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From the February 17, 1990 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette p.21:
Even though he was an historian, Edgar Kaufmann Jr. went to his grave at age 78 last year with family secrets, Brendan Gill writes in the March Architectural Digest about the Kaufmanns and Fallingwater. Gill wonders why Kaufmann left Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio Taliesin in less than a year, suggesting a homo-s-e-x-ual love affair there may have triggered it. He writes Edgar's mother committed suicide "with a rifle shot a few yards downstream from the house." Thomas M. Schmidt, Fallingwater director, said yesterday, "Edgar's friends are incensed at Gill. He raises issues, Edgar's homo-s-e-x-uality and his mother's death, that were extremely sensitive to Edgar and never discussed. Gill has now savaged Frank Lloyd Wright, philosopher Joseph Campbell, whom Gill called a 1930s fascist, and Edgar, who are no longer here to defend themselves. Gill is wrong about Liliane Kaufmann's suicide. She died in the house of a pill overdose, according to two servants who removed her body from her bed. Neither Gill nor Architectural Digest checked with us on this." Edgar Tafel, New York architect in charge of building Fallingwater for Wright, said yesterday, "I've always heard Mrs. Kaufmann died of pills. If it had been a shot we would have known it. Edgar left Taliesin because he decided he was not going to be an architect. Gill stretches the truth. When Gill started his architecture column at The New Yorker, Edgar told me gloatingly he loved to gloat that he wrote the editors so Gill would see his letter, saying, 'I see you've hired the Louella Parsons of architecture.'
From what I have read, weekends at Fallingwater included cocktails.
I suspect it could be said that he chose to ignore certain conventions and inconveniences . . .focusing on the now and the future rather than the past ?
But it's an old man's privilege, if not unavoidable duty, to look back as well as forward -- if only to warn the young(er) of unexpected bumps in their path . . .
If Secrest took Gill as gospel on the middle name, maybe she followed suit on the circumstances of Liliane K.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s death. I believe verification of this would be searchable via a death certificate on file in either Fayette or Allegheny County Pennsylvania. I seriously doubt a coroner, even in the 1950Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s dealing with a locally powerful family, would fudge a death certificate to the change a gunshot to an overdose....or not? I recall a docent at FW noting that Liliane was found unconscious in her bedroom and was driven to a hospital in Pittsburgh, where she died, as EJ was concerned about the quality of care available in Mill Run or Uniontown on a weekend evening.
It would be ironic if the Fallingwater gift shopÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s extensive selection of books for sale includes books that tell a story that differs from their understanding or knowledge of actual events.