The  bulimic, alcoholic and dyslexic actress who ended up committing suicide like her grandfather. This is about the beautiful Margaux Hemingway

Margaux Hemingway in her grandfather Ernest Hemingway’s house in Havana in 1978. Photo by David Hume Kennerly

“It could be an epilepsy attack, it could be his grandfather’s legacy, it could be anything.” These were the words of the artist Judy Stabile pronounced before the police has found the lifeless body of her friend Margaux in her apartment in Santa Monica. The “grandfather” who Judy is talking about is obviously none other than the Nobel Prize for Literature (1954) Ernest Hemingway, who also committed suicide, like other members of his family: after all, it was like the woman had the poison in her blood.

Born in Portland in 1954, Margot Louise Hemingway changed her name when she learned that her parents conceived her after getting drunk on Château Margaux wine. Although she grew up in Ketchum, a small town in Idaho, soon as she could she moved to New York and became a model. Thanks to her marvellous beauty and her 6 ft 0 in height, at the age of 15 she was already on the cover of magazines such as Elle, Time or Cosmopolitan.

In 1975, Vogue awarded her the rank of “their supermodel” for being the first in her profession to sign a million-dollar contract. Drunk with success, Margaux began going to Studio 54 with Liza Minnelli, Andy Warhol, Cary Grant and Farrah Fawcett. It was around there that she discovered alcohol and drugs: “They were real stars and I was just a girl from Idaho, so I drank to loosen up.” This worsened his dyslexia and epilepsy, disorders that he tried to balance by practicing yoga and meditation. 

Margaux made her film debut with Lipstick (Lamont Johnson, 1976), an uneven thriller where she is overshadowed by her 14-year-old sister Muriel: while she was nominated for the Golden Globes, Margaux was battered by critics. In the next years, Muriel would continue to grow as an actress, leaving her older sister behind. It’s not that Margaux did it wrong, but her character prevented her from progressing in an industry that she saw as “full of professionals leeches.”

In two decades he acted in 19 films. Certainly, Margaux looked a bit like Ingrid Bergman, but never quite matched her cinematographic excellence. Her failure in the cinema was aggravated by several episodes of clinical depression and a skiing accident in 1984, after which she suffered bulimia that made her gain 33 kilos. To recover, she confined herself into a sanatorium. From then, her career went downhill, and she survived shooting video clunkers, posing for Playboy and airing his family’s dirty laundry. 

She also had bad luck with men: after two divorces, she lived alone but planned to remarry an old friend. It never happened. On July 1, 1996 in the age of 42, Margaux killed herself with an overdose of barbiturates, in the style of her muse Marilyn Monroe. Some time before, she even said in an interview: “I think a lot about suicide, especially when I drink too much.” 

Margaux’s tombstone can be visited on the Hemingway family plot in Ketchum Cemetery, Idaho. Her tombstone reads: “Free spirit freed.”

In Spanish Cinemanía Magazine, March 2018

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