Mariel Hemingway, the granddaughter of celebrated writer Ernest Hemingway, beat an illness that has claimed seven of her family members–depression and suicide. She has a new movie that deals with the issue, “Archie’s Final Project.”
Her grandfather’s suicide is part of literary history. “Papa” Hemingway, as the writer was known, killed himself in 1961 after years of declining health and money problems.
He had been treated for depression with electro-shock to no avail.
The tragedy of his death was compounded when Mariel’s stunning sister, Margaux, committed suicide at 42 in 1996. Despite a successful career as a model and actress, Margaux also struggled with health problems, including alcoholism, bulimia and epilepsy.
Mariel, 50, says she felt the same urge and considered suicide after slipping into a depression. Instead she became an advocate of suicide prevention and has devoted her life to helping others.
“Mental health and health and wellness are huge issues in my life,” she told USAWeekend.
Her latest film project, “Archie’s Final Project,” tackles teen suicide.
The film won best feature film prize for youth films at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival. It had a limited run in theaters and is now available on DVD.
“I come from a family of seven suicides, possibly more, so it’s an important issue for me. Archie’s Final Project speaks to the heart about kids’ unspoken fears,” she says.
Mariel’s own film career includes an Oscar-nominated role as Woody Allen’s teenage lover in “Manhattan” to “Star 80,” in which she played Playboy model Dorothy Stratten, who was brutally murdered.
Most recently, she traveled to Cuba to learn more about her famous grandfather. She’s also working on a project to make a film out of his Paris memoir “A Moveable Feast.”
She worked with Boris Vejdovsky, a literature and culture professor, to compile more than 350 photographs for a newly released book, “Hemingway: A Life in Pictures.” And, she wrote a tribute for it.
“I understand his appreciation for the best of the best, whether it was the best fly-fishing stream, the best Bordeaux…my grandfather knew what was great,” she wrote.
“He wanted to experience it, taste it, feel it and stand in the face of anything that stretched him beyond the limits of his own comfort.”
Mariel has two daughters with ex-husband Stephen Crisman; Dree is a fashion model and Langley is an artist and actress.