery. 

Faulkner died in 1962, Meta in 1994 at the age of 86.  In her New York Times Obituary, which is briefer than this one, it is said that their love affair lasted 18 years.

The Love Story of William Faulkner and Meta Carpenter
by Meta Carpenter Wilde and Orin Borsten
This book stands as a primary reference for this months posts,
along with articles in the New York and Los Angeles times,
including the 1994 obituary for Meta,
who died that year at the age of 86 as Meta Carpenter Wilde.

Faulkner died in 1962.
Try using the term "Hollywood" in the embedded search function of this Google Blogger, to bring up other Hollywood associated Mistresses and Misters including George Reeves (Superman), Louise Brooks, Clara Bow, and Marion Davies.
* According to Wikipedia here is the job description today of the work that Meta did: "A script supervisor (also called continuity supervisor) is a member of a film crew and oversees the continuity of the motion picture including wardrobe, props, set dressing, hair, makeup and the actions of the actors during a scene. The notes recorded by the script supervisor during the shooting of a scene are used to help the editor cut the scene. They are also responsible to keep track of the film production unit's daily progress. The script supervisor credit typically appears in the closing credits of a motion picture and is listed on IMDB under Misc. crew, even though they have a crucial role in the shooting of a film.
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