Spoiled Children of Divorce

Exemplary Children of Divorce – Arthur and Irving Penn
October 2, 2010, 6:22 am
Filed under: Birth Order, creativity, Exemplary Children of Divorce, Uncategorized

This is a double whammy.  The Theater and Movie Director of the classic Bonnie and Clyde, Arthur Penn was a Child of Divorce.  He passed away this week and NPR’s Fresh Air show replayed an interview he did with Terri Gross where he discusses how his parents’ divorce affected him.   I love Terri Gross’ interviews but find it amazing how she let the ball drop when Penn was talking about the effect his parents’ divorce had on him.  I can never get used to this.  Penn literally paused and took a breath after mentioning the divorce.  It was clear that he would have liked to have discussed it but Gross didn’t respond at all and quickly moved on to another subject.  I’m pretty sure that if he had mentioned poverty, immigration, being a minority, being abused, or death, Gross would have probed further.

Arthur Penn passed away on September 28, 2010 at the age of 88.  It appears that he married once and had two children.


Article discusses Penn’s childhood.  Interesting the comments on shattered self identity which is at the center of the Joyce Carol Oates story I posted on last week.

Born in Philadelphia in 1922, Penn grew up during the Depression, spending his childhood divided between the city of his birth and, after his parents’ divorce in 1925, New York. The dislocation of Penn’s home life, coupled with the stigma of being a child of divorce, would have a profound and lasting effect on his psychological and emotional development. Moving among comedy, tragedy, realism, and absurdity (sometimes within the same story), his films address the traumas of childhood and adolescence through characters whose lack of self-evident identity is circumscribed by the impersonal social forces governing their lives.

Penn’s parents divorced in 1925 when Penn would have been about 3 years old.  He moved from Pennsylvania to New York with his Mother.  And then he moved back in with his Father and older brother, Irving, when he was around 11 or 12 years old.  Arthur’s older brother, Irving Penn, was the famous fashion photographer.  He was about 5 years older than Arthur so would have been around 8 years old when their parents divorce.  Irving lived with their Father so the sons had a separate childhood until Arthur moved back in with them.

Irving Penn was married once and had one child.

Here’s a link to his photographs as listed on Google.  Feast your eyes.

(Had to check.  I don’t believe that either Bonnie or Clyde was a Child of Divorce.  Whew, that’s a load off).

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