Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Remembering Stella Sampas, Jack Kerouac's third wife

 

Jack Kerouac and Stella Sampas Kerouac

Today -- February 10 -- we remember Stellas Sampas, who died on this date in 1990. Jack's third wife (married 11-18-66), she appeared in one Kerouac work, Vanity of Duluoz, as Stavroula Savakis. They knew each other from childhood on and he wished her a Happy Valentine in a February 13, 1959 letter:
Happy Valentine and good luck to all the family.
I hope you understand why I dont write, or visit. My mother is moving back to a small house in Florida now, with me, because it is too expensive in New York. I dont have as much money as people think. I didnt even sell On the Road to the movies yet but the movies are coming out soon with big pictures using the same theme. So I lost out and wont be rich at all. It's a shame but it always works that way. I dont need much money for myself, in any case. The awful abuse that I have been getting from critics resulted in the complete neglect of Dharma Bums. For some reason my name has become associated with bearded beatniks with whom I never had anything to do at all. I'm angry now, for sure, I'm going to Paris this spring and forget it all, and write something beautiful about Paris. When I'm an old man I'll at least have my jug of wine and a loaf of bread too. (Jack Kerouac Selected Letters 1957-1968, Ann Charters (ed.), Penguin Books, 1999, p. 210)

Stella inherited Jack's estate when Jack's mom, Gabrielle, died in 1973, triggering the well-known Kerouac estate controversy over the forged will (so said a judge) and endless vitriole on-line about the whole matter. The Sampas family controls the estate to this day. For an insider's look at estate details, grab a copy of Kerouac: The Last Quarter Century by Gerald Nicosia (reviewed here).

Stella was the sister of  his closest childhood friend, Sebastian Sampas. Most would agree that theirs was mainly a marriage of convenience (she looked after Jack's invalid mother). Nevertheless, she played a major role in the Kerouac saga.

RIP, Mrs. Kerouac.


8 comments:

Richard Marsh said...

That reminds me:

https://youtu.be/qB-Nfz9xT_c

Rick Dale, author of The Beat Handbook said...

Nice, Richard!

Ken Janjigian said...

Beautiful song for an unheralded member of the Beat circle.

Unknown said...

I have been a big fan of Jack's for a long time and recall back around 1981? Visiting Nick's bar in lowell who I believe was a Sampas. Anyway on another note I also purchased a mobile home in Nashua (still here) from a Robert Kerouac who is related to Jack. Thought I would say hello.

Rick Dale, author of The Beat Handbook said...

Astute readers will note that I violated my own comments policy by posting the above by "Unknown." I decided its relevance outweighed the ban on anonymous comments.

Jamessupernor@rocketmail.com said...

It was me who left the (unknown) comment. Jim Supernor. jsup990@gmail.com

Rick Dale, author of The Beat Handbook said...

Thanks for identifying yourself, Jim!

Unknown said...

You're welcome.