Being a Misfit

What am I doing putting up a photo of Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, and Montgomery Clift? The story begins with the man standing under the ladder. Longago, before I knew him, before this photo was taken, he had moved among several major NY Publishing houses as their editor-in-chief.

One of his friends, the playwright Arthur Miller (cowboy hat and glasses, top of pic) wanted to give his wife a valentine’s present, a screenplay titled “The Misfits” which she could star in with Gable and Clift. Miller’s wife of course was Marilyn Monroe. Frank Taylor, the man under the ladder, produced the film. It was only one of two films he would become involved in.

Years later, Frank Taylor retired to Key West as a full time resident. When I moved to the island, I had no idea who he was or what he’d done in his life. But as I asked my friends for guidance on writing a book, they said “you should meet Mr. Taylor. He was in the NY publishing business for years.”

On the Set of the Misfits: Arthur Miller, Frank Taylor (producer), Eli Wallach, John Huston, Montgomery Clift, Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable.)

So I called him. We had lunch. I told him I wanted to write a book about boys who had been molested. The editor across from me dug deeper. He asked what had happened to me. By the time lunch was over, he’d said “I want you to publish your own story. And I’ll do everything I can to help you.”

I wasn’t sure that I should take his advice. Who was this man? I went to the local library and sought out a copy of “Who’s Who in America.” I ran my finger over the page and saw the catalog of his accomplishments. And I thought “I better take this man seriously.”

In time, Frank became not just a mentor, but a new father figure for me. He was gay. Our relationship was platonic, though I think he wanted more. We spent years together on little adventures, interspersed with “lessons” about writing and writers and agents and publishers. We were in our own ways, misfits. Frank was a funny, sharp, intuitive gentleman. He helped me patiently and loved me as a son.

Not long after he’d been diagnosed with cancer, my memoir was published. I remember bringing a large, heavy box directly from the post office to his house. We opened it, and I signed the first copy for him.

A few weeks later, when his health was clearly declining, he said “you’re on your own now.”

When he died I remember curling up in my bed sobbing, feeling alone and lost.

But now enough time has passed that I remember him fondly. His own son and I are close. It helps me when we talk.