You can find out more about my next book, now titled The Silver Swan: Searching for Doris Duke, on my dedicated Doris Duke bibliography page.
Hard to say.
She didn’t write and she didn’t talk about these relationships, but what is clear is that, with the exception of Jimmy—they were married for more than a decade—she didn’t waste time finding out.
She was gone, vamoosed, as soon as the magic paled, as soon as the day-to-day exigencies of where to live, and who would pay for what, and what kind of role would a couple (if she could bear to be a part of a couple) play in her complicated, sophisticated, world-traveling life?
In her fifties, she finally gave one relationship enough time and enough effort to qualify as love: with the jazz musician Joey Castro, with whom she shared her passion for the music he played, and that she played, as a gifted amateur, under his supervision.
They lived together in her villa, Falcon’s Lair, in the hills above Los Angeles; they traveled together, to Hawaii and New York City where Joey was playing gigs; they worked together in Doris’ music studio to produce recordings of Joey’s playing, as well as of the other jazz artists of the time. Duke Ellington was a sort of sponsor, certainly a friend, but he never recorded for the label Doris named Jo-Do.
But there was a problem. There is always a problem. The only interesting question is, How did they handle it?
Joey was an addict. Doris in the time-honored, if fruitless, way of all women in love, tried to “cure” him.
Sensing that drugs and alcohol filled a spiritual hole, she introduced him to her practices: lighting candles, chanting, bringing attention to bear on the details of everyday life, eating well, sleeping. Living, in other words, like the run of mortals who have neither talent nor the money to support it.
Erica Jong said, “Everyone has talent. What’s rare is the courage to follow it to the dark places where it leads.” Neither Doris nor Joey had that persistence.
Joey “reformed”—if that is the word. Briefly. But even sober, he did not fit the social requirements of Doris’ world; in a letter, he complained that he hadn’t known he would have to become a king in order to be her consort. Or, he couldn’t, or didn’t want, to follow Claire Boothe Luce’s directive: “ANYONE WHO MARRIES A DUKE BECOMES A DUCHESS.”
In other words, emasculation.
They ended up fighting. Doris may have slashed his arm with a knife.
Later, she would file a lawsuit in California to prevent Joey from claiming that they were married.
Probably, they were.
Probably, it was the closest Doris came to developing love out of being in love.
But she could never give up her status, never retire with Joey, to a life (metaphorically speaking) in the country.
And he in the end couldn’t be a king or a duchess.
There were other men after Joey. There would always be other men, although as Doris grew older, they tended to be gay.
Finally there would be Bernard Lafferty who cared for her until she died, and was accused of all kinds of dire behavior; but all he really did was to spend some of her money (and there was plenty) and take care of her, and love her.
Did she reflect at the end of her life on the men she had loved, or tried to love, or partly loved, and who all seemed to have loved her? (Perhaps because she always left first.)
Probably not. She was not given to reflection.
And, in any event, it was too late.