Jack Hemingway: 1923-2000
Celebritys child was committed to Idaho wildlife
By TRAVIS PURSER
Express Staff Writer
Hemingway, Idaho conservationist and son of famed novelist Ernest Hemingway, died in New
York Friday at 11:30 p.m. of heart failure. He was 77.
"He was in very critical condition before his death," said New
York Cornell Medical Center spokeswoman, Kathy Robinson.
The longtime Ketchum resident fell ill in New York last week and suffered
complications following heart surgery there.
Thursday night, a spokesperson at the hospitals intensive care unit
said hospital equipment was "breathing for him."
Hemingway grew up among an elite literary crowd, a fact that belied his
adulthood spent hunting and fishing in Idaho.
As a toddler, he was the "Bumby" of his fathers expatriate
years in Paris. His father recounted some of his early life in A Moveable Feast.
The youngsters first home was above a sawmill in Paris. Growing up,
he associated with such literary greats as F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos, Ezra
Pound and James Joyce. Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas were his godmothers.
He was noted for saying that he spent the first 50 years of his life being
the son of a famous writer, and would spend the last 50 years of his life being the father
of his famous daughters, Mariel and Margaux, both models and actresses.
But when asked by Idaho Mountain Express writer Pat Murphy in 1999
what question people asked him the most, he revealed a positive glimmer into what was
obviously a happy life.
"Simple," he said. "Most people ask, Whats it
like being the son of a famous father? "
His answer: "The pluses greatly exceed the minuses."
Though he lived sandwiched between generations of celebrities, people who
know him say he made no excuses for his comparatively simple existence as an Idaho
Nearly 20 years ago, he wrote his autobiography, Misadventures of a Fly
Fisherman: My Life With and Without Papa, the nickname referring to his hard-drinking,
four-times married and often absent father.
The book describes his adventures during World War II parachuting behind
enemy lines, with fly-fishing equipment, along with his military gear. He was captured and
spent the rest of the war in a German prisoner-of-war camp.
When he returned to the United States, Hemingway married the youthful war
widow Puck Whitlock, and the couple had three daughters: Joan (nicknamed
"Muffet"), Margaux and Mariel.
During the 1970s, Hemingway sealed his reputation as a conservationist
with a six-year tenure as an Idaho Fish and Game commissioner. Then-governor Cecil Andrus
appointed him to the position in 1970.
"Jack really understood wildlife, and fisheries in particular,"
said Joe Greenley, a now-retired Fish and Game director who Hemingway helped hire during
Greenley called Hemingway an advocate for "ethical" hunting and
fishing that emphasizes recreation over killing.
As a Fish and Game commissioner, Hemingway was instrumental in getting the
state Legislature to apply "catch and release" rules to many of Idahos
Bill Goodnight, a retired chief of information for Fish and Game, said the
conservation of fish was Hemingways most important contribution as commissioner. The
"catch and release" rules have meant bigger and more fish in some areas, and
even an end to some of the "planting" of hatchery-grown fish to replenish
Goodnight called Hemingways death a "big loss," adding
that "he was a great friend to Idaho wildlife, thats for sure." Hemingway
also worked on protecting elk in Idaho, donated a large amount of land along the Little
Wood River to be used for public access and joined forces with The Nature Conservancy to
purchase property for the Silver Creek Preserve.
Of course, not everybody agreed with his "ethical" philosophy.
"There was something called the committee of
10,000," he told the Idaho Mountain Express in 1999. "And one of
their objectives was to hang me," because of his work on Silver Creek. The "meat
fishermen" wanted something to take home for their dinner tables despite dangerously
low numbers of fish.
After leaving his commissioner post in 1977, he narrated the Incredible
Idaho television documentary series produced by the Department of Fish and Game.
Silver Creek-area rancher Bud Purdy said Hemingway spent much of his
recent years at a residence in Oregon, and traveling the world in search of new hunting
and fishing grounds.
Purdy, a hunting partner of two generations of Hemingways, said Jack
Hemingway complained to him last spring of "having a little trouble" with his
health. "But he looked good," Purdy said.
Purdy said he would miss hunting chukarsa kind of
partridgewith the "astute fisherman and hunter."
Friday marked the end of an era for Purdy, whose 61-year association with
the Hemingways began in 1939, when he first met Ernest Hemingway here in the Wood River
Valley. Purdy hunted ducks with the novelist until he committed suicide in Ketchum in
1961. Purdy then continued hunting and fishing his land with the younger Hemingway.
In the words of Goodnight, "no one could say he didnt live a
He is survived by his brothers Patrick and Gregory Hemingway; his
daughters Muffet and Mariel; and his wife, Ketchum socialite Angela Holvey, whom he
married after Puck Hemingways death in 1988.
In 1996, Margaux, who rocketed to fame as a Faberge model and starred in
the movie Lipstick, died at 41 in Santa Monica, Calif., from an overdose of
The eldest of his fathers three sons, Hemingway was born in Toronto
at 2 a.m. Oct. 10, 1923, to Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingways first of four
When the father first saw the newborn several hours after delivery at 9
a.m., he is known to have told Hadley that their son had a nose like the king of Spain.
Devoted fans of Spanish culture, his parents chose a name for him that had
a Spanish flavor, too: John Hadley Nicanor Hemingway. The name honored both his mother and
the matador Nicanor Villalta.
His family and friends plan to hold memorial services Dec. 30 in Ketchum
in addition to services being held this week in New York.
He is scheduled to be interred near his fathers grave adjacent to
Highway 75 at the north end of Ketchum.