Oona was receiving a letter almost every day from a boy named Jerry in New York. Some of the letters were fifteen pages long, and they were very witty with commeents on all kinds of things. I told Oona I was afraid that if I wrote to Bill, [William Saroyan] he'd find out what an idiot I was, and decide not to marry me, so she marked the clever passages in her letters from Jerry and let me copy them, as my own, in my letters to Bill.
When Bill's two week training period was up and I went to see him at camp, he was terribly surly. I asked him what was the matter and he told me he'd changed his mind about marrying me. He said he thought I was a sweet girl but that "those lousy glib letters" I'd been writing had made him wonder." --"O'Neill" by Arthur and Barbara Gelb.
Oona ofcourse went on to marry Charles Chaplin, and according to Ian Hamilton, a JDS letter at Harry Ransom (duplicated and sent to both Whit Burnett and Elizabeth Murray) apparently makes very nasty reading on the subject of Charles Chaplin, "and one fails to locate in it any powerful sense of loss."
Mrs. Matthau [Carol Marcus] said: "Remember the Salinger thing?"
"A Perfect Day for Bananafish. That Salinger."
"Franny and Zooey."
"Umh-huh. You don't remember about him?"
Mrs Cooper [Gloria Vanderbilt] pondered, pouted; no, she didn't.
"It was while we were still at Brearley," said Mrs. Matthau. "Before Oona met Orson. She had a mysterious beau, this Jewish boy with a Park Avenue mother, Jerry Salinger. He wanted to be a writer, and he wrote Oona letters ten pages long while he was overseas in the army. Sort of love-letter essays, very tender, tenderer than God. Which is a bit too tender. Oona used to read them to me, and when she asked what I thought, I said it seemed to me he must be a boy who cries very easily; but what she wanted to know was whether I thought he was brilliant and talented or really just silly, and I said both, he's both, and years later when I read Catcher in the Rye and realised the author was Oona's Jerry, I was still inclined to that opinion."
"I never heard a strange story about Salinger," Mrs Cooper confided.
"I have never heard anything about him that wasn't strange. He's certainly not your normal everyday Jewish boy from Park Avenue."
"Well, it isn't really about him, but about a friend of his who went to visit him in New Hampshire. He does live there, doesn't he? On some very remote farm? Well, it was February and terribly cold. One morning Salinger's friend was missing. He wasn't in his bedroom or anywhere around the house. They found him finally, deep in snowy woods. He was lying in the snow wrapped in a blanket and holding an empty whisky bottle. He'd killed himself by drinking the whisky until he'd fallen asleep and frozen to death."
After a while Mrs Matthau said: "That is a strange story. It must have been lovely, though --all warm with whisky, drifting off into the cold starry air. Why did he do it?"
"All I know is what I told you," Mrs Cooper said.
Sometime in the 1990's Salinger is reported to be married for the third time to Colleen O'Neil. Whether or not there is any connection to Oona (O Neil, y'see..), our gossipy selves would love to know more about, never mind JDS' silent admonishing, disapproving voice: "Stop that!"