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Jerzy Kosinski Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trivia (6)

Overview (3)

Born in Lódz, Lódzkie, Poland
Died in New York City, New York, USA  (suicide by suffocation)
Birth NameJerzy Lewinkopf

Mini Bio (1)

Jerzy Kosinski was born on June 14, 1933 in Lódz, Lódzkie, Poland as Jerzy Lewinkopf. He was a writer and actor, known for Being There (1979), Reds (1981) and The Painted Bird. He was married to Katherina ("Kiki") von Fraunhofer and Mary Hayward Weir. He died on May 3, 1991 in New York City, New York, USA.

Spouse (2)

Mary Hayward Weir (11 January 1962 - 1968) ( her death)
Katherina ("Kiki") von Fraunhofer (? - 3 May 1991) ( his death)

Trivia (6)

On August 8, 1969, he was scheduled to fly from Paris to Los Angeles to join some friends for dinner at the Roman Polanski-Sharon Tate home in Hollywood. Because his luggage had accidentally been sent to New York, the delays caused him to miss the party. His dear friend Voytek Frykowski, Sharon Tate and the rest of the guests were slaughtered that evening by the Manson Family. Kosinski later addressed the twist of fate in the novel entitled "Blind Date". (see also: Steve McQueen and Jeremy Lloyd.).
Once conducted an experiment in the difficulties new writers went through to get published: eight years after it won the National Book Award, he allowed another writer to change the title of his novel "Steps" and market it as his own. It was rejected by 13 agents and 14 publishers, including the one that had originally bought it.
Born in Poland, Kosinski moved to New York in 1957, and later become a U.S. citizen. As a Guggenheim Fellow, he studied at the Center for Advanced Studies at Wesleyan University. Later he taught American prose at Princeton and Yale. He served two terms as President of the American Center of PEN, the international association of writers and editors. A best-selling novelist, he was also a prolific photographer whose work was exhibited in Poland and the States.
For several decades, Kosinski was famous as a wit, a great raconteur, and a media celebrity. His first three novels were big hits. However, in June 22, 1982, "Jerzy Kosinski's Tainted Words," an article by Geoffrey Stokes and Eliot Fremont-Smith in The Village Voice, accused Jerzy Kosinski of plagiarism and dishonesty. 'The Painted Bird' was widely considered to be autobiographical; the Voice showed that this shocking tale about a brutalized childhood during the Jewish Holocaust was not after all about Jerzy, who actually lived rather comfortably during the war years. 'Being There', which was adapted as a successful film, was shown to have been plagiarized from an earlier Polish novel with which Americans would be presumably unfamiliar. The Voice article also alleged that Kosinski relied upon editors to make exhaustive corrections and rewrites without giving them credit. Following this scandal, many friends supported Kosinski, but his reputation was irrevocably damaged. On May 3, 1991, Kosinski wrote a note that said: "I am going to put myself to sleep now for a bit longer than usual. Call the time Eternity." With a fatal dose of barbiturates and his usual rum-and-Coke, he placed a plastic bag over his head and taped it shut around his neck, a method of suicide suggested by the Hemlock Society. He was found dead in the bathtub of his New York apartment.
Once worked as the uniformed chauffeur of a wealthy Harlem jazz musician.
Escaped from behind the Iron Curtain by convincing Soviet authorities that he had won a grant to study abroad from a fictitious American foundation, and produced "correspondence" which he had manufactured himself.

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