Brief History of a Goddess
America during the fifties indulged in a passionate and all consuming love affair with the movies and movie stars. Marilyn Monroe epitomises the ultimate fifties star in a decade that still excites, inspires and dominates the history books. America had truly arrived; the consumer age was born.
With the event of the Television, it could be assumed the end of the cinema and this lust for movie stars was just a formality – not so, the cinema fought back by becoming bigger and better than ever before. In 1952 Cinerama was launched, a method by which the film was shot on three cameras and then projected with three projectors onto a large wrap around screen that curved through an arc of 146 degrees. The visual effect was nothing short of spectacular. The industry went from strength to strength. In 1953 Twentieth Century Fox introduced Cinemascope, a widescreen technique that needed only a single projector and a flat screen, 68ft by 25ft.
It was during this time of speedy technological advancement and discovery that Marilyn Monroe became the established icon of American movies.
There cannot be many people that are not familiar with the name of this legend of the silver screen; if they do not know her name you can be sure that at some time during their life they will have met her image. On screen Marilyn appears ethereal almost as she glides through each foot of celluloid. You could almost be forgiven for wondering if Marilyn Monroe was real. Well, we know there was a woman; she smiles out at us from countless magazine covers, postcards, posters and other various media forms. Delve deeper and you will reach Norma Jeane.
On the surface there really wasn’t anything remarkable about Norma Jeane, she was just another kid from a broken home, although today such revelations would not make a ripple of difference in the pond of life but in the 1920’s this would have set Norma Jeane apart from many of her peers. To be an admirer of Norma Jeane you would have most likely encountered Marilyn first but let’s start this journey at the beginning and meet Norma Jeane and if we are very fortunate and luck is on our side we might discover a little of the real Marilyn Monroe – Goddess and Icon.
The Birth of Norma Jeane
As it has been well documented by biographers Norma Jeane was born on 1st June 1926 at Los Angeles GeneralHospital, the illegitimate daughter of Gladys Baker a divorcee who already had two children from her marriage to her first husband, Jasper Baker. Gladys however gave Norma Jeane the name of her second husband Martin Edward Mortenson whom she had already parted from when Norma Jeane was born, whilst Mortenson’s name was on Norma Jeane’s birth certificate it is doubtful that he was her father but to complicate and confuse matters, Gladys’s daughter was baptized Norma Jeane Baker.
So what do we know about someone we have not had the experience of growing up with, someone who we have never met and who may have died before we were even born? Yet this is a person whose image alone can fascinate and capture the interest of the most sensible, academic and intellectual people. Songs have been sung about her, films have been made. The persona of Marilyn Monroe has sold millions of books and still sells magazines even today, some 45 years after her death.
As discussed earlier Norma Jeane was quite an unremarkable child, though having not met her how do we know? We know because we have been told – by people who never knew her either! Countless books have been written and many documentaries made, the various authors researched their subject by using other authors’ research. Though of course, some spoke directly to people that did know Norma Jeane, some of the authors may have even known her personally but ask someone you know to describe you and your personality to another person! This theory of accurate research breaks down if people’s motives are closely examined. Is that piece of ‘factual’ information quite as solid as it would seem? How would you describe someone you didn’t like very much? Someone who did not like you or maybe someone you were envious of? Marilyn was the ultimate product of the power of the media. Monroe was the dream, the invention to fill the consumer need. Many unscrupulous people have cashed in on the fame of Marilyn Monroe from the beginning of her much publicised career to beyond her tragic death.
Even the voice of Marilyn herself cannot be taken as literal fact because Norma Jeane was part of this transformation, she was in on the secret – designing Marilyn with the Studio – giving her a back story that was interesting and intended to illicit sympathy from the listener/reader. It has been well documented that Norma Jeane’s childhood was spent in a succession of foster homes and orphanages. Much of the truth of the situation was heavily embellished by Marilyn in what could be considered to be a calculated effort to get those around her on side. The Cinderella story – we all love to hear that Cinderella did get to the Ball against all odds!
Her mother Gladys Baker could not cope with the day to day care of her young daughter Norma Jeane (the two children from her first marriage were taken by their father and Gladys was not involved in their care) Although placing her daughter with foster parents, it was not done in a reckless or thoughtless manner. Gladys ensured that the family Norma Jeane was to live with were respectable church people, paying the foster fees of $25 a month out of her own wages.
There is to this day a popular misconception that insanity ran through the Monroe family tree, originating from her grandparents Otis and Della Monroe. According to one of Marilyn’s most respected biographers Donald Spoto, during 1907, eight years after Otis Monroe’s marriage to Della May Hogan, Otis began suffering from memory lapses which Della put down to his occasional heavy drinking. The following year at the age of 41 his behaviour and health became a cause for concern as he developed bouts of frightening rage, accompanied by severe headaches after which he would begin to shake which would sometimes precede a seizure. Then in 1908 Otis was admitted to hospital after becoming semi paralysed. Nine months later in July 1909 Otis died aged 43. The cause of death was Neurosyphilis. The first successful drug treatment was developed the very same year, though unfortunately too late to benefit Otis. So it is clear that he died of an organogenic, not a psychogenic illness, in other words he died as a result of a disease and not a predisposition to insanity. It was the symptoms of the disease that made it appear he died a madman. The disease itself was not contracted through sexual contact but through unsanitary, viral infected conditions whilst he worked in Mexico. Otis’s family wrongly and tragically believed he died of insanity when in fact he died of a disease that destroyed his brain tissue.
In 1927 Della Monroe was taken ill and admitted to NorwalkStateHospital suffering from Acute Myocarditis (an inflammation of the heart and surrounding tissue) After 19 agonising days she died aged 51. Her death certificate gives the cause of death as Myocarditis adding a ‘Contributory Manic Depressive Psychosis’ which was inaccurate, based entirely on Gladys stressing to the Doctors at Norwalk that her mother’s moods had been unpredictable in recent weeks. In fact, her heart condition had been severely neglected and her actions can be attributed to insufficient oxygen to the brain. Unfortunately, this lack of medical awareness resulted in the myth of family madness being firmly reinforced in the mind of Gladys, Norma Jeane and other family members, each fearing the same fate awaited them. Sadly, for Gladys the fear became a reality as she was to spend much of her adult life in and out of mental institutions.
The question of Marilyn’s mental health was to be the focus of Hollywood hype throughout her career (giving the theory of suicide as her cause of death credence) Her family history or at least, what she thought was her family history, would haunt her for the rest of her life. The media refused to let go of the belief that she was mentally unstable. The press used examples of rumoured suicide attempts and the fact that she was hospitalised for nervous exhaustion on occasions to corroborate their theory of the cause of her death.
It has frequently been suggested by various media professionals that Norma Jeane was born to be a movie star. There is no evidence that she had any more aspiration as a child than any other youngster of her own age. Part of her appeal is possibly that she lived our dreams, starting with nothing but a little luck, being in the right place at the right time. It could happen to anyone, even you or I – which is all part of the fascination and attraction!
The Next Phase
The first real hint of what was to come showed itself in 1944. At the tender age of 16 Norma Jeane married quite literally ‘The boy next door’ 21 year old Jim Dougherty.
It had reportedly been said by Marilyn herself that this was just a marriage of convenience, however, Jim tells a different story. Whatever the truth, the couple were married on 19th June 1942. It was wartime and Jim wanted to do his bit for his country, so he enrolled into the Merchant Marines and soon found himself being posted on duties away from home. Norma Jeane became increasingly bored during this time; her mother-in-law found Norma Jeane a job at her own workplace, Radio Plane. The women there had various important but dull jobs packing parachutes etc for the war effort. Norma Jeane joined the assembly line and although she found the job almost as dreary as being at home at least she had the advantage of having some cash to call her own.
So, in 1944 a young army photographer named David Conover was dispatched by his commanding officer Ronald Reagan to take some photos of the women on the home front working for the war effort. Norma Jeane caught the eye of the young photographer as he set about taking his photos. When the prints came back David Conover immediately saw the potential in this young woman. He asked her to accompany him on a two day modelling assignment. Norma Jeane readily agreed as she enjoyed the work and was more than happy with the extra income.
At Conover’s suggestion she applied to the Blue Book Model Agency, which was run by a formidable woman named Emmeline Snively. Norma Jeane was accepted by Snively without hesitation and soon she became the Blue Book Agency’s most popular and requested model. Although a photographers dream, the young Norma Jeane was full of self doubt about her attractiveness. However, when she was in front of the camera she lit up and came alive, falling into poses with a natural and unaffected flair. It seems that this was the time that a spark of ambition ignited in her and she began to talk about the possibility of becoming an actress.
Emmeline Snively made it clear to Norma Jeane that if she was serious about becoming an actress she would have to abandon her marriage and divorce Jim Dougherty, as no studio would invest in her as a potential movie starlet when there was a real possibility she could become pregnant and the studio would find itself in a situation of financial loss. So in 1946 she took the decision to divorce Jim and end her marriage.
Most of her modelling sessions portrayed her as the wholesome girl next door type. Photographers’ that she worked for told her that there was far more money in doing ‘cheesecake’ and glamour shots. So Norma Jeane took their advice and soon found that they were right. Work poured in and it was not long before her photo was used on the cover of the popular ‘Laff’ magazine. It was rumoured that the cover had been seen by Howard Hughes, a millionaire producer heavily involved with Hollywood and the discovery of new young female talent. Hughes’s supposed interest soon spurred his competitors 20th Century Fox to sign her up on a year’s contract.
The Birth of Marilyn Monroe
This was the point that Norma Jeane began her remarkable metamorphosis into Marilyn Monroe. At the suggestion of studio boss Ben Lyon, Norma Jeane changed her name as well as her hair colour, hairstyle and a few minor cosmetic alterations. Although Norma Jeane’s face was well known long before she became Marilyn, it is the image of the blonde bombshell, innocently seductive, with naïve attraction in a billowing white dress, that most of the population are accustomed to when they recall their own perception of Marilyn Monroe.
In February 1947 she received her first casting call for a small part as a school girl in the film ‘Scudda-Hoo! Scudda-Hay!’ she got the part but the viewer would never have known it. The studio had pronounced her as ‘Unphotogenic’ and all recognisable shots of her finished up on the cutting room floor.
With steely determination eventually she aimed and hit the target, with the help of her newly acquired agent Johnny Hyde. Hyde, whose health was frail and was also a great deal older than Marilyn, was besotted with her. He begged Marilyn to marry him, which she declined. He managed to get her her first part of real worth, in the John Huston film ‘The Asphalt Jungle’ she played the part of Angela Phinlay, the beautiful young niece (a euphemistic term for ‘mistress’ in the 50’s) of the middle aged crooked lawyer, which catapulted her career to almost heady heights.
During the 1950’s Marilyn’s career went from strength to strength, with film credits to numerous to mention. She took on a drama coach, Natasha Lytess whose sexual preferences have often been debated, including the exact nature of her relationship with Monroe, which was highly likely nothing more than platonic on Marilyn’s behalf – however once the thought has been given voice it becomes a very grey area. It was Marilyn’s lack of confidence that lead her to rely on Natasha and eventually the acting coach Paula Strasberg, wife of Lee Strasberg, founder of the Actors Studio who was to become the most influential factor in both her working and private life.
Hitting the Heights – the Fifties – Marilyn’s Decade
After a succession of small parts each bringing stardom nearer, in 1952 Marilyn landed the part of Rose Loomis in a film called ‘Niagara’ this was her first starring dramatic role and was set in the famous Canadian Falls. In the story Rose plots to kill her husband (played by Joseph Cotton) with startling results. Success followed success when in 1953 she was immortalised forever in the penultimate film of her career ‘Gentleman Prefer Blondes’ with her co-star Jane Russell. Marilyn played Lorelei Lee the gold digging blonde airhead. It was with this film that she gained her signature tune ‘Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend’ A further string of similar roles were to follow.
By this time she had earned herself the title of Sex Goddess/Glamour Queen. To Marilyn the whole idea was amusing for a while and she was willing to play it if her fans wanted it – but eventually the sexy dumb blonde parts became tiresome for her and as she matured and grew in experience she became disenchanted with the role the studio had moulded her into.
In 1954 she married the famous baseball player Joe Dimaggio. America loved it. They thought it was a perfect match and her place in their hearts seemed secure.
Whilst honeymooning in Japan, the new Mrs DiMaggio was asked if she would consider entertaining the American troops in Korea. Marilyn was delighted to do it but Joe was not impressed. It was later to be described by Marilyn herself as the highlight of her career. The troops showered her with love and affection. Footage from the time shows her performing to hordes of GI’s in freezing temperatures, wearing a skimpy cocktail dress as she knew this was the Marilyn Monroe her fans wanted to see. Shortly after the visit she was taken ill with a serious bout of pneumonia.
Unfortunately, her marriage to Joe wasn’t to survive the year, after just 9 months of explosive arguments and conflicting needs, Joe could not handle the publicity his wife courted; he had lived in the limelight for too long and was now ready to retire from the glare of publicity. Monroe had other ideas, she was just reaching the peak of her career and was not prepared to let go of her dream for Joe or anyone else. DiMaggio could not contain his temper or his jealousy and after several outbursts of violence Marilyn filed for divorce.
Amazingly over subsequent years, their relationship grew into a firm and loyal friendship that lasted until her death. DiMaggio took care of the funeral arrangements and avoided interviews and media interest about his relationship with Monroe, maintaining a dignified silence until his own death from lung cancer on March 8th 1999. (For more information on Joe and Marilyn’s relationship see ‘The Longest Goodbye’
With each triumphant film role Marilyn’s public found it difficult to distinguish Marilyn from the characters she played. People were expecting her to be the dizzy blonde airhead that she portrayed in her films but she wasn’t, she was a sensitive, intelligent individual, lacking in a great deal of self worth and confidence. All her desires, requirements and goals were built on a framework of emotion, which was far too fragile for her lifestyle. She began to acquire a reputation for being late; indeed she was introduced as ‘The Late Marilyn Monroe’ at President Kennedy’s birthday celebration Just weeks before she died. Her rejection of time was like a refusal. Arriving on set on time would mean she was ‘ready’ and that was the crux of the matter – Marilyn never felt ready. She was also relying on prescribed drugs as a means of getting to sleep and keeping awake and alert – it soon became a vicious cycle.
Marilyn continued her career playing the teasing temptress in ‘The Seven Year Itch’ with Tom Ewell as her co-star (in this film her immortalisation was the billowing white dress over the subway grate) She went on to win acclaim for her role as Cherie in Josh Logan’s film ‘Bus Stop’ giving what was considered by some as her finest performance.
In 1956 Marilyn married America’s most famous playwright Arthur Miller. It seemed incredulous to the people that this dumb blonde should marry one of the most intellectual men alive but they adored her and could not get enough of her. Miller had his own problems at the time of marrying Marilyn he had been summoned to appear before the House of Un American Activities Committee, as he was believed to be a Community sympathiser. Americans at this time were almost hysterical in their anti communist feeling)
Marilyn firmly stood by Arthur until his name was cleared but it was a long arduous and expensive process. Monroe was very aware of Miller’s academic ability and she looked up to him for it but it also fed her own insecurity and lack of belief in herself. Miller began to plan and manage Marilyn’s career, whilst doing so he alienated a great many of her friends. She had been planning for sometime to join forces with a young and handsome photographer by the name of Milton Greene, in order to form her own production company. This lead to the role of Elsie in what was initially known as ‘The Sleeping Prince’ but was soon to become ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’ co starring Sir Lawrence Olivier. Marilyn began to look forward to being in charge of her own destiny.
Her time making The Prince and the Show Girl’ in England was nothing short of a nightmare for Marilyn. Adjusting to married life once again brought with it its own problems. At times Monroe felt that Miller was patronising her and Olivier was impossibly difficult for her to work with.
Instead of supporting her, Miller seemed to take Olivier’s side. After seeing an entry in Arthur’s diary that was not very complimentary towards Marilyn she broke down. Struggling to finish the film she was simply glad to have it over and done with. Before leaving London she was presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It is interesting to see the footage at this time, Queen Elizabeth looks Marilyn up and down, taking in every inch of her – the Queen of England meets the Queen of Hollywood.
Plunging the Depths – Something’s Got to Give
Eventually on returning to America her film production company was wound up, as was her friendship with Milton Greene. It came to a very bitter and sad end. In order to pay the legal fees for Arthur’s representation over the Communist affair, Marilyn took on a film she did not want to do, which was ironically to become one of her best loved films ‘Some Like It Hot’ with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. The film was based on the St Valentines Day Massacres. Lemmon and Curtis played the parts of musicians that had witnessed a gangland massacre and went on the run dressed as women. Marilyn played the part of Sugar Kane one of the girls in the all girl band that Curtis and Lemmon joined in order to protect their identities. Marilyn was pregnant with Arthur’s child during the filming but sadly miscarried as she had done on other occasions. Her attempts to become a mother were always thwarted.
In 1960 Marilyn met her first film flop in years. ‘Let’s Make Love’ with Yves Montand co-starring, was a film that lacked in structure and atmosphere. There was also controversy and rumour that Marilyn had begun an affair with her leading man, which ended in humiliation for Marilyn.
During their marriage Arthur spent some time writing a screenplay especially for his wife. Miller was mainly a theatre playwright and had never written a Hollywood production before. ‘This Misfits’ was the resulting film, which some feel was Marilyn’s finest hour, showing her skill and talent but the real Monroe was closer to the surface than she had ever been in any previous films. There is a luminous quality about her as she appears almost ghostlike in certain scenes. Co-starring with her all time screen idol Clark Gable, who was to die of a heart attack not long after filming finished, Marilyn unfairly took a lot of the blame from the press. They said she had kept the cast waiting around for hours on end in the heat of the desert where filming took place. In fact, Gable had insisted on doing all his own stunts, which were physically demanding and dangerous.
By the time filming had begun the Millers’ marriage was already in shreds, with the final disintegration taking place in full view of the cast and crew. It soon became obvious that a relationship was forming between Miller and one of the sets photographers Inge Morath (whom Arthur later married and remained married to until her death in 2002 of cancer) In 1962 Marilyn obtained a Mexican divorce from Arthur.
Monroe checked into hospital for nervous exhaustion at the suggestion of her psychiatrist Dr Kris. Marilyn freely signed her own admission papers under the assumed name of Faye Miller to avoid publicity. She was not taken to the room she was expecting but to the Payne Witney Clinic (Psychiatric Division) as had been secretly pre-arranged by Dr Kris. Marilyn was distressed when to her horror she was locked into a padded room. For the most mentally balanced of us this would seem like a nightmare, for Marilyn who was tired, depressed and had just found out that the person she had trusted had betrayed that trust, this was just too much. Eventually she was permitted to make one phone call. She called DiMaggio who came to her rescue, arranging for her to receive proper treatment and rest in a private room at the Neurological Institute at the ColumbiaUniversityPresbyterianHospital Medical Centre.
Marilyn no longer saw Dr Kris. Instead she started seeing Dr Ralph Greenson on an almost daily basis, during which time he began to take control over Marilyn’s life. Marilyn had lived in 54 homes; Dr Greenson recommended that she buy herself a house, which she did. The first and last home Marilyn ever owned was a modest Mexican style house in Brentwood. There was an inscription on the path in Latin ‘Cursum Perficio’ – in English – ‘I Complete the Course [or race]’ Dr Ralph Greenson arranged for Eunice Murray to be Marilyn’s housekeeper and companion. Murray had been in the employ of Greenson for many years. Claiming to be a veteran psychiatric nurse she in fact never even graduated from high school! Ralph Greenson also began as Arthur had to alienate Monroe’s closet friends and colleagues.
Marilyn’s last film ‘Something’s Got to Give’ was a catalogue of disasters culminating in Marilyn being fired from the set. Less than two months later she was found dead. The official statement was that it was a probable suicide by drug overdose but soon the rumours began - the Kennedy brothers were involved, she was killed by the Mafia, she knew too much, she was killed to make it look like suicide, she was killed to make it look like the Kennedy’s had killed her then tried to make it look like a suicide… so the theories went on and on and continue on to this very day…
Eunice Murray was with Marilyn on the night she died, she has given varying accounts of what took place on that fateful night, each one being impossibly different from the other. There is in fact no proof that Marilyn had embarked on a fruitless and tragic affair with either of the Kennedy brothers. It was said that she died of an overdose of Nembutal. Contrary to popular belief, things had actually started looking up for Marilyn, she was contemplating various film and television offers, she had been re-hired for Something’s Got To Give’ and her relationship with Joe had matured and grown in a positive way.
Marilyn had finally got to grips with her life and had agreed with Joe that both Eunice Murray and Dr Greenson would have to go as Greenson was creating more problems than he was solving and she had never really liked Eunice Murray, only tolerating her because of Greenson.
A probable theory that has been suggested is that on the night Marilyn died she had taken her usual amount of Nembutal but there was some confusion as to exactly what she had taken and Eunice Murray was instructed by Dr Greenson to administer to his client an enema of Chloral hydrate – over looking or not realising the adverse reaction with drugs that had been taken orally. Marilyn was also at this time in the habit of taking what she thought to be vitamin shots, which were possibly something more sinister. The culmination of these events to the horror of everyone involved with what may have been the intention to sedate Marilyn in an effort to give her a long deep sleep, became her death.
That night there seemed to be a series of bodged attempts to cover up what really happened. You can only imagine how Dr Greenson and Eunice Murray felt when the realisation of their blunder dawned on them – grief, shock, fear, horror, and total panic were probably just a few of the emotions experienced. Marilyn’s death has become a jigsaw puzzle of missing pieces that most likely will never now be found.
Whatever happened, suicide seems the least likely of the possibilities – Marilyn had matured in both body and mind, seeing Hollywood and the star system clearly for what it was. Choosing aspects that she wanted, needed and enjoyed, whilst dropping the heavy baggage of hanger’s on that were weighing her down.
A great number of different emotional and physical causes have been attributed to Marilyn’s death. Time and time again it has been said she was a ‘victim’ a victim of Hollywood, a victim of a string of broken marriages and love affairs, a victim of numerous abortions, a victim of drug and alcohol abuse. Media attention since her death has been relentlessly intrusive and to what gain? There is only one answer – financial. Intrigue, sex, scandal and mystery sells papers, books, magazines, documentaries and movies, along with key fobs, mugs and all manner of ‘collectables’ Marilyn like her contemporaries, Elvis, Buddy Holly, James Dean etc, is worth more in death than she was when she was living.
Death of a Star - Birth of Legend
People have crawled out of the woodwork like death watch beetle, suggesting they knew Marilyn intimately and the media have been only too willing to believe them, uninterested in their credentials as long as their story is sensational enough and preferably peppered with plenty of explicit sexual encounters.
In 1974 Robert Slatzer claimed a relationship, marriage (and divorce -apparently at the insistence of the Studio) to Marilyn that he was never able to substantiate, and yet he soon became a spokesman and authority on all things Marilyn Monroe. It is considered by many people that knew her and Donald Spoto her biographer, that the closest Marilyn ever came to Slatzer was when she agreed (as she often held impromptu photo calls for fans) to pose for a picture with him during a break in the filming of Niagara. Slatzer was unable to produce any documentary evidence of his so called ‘marriage’ with Monroe and no reliable witnesses have ever come forward to collaborate his story (the only photo’s he could produce were the ones taken on set that day whilst filming Niagara) Donald Spoto uncovered a cheque Marilyn wrote in Beverly Hills on the very day Slatzer said the were married in Mexico - Yet this man was able to add fuel to the fire of rumours that were ablaze about her alleged affair with the Kennedy brothers. Slatzer died 28th March 2005 in Los Angles, California.
Another person that is unable to even produce a photograph and yet has styled herself Marilyn’s best friend – is the one time Pinup girl and actress Jeanne Carmen. Again like Slatzer, she makes important claims about Marilyn’s final days and yet she cannot produce any solid evidence of being Marilyn’s friend, there are no photos of the two women together. It’s one thing jumping on the Monroe bandwagon to make money but these people are not just selling books – they have made claims about Marilyn’s life and the events leading up to her death that have irrevocably muddied the waters to the point that it is even more difficult to have a clear view of what took place at this time.
Soon after Marilyn’s death there was an avalanche of books flooding the market from men claiming as Slatzer had that they too had embarked on a passionate and explicit secret love affair with Monroe. All making a great deal of money from the pretence. No one was able or seemed to want to stop the systematic erosion of Marilyn’s reputation.
Marilyn Monroe may have been a victim of these fraudsters in death but she was a tough survivor in life. Much of what she encountered in Hollywood we would now term sexual harassment but Monroe overcame the most difficult of situations using the men in her life with selective intelligence. From the moment she realised her ambition she did not hesitate to drop anyone who could possibly hinder her future career potential, freeloading where she could and making the most of her chances.
Many people believe that Monroe was acting the part of herself in her films but when studied closely it soon becomes apparent that Marilyn was an actress of exceptional quality, so real in her work that the public thought she was the character she played, which for an actor must be the ultimate accolade.
Hollywood has desperately sought another Marilyn Monroe without success. Britain offered the late Diana Dors, France gave us Bridgette Bardot but they did not hit the mark, they could not reach the heights Marilyn had touched. They took all the basic ingredients – blonde hair, pretty face and perfect figure but the recipe cannot be repeated as vital ingredients cannot be captured in one person – that is why she is still loved and adored all these years after her death. Her image is of course beautiful but it is the image of the ‘ugly’ ducking emerging into a beautiful swan that really inspires our imagination. Although she was not an ugly child or teenager, it wasn’t until the studio had worked its magic that she re-emerged, re-born as the beautiful white swan. The appeal being that we can all aspire to shedding our past and walking into the sunlight a new and beautiful being.
Marilyn also exhibited lack of self worth/esteem and confidence and it is reasonable to say that most women (and of course many men) can identify with this. It’s a doubled edged sword, we want to be admired, looked at and appreciated – feel special, but when all eyes are turned upon us we feel our flaws beginning to grow and magnify until we are mortified in the spotlight of their gaze.
Goodbye Norma Jeane
There has been many songs written about Marilyn, one in particular by Elton John entitled ‘Candle in the Wind’ is a reflection of her life and what she went through, a beautiful and haunting song with the lyrics ‘I wish that I had known you but I was just a kid’ A sentiment that seems to sum up peoples feelings for Monroe. Men believe that they could have loved her enough to save her, women feeling that they could have saved her with the strength of their friendship. Marilyn was at times a difficult and demanding person often draining the emotional resources of those that were her genuine friends and those that loved her.
Touching many peoples lives, Monroe was a colourful and interesting character, a woman born ahead of her time and yet no other decade could have accepted her like the fifties did. Footage from that time shows how she would always turn her face to the source of light, always showing herself off to her best advantage, she knew her face and body well, she knew how to make the most of it – she spent a lot of time on Marilyn Monroe. It was never really enough though. Whilst as Norma Jeane she craved the spotlight as Marilyn she wanted more, as we get older our values change Marilyn was no different as she grew and developed, respect and real love became her ultimate quest.
Although the circumstances of her death will probably always be hotly debated, one thing is for certain - she will never be forgotten and her legend lives on generating love, light and eternal remembrance.
Always holding a good thought for you Marilyn!