by Stephen Normand
@2014 Stephen Normand may not be reused without permission (photos and text)
This past year I have been working on the correspondence between Julie Benson (Mabel Normand’s paid nurse) and myself as well as reviewing my diary and foto’s of Julie & i taken during my 2 week stay with her in August 1974…the intention I have is to correct the misconception of her position within Mabel Normand’s household and work staff..I also intend to reveal her confession to me of burdens she carried within her for life due to her behaviour concerning the Normand family meaning specifically my great grandmother Mary Normand (Mother) Claude Drury Normand (brother & my grandfather) and Mercedes Gladis Normand Schroeder after the immediate passing of my aunt Mabel Normand..of course I will plainly state what I saw with my own eyes as Julie stood with me in both her home in Los Angeles at the time and then on a visit to her last home in the Valley..you may ask why I should do this…well there are so many other amazing accounts of Julie’s place in Mabel Normand’s life that I only do as she asked me to..to tell the truth..she was respected and fondly thought of by Mabel Normand but she was not a friend or relative..Mabel’s siblings and mother appreciated her dedicated work but they did not realize until much later that things were not quite as they seemed on the surface or what they were lead to believe.
For over two years Julie and I exchanged letters and had telephone conversations..she expressed herself quite clearly as to her feelings for Mabel and the Normand family as well as her regrets…so as there are fantasies about Mabel’s life and career there are about those attached to her by blood and of course by those who “Knew/loved” her and those who worked for her…my family made a grave error from the moment of Mabel’s death…they chose not to speak of Mabel and her life and accomplishments and the tragedies she endured..they allowed the rosebush theory to come into place…allowing other “friend’s” to build their “Tower of Mabel”…before I met or ever heard of Julie Benson I was educated about my famous great aunt by her sister Gladis and my grandmother Winifred wife of Mabel’s brother Claude to eventually speak out as Mabel’s family hence, my own searching over 50 years.. having authored a concise but revealing account of Mabel Normand in FILMS IN REVIEW SEPT 1974,involvement with the original Broadway Musical MACK & MABEL working for the Librettist Michael Stewart and extraordinary experience of being cajoled into becoming a character in a “story” about Mabel which is make believe as admitted by it’s author…
I am going to continue to tell Mabel’s story as I know it to be..her archive will be donated to a deserving library and the character’s in her immediate circle will be revealed for who they were/are..I look forward to “Wished On Mabel” being the vehicle for my work.