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.
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.
So today I wanted to talk about a new Marilyn book that has recently been published and my participation in it. As you know I am a huge lover of Marilyn’s and have been since I was 17, (almost 18) years old. In the summer of 2012, I was contacted by one of the lovely members ofImmortal Marilyn and asked if I would be interested in being interviewed via email about an upcoming book on Marilyn fans. Naturally, I said I would be thrilled and I participated in an interview for Marcelline Block, author of the book and that was that.
It was only a few months ago, that Marcelline got back in touch with me, saying that the book had finally been published and although my interview didn’t make the final edit, my picture next to some of Marilyn’s clothes did. She also asked me if I would let my interview be used in a magazine publication;Art Decadesand I was very happy to oblige. At the start of the week I ordered a copy of the magazine and yesterday, my complimentary copy ofFan Phenomena: Marilyn Monroearrived.
Here’s my full interview which has now been published, I hope you enjoy it and know that I spoke from the heart. As the interview was conducted almost three years ago, it was fascinating to update things in my transcript and see how much my collection and fan pages have grown. It showed to me how much love there still is for Marilyn, it truly is forever growing.
Megan Owen is a 21-year-old Marilyn Monroe fan and student who lives in England. She enjoys blogging and reading, and has a passion for the Golden Age of Hollywood.
A photograph of Megan Owen standing next to Marilyn Monroe’s costumes from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and There’s No Business Like Show Business, displayed at London’s Getty Gallery’s ‘Marilyn’ exhibit appears on p. 80 of Fan Phenomena: Marilyn Monroe.
Marcelline Block:Why, when, and how did you become involved with Marilyn Monroe fandom?
Megan Owen: In October 2010, I was reading an issue of Vanity Fair, which had Marilyn on the cover and was publicizing the publication of Fragments. I was fascinated and deeply touched by the struggles and determination Marilyn went through during her life. Straight away, I started to research more about Marilyn and that is where my love began and I purchased legitimate books on her and her films. Since then, I have amassed a collection of over 140 books on Marilyn and a collection of more than 60 vintage magazines featuring Marilyn.
Marcelline Block:What is the extent of your involvement with Marilyn Monroe fandom, and which fandom communities in particular?
Megan Owen: In August 2010, I started a Tumblr called alwaysmarilynmonroe, where I post pictures, legitimate quotes, information and graphics on Marilyn. AlwaysMarilynMonroe has now gained over 35,000 followers and has had over 805,000 hits, and the AlwaysMarilynMonroe Instagram has 44,000 followers. Through doing this I have met many Marilyn fans or ‘Marilynettes’ – as some of us call ourselves – and have made friendships with people all around the world. I also subscribe to the Mad About Marilyn fan club and I am part of the Facebook groups Immortal Marilyn and Marilyn Remembered Fan Club.
Marcelline Block:What are some of the highlights of your experiences with Marilyn Monroe fandom?
Megan Owen: I have met some wonderful friends who without being a part of the Marilyn Fandom I would not have known. The highlight for me would be meeting people who share my love and interest in Marilyn and understand how much this means. I went to Hollywood in August 2012 for Marilyn’s 50th Anniversary and met up with lots of Immortal Marilyn members, saw Marilyn’s house, another Marilyn exhibition, met photographer George Barris, visited Marilyn’s grave and her hand and foot Prints at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. In November 2012, I went to London’s V & A Museum Hollywood Costume Exhibition and saw Marilyn’s White Dress from The Seven Year Itch and her ‘I Wanna Be Loved By You’ dress from Some Like It Hot.
Marcelline Block:How would you characterize Marilyn Monroe fandom communities?
Megan Owen: I know this may sound clichéd, but the Marilyn Monroe fan community is almost like a family. Everyone is kind and friendly to one another and is always happy to share experiences and knowledge. The great thing is that we are all different ages and live all over the world, but however different we may be, we all have the same love for Marilyn and this unites us.
Marcelline Block:What does fandom mean to you/how has fandom has impacted your life? What does it mean to you to be part of a fandom community?
Megan Owen: Since Marilyn has become part of my life, she has given me strength and determination to battle my anxiety and depression. Through learning about how Marilyn suffered through her severe depressions it has helped me continue fighting and inspired me to achieve some of my dreams. This includes going to London for the Getty Gallery Marilyn Monroe Exhibition, to see some of her most iconic costumes as well as their archive of Marilyn photos. At times I was almost agoraphobic and felt very low, but having a goal has been so important to me and Marilyn has helped me move forward and achieve some of my dreams. Being part of the Marilyn fandom community gives me a sense of belonging and a real purpose in life.
Marcelline Block:What do you think is Marilyn Monroe’s ultimate legacy for her fans?
Megan Owen: I think that Marilyn’s caring nature and beautiful soul is what is most important to true fans. Her strong mind and ambition to succeed against all odds and to become the most loved and successful movie star in Hollywood History is pretty incredible. True fans like myself love her for her vulnerability and Marilynisms and see beyond Marilyn the myth to discover Marilyn the woman. Her iconic films and timeless beauty still live on into modern society and although she has been gone for more than fifty years, it is like she is still alive and shining brightly like the true star she still is.
I’d recommend this book to all dedicated Marilyn fans, it’s a unique perspective, not your average Marilyn book and it’s so personal, a lovely addition to your collections! It’s so wonderful to see that over fifty years after Marilyn’s death, her star shows no signs of diminishing. I hope you know how loved you are beautiful Marilyn!