It’s hard to believe that fifty years ago the iconic Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann was published. It became a huge success, becoming the most popular selling fiction of 1966 and has since sold over thirty million copies, not bad right?
The novel follows three girls; Anne, Neely and Jennifer, who follow their aspirations of becoming stars. They all meet and befriend each other as we see their lives unfold through success and failure over the next twenty years. Although a work of fiction, there have been numerous links to the characters in the novel and real life stars and a lot of the content is said to be based on the authors experience as a struggling actress.
Within a year of it’s release Twentieth Century Fox bought the film rights and one of themost iconic movies of the decadewas released. Although panned by most critics as extremely over the top, the movie was a huge commercial success and has since gained a cult following. The one star of the film that received little negative criticism was Sharon Tate, who played Jennifer North, arguably the most sympathetic character of the novel and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Newcomer. Admittedly, as a huge fan of Sharon, this is the original reason I wanted to watch the film, however, after seeing it numerous times it is without doubt a 1960s classic and a must see. Not only is the glamour and clothes beautiful, but it contrasts with the darker side of materialism and fame and ultimately makes you think, is it all worth it?
To celebrate fifty years of Valley of the Dolls the book, which has sadly been out of print for some time, has beenre-releasedand is available on amazon to buy for just £6.99! I’m actually ashamed to say that although I’ve seen the film numerous times, I’ve yet to read the book! However, this is not because I didn’t want to, as I love reading, it’s just quite hard to buy for a good price as it was pretty rare. I’ve heard that the ending to the film and the novel are very different, so I look forward to comparing them and seeing which I prefer! The film is also being released on Blu-Ray this September which I am very excited about.
I think the number one reason that the novel and film are still so relevant fifty years later is because everything that Jacqueline wrote about half a century ago is still happening now! Not only is the fashion and style still being replicated and endures but the pitfalls of fame and drugs are constantly being talked about in the media. Although it is often viewed as frivolous and something to indulge in and not take seriously, it covers an extremely serious subject of addiction. It’s actually quite sad when you think not much has changed half a century on, but at least there is more awareness.
Since the book was published in 1966, it has been adapted numerous times for television and film, songs have been written, styles have been copied and the title is forever etched inside our minds.
“Everyone has an identity. One of their own, and one for show.”
It’s hard to believe that today my favourite person, Marilyn Monroe, would be turning 90 years old, it even sounds absurd to say as she is forever etched in our minds as eternally young and beautiful. However, I wish she was here now to see how loved she is, even more so than the fifty fours years ago when she tragically left us.
For the past few years I have always made sure to write or blog about Marilyn on her Birthday and Death Anniversary, so if you’ve followed me for the last four years you’ll probably be pretty aware of that. Therefore, I’m not here to say anything new really, I’m just here to speak from my heart because as silly as it made sound to some people, that’s truly where Marilyn will always have a special place.
“Respect is one of life’s greatest treasures. I mean, what does it all add up to if you don’t have that? If there is only one thing in my life that I am proud of, it’s that I’ve never been a kept woman.” – Spoken to Photographer George Barris in July 1962.
Marilyn came into my life unexpectedly just before my 17th birthday in October 2010, when I picked up a Vanity Fair Issue with her on the front cover as their cover girl. As mentioned before, I’ve told the story numerous times of how I instantly felt connected to her and started my research and I’ve been collecting ever since.
I think I’ve always felt attached to the underdog, which ironically, many people probably don’t see Marilyn as. After all, she was viewed as beautiful and loved by all – America’s Sweetheart. However, when you actually take the time to learn about Marilyn, you realize she succeeded against extreme odds. She came from a broken home, was an illegitimate child to a mother who suffered with paranoid schizophrenia and after the first seven years of her life with the Bolender family, Marilyn was shifted around to various different guardians and even an orphanage. She suffered physical and emotional abuse, anxiety, depression and insomnia but never let any of this stand in the way of achieving her dreams.
“The time I sort of began to think I was famous, I was driving somebody to the airport, and as I came back there was this movie house and I saw my name in lights. I pulled the car up at a distance down the street; it was too much to take up close, you know, all of a sudden. And I said, “God, somebody’s made a mistake.” But there it was, in lights. And I sat there and said, “So that’s the way it looks,” and it was all very strange to me, and yet at the studio they had said, “Remember, you’re not a star.” Yet there it is up in lights. “
– Spoken to Richard Meryman for Life Magazine in July 1962.
I also owe Marilyn a lot of thank yous as since discovering her in October 2010 and setting up my blog,alwaysmarilynmonroeI have met so many incredible people and experienced so many wonderful memories. Not only did I find an inspiration for each day, I found a Guardian Angel, someone who would always be there in spirit and never judge or upset me. Someone who could cheer me up by just watching one of their films or seeing a photo and someone who went through so much but never gave up on herself even in her toughest times.
Sadly so many look at Marilyn as a victim, due to the endless conspiracies, (thanks Norman Mailer) and her young death which makes me really frustrated as in doing this they miss out on an incredible person. They view her as just a pretty face and a little dumb blonde when it reality this blonde was an avid reader, with a library of over 400 books ranging from Russian Literature to Psychology. They’ll call her a drug addict without having any compassion or understanding for her debilitating anxiety, depression and insomnia. They’ll hear about how hard she could be to work with or her lateness without knowing she suffered such extreme anxieties that she would often stay in her dressing room terrified to act a scene encase she messed up. Many even think she was playing herself on the screen and have little respect for her talent, thinking, “How can someone so beautiful be a good actress?” The irony being if they did some legitimate research they’d realize she was probably the greatest of them all as she’s fooled so many people for all of these years that she is the person they all perceive her as.
“What I really want to say: That what the world really needs is a real feeling of kinship. Everybody: stars, laborers, Negroes, Jews, Arabs. We are all brothers.”
– Spoken to Richard Meryman for Life Magazine in July 1962.
Another year has gone by and Marilyn’s star keeps growing brighter and brighter, people are still fascinated and enthralled by this beautiful soul. Did Marilyn have her faults? Of course she did, it’s hard to believe, I know, but she was a human being just like us. I love Marilyn for Marilyn and that will never change. I’d like to think that there are more genuine fans who love and respect Marilyn then conspiracy lovers who just follow their ignorance.
If I could hope of anything to come from this article it’s respect for Marilyn and maybe a little more compassion and understanding. She was a woman ahead of her time, a talented artist, a caring and sensitive soul but mostly importantly, she was a beautiful person.
“Fifty years on, we’re still watching her movies and talking about her. That’s not a dumb woman – trust me!” – Lauren Bacall to TCM in 2005.
Although most of my blog posts here on meganmonroes are about make up and vintage fashion styles, other topics such as Mental Health Awareness are incredibly important and close to my heart.
Over the past few years I’ve spoken quite a few times about my struggles and through being so open and honest, I have met a lot of other people in the same position as well. With a physical illness, you heal the injury and most of the time move on from it, with a mental illness it’s not always so easy. Please don’t get me wrong, as someone who has had a serious operation during their life, I know that physical injury is incredibly debilitating and painful. However, I know if I could choose to have a physical or mental illness, I’d choose physical every time.
Therefore, as someone who has improved a lot in the past four years, I still have my good days and bad days and it was down to one simple tweet that I am able to make this post. I suffer pretty severely with Intrusive Thoughts, which are a type of OCD called, “Pure O”, 99% of the population have intrusive thoughts, but 25% of the population obsess over them, sadly I am in that 25%. Ever since finishing my recent Therapy, I’ve gone slightly downhill with being able to manage my intrusive thoughts as it can be a lot harder trying to get better by yourself, even when you have all the knowledge and advice. It was because of this that I decided to tweet a message asking if anyone had advice for managing intrusive thoughts, with the hashtag #pureo. After clicking on this tag I came across an amazing website called, The Secret Illness and watched the short film, “This Old Ghost” which I found incredibly powerful and moving.
Through watching this film I learnt that the basis of the story is from a poem by an OCD Sufferer, James Lloyd who has kindly shared his story to bring awareness and attention to this serious mental illness. I decided to check The Secret Illness on Facebook and to my astonishment saw thatAshton Kutcherhimself has posted about the project! He added the caption, “Never judge someone else’s story until you’ve lived in their shoes.” As OCD is so often trivialized and even made fun of by the media, it’s an incredible step for Mental Health that someone as successful as Ashton is bringing awareness to such an important topic.
Sometimes it can be hard to do the littlest thing as the mind bully, (that’s what I call it) can be so controlling, I’ve often cried and felt so low and frustrated with myself that I let the thoughts get to me so much. The mind bully would be happy if I sat in a corner and cried to myself all day, but I’m not going to let it beat me or keep control. It’s not surprising that if you suffer with one mental illness you often suffer with another, the intrusive thoughts always increase my depression and fill with me anxiety. Through finding The Secret Illness I know that there are many sufferers like me and that I’m not alone, which is what the mind bully wants. Through speaking out and being honest and open I hope I can help raise importance about the seriousness of Mental Health and help people realize that you don’t have to suffer in silence.
As a true vintage girl at heart, I was absolutely thrilled when I heard aboutYours Magazinebringing out a specific retro style issue with all things Classic Hollywood and pre 2000s. Special thank you to Fraser from Immortal Marilyn andeverlasting-star.net forkindly sharing this! At £3.99 this isn’t the cheapest magazine but as far as I’m aware it’s the only one like it out there so personally, I’m happy to pay the price.
If you love Old Hollywood as much as I do then this is definitely the magazine for you, with my favourite Hitchcock Blonde, Grace Kelly featuring as Cover Girl. Not only is there a wonderful article on her inside, the magazine features many stories on stars such as, Ingrid Bergman, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy and Hedy Lamarr to name just a few.
I know reading the articles isn’t for everyone but, fear not, the magazine is full of photos and not just the ones you have seen so many times before. As someone who knows a fair amount about the Golden Age of Hollywood, I was pretty impressed with the magazines research, I even learned a few new things myself!
However, there were two noticeable mistakes that stuck out and did slightly frustrate me. Grace Kelly’s age when she died was listed as 53, when she was actually 52 and it was claimed Marilyn held her first ever press conference at The Savoy Hotel in July 1956 – the press conference of course happened, but it was mostly definitely not her first. Of course these pet peeves may be of little concern to a lot of readers, but as someone who is incredibly passionate about this subject, it is important for me to know that the writers are also just as informed.
Furthermore, although the majority of the magazines content is spot on with following the, “retro” content, I feel the magazine needs to be aware that it will not just attract an older audience. At 22 years old I am probably one of the younger readers, but I know I’m not the only modern girl with an old soul who loves learning about this subject. Not every single reader is buying this to, “reminisce” or feel, “nostalgic as the survey seems to imply.
What I really enjoyed about the magazine was the survey left for readers to give their opinions on the contents for research purposes. It’s very heartwarming to know that your views and interests are being considered and noted for future issues, you feel a part of the Yours Team’s aim and believe it is their aim to produce a quality product.
As someone who’s interests lie in the bygone era of Hollywood, it’s wonderful that such a unique magazine is so accessible and easy to find. If you’re not in the UK I think you can still purchase the magazine online, so fear not! I really hope it sticks to pre 1970s content, if I wanted to read about today I could easily just buy a modern day magazine .
If I could ask the magazine to stick to one thing it would be pre 1970s content, if I wanted to read about the stars of today, I could easily buy a modern day magazine. I really hope Yours Retro continues for many more issues to come, I for one will definitely be looking out for the next one!
Sadly, a lot of people today won’t know much about the classic movies from Hollywoods Golden Age. To many, CGI and blockbuster budgets are a lot more appealing than dialogue and black and white films. However, what I would guess quite a few people recognize is the name Alfred Hitchcock.
A man like no other, he revolutionized movies and has inspired many Directors and Stars of our day. As a person? Well, from what I’ve read he was definitely one of a kind and not everyone’s cup of tea, but as Director? He’s without doubt one of the best.
During his fifty year career, he was forever breaking boundaries and daring to do what others could never imagine. I think one film that everyone will know about, well one scene especially isPsycho (1960), the chilling music by Bernard Herrmann is forever etched in viewers minds.
Hitchcock was always using recurring themes in his films, from his signature cameo appearances, (To Catch A Thiefhas to be a favourite) to his love of icy blondes who often meet a gruesome end, he was a Director like no other! Although he made nearly seventy movies, I’m going to pick my top five that I’d recommend you watch. I’ve seen the majority of this films from his best years; the 1940s through 1960s so I think I have a fairly good judgement.
Ironically enough, the first time I watched this film, I didn’t understand the hype around it. It revolves around a recovering Photographer, L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies, (played by James Stewart) who watches his neighbours out of boredom and convinces himself that one has committed a murder. With Hitchcock’s most famous blonde, (Grace Kelly) being James Stewart’s leading lady and looking ever so beautiful in Edith Head’s costumes, I assure you, you’ll be gripped! They don’t call him the Master of Suspense for nothing. A huge hit during it’s original release and #37 on IMDB’S Top 250 Movies, this is a must see!
Not only is Cary Grant at his sauve best at fifty four (!) but the chemistry between himself and the wonderful Eva Marie Saint is absolutely thrilling. Cary plays Roger Thornhill, a man framed for a murder and on the run. In the late fifties, Hitchcock was well into his obsession with his leading ladies and actually picked out Eva Marie Saint’s clothes himself and made her cut her hair (sobs) specifically for the role. The two things that make this film stand out have to be Cary’s iconic grey suit and him running from a Plane. I must say that he shows great comedic talent in this film despite its dark theme, yet sadly so many beautiful stars were only appreciated for their looks, Cary Grant is one of them.
Although not a big success when first released, Vertigo is now considered once of Hitchocks finest films, if not his best. James Stewart was unfairly blamed for the lukewarm reaction of Vertigo, being twenty five years older than his leading lady Kim Novak and he and Hitchcock never worked together again. Jimmy plays Scottie Ferguson, a now retired Police Offier suffering from Vertigo who is hired by an old acquaintance to investigate his wife. This film is full of twists and turns and has a shock ending, classic Hitchcock. Once again he was so specific with the aesthetic look of his movies that he personally styled Kim Novaks iconic updo himself!
Considered by many to be his final masterpiece, Marnie stars Alfred’s last, “Hitchcock Blonde”, Tippi Hedren. Although their relationship started off full of optimism, with this film it came to a sad abrupt end, due to Hitchocks obsessive behaviour with his leading lady. Tippi was groomed to be the new, “Grace Kelly” after she had married Prince Rainier of Monaco and retired from films. Therefore, Tippi was signed to an exclusive contract with Hitchcock and made The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964) before escaping his controlling nature. Besides Psycho, I would say this would be Hitchcocks most controversial film, he reportedly wouldn’t make the movie if the censors cut the disturbing rape scene, which fifty years later is still incredibly uncomfortable to watch.
By 1959, Alfred Hitchcock was arguably the biggest Director in the world and there he was making a highly controversial movie that no Studio would touch, on a budget less than one million dollars. Not only did he decide to do this, he hired leading lady Janet Leigh and killed her off less than fifty minutes into the movie. Although Psycho cemented Anthony Perkins into cinema history, he was forever type cast after playing the infamous Norman Bates. Even watching Psycho fifty years on, it’s incredibly hard to believe that this movie past through the censors in 1960. Everyone thought Hitchcock was killing his career, however, he had the last laugh, not only did the film make over $32,000,000 – the majority of the profits went to him as no one believed the film would be successful.
As you probably know by now, Old Hollywood is a huge passion of mine and I have spent a lot of time learning about the stars and watching movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood. I was tagged onInstagramto post six Old Hollywood Actresses I relate to and I must say, I found it a lot harder than I expected! After narrowing my list down to about nine stars, I finally picked my beautiful six.
(1926 – 1962)
I think it’s safe to say that I relate to Marilyn the most out of all of the Stars I’ve picked. Marilyn suffered with depression and anxiety, she was her biggest critic and a very sensitive soul. She also loved to read, learn, adored animals and looking after others. Marilyn was also very misunderstood and people often judged her on their perceptions, without knowing who she really was.
(1920 – 1991)
Gene suffered a mental breakdown and experienced depression and anxiety throughout her life. During her lifetime she was very candid about her mental health and contributed to lowering the stigma considerably in today’s society. I absolutely adore Gene, she was a beautiful soul and I relate to her suffering, but her recovery gives me hope.
Brigitte is strong willed, passionate and determined, never following societies expectations and always being her own person. She fights for what she belives in and loves to love and be loved. She adores animals and fights for those who can’t fight for themselves. Brigitte is also misunderstood and has been judged by certain perceptions which are not accurate.
(1929) – (1993)
I like to think I have Audrey’s caring heart and sensitive soul. She had so much joy for life and was very humble. She thought other people were more important than herself and gave so much to those in need. I can relate to her passion about what she believed in and her determination to help in whatever way she could.
(1907) – (2003)
Katharine was always a bit of an outsider and rarely followed societies expectations. She was quirky, an individual and a bit different. She was very ahead of her time and could be quite sassy and I like to think I have some of her spirit. She was reliable, loyal and devoted a lot of her time to those who needed her.
(1908) – (1942)
I like to think that I have Carole’s sense of humour, she was witty, loved to laugh and could be a bit cheeky! She didn’t always act like the lady people expected her to be in a time when women were meant to behave in a certain way and I love that about her.
As most of you know, my favourite Actress with all of my heart is Marilyn and it just so happens that a lot of my other favourite stars happen to be blondes; Veronica Lake and Brigitte Bardot for example. I think this is because so many Old Hollywood Blondes were only appreciated for their appearance and never given enough credit for their talent and I’ve always rooted for the underdog.
However, I happen to adore a lot of Old Hollywood Stars and I thought I’d make a post on my other loves that I may not talk as much about.
November 9th 1914 – January 19th 2000
“Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.”
Hedy Lamarr was known as, “The Most Beautiful Girl In Films” and seventy years on, it’s not hard to see why. Her dark shoulder length hair and porcelain face were admired by millions of fans, so much so that movie goers did not expect to see her act, they just looked forward to seeing her on the screen. However, behind the beauty was a brain, a brain that sadly went under appreciated but, nevertheless created one of the most important technologies which is to this day still used in the basis of Mobile Phones and Wifi. When learning about Hedy it’s quite easy to see how much she worked tirelessly to learn her craft and perfect her acting. At least today she is not only known for being one of the most beautiful women of the Silver Screen, but also, as an Actress and more importantly, an Inventor.
“I’m not a film star, I am an actress. Being a film star is such a false life, lived for fake values and for publicity.”
Recognized by millions as Gone With The Wind‘s Scarlett O’Hara and Sir Laurence Olivier’s Wife, Vivien was not just a Southern Belle, she was an incredible actress. Like Hedy, though more critically appreciated, Vivien often found her beauty a blessing and a curse. Although she won two Academy Awards throughout her career, she often felt people preferred to see the beautiful Scarlet O’Hara, instead of the actress. Also, being married to Olivier, considered one of the finest actors of the generation was not always an easy task. She was a prolific stage actress and often put the importance of roles ahead of her mental well being. She suffered from Manic Depression, which lead to the separation with the love of her life and bouts of Tuberculosis, which ultimately lead to her death. Although only having 20 Film Credits, today she’s considered to be one of England’s finest Actresses and her talents are forever being re evaluated and recognized.
“I don’t entirely approve of some of the things I have done, or am, or have been. But I’m me. God knows, I’m me.”
Elizabeth became known to the world as just a small child, when she appeared in National Velvet in 1944. After that she stayed on the motion picture screens for many years and her beauty and violet eyes was highly applauded, however, it wasn’t until George Stevens’s Giant (1956) that she started to be respected as a, “Real Actress.” After achieving high acclaim for her performances in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (1958) and Suddenly Last Summer (1959) she was awarded her first Academy Award for BUtterfield 8 (1960) in 1961. After falling in love with Richard Burton during the filming of Cleopatra (1963) her name would fill the gossip magazines for, at the time, scandalous affair. However, this did nothing to damage Elizabeth’s career and she would earn her second Academy Award for, Who’s Afraid Of Virgina Woolf? (1966) in 1967. I don’t think until the 1980s Elizabeth was finally respected for the amazing woman she was, she helped raise awareness for the victims of Aids and contributed to removing a lot of the ignorance about the disease. She even created The Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation in 1991 to help millions saying, “It is bad enough that people are dying of AIDS, but no one should die of ignorance.”
“I said before I am not a sexy pot. Now I can prove it.”
Born an illegitimate child in Rome Italy, Sophia did not have an easy upbringing, in her Autobiography she recalls living through the frequent bombings in Pozzuoli and the lack of support from her father during her childhood. After competing in a Beauty Pagent in 1950, in the early 1950s she became a well known face in Italian Cinema. However, it wasn’t until she joined Paramount in 1958 that she became an International Star. Nevertheless, Sophia never lost site of her roots and frequently went back to Italy to make films. becoming the first Actress to win an Academy Award for a Non-English Performance inTwo Women (1960) in 1961. After this critical acclaim, Sophia continued to shine in Motion Pictures, had a wonderful marriage to Carlo Ponti and her talent was finally recognized and appreciated. She still acts to this day and is loved and admired by millions, not only for her beauty but her incredible story.
“Wealth, beauty, and fame are transient. When those are gone, little is left except the need to be useful.”
Gene will forever be remembered as the hauntingly beautiful woman and painting inLaura (1944) however, although she was blessed with beauty, she was not given the Fairytale life of a Movie Star. After five years or so being seen as a glamorous screen presence, she finally achieved critical acclaim for her performance as femme fatale Ellen inLeave Her To Heaven (1944) which garnered her an Acadamy Award Nomination for Best Actress. During World War Two, whilst helping out in The Hollywood Canteen while in the early stages of pregnancy, Gene tragically contracted German Measles and her beloved daughter Daria was born severely disabled. After she was three years old, Gene could no longer take care of her at home and she had to move to an institution. Although her career continued to flourish, her emotional pain eventually caught up with her and she suffered a nervous breakdown and attempted suicide due to depression in the mid 1950s. After staying in multiple clinics for treatment, some of which included Electric Shock Therapy which resulted in memory loss, she recovered and returned to the screen fora few brief appearances in the 1960s. She remarried in 1960, ironically to one of Hedy Lamarr’s ex husbands, W. Howard Lee and wrote her wonderful Autobiography in 1979. Gene was not only a wonderful actress, but she is an incredible inspiration for her candid honesty with her mental health.
“I have only one rule in acting, trust the director and give him heart and soul.”
Ava Gardner was considered one of the most beautiful women of her time, she was signed by MGM in 1941 and was continually used for publicity pictures, but sadly not films. It wasn’t untilThe Killers (1946)that MGM finally realized that they had something special. Ava continued to be in successful films and was the ultimate beauty, finally in 1953’sMogambo, her talent was recognized and her performance garnered her an Academy Award Nomination for Best Actress. Her intelligent wit and honesty were some of her best qualities and are captured wonderfully in her Autobiography in 1990. Although she married some of Hollywood’s most famous men including, Frank Sinatra, she continued to give fine performances in movies such as,On The Beach (1959) andThe Night Of The Iguana (1964)Directed by John Houston.
Officially, August 5th 1962 marks the death of an incredibly beautiful soul, Marilyn Monroe. Technically, Marilyn died around 10pm on the night of August 4th, but she was found in the early hours of the 5th and that is classed as her official day of death.
Sadly over the years, so much fascination and conspiracy has became attached to Marilyn’s death that it can be incredibly hard for fans to talk about. I, like many, like to focus on her amazing life and what she achieved. Personally, it’s sad to say that so many people love conspiracies and controversy and when a person is no longer with us, it’s easy to sell and tarnish their name. Marilyn had a history of suicide attempts and without the likes of Arthur Miller, Natasha Lytess and Paula Strasberg, she may have left us a lot earlier. However, I firmly believe that her death was an accident, primarily down to Medical Negligence. If you follow my Marilyn Tumblr or have read my previous post on Marilyn, you’ll know how little time I have for slandering or Marilyn, I stick with substance and legitimate research.
I don’t want this post to focus on Marilyn’s death, I wanted to write this post to emphasize what an incredible impact one person has made on so many people. Over fifty years after her death, Marilyn thankfully, shows no signs of going anywhere. Although some would say her name and image is being exploited for money, I am thankful to say that there are so many people out there that absolutely adore this beautiful lady. Thanks to Marilyn I have met so many special people, she has given me so much and has helped me through a lot of personal struggles.
Since finding Marilyn at aged 17 in October 2010, I have made it my aim to see past the beautiful Bombshell image and learn about what a sweet, kind, gentle, witty person Marilyn was. When I think of Marilyn, I always think of her as a Beautiful Soul, not only was her beauty breathtaking, but her nature and heart were just as special. Some may say I am biased and that’s fair enough, I probably am, however, I do admit that even someone as amazing as Marilyn had her flaws. But to me, this makes her even more unique and I embrace and accept her as she really was.
Sadly, so many people see Marilyn as a Tragic Figure, who died young and didn’t have much to offer other than a pretty face and figure. This is because Society seems to find it hard to grasp that a beautiful woman can be so much more than that, we all have to learn to never judge a book by it’s cover. Marilyn was always striving to learn and improve herself, an avid reader, she could put us all to shame with her extensive library of over 400 books, ranging from Russian Literature to Psychology. She suffered with Mental Illnesses; Anxiety and Depression and she was also plagued with Insomnia and Endometriosis. Yet, during her career, she never let any of these fears or illnesses stand in her way, anyone who watches her on film would not think for a second of how much emotional pain she went through. When she passed, so many people couldn’t understand how a beautiful, young and successful lady could take her own life – at the time Marilyn’s death was listed as, “Probable Suicide.”
When I found Marilyn in October 2010, through reading Vanity Fair magazine – she was on the cover and the article was publicizing the wonderful book, Fragments, little did I know that I was months away from a Nervous Breakdown. My Anxiety and Depression became so bad that I could no longer go to Sixth Form and I was suffering from Panic Attacks, I was on the verge of becoming Agoraphobic. However, through Marilyn, I found comfort and ultimately, a Guardian Angel. I could watch her films and read about her and I wouldn’t feel so alone and hopeless, even when she was in this depths of despair – she always had hope.
“I believe in myself, even my most delicate, intangible feelings.” – Fragments.
“I will be as sensitive as I am, without being ashamed of it.” – Fragments.
“Maybe I’ll never be able to do what I hope to, but at least I have hope.” – Love, Marilyn “I think you’ve got to love people, all kinds of people, to be able to have an opinion about them that’s worth anything. The whole idea of judging people is crazy. We do what we have to do, and we pay for it. We’re no better than we have to be. We can try to be better, and part of trying is not to condemn other people.” – to Journalist W.J. Weatherby in 1960.
In August 2012, it was to be Marilyn’s Fiftieth Anniversary and an incredible Marilyn Fan Club; Immortal Marilyn, were arranging a five day Marilyn themed event in Hollywood. I dreamed with all of my heart of going to Hollywood, placing my Hand Prints in Marilyn’s, visiting her Crypt at Westwood Memorial Park and visiting her Home. However, I thought it was an impossible task, emotionally, 2011 had been the hardest of my life so far. My Mental Health was so bad that I couldn’t go to University and I was very lonely and cynical about my life. Thankfully, I had the wonderful support and understanding of my parents and as always, Marilyn was my light in the dark. My parents knew how important this would be for me and a huge step in my recovery and very kindly arranged for me to go with my wonderful Mum.
To prepare for the trip my Dad had to drive me to the Airport multiple times to get me used to the idea and prepare me. I was having Therapy weekly also, but we all still didn’t know if I would be able to do this. When the day came – August 1st 2012, I was absolutely terrified, but I kept thinking of Marilyn and all that she had went through, as depressing as it sounds, I wasn’t living a life at the time and this was my hope, my chance to achieve something important to me and start recovering, that’s how I managed to do it.
Since October 2010, I have built up a blog dedicated to Marilyn, on Tumblr and Instagram called, alwaysmarilynmonroe. Marilyn has done so much for me, I’ve made so many amazing friends and moved forward so much since those horrible days in 2011. I bet wherever Marilyn is she would find it astounding to realize the impact she has had on society, on so many people and myself. Her star shows no signs of diminishing and frankly, it never should.
Marilyn achieved so much in her thirty six years, she was one of the first women to created her own Production Company in Hollywood. She spoke candidly and always looked for equality, she was very ahead of her time and I’m so thankful that she blessed us with her presence. I bet the Norma Jeane Baker, born illegitimate in a time of prejudice, with no father to support her and a mother who suffered incredibly through most of her life with Paranoid Schizophrenia, never thought she would become the worlds most loved Movie Star. She had many different homes, one of them being an Orphanage and after the first seven years of her life with The Bolender Family, never felt stability or love. She grew up dreaming that Clark Gable was her father and could she have imagined, she was to star with him in her last completed film, The Misfits.
“I cannot say goodbye. Marilyn never liked goodbyes, but in the peculiar way she had of turning things around so that they faced reality – I will say au revoire. For the country to which she has gone, we must all someday visit.“ – Lee Strasberg’s Eulogy for Marilyn on 8th August 1962.
If Marilyn Monroe was alive today, she would be turning eighty nine years old, which a lot of fans, including myself find very hard to comprehend. I don’t think I’m alone in saying I really can’t picture Marilyn as an old lady, she had so much youth and vibrancy inside of her, such a special childlike quality that was the opposite of being an elderly woman. To many people Marilyn is simply a beautiful, tragic young woman, who graced the Earth for a small amount of time but made a large impact. Sadly, a lot of people remember Marilyn for her untimely death, she became immortalized as forever young and not long after she left the world the myths started rolling in. Conspiracy Theorists went wild and her name has been dragged through some awful ridiculous scenarios, mostly for profit and publicity. Many so called fans simply admire her image and follow fake quotes that over the past few years have taken over the internet. However, I don’t like to think about any of that, it breaks my heart to think of someone so lovely being sensationalized, under appreciated and degraded for selfish motivates.
I first found Marilyn in November 2010, a few weeks after my seventeenth birthday. I was flicking through magazines and came across Vanity Fair, which had a beautiful Milton Greene 1955 photo on the front. I was struck by the beauty of this woman, who I’d heard of vaguely but didn’t really know much about. It turned out I was pretty lucky having this magazine introduce me to Marilyn, as it was publicizing Fragments. Fragments is one of the best books on Marilyn, mainly because it is all of her own words and thoughts, you get to learn about the real woman behind the image. Therefore, because of this article I have always stayed far away from conspiracies and researched from legitimate sources and books.
After reading this, I naturally was falling in love with Marilyn, yes I may be biased, but I really don’t understand how you can’t adore her. It makes me sad that so many people in society have ignorant and inaccurate views on Marilyn, they judge her by hearsay, by conspiracies and in doing this miss out on such an incredible person. I asked for some of her movies and books about her for Christmas and that was five years ago this December.
It just so happened that a few months later, I would have a mental breakdown and apart from my mum, my other Hero was Marilyn. I already knew about Marilyn’s anxiety and depression and when I was going through this myself I felt even more love and respect for her. Most days I would watch her films and feel so much emotion, I’ve always admired the underdog and since falling in love with Marilyn I’ve never doubted her talent as an Actress. No one in Hollywood before or after worked harder than Marilyn for their craft, in many ways Marilyn worked too hard, she put her profession before herself. Many people assume because of her beauty and physical appearance, that she was simply portraying herself. People who have seen her dramatic performances such as, Don’t Bother To Knock and The Misfits are shocked by the diverse range she portrays. In reality, although her dramatic performances are superb, she was actually more close to playing herself in her them, then in her comedic roles.
Through Marilyn I have became apart of the wonderful fan club, Immortal Marilyn. I went to Hollywood in August 2012, the fiftieth anniversary of Marilyn’s death and celebrated my love for her by visiting her most important places. I have made so many lovely friends and have started my own blogs, alwaysmarilynmonroe, to continue spreading the love and legacy of this incredible lady. In my darkest days Marilyn has given me so much joy, I was on the verge of being agoraphobic and I would often go out with my parents in the car and try and walk around places. Due to my anxiety and depression this was incredibly hard and I remember the first time I made a big step of recovering was when thinking of Marilyn filming The Misfits. Marilyn suffered so much, she had a mental breakdown, a marriage collapse with Arthur Miller and was hospitalized for her addiction to barbiturates, (contrary to belief, Marilyn’s addiction to drugs were prescription only, for her anxiety, insomnia and depression) and I thought to myself, if Marilyn can get through making this film then I can get out of the car and I did.
Marilyn was so humble and understated about herself, she seemed to be fascinated that so many people could love and admire her, I can imagine if she knew now that her fame is forever growing she would feel pretty overwhelmed with emotion. It’s so sad that someone so loved felt so alone, but I hope Marilyn knows that she never will be alone as it takes an incredibly special person to have such an impact on so many people. The amount of messages I’ve had from other fans who have suffered mental illness, abuse, miscarriages, endometriosis, or abandonment and felt comfort and inspiration from Marilyn is incredible. She’s helped so many people and the irony is she may not even know. When people ask how I would describe Marilyn I always say beautiful, but when I say beautiful I don’t mean it physically. Marilyn had such a beautiful soul, she was so caring and giving to others, there are anecdotes of her rescuing pigeons, helping co-workers, spending time with fans, it truly is heartwarming.
So many people assume because she was not only an Actress, but a huge Sex Symbol that she was promiscuous and say very cruel and inaccurate things about Marilyn. The irony is, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, you never got very far on the casting couch anyway, you’d often get small roles and never get higher than B Movie pictures, Marilyn started movies in 1947 and didn’t get her first leading role until 1952. I find it incredibly disrespectful to judge a person on their sex life anyway, but I’ve sadly found that it is often the beautiful women in Hollywood who oozed sex appeal that suffer this. I always stick with a legitimate source or Marilyn’s own words,
“I think I had many problems as the next starlet keeping the Hollywood wolves from my door. These wolves just could not understand me. They would tell me, ‘But Marilyn, you’re not playing the game the way you should. Be smart. You’ll never get anywhere in this business acting the way you do.’ My answer to them would be, ‘The only acting I’ll do is for the camera.’ I was determined, no one was going to use me or my body—even if he could help my career. I’ve never gone out with a man I didn’t want to. No one, not even the studio, could force me to date someone. The one thing I hate more than anything else is being used. I’ve always worked hard for the sake of someday becoming a talented actress. I knew I would make it someday if I only kept at it and worked hard without lowering my principles and pride in myself.”
So many people ask me about Marilyn’s death, some with ridiculous theories, some due to morbid curiosity and some because they genuinely care. To all people I say the same, I believe Marilyn’s death was an accident resulting in medical negligence. It has happened to so many people over the years, but with Marilyn, so many people are obsessed with murder conspiracies. People who know nothing about Marilyn often automatically assume she was murdered by the CIA or a Kennedy because she, “knew to much” and this gives me a lot of frustration. In reality, Marilyn met John F. Kennedy four times in her lifetime, that’s right, four times, which is documented in Donald Spoto’s highly acclaimed biography. Yet, because of notorious liars like Robert Slatzer and Norman Mailer, this myth has spiraled into a world of it’s own. All someone has to do is pick up one of their books or other biographers influenced by their lies, cough, Anthony Summers and this suddenly becomes fact to that person and continues to spread. In reality, President Kennedy had many actual affairs and mistresses, so why would he have Marilyn, who at most he had a one night stand with, killed? Also, the whole, “Red Diary” claim is ridiculous, not only has it never been found, in Fragments we can see that Marilyn only used a couple of pages in each of her notebooks and wrote small passages about random things.
Robert Slatzer made a whole career on his claim of being Marilyn’s second husband, when in reality, the day he claimed to have married her she was out of the country with Natasha Lytess, her drama coach. You’d think someone who got to be in the presence of Marilyn and have their photograph taken would be special enough, but no, greed is often sadly stronger. It’s not only Marilyn who has suffered his lies, Grace Kelly has also been named as one of his conquests. Norman Mailer, an acclaimed author released the first photo biography on Marilyn and was the first to name any Kennedy. He later admitted on CBS in an interview that he, “needed the money very badly” conveniently after his book had made the best seller lists and his lies had been cemented. Ironically when Marilyn was alive, Norman Mailer, like most people, wanted to meet Marilyn and as he knew her third husband, Arthur Miller, asked if he could. Needless to say Marilyn turned him down and I bet all of these years later she’s happy she did.
I hope in reading this, people will be inspired to learn more about Marilyn the person, what she achieved and what she gave to the world. She had such a hard childhood and came from virtually nothing to becoming the most famous actress of all time, she worked damn hard and never gave up, no matter how much she suffered. Even 20th Century Fox Studio Executive, Darryl F. Zanuck, who never believed in Marilyn or even liked her said, “Nobody discovered her, she earned her own way to stardom.” and that is very true.
“And I want to say to the people, if I am a star, the people made me a star. No studio, no person, but the people did. There was a reaction that came to the studio, the fan mail, or when I went to a premiere, or the exhibitors wanted to meet me. I didn’t know why.”
— Marilyn in her last interview, to Richard Meryman for Life Magazine in August 1962.
On this day, 4th May 1929, Audrey Kathleen Ruston blessed us with her presence on Earth.
As a lot of you Old Hollywood lovers will know, not only is the day May the 4th (be with you), but it is also Audrey Hepburn’s 86th birthday! Sadly, Audrey left us in January 1993 at just 63 but she is ever present in the 21st Century as she was in the 20th! When the average person thinks of Hollywood, two people usually pop into their minds; Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn. Sometimes Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly will be included, but it’s usually these two faces that are the most recognized.
When I started learning about Marilyn, I naturally was intrigued into finding out about Old Hollywood and all the other stars and of course, I came to Audrey pretty quickly. It’s an obvious cliche, but I obviously related Audrey with Breakfast At Tiffanys – I hadn’t seen the film at this point, but it’s such an iconic image that I was aware of her stature and Holly Golightly singing Moon River out of her little window.
Ironically, author Truman Capote desperately wanted Marilyn for the starring role, but she declined as her coach Paula Strasberg didn’t want her name being associated with the role of a call girl. Therefore, it’s interesting to think of how many people would know Audrey if she hadn’t taken on her iconic role, I for one, think she would be just as loved and appreciated today. After all, Audrey Hepburn is so much more than a little black dress and a jewelry store! I love the film by the way, I’m just saying that people who only equate Audrey with this are missing out on such an incredible person.
Four years on, I’ve got quite a few books on this lady and I’ve seen the majority of her films numerous times. I learnt what an incredible person Audrey was, how much she gave to others who needed support and care. She was so humble and never saw herself the way we all saw her, which in a way makes me love her more.
“I never thought I’d land in pictures with a face like mine.”
“I’ll never have an answer to what make mes special. I remember many years ago, my mother said to me, “considering that you have no talent, it’s really extraordinary where you’ve got.” And that’s what I really believe to this day. I’ve always been self-conscious about my interviews, about my thinness, my tallness, my unattractiveness. My success – it still bewilders me. I never in my wildest dreams ever thought that maybe I’d be a great star.”
For someone who suffered so much in life, she had numerous miscarriages, her father abandoned her family and she lived in Holland during World War Two and practically starved for years, as well as witnessing very traumatic experiences, she had so much love and hope in her heart and I think that’s incredibly inspiring.
Here’s my three favourite books that I would recommend on learning about lovely Audrey;
Although Audrey’s career spanned five decades, she only made twenty seven films. When she had her two children she wanted to devote as much time to being a mother as she could, which is understandable. During her last years she gave much of her time to Humanitarian Efforts in UNICEF helping thousands of children, even when she was battling the disease that would ultimately take her from us. She always put others before herself and had so much love to give to those who needed it most.
“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”
The best blog on Audrey in my opinion has to be the wonderful,hepburnyand I suggest you go over there right after reading this post, her edits are simply incredible! As for films, out of all the movies I have seen of Audrey’s these would be my favourites;
I hope wherever you are Audrey, you know how much people adore you and appreciate the love and joy you spread during your 63 years. You never fail to bring tears to my eyes when I think of how much you went through, yet this never deterred your strength and passion to succeed in life and give to so many.