Adele Morales Mailer, 90, an actress and artist who studied under Lee Strasberg and Hans Hoffman, but found unwanted fame in 1960 when she was stabbed by her then-husband, the writer Norman Mailer, died Sunday of pneumonia in New York City.
"She wanted to be remembered as a gifted painter and actress, and as a mother who was fiercely devoted to her [two] girls," daughter Danielle Mailer said, while acknowledging that her mother would be known to many for an act of violence her father committed 55 years ago.
Mrs. Mailer was the second of the writer's six wives. A native New Yorker, she met Norman Mailer in the early 1950s, when she was a painter and he was the renowned author of The Naked and the Dead. They later had homes in Manhattan and Connecticut. But they argued often and she also had to intervene when he fought with others, once bailing him out after he had a drunken encounter with the police.
They had been married six years when, in November 1960, they got into a drunken argument after a party at their Greenwich Village apartment and her husband stabbed her near the heart with a penknife.
The widely reported incident left her in critical condition, with wounds in her abdomen and back. Norman Mailer was indicted for felonious assault, but his wife declined to press charges, saying she wanted to protect their daughters. He later received a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to third-degree assault.