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Norris Mailer (Church)

Also Known As: "Barbara Jean Davis", "High Pockets"
Birthplace: Washington, United States
Death: Died in Brooklyn, Kings, New York, United States
Cause of death: gastrointestinal cancer
Place of Burial: Provincetown, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of James Arthur Davis and Gaynell Davis
Wife of Norman Mailer
Ex-wife of <private> Norris
Mother of <private> Mailer and <private> Mailer (Norris)

Occupation: actress, model, author and painter
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

    • husband
    • <private> Mailer
    • <private> Norris
    • <private> Mailer (Norris)
    • mother
    • stepdaughter
    • <private> Mailer
    • <private> Mailer
    • <private> Mailer
    • <private> Mailer
    • <private> Mailer

About Norris Mailer

Norris Church Mailer was born as Barbara Jean Davis on January 31, 1949 in Washington State. She was raised in rural Atkins, Arkansas and died November 21, 2010 at home in Brooklyn Heights, New York, of cancer. She was buried in the Provincetown Cemetery. Norris was the widow of American novelist and cultural icon Norman Mailer, and worked as a writer, model and art teacher. She was also a painter with over nine one woman shows.

The 33 year marriage to Norman Mailer of Barbara Jean, a former pickle-factory worker and the only child of Free Will Baptists, "with legs so long an old beau called her High Pockets," was the subject of her 2010 memoir, A Ticket to the Circus. In it she wrote:

Norman Mailer loved to hear the stories of my family — he said he felt like he had married the great American novel. I guess you could look at it like that, since I have a Cherokee great-great-grandma and I can trace both sides back to the early and mid-1700s, when the first big wave of immigrants started arriving from the British Isles, looking for a better life — or maybe running from the sheriff.

From The New York Times

November 21, 2010 Norris Church Mailer, Artist and Ally, Dies at 61


Norris Church Mailer, a woman bred in the rural poverty of Arkansas who married Norman Mailer and managed his career and family life over three decades while carving out her own niche as a writer, died on Sunday at her home in Brooklyn Heights. She was 61.

The cause was the gastrointestinal cancer that she had battled for 11 years, said her son John Buffalo Mailer.

Ms. Mailer, who had grown up as Barbara Jean Davis, was a high school art teacher, former pickle-factory worker and divorced mother when Mr. Mailer came to Russellville, Ark., in 1975 to plug his book-length reflection on Marilyn Monroe. Brooklyn-bred, Harvard-educated, with the first of two Pulitzer Prizes to his credit, he was almost as celebrated for his brawling egocentrism and intellectual provocations as he was for his novels. ... as a Book-of-the-Month Club member, she was eager that he sign her copy of “Marilyn.” After a few moments of conversation, he was enchanted. She found him “easily the most interesting man I had ever met.” ... (1)


  • She dated Bill Clinton before he was married. While Clinton was President a woman approached her and said, "I guess Bill slept with every woman in Arkansas except you". Norris replied: "Sorry. He got us all."
  • Although her parents were from Arkansas, she was born on Jan. 31, 1949, in the state of Washington. They returned when she was two.
  • Author of additional books: Windchill Summer (2001, novel); Cheap Diamonds (2007, novel)


  1. Norris New York Times: Church Mailer, Artist and Ally, Dies at 61
  2. New York Times Magazine: Norris Church Mailer: The Last Wife By ALEX WITCHEL Published: April 1, 2010
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Norris Mailer's Timeline

January 31, 1949
Washington, United States
Age 25
Age 30
April 7, 2010
Age 61

Mailer, Norris C. A Ticket to the Circus: A Memoir. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2011. Print.

The sixth (and last) wife of Norman Mailer, Norris Church Mailer, met the late writer in 1975, when she was 26 and he twice her age; they were married for 33 years. Her memoir is, among other things, the story of a series of emancipations: from the constraints of her loving but limiting parents and the claustrophobic moralism of her Arkansas hometown; from her first marriage to a man she quickly outgrew; and from her inhibitions about writing and creating art. Norris Church Mailer who has led a life as large and as colorful as her husband's, and every bit as engaging.

November 21, 2010
Age 61
Brooklyn, Kings, New York, United States
Age 60
Provincetown, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States
April 22, 2012
Age 61
New York, New York, New York, United States


Yesterday afternoon at the Players Club, there was a Memorial Service for Norris Church Mailer who died a year and a half ago after a more than decade battle with cancer. Norris was the widow of Norman Mailer. The memorial was produced by her son John Buffalo Mailer.

Although I knew her during those trying years and saw her not frequently, I felt I knew her well. I was one of many people who felt they knew her well and it still saddens me to think that soft and brilliant light of life has gone out.

She had a warmth and intimacy that was easy to respond to with the same. Her bravery was worn as unassumingly as her beauty – and she was truly beautiful, both inner and outer. ....

Age 61
Dr. Roger Mainwaring is Norris Mailer (Church)'s 10th great grandfather.