Friday, January 29, 2016

Alice Denham: Playboy Playmate, feminist, writer, and friend, 1933-2016.

I met Alice Denham some years ago at--where else?--the Lion's Head. I don't recall what animated our first conversation. Perhaps it was our common Florida background: she was a Jacksonville native; I was a military brat and spent much of my childhood and youth in different parts of the state. Maybe I had noticed the jacket cover of her novel Amo on the wall on which were displayed the many covers of the many books written by Head regulars; like many lawyers, I had a nagging aspiration to write something other than memos, pleadings, and briefs. For whatever reason, we each found the other pleasant enough to continue our conversation when we found ourselves at the Head's bar together. I learned that she had been one of the first Playboy playmates, and later a founding member of the National Organization for Women (NOW).

 I last saw her in 2013, at a party at the Cornelia Street Cafe, to celebrate the publication of her memoir of her days in Mexico, Secrets of San Miguel. Afterward some of us repaired to the apartment of her and her husband, John Mueller. who survives her, for more conversation and drinks. 

Word came today from Jeanine Flaherty, another Head veteran and widow of journalist and novelist Joe Flaherty, forwarded by Dermot McEvoy, that Alice died yesterday, January 27, at the age of 83. AdiĆ³s, Alice! It was a joy to know you, and you will be sorely missed.

Correction: When I wrote this post, I misspelled the name of Alice's husband. It's Mueller, not Muller. My apologies, John.