In 2007 we had an interview posted on this page called "an interview with Jerry Torre by Robb Brawn & Lee Arboreen". My partner Lee and I had extensive conversations with Jerry Torre for this web site. For those not familiar with Jerry Torre, who Edie referred to as The Marble Faun in the Maysyles film, he is the handyman who appeared in both the original documentary as well as the sequel, The Beales of Grey Gardens.
At the personal request of Lois Wright, who lived with Beales and is the author of the book, "My Life at Grey Gardens", we have posted a copy of a letter she wrote to the editor of the East Hampton Star, dated 1/4/09, and removed all stories Jerry had related to us about his experiences "living" with the Beales for more than three years.
GREY GARDENS LIES
January 4, 2009
Dear David Rattray,
Jerry Torre, or Gerard Torre, never lived at Grey Gardens. However, he is in the Maysles film. He came around to Grey Gardens when the filming started. The Maysles and the Beales used him as a prop. Even before the film was finished in East Hampton, Jerry left. He had earned his fee from the Maysleses and thought no more about Big and Little Edie Beale.
I believe Jerry gained a lot of ideas and information from the fiction book “Gristmill” by George S. Caldwell, a novel published in 1975. I have the book, signed by the author with a note on the first page, “To Mrs. Beale, Miss Beale, and Lois Wright, with affectionate support for their way of life. George Caldwell, December 1975.”
Many books were sold and went into collections. I wrote about talking to the Beales about “Gristmill” in their bedroom. They wouldn’t read it. They liked the truth, not fiction. So I read it alone, downstairs in the studio-kitchen. I wrote all about the reactions in my book, “My Life at Grey Gardens: 13 Months and Beyond: A True and Factual Book,” 1978.
Having lived full time in East Hampton for many, many years — and I still live here — I talk to a lot of village people. No one seems to ever have seen or heard of Jerry Torre, except for the Maysles film and now the Internet.
All the interviewers the Beales let into Grey Gardens, tradespeople, neighbors, writers, artists who painted portraits of the house (outside), some police officers, cab drivers, relatives, electricians, Jitney drivers, store owners, friends of the Beales, Big Edie’s lawyer, hospital staff, oil man, Guild Hall people, the church people, delivery people, on and on and on, no one mentioned had ever heard of or had ever seen Jerry around Grey Gardens. But they had heard of me and certainly had seen me at Grey Gardens.
I have no problems being recognized in East Hampton. They even talk about my sports car (Karmann Ghia) parked at Grey Gardens, as well as seeing me. My car was parked there when the Maysleses were at Grey Gardens and they shot it. Anyway, only the Maysleses saw Jerry at Grey Gardens. I know of no one else.
It seems to me that every year Jerry’s lies get worse, more years of his living there get tacked on. I think it’s the Internet. He never lived there, and the Beales never mentioned his name except in the Maysles film, “Lies, lies, and more lies from Jerry Torre.”
The truth is evident in Walter Newkirk’s CD, “A Visit to Grey Gardens.” It is also very entertaining. Truth is evident in Walter Newkirk’s great book, “MemoraBealia,”
I hope I can stop Jerry from putting a false note on the history of Grey Gardens.