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Norman Mailer

Writer

Born: 31 January 1923
Died: 10 November 2007 (renal failure)
Birthplace: Long Branch, New Jersey
Best known as: Pugnacious author of The Naked and the Dead

Name at birth: Norman Kingsley Mailer

Called "the macho prince of American letters" by the Associated Press, Norman Mailer was one of America's most famous and controversial writers in the years after World War II. Mailer became an international celebrity at the age of 25 thanks to The Naked and the Dead, his gritty 1948 combat novel based on his experiences as a soldier in the Philippines. He published less successful novels in the 1950s and '60s, but also co-founded the New York newspaper The Village Voice and wrote essays on contemporary issues and personalities, including boxing, Hollywood, presidential campaigns, Marilyn Monroe and Lee Harvey Oswald. Mailer was reviled by some and adored by others; he liked publicity and was known to enjoy a good scrap, literary or physical, somewhat in the mode of Ernest Hemingway. He has twice won the Pulitzer Prize: for The Armies of the Night (1968) and The Executioner's Song (1979). His other books include Advertisements For Myself (1959), a collection of writings that includes the widely read essay "The White Negro," and the novels Ancient Evenings (1983) and Tough Guys Don't Dance (1984).

Extra credit: Mailer was married six times... He attended Harvard, graduating in 1943 before joining the Army... He wrote several screenplays, including for The Executioner's Song (in 1982) and Tough Guys Don't Dance (in 1987, with Mailer also directing)... Like his contemporary Gore Vidal, Mailer dabbled in politics -- he ran for mayor of New York City in 1969 and lost... In 2005 he was given an award for lifetime achievement by the National Book Foundation.

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