It’s hard to believe, on this day, 96 years ago at 9:30 AM in Los Angeles, California, the Gemini Queen was born.
With every year I try and write a Birthday and Anniversary post and this year I thought it would be nice to do something a little different. Therefore, I decided to share my favourite books written about Marilyn and the ones I would 100% recommend. As I’m sure most would agree, sadly when you’re no longer here to dispel myths about yourself and are incredibly famous, the majority of what you can find to read is filled with lies and conspiracies. If you’re not too aware of this, you may wonder why? Well, in the wise (genuine) words spoken by Marilyn,
“Hollywood’s a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul. I know, because I turned down the first offer often enough and held out for the fifty cents.”
– said to Journalist Ben Hecht and written in her Autobiography, My Story.
Over the last decade I’m lucky enough to have amassed a substantial archive of books written about Marilyn and I’m thankful to say just the good ones. Therefore, with Marilyn still making many headlines over a half a century after her passing, I thought it would be very important to her memory to share information that is thoroughly researched and filled with reliable sources.
Ultimately, Marilyn was a real person and with so many defamatory lies continuously being spouted, I feel it it so important to try and preserve her legacy in an honest and truthful manner. The irony is, the majority of people who have continued to make money off Marilyn (Robert Slatzer, Jeanne Carmen, Ted Jordan, Anthony Summers, Norman Mailer – I’m looking at you) had no actual relationship with her – and it simply just isn’t fair.
In my opinion, Michelle is the ultimate Marilyn Biographer and generally excepted by many fans as being the best one out there. I’ve read all of her books and recommend every single one, I’m just focusing on this Biography which delves into Marilyn’s life and death. This is probably one of the only books on Marilyn that I’d suggest to every person wanting to learn about her, as it’s one of the very few which have no inaccuracies.
A loving tribute from Marilyn’s actual family, her half sister, Bernice and her daughter – Marilyn’s niece, Mona Rae. Although they only managed to see each other in person a handful of times, the sisters managed to stay in touch through letters and phone calls. It truly is such a unique and thoughtful tribute to Marilyn and a must have in any fans Collection. I also had the privilege of speaking with Mona Rae through email around 2011-2012 and was lucky enough to receive a signed copy which I will forever treasure.
The book that started it all for me and arguably the most important of them all – Fragments, which is basically an Archive of Marilyn’s very own personally written letters and writing. Contrary to unfortunately popular belief – Marilyn never had, nor owned, or wrote in a supposed infamous diary – it has never been found 60 years after her passing because, it simply never existed. Furthermore, Marilyn was never known to keep up to date with any diary, this book is literally called Fragments – because when reading, you’ll notice that she doesn’t actually finish using any notebook. She would write from the heart or inspiration, it was never regimented or a daily scheduled thing for her. Therefore, please ignore stupid Slatzer’s ridiculous theory – thank you.
A book I’d say has a very special place in the hearts of Marilyn fans, published just 12 years after her passing by close friend and Writer, Norman Rosten, who she would meet in 1955. They stayed close friends until her death seven years later and Rosten was one of the few people Marilyn would feel comfortable enough to share her Poetry with. This is sadly no longer in print but I found my copy on Amazon and it’s definitely a must have from someone who knew and treasured their friendship with Marilyn. It also features some adorable anecdotes about Marilyn’s menagerie of pets.
Originally published 12 years after her passing, under the title, “The Unfinished Biography of Marilyn Monroe” this was based on interviews with friend and Journalist, Sidney Skolsky and Writer Ben Hecht. Sadly it ended up being shelved during Marilyn’s lifetime, only going up to 1954, so Marilyn herself would never get to see the finished product or give her approval. Some excerpts were published in London’s Empire News from May – August of 1954, however with Hecht parting ways with his Agent it unfortunately was never completed. I guess on a positive note, it does almost feel like a Cinderella story with Marilyn documenting her traumatic childhood and ending with her Marriage to Joe Dimaggio, in a way it’s kind of nice to have rose tinted glasses on for a few moments.
I should note, I’m not mentioning the named Author of this book, as the attention should be on Marilyn’s documents from her Personal Archives, therefore all of her own words and correspondents. Some of you may already know the Author has written their own Biography, which is sadly full of inaccuracies and conspiracies. It’s such a shame, as before their own book was published they clearly were doing something wonderful for Marilyn with the release of MM Personal. Therefore, I recommend focusing on all the wonderful documents which give you an insight into Marilyn’s daily life.
Meet the other must read MM Biographer – Gary Vitacco-Robles, who has painstakingly written the book of any Marilyn fans dream, documenting every single year of her life. It’s so incredibly detailed, that it was published in two Volumes – the first starting with her Birth Year, 1926 and ending 30 years later in 1956.
The second Volume continues on with 1956 and through the last six years of Marilyn’s life, culminating with Marilyn’s death in 1962. Gary then delves into the impact of Marilyn’s Legacy in society, over fifty years after she left Earth. After dedicating a decade of research to the Volumes, it is quite apparent how much care and thought has gone into both. I had the pleasure of meeting Gary for a book signing in August 2012 – he’s actually also published another book, called Cursum Perficio: Marilyn Monroe’s Brentwood Hacienda: The Story of Her Final Months (2000) and I’m continuously hoping there will be more!
I decided to focus on written books about Marilyn instead of the hundreds of photography ones, as unique personal qualities are often overlooked by her image and unfortunately, conspiracies. Wherever Marilyn may be, I hope she somehow reads my little post and that it may bring a smile to her face on her special day.
Any devoted Marilyn fan will most definitely know the name, MichelleMorgan – for reference, she is generally accepted as the best MM Biographer out there (and there’s a lot.) She published her first Marilyn Book, Marilyn’s Addresses (1995), which followed a unique concept of documenting important places the Movie Star visited and/or lived during her lifetime. Over twenty five years later, Michelle has gone on to release nine (!) books on the world’s most famous Blonde Bombshell.
Which of course, leads me to paraphrase the iconic line spoken by Marilyn as Sugar Kane in Some Like It Hot (1959),
“That’s (just over) a quarter of a century, make’s a girl think.”
Never disappointed by Wilder’s wise words, it really does make a none Marilyn/Hollywood Enthusiast contemplate, “What could possibly need to be written about arguably the most famous woman of the 20th Century that hasn’t already been said?” The short answer – a hell of a lot.
As I unintentionally continue to stick to metaphors involving books, it’s universally regarded you should never judge one by the cover. Sadly, almost sixty years after Marilyn passed, so many still view her as just a pretty cover, therefore neglecting to read the numerous written pages. Thankfully, readers are blessed to have an Author like Michelle, who sees far beyond the image and salaciously fulled, downright slander and delves into the incredible life story of a young woman, that is in reality, largely unknown.
Not only has she managed to do that quite beautifully and in a non-biased way I might add, in the must read, Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed (2012). Michelle has continued to dive even further into the underappreciated and overlooked parts of her life with a plethora of books. Therefore, the beautiful image the world knows and loves, has slowly but surely, been able to restore into a real human being with sensitivity, bravery, talent and emotion.
If you’re already a fan of Michelle’s work then there’s no doubt you’ve probably read this wonderful archive of books, she has so literally devoted years of her life to creating. However, if you’ve been living under a Marilyn hidden rock, then I shall quote another incredible human – albeit a CGI one at that,
“You’re Welcome.” – Maui.
When Marilyn Met The Queen features 11 Chapters, kicking off right bang in the Summer of 1956. It delves into the huge preparation of setting up Pre-Production of The Prince and The Showgirl (1957) – referred to as The Sleeping Prince throughout as that’s the original title of the Terrance Rattigan Play.
Michelle goes into serious detail within each page, enthralling the reader with numerous anecdotes from witnesses and often unheard accounts of the overall atmosphere that swept England from July to November 1956. Over 65 years have passed since this time period and yet the memories live forever etched in the minds of those fortunate to treasure them, further showing the significance and impact of Marilyn and her worldwide Movie Star status.
Within each section, Michelle recounts Marilyn’s time in England virtually day to day, with every date/event being documented and the overall feeling analysed and delved into for the reader. Sometimes it’s almost as if you’re a bystander yourself jumping into the pages, none more so if you actually happen to live in England like myself!
Often when reading a Biography, you can almost feel a sense of anxiety, as you care deeply enough for the person it’s about, to take the time to read it, yet you can’t always sense the Writer’s motive or overall goal surrounding the subject matter. I find myself wanting the truth and always that, but a respect that is maintained not just for the Star of the book – in this case Marilyn, but for all those involved.
Point in case, if you know anything substantial about Marilyn, then you’ll know her lateness was almost legendary and needless to say, it understandably did not always go down well with Production, especially with Laurence Olivier and in England. However, what you might not know is Marilyn suffered with severe anxiety, crippling self doubt in her artistic ability and agonizing endometriosis, as well as insomnia and prescription pill addiction. Michelle also takes time to point out Marilyn’s apology to the entire cast and crew and shares how she offered each person a farewell gift before departing England.
Michelle manages to expertly share all the huge strains of creating The Prince and The Showgirl (1957) – and it’s very easy to read it was no easy task whatsoever, yet she continues to maintain honesty and empathy for every single person involved – always.
She manages to view the chaos through each individuals eyes and shares all the emotions and thoughts with sincerity, whilst keeping a neutral stance. Furthermore, Michelle continues to dispel rumours that have at times weaved their way into Marilyn’s life, so much so that they are often believed as fact.
She completely disproves Third Assistant Director Colin Clark’s infamous account of his, “relationship” with Marilyn, which was brought to worldwide attention after his book was turned into a movie, My Week With Marilyn (2011) by providing factual evidence of Marilyn’s whereabouts on said specific dates and opinions regarding his, “memories” from witnesses that were actually present during the making of the film.
From Pre-Production of The Prince and The Showgirl, to the exhaustive making and completion of the movie, Michelle continuously maintains hope and a lighthearted warmth within every chapter. It was very rewarding to read so many new anecdotes that, even after having Marilyn in my life for over a decade, I had yet to have heard before! Without spoiling any surprises, my two favourites include a lot of bicycles and a certain newborn fish during Marilyn’s stay, I’ll be sure to keep those two in my Marilyn trivia!
The final chapters detail the highlight of Marilyn’s time in England – meeting Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Command Performance and the release of The Prince and The Showgirl. She also discusses the final meeting between Laurence Olivier and Marilyn in early 1957, which thankfully was a lot less stressful than the actual filming. She also manages a quick, but respectful summary of Marilyn’s last six years and ultimately, her tragic death.
In all honesty I simply dream of Michelle writing a book on each year of Marilyn’s life, that would be an absolute dream and if there’s any writer that could do it, it’s without a doubt her. Thank you as always to Michelle for continuing to amaze me and gifting both Marilyn fans and Historians another gem of a book.
Marilyn’s time in England may not have been full of roses as she had so deeply hoped, but her beautiful work on The Prince and The Showgirl will forever be there for generations of film lovers to view and appreciate.
I can only hope that would give her some comfort in knowing her performance has continued to gain critical acclaim and respect and that even her Co-Star, arguably England’s greatest Actor was, despite a frayed working relationship able to see this, eventually stating,
”She gave a star performance. Maybe I was tetchy with Marilyn and myself because I felt my Career was in a rut…I was as good as could be, and Marilyn! Marilyn was quite wonderful, the best of all. What do you know?”
With each year that goes by, I still find it so incredibly hard to comprehend that not only did Marilyn walk on this Earth, but she’s now been gone for 59 years, despite it feeling like she never left. Her presence and impact on both Hollywood and Pop Culture is more than she herself would have ever expected, with her popularity increasing as each year passes by.
Ironically, she would say to Journalist Richard Meryman, in what would be her last interview,
“Fame will go by and, so long, I’ve had you fame. If it goes by, I’ve always known it was fickle. So at least it’s something I experienced, but that’s not where I live.“
– this was published in LIFE Magazine on August 3rd 1962, the day before she passed.
As with my previous post for her Birthday, I’ve decided to do a similar theme, however this time I’m going to focus on what Marilyn was doing on August 4th and 5th (or the first week of the month) for as many years as I can find information on.
I’ve decided not to write about her death, as with each year that goes by, more and more myths/conspiracies crop up and I don’t want to focus or dwell on her final moments. Her death is a tragedy and will always be one, so to continue to perpetuate often downright ridiculous theories, with absolutely no substance, for pure publicity or profit is something she does not deserve and I will never participate in. I will simply focus on the documented facts and her final day.
Norma Jeane would finally start her road to Stardom and sign her first Modelling Contract with the Blue Book Modelling Agency, therefore leaving her job of 17 months, at the Radio Plane Munitions Factory.
AUGUST 3RD 1946:
Norma Jeane’s first Husband, Jim Dougherty would receive a letter from Nevada, informing him of her request for a divorce, which was granted just over a month later on September 13th 1946.
She would also change her professional name to Marilyn Monroe, thanks to 20th Century Fox Casting Director, Ben Lyon, who was inspired by his former girlfriend and 1920s Star, Marilyn Miller – a name Marilyn herself would officially have when she married Arthur Miller ten years later in 1956.
AUGUST 3RD 1947:
Marilyn made one of her many Starlet Appearances for 20th Century Fox and attended the, “Frank Borzage Motion Picture Golf Tournament” at the California Country Club.
SUMMER OF 1948:
Marilyn would make her only movie for Columbia Pictures, during a six month contract she had acquired with the Studio, after being let go from 20th Century Fox. It was produced in 10 days and called, Ladies Of The Chorus (1948) with Marilyn performing two musical numbers for the first time in her Career.
AUGUST 5TH 1949:
Marilyn partakes in Costume Tests for, A Ticket To Tomahawk (1950), a musical in which she would have a small part as a Chorus Girl named Clara, performing with Actor Dan Dailey. The pair would reunite 5 years later in, There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954), with Marilyn then being the major Star.
AUGUST 1ST OR 8TH 1950:
Marilyn is photographed at Griffith Park by Ed Clark for LIFE Magazine, a relatively unknown Starlet at the time, the photos would go unpublished until they were discovered in the archives almost 49 years later in 2009.
Clark recalled in 1999,
“She was almost unknown then, so I was able to spend a lot of time shooting her,” Clark recalled. After all, it was still early in her career, and she’d only just begun to gain attention: Three months before this shoot, she appeared as a crooked lawyer’s girlfriend in The Asphalt Jungle; two months later, she had a small role as an aspiring starlet in All About Eve.
“We’d go out to Griffith Park [in Los Angeles] and she’d read poetry. I sent several rolls to LIFE in New York, but they wired back, ‘Who the hell is Marilyn Monroe?’”
As most of you will probably know, Marilyn would go on to grace the cover a total of six times during her lifetime – seven including an international cover for The Prince and The Showgirl on July 8th 1957.
AUGUST 4TH 1951:
Marilyn, having been named, “Miss Cheesecake of 1952” by Stars and Stripes Magazine, made an appearance at the Farmer’s Market in Hollywood, to slice the millionth cheesecake sold.
AUGUST 3RD 1952:
Marilyn attended a Party at Ray Anthony’s home held in her honour, which was arranged by 20th Century Fox. She would meet another huge star, Lassie and hear the recording of the song, “Marilyn” written for her by Ervin Drake and Jimmy Shirl.
“An angel in lace, A fabulous face,
That’s no exaggeration, That’s my Marilyn.
No gal, I believe, beginning with Eve,
Could weave a fascination like my Marilyn.
She made me a poet, dreaming up romantic themes,
Though she may not know it, she’s all mine in my dreams!
I’ve planned everything, the church and the ring,
The one I haven’t told it to is Marilyn.
She hasn’t said “Yes” I have to confess,
I haven’t kissed, or even met my Marilyn.
But if luck is with me she’ll be my bride forevermore; I’ll be marryin’, carryin’ Marilyn through my door!”
AUGUST 1953: Marilyn spent this month in Canada on location at Banff, Alberta, shooting her only starring role in a Western movie, River Of No Return with Robert Mitchum, Rory Calhoun and child Actor, Tommy Rettig.
Although she would refer to it later as a, “Z Cowboy Movie“, stating, “the acting finished second to the scenery and the CinemaScope process.” However, she thankfully loved the four songs she would get to perform and the film would once again continue her major success at the Box Office.
Whilst being interviewed for the Documentary, Marilyn Monroe:Beyond The Legend (1986), Mitchum would recall Marilyn as “a very special girl with an enormous feeling for people.”
Photographer John Vachon would venture to Alberta for an assignment with LOOK Magazine. Unfortunately for him and her fans, with Marilyn’s major popularity, the Publication decided they wanted Marilyn as their Cover Girl for their Holiday Issue instead and would only share three of his photos. Thankfully, he released the photos in his book, Marilyn, August 1953: The Lost Look Photos in 2010.
On August 20th, Vachon would also be the first Photographer to take professional pictures of Marilyn and Joe Dimaggio, who came to visit halfway thorough production.
AUGUST 9TH 1954: Marilyn would film the final scene and song (the movie wasn’t shot in chronological order) of There’s No Business Like Show Business, with her Co-Stars Dan Dailey, Ethel Merman, Mitzi Gaynor, Johnnie Ray and Donald O’Connor.
She would film her iconic, “Heat Wave” number on August 27th, in front of her then Husband Joe Dimaggio, who sadly, was far from happy with the routine.
AUGUST 5TH OR 6TH 1955:
Marilyn and Photographer Eve Arnold, travel to Bement, Illinois, for the Centennial celebrations.
During her time there she visited the National Arts Foundation Museum and see an Exhibition on one of her idols, Abraham Lincoln. She would also be a judge at a Beard Contest as well as meet the oldest resident, 100 year old Clara.
Arnold would reunite with Marilyn on the set of The Misfits, five years later in 1960.
AUGUST 7TH 1956:
After arriving in England on July 14th, official filming would start for The Prince and The Showgirl at Pinewood Studios on August 7th. This would turn out to be Marilyn Monroe Productions only film made under her own company.
During her time in England, Marilyn would also meet Queen Elizabeth II at a Showing of, “The Battle of The River Plate” on October 29th. After a tough time during production, due to continuous clashing with Co-Star and Director, Sir Laurence Olivier, she would return back home with Arthur on November 20th.
Regarding her time in England she reflected poignantly,
“England? It seemed to be raining the whole time… or maybe it was just me.“
AUGUST 1ST 1957:
This day was to be arguably one of the hardest moments in Marilyn’s life. After having a well earned year off, she and husband Arthur Miller had been residing in their Roxbury home in Amagansett and Marilyn had discovered she was expecting a baby. However, whilst gardening at home she suffered severe abdominal pains and was rushed to hospital, the closest being 200 KM away.
Tragically, Marilyn would suffer an ectopic pregnancy and the baby would not be able to be saved. She and Arthur would leave the hospital to return home on August 10th, with Marilyn once again making sure to give her fans the glamorous Movie Star they adored, continuing to smile through her incredible sadness.
“My fans want me to be glamorous, I won’t let them down.” – to Photographer and friend, Sam Shaw.
AUGUST 4TH 1958:
Marilyn starts filming Some Like It Hot (1959) returning to work, almost two years since she had finished her last film The Prince and The Showgirl (1957) in November 1956.
Initially, she was a bit apprehensive about taking on the part of Sugar Kane, due to it being a comedic, “dumb blonde” role. Thankfully, with Billy Wilder Directing and both Arthur Miller and Acting Coach, Lee Strasberg also seeing the gem that she had been given, Marilyn agreed to take on the project and of course, the rest is history.
Professionally, Marilyn’s place in Hollywood was going from strength to strength with Some Like It Hot being her second smash hit for Billy Wilder, four years after the release of The Seven Year Itch (1955). Personally, her struggles during filming were pretty severe, due to her increasing addiction to barbiturates and her pregnancy, which would tragically end in another miscarriage, just before Christmas on December 16th 1958.
AUGUST 15TH 1959.
Marilyn and Arthur attend a performance of Macbeth at the Boston Arts Center Theatre.
AUGUST 5TH 1960:
Marilyn attended a double Birthday Party for Director John Huston and Actor Clark Gable’s Wife, Kay at the Mapes Hotel, Huston’s being August 5th and Kay’s August 7th.
Both Clark and Marilyn were unknowingly filming what would ultimately be their last film, The Misfits (1961) – Gable would pass away from a heart attack at only 59 years old on November 16th, just twelve days after filming had been completed.
Marilyn would start to make Something’s Got To Give (1962) on April 23rd 1962, with her last day on set being on her 36th Birthday, June 1st. The footage would thankfully be found in the 20th Century Fox Archives 27 years later in 1989 and would be restored, so 37 minutes of the movie now exists.
AUGUST 7TH 1961:
After visiting Long Island from August 1st, Marilyn returned to Los Angeles under the pseudonym, “Miss Reis” and was met by Ex-Husband and close friend, Joe Dimaggio.
It’s well known among fans how Marilyn would often come up with pretty creative names when trying to stay incognito, arguably the most famous being Zelda Zonk. However, this name is likely inspired by her Private Secretary, May Reis, who started working for Marilyn in 1957.
AUGUST 4TH 1962:
Marilyn’s last day alive.
Marilyn spent the day at home and received a number of visitors throughout the afternoon.
Her friend and Press Agent, Pat Newcomb, was suffering with bronchitis and had stayed the night, after coming around for food on August 3rd.
Her Housekeeper, Eunice Murray arrived at 8AM in the morning and would end up staying over, as requested by Marilyn’s Psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson. Ultimately, she would be the one to find Marilyn, who had passed away in her bedroom.
Photographer, Lawrence Schiller, who shot the famous nude scenes of Marilyn in Something’s Got To Give (1962) on May 28th, had come over to discuss their photos and have Marilyn give her approval, a rare clause she had won in her contract with 20th Century Fox.
Dr. Greenson arrived to Marilyn’s house early evening at 5:15PM, he had visited her no less than 28 times since July 1st. Dr. Engleberg, Marilyn’s other Doctor, had prescribed her 25 Nembutals a day previous on August 3rd, as well as a repeat prescription of 50 Chloral Hydrate on July 31st, with Marilyn taking 10 a day.
The amount of broken professional/medical boundaries between Greenson and Engleberg should not go unnoticed, especially with Chloral Hydrate and Nembutals being such a deadly combination when taken together. It may have been 59 years since Marilyn tragically left us, but that does not mean their major flaws being ignored or overlooked is acceptable. Shame on both of them.
She would receive calls from Arthur Miller’s father, Isidore Miller, who she affectionately called, “Dad” and had kept a close relationship with since her divorce the previous year. Sadly she was getting ready and couldn’t take the phone.
Friend and Masseuse, Ralph Roberts would also call regarding details for a planned Barbecue for the next day.
The last people she would speak to were her former Son-In-Law, Joe Dimaggio Jr. and Actor and friend, Peter Lawford.
Joe Dimaggio Jr. who was away serving in the Marines, had rang to inform Marilyn of his recent breakup from Fiancée Pamela Ries. He had tried calling two previous times during the day and finally spoke to her on the third call around 7:30 PM. She was apparently quite happy about the news, as she wasn’t a big fan of his now Ex-Fiancée and would go on to ring Dr. Greenson around 7:40 PM to tell him of the news.
Actor Peter Lawford also called, inviting Marilyn to attend a Dinner Party with friends, however she declined.
His accounts of this pivotal conversation however, have greatly varied over the years. Originally he confirmed the one phone call in 1962, with her saying no to the invitation.
However, thirteen years later in 1975, he changed his version to their being two conversations. The first having her accepting the invite, then him calling back to find out why she hadn’t appeared and hearing her sounding groggy and inaudible. Ironically, he shared how despite this, she was able to utter her supposed last words,
“Say goodbye to Pat, say goodbye to Jack and say goodbye to yourself, because you’re a nice guy.”
If that wasn’t enough, Lawford changed his version of events a third time, two decades later in 1982, saying her telephone was busy the second time he called around 8:00 PM.
Various accounts of the night have been documented by Housekeeper, Eunice Murray, she originally stated she checked on Marilyn sometime in the evening, but did not receive a response from her and then a few hours later, she noticed Marilyn’s light was still on in her bedroom and the phone wire was under the door.
This she found particularly unusual as Marilyn would usually move it into the guest bedroom and cover it with clothes, so she could try and have a peaceful sleep, which was already hard enough with the insomnia.
Upon ringing Dr. Greenson over her concern and asking for his advice, she would discover Marilyn and ask him to come round. Both he and Dr. Engleberg would come over to the home and she would be pronounced deceased at 3:25 AM, however rigor mortis had already set in so sadly Marilyn had left hours before, late on August 4th.
The world would be a lot less brighter on the morning of August 5th, with fans around the world waking up to the announcement of Marilyn’s untimely passing. Tragically, it was even reported in The New York Times that suicide rates steadily increased the week after her death in New York, with a new record of 12 in just one day. One fan even wrote the following words in their note, “If the most wonderful, beautiful thing in the world has nothing to live for, then neither must I.”
Actor and friend, Marlon Brando summed up the worlds thoughts on Marilyn’s death, which even 59 years later, still resonate and convey the illusion of how valued an outward appearance can be, but how an inner struggle is sadly so often overlooked.
“Do you remember when Marilyn Monroe died? Everybody stopped work, and you could see all that day the same expressions on their faces, the same thought, ‘How can a girl with success, fame, youth, money, beauty… how could she kill herself?’ Nobody could understand it because those are the things that everybody wants, and they can’t believe that life wasn’t important to Marilyn Monroe, or that her life was elsewhere.”
Today Marilyn would be turning 95 years old, which is so hard to comprehend considering she’s been gone for almost 59 years! With each year, I always try and discuss the two most significant moments in Marilyn’s life; her Birthday and Anniversary. After writing posts on such important highlights since starting my Blog in 2015, I’ve aimed to stay as creative as possible and make sure to come up with something unique.
For this year I had the idea of sharing photos and information of Marilyn celebrating her Birthdays. Sadly, there’s only a number of years that have actual pictures documenting the day, depending on if she was attending an Event or socializing with friends etc. However, I still want to write about as many of her Birthdays as possible, so I will try and share whatever she was doing on her special day or if nothing is available, then important anecdotes from that month and/or year.
Arguably the most important of them all, the day Marilyn was born. Marilyn was born Norma Jeane Mortenson (then changed to Baker – Gladys first Husband’s second name) on a Tuesday morning at 9:30 AM at the Los Angeles General Hospital. She was the third child of Gladys Monroe and although her current Husband, Edward Mortenson was listed as the father, they had been long separated. Marilyn’s, “father”, if you can call him that, is generally accepted to be Charles Stanley Gifford, a man Gladys worked for at the Consolidated Film Industries.
JUNE 1ST 1927:
I couldn’t find any information on how Marilyn’s 1st Birthday was celebrated sadly, but in this year, (and for the next six) she was living with her Foster Family, Ida and Albert Bolender and their adopted son Lester. Only two months younger than Norma Jeane, Ida once wrote in a letter to his birth parents in 1927 about the pair, saying,
“Little Norma Jeane is with me. She is the baby girl I had when Lester came. Lots of people think them twins. I dress them alike at times and they do look cunning. They are full of mystery and keep me busy.”
JUNE 1ST 1928:
Again, not much information, if any, is available from Marilyn’s 2nd Birthday. However, during the Summer, she did spend time with her mother Gladys and her Uncle’s family for a day out at the Beach at Santa Monica. I don’t know of the particular reason for them having quality time together, but as it was in the sunshine, I’d like to think it was possibly something to do with Gladys wanting to see Norma Jeane around her Birthday.
JUNE 1ST 1929:
This year, The Bolender’s enrolled Norma Jeane at Hawthorn Community Sunday School for a year.
JUNE 1ST 1930:
Norma Jeane continued to have a fairly stable home life with the Bolender Family and saw her mother most weekends for the first few years of her life. However, although she still paid for Norma Jeane’s care, Gladys was no longer seeing her as often as she had done previously. Norma Jeane would have to be reminded to call Ida her Aunt, as she was repeatedly told she was not her mother. Regarding Gladys, when reflecting on her time with her as a child she said,
“It’s true that to me she was always, the woman with the red hair.”
JUNE 1ST 1931:
Norma Jeane started at the Ballona Elementary and Kindergarten School in September of this year and continued to have a considerably normal life with her Foster Family.
JUNE 1ST 1932:
On March 27th, Norma Jeane and 50 other children participated in The Hollywood Bowl Easter Sunrise Service. It would be her first public appearance and ironically, she reflected on this moment saying that she was, “bored.” She also started 1st Grade at the Vine Street School, although she would only remain there for one year.
JUNE 1ST 1933:
Tragically, the Summer of 1933 was not a kind one for Norma Jeane. Her biological Great Grandather, Tilford Hogan, Gladys Grandather, committed suicide two days before her Birthday, on May 29th 1933. Neither Gladys nor Norma Jeane knew him personally, but the tragedy deeply affected her mother in particular. With the tragic deaths of her Parents – her father, Otis passed at 43 and mother, Della at 51 and now her Grandather, Gladys now had a deep believe that she would too suffer a horrific fate.
Albert, Norma Jeane’s Foster Father, had let her adopt a stray dog, named Tippy in 1931. He would be the first in a long list of animal friends that Marilyn would take in during her lifetime, famously stating how, “dogs never bite me, just humans.”
It’s been said he would walk with her to school and even wait for her to finish, showing the special bond the two shared. Horrifically, an evil neighbour would end up killing Tippy in June of this year, with varying accounts being he was either annoyed by his barking or him being on their premises. Naturally, this event traumatized Norma Jeane especially and Albert would go on to bury him in their garden.
Furthermore, Gladys would also learn of the death of her firstborn, Robert, affectionately known as, “Jackie”, who throughout his short life, had a number of horrific accidents, including the loss of his right eye. After her divorce from Jasper Baker in 1923, Norma Jeane’s half brother and sister Bernice, would continue to be raised by their father and at aged just 15, on August 16th 1933, he would pass away from bone tuberculosis, without ever meeting his youngest sister.
These three horrific events were to arguably alter Norma Jeane’s mostly stable life that she had been used to for the first seven years. In August of that year, Gladys had decided to take her out of the Bolender home and move them both in to a three bedroom house, located at 6812 Arbol Street.
JUNE 1ST 1934:
Again, I couldn’t find any information on how Norma Jeane celebrated her 8th Birthday, but that Summer she did go to see Cleopatra (1934) and as an adult she often reminisced about her love of Movies and Hollywood Stars, especially Jean Harlow. She would later recall these special childhood memories saying,
“When I was younger, I used to go to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and try to fit my foot in the prints in the cement there. And I’d say “Oh, oh, my foots too big. I guess that’s out.” I did have a funny feeling later when I finally put my foot down into that wet cement, I sure knew what it really meant to me, anything’s possible, almost.”
JUNE 1ST 1935:
Sadly, after just over four months of Norma Jeane finally living with her mother Gladys, on January 15th she was admitted into the Norwalk State Hospital and declared insane, having been diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia at just 32 years old.
On Norma Jeane’s 9th Birthday, her mother’s best friend, Grace Mckee – soon to be Goddard, became responsible for Gladys’s financial welfare and future. However, a whirlwind romance to, Erwin “Doc” Goddard on August 10th, would mean that she would find herself entering the Los Angeles Orphans Home on September 13th.
JUNE 1ST 1936:
Although not yet living with Grace, she would become Norma Jeane’s official Guardian on February 26th. The rest of her 10th year she continued to live at the Orphanage but still received visits from Grace. Although slightly irregular, she would take her on outings to the Beauty Salon to have her hair styled. Marilyn would reflect on these times over two decades later saying,
“My Orphanage was private and Grace used to visit me and take me out. Not as often as they say, but she used to come and take me out sometimes and I could put on her lipstick. I was only nine then. She’d take me someplace to get my hair curled, which was unheard of because it was allowed and because I had straight hair. Things like that meant a great deal to me.”
JUNE 1ST 1937:
After living in the Orphanage for 21 months, six days after her 11th Birthday, on June 7th – (some sources say June 26th), she would leave the home and finally live with Grace and her family at 6707 Odessa Avenue. On reflecting on her relationship with Grace, Marilyn would say,
“She was always wonderful to me, without her who knows where I would have landed! I could have been put in a state orphanage and kept there until I was eighteen.”
Sadly, the day Norma Jeane left the Orphanage would also be the day her favourite Movie Star, Jean Harlow, tragically died of kidney failure at just 26 years old. In an Interview with Georges Belmont for Cosmopolitan Magazine in 1960, she talked fondly about the original Platinum Blonde,
“I had favorite stars. Jean Harlow! I had platinum blonde hair and people used to call me, “tow-head.” I hated that and I dreamed of having golden hair, until I saw her, so beautiful and with platinum blonde hair like mine.”
JUNE 1ST 1938:
Norma Jeane would turn 12 years old and her Guardian, Grace bought her a new dress for $11.74 and had her hair done for $60, documenting this for a special photoshoot. She also gave her an empty photo album as a present for her to keepsake her pictures.
Due to a previous sexual assault incident with Grace’s Husband, “Doc” in November 1937, Norma Jeane had been placed in the care of her mother’s sister-in-law, Olyve, her three children and her mother, Ida Martin. Gladys’ brother, Marion, had deserted his family in 1929 and was never seen again. Some time during the Summer of 1938, her 13 year old cousin, Jack, sexually assaulted her, which resulted in her being moved once again, through absolutely no fault of her own.
JUNE 1ST 1939:
Thankfully, after multiple disturbing experiences, Norma Jeane had settled in with Grace’s Aunt, Ana Lower, after being placed in her care from August 1938. Talking about her beloved, “Aunt” Ana in later years, Marilyn said,
“There was real contact between us because she understood me somehow. She knew what it was like to be young. And I loved her dearly.”
Sometime in June, Grace took Norma Jeane to San Francisco, to visit Gladys, who was now residing in a hospital there. The visit wasn’t exactly a happy occasion, with Gladys sitting the majority of the time in silence, only once commenting, “You used to have such tiny little feet.” They wouldn’t see each other again until six years later in 1945.
JUNE 1ST 1940:
In the Summer, Norma Jeane started spending time with Chuck Moran, a year older, after meeting at the Hi-Ho Drive In, he clearly had developed romantic feelings after trying to make a move whilst they were dancing at the Ocean Park Pier. Sadly for Chuck, Norma Jeane rebuffed his advances, recalling the story years later, Marilyn commented,
“Poor Chuck, all he got was tired feet and a fight with me. But I thought, well, he isn’t entitled to anything else. Besides, I really wasn’t so smart with sex, which was probably a good thing.”
JUNE 1ST 1941:
On June 27th, Norma Jeane received her Junior High School Diploma from the Ninth Grade. She loved her Journalism Class and even contributed pieces to the School Paper, The Emersonian. Ironically, she wrote a column about the following results of 500 student questionnaires, stating how 53% of gentlemen.. preferred blondes.
Norma Jeane’s beloved, “Aunt” Ana’s declining health would result in her return to Grace’s home later this year.
JUNE 1ST 1942:
The month of June 1942 would be a significant time in Norma Jeane’s life. Within the past year, both Grace and her Neighbour Ethel Dougherty had decided to become novice matchmakers, with Ethel asking her youngest son, Jim, to escort Norma Jeane to the 1941 Adel Precision Products Christmas Ball, where Grace’s Husband, “Doc” worked.
After learning that, “Doc” would be transferred to West Virginia, Grace had to tell Norma Jeane she would not be joining them on their move. The reason being, as Grace would no longer be living in Los Angeles, this would result in her losing financial aid for her care and therefore wouldn’t have the abilities to support her.
To prevent further upset and the outcome of Norma Jeane having to return to the Orphanage until she was eighteen, Grace had decided to arrange a Marriage, as it was legal at sixteen in Los Angeles to do this. With Jim being informed of Norma Jeane’s potential return to the Orphanage, he agreed.
On June 19th, just over two weeks after her 16th Birthday, Norma Jeane would become Mrs Norma Jeane Dougherty.
JUNE 1ST 1943:
Norma Jeane and Jim had settled into married life, after moving to 14223 Bessemer Street, which was located in the San Fernando Valley. She adopted a stray collie, which she named Muggsie, who she absolutely doted on, even bathing her twice a week. Much to Norma Jeane’s dismay, Jim decided to enlist in the Merchant Marines and after he completed his training, she joined him in a two bedroom apartment in Avalon.
JUNE 1ST 1944:
In April 1944, Norma Jeane would have her first job, working at the Radioplane Company for ten hours a day, inspecting parachutes originally and then moving onto the paint department. She was making 70 cents an hour, which did increase to 85 and worked out at $20 a week. Jim had left with the Marines on Sea Duty early that year and she would not be reunited with him until the Holidays.
On June 15th, two weeks after her 18th Birthday, Norma Jeane wrote to her former Guardian, Grace saying,
“Jimmie has been gone for seven weeks and the first word I received from him was the day before my Birthday. He sent a cable night letter by Western Union saying, “Darling, on your Birthday I send you a whole world of love.” I was simply thrilled to death to hear from him.”
JUNE 1ST 1945:
Norma Jeane sent a letter to her Guardian Grace and her Sister Bernice, (Gladys had finally informed them of each others existence in 1938) on June 4th, three days after her 19th Birthday. She talked about her first experience in the limelight, modelling for Photographer David Conover. He discovered her whilst she was working at the Radioplane Company and would also reunite with her on the set of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in late 1952.
“The first thing I knew the lead man and lead lady had me out there, having the army taking pictures of me. They all asked where in the H — I had been hiding. They took a lot of moving pictures of me, and some of them asked for dates, etc. (Naturally I refused!) After they finished with some of the pictures, an army corporal by the name of David Conover told me he would be interested in getting some color still shots of me.”
JUNE 1ST 1946:
Just over a month after her 20th Birthday on July 5th, Norma Jeane filed for Divorce from Jim after four years of marriage, her modelling career was flourishing and the idea of being a housewife did no longer appeal.
A few weeks later, she signed her first contract with 20th Century Fox and in December, Casting Director Ben Lyon helped change her name professionally, to Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn never forgot this significant moment in her life, recalling fourteen years later to Georges Belmont in 1960,
“I owe a lot to Ben Lyon. He was the first to believe in me. He even gave me my name.”
Ironically enough, Lyon himself was a former Actor, having starred with Jean Harlow in her first movie, Hell’s Angels (1931) fifteen years earlier.
JUNE 1ST 1947:
Ten days after her 21st Birthday, Marilyn attended the Los Angeles Press Club’s 8 Ball Welfare Foundation and later that month acted in her first film, Dangerous Years (1947), playing a Waitress called Eve.
JUNE 1ST 1948:
A day after her 22nd Birthday, Marilyn acted as Hostess at the Los Angeles Press Club and meets Mayor Fletcher Bowron.
JUNE 1ST 1949:
On May 27th, four days before her 23rd Birthday, Marilyn would pose for her now iconic nude, “Golden Dreams” and “A New Wrinkle” Calendars, with Photographer Tom Kelley. She insisted his wife, Natalie, was in attendance. She would get just $50, which was used to pay for either food, rent and/or car bills – the stories vary. Kelley would, upon hindsight, regretfully sell the copyrights for $500 to Baumgarth Company.
Columnist, Sheilah Graham, wrote about the incident in June 1952,
“A pompous visitor asked Marilyn Monroe at Niagara—”Is it true that when you posed for that famous calendar photograph, Miss Monroe, you had nothing on?” “No,” said our Marilyn, “I had the radio on.”
JUNE 1ST 1950:
For her 24th Birthday, Marilyn received a pet chihuahua, named Josefa, from 20th Century Fox’s Co-Founder and friend. Although adored by her owner, who went so far as to feed her calf liver and even bought a quilt for Josefa to sleep on, unfortunately, she wasn’t house trained..
JUNE 1ST 1951:
On June 12th, eleven days after her 25th Birthday, Marilyn takes part in a Photoshoot for Modern Screen Magazine, with other Starlets, Nick Savano, Craig Hill and Mala Powers. It was at Herman Hover’s Beverly Hills home, the owner of Ciro’s Restaurant. Marilyn actually wore the same bathing suit her character, Joyce Mannering has on in, Let’s Make It Legal (1951)
JUNE 1ST 1952:
For her 26th Birthday, Marilyn received the wonderful news that she had landed one of the Starring Roles in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) opposite Jane Russell.
Three days later on June 5th, she started location shooting in Canada, for her first technicolor leading role in Niagara (1953) – not only was it the film that transformed her from Starlet to Star, it’s also significant for two other reasons. Firstly, this is the only time she plays a femme fatale/villain and secondly – *spoiler* (even though it’s 68 years old so at this point, I really don’t think I can be blamed) her character, Rose Loomis.. dies.
JUNE 1ST 1953:
The month of June 1953 was a very special time in Marilyn’s life, especially three and a half weeks after her 27th Birthday. On June 26th, she and her Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Co-Star and friend, Jane Russell were immortalized at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
From visiting most weekends as a child and trying to fit her own hands and feet in the many celebrity prints, Marilyn really had come full circle and I can only imagine how little Norma Jeane would have felt knowing her dream had came true.
JUNE 1ST 1954:
Three days before her 28th Birthday, on May 29th Marilyn started filming for There’s No Business Like Show Business. A press photo states that this picture was in fact taken on her actual Birthday, as Co-Star Donald O’Connor and Singing Coach Ken Darby all share a toast.
JUNE 1ST 1955:
On her 29th Birthday, Marilyn attended the Premiere of film, The Seven Year Itch, with soon to be Ex-Husband, Joe Dimaggio. After an emotionally distressing separation in October 1954, they had thankfully been able to form a friendship, which would last until the end of Marilyn’s life.
After the Premiere, Marilyn went to the reception given for her at the Toots Shor, unfortunately her and Joe would get into an argument and she would end up leaving the Party.
JUNE 1ST 1956:
On her 30th Birthday, Marilyn met Indonesian President Sukarno at a party arranged by Joshua Logan (Director of her film Bus Stop) at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Sukarno was a huge fan of American Movies and had requested to be introduce to the Hollywood Star. After attending the event, she departed for New York, before reporters stopped to present her with a Birthday Cake.
JUNE 1ST 1957:
Marilyn spent the Summer having a well earned rest at her Roxbury Home with third Husband, Playwright Arthur Miller. She made one of her few public appearances of the year, attending the Premiere of The Prince and The Showgirl, a few weeks after her 31st Birthday, at Radio City Music Hall on June 13th in New York.
She would also find out she was pregnant this Summer, but tragically suffer an ectopic pregnancy and spend 10 days in hospital from August 1st.
JUNE 1ST 1958:
Five days before her 32nd Birthday, on May 27th Marilyn would participate in a Photoshoot with Richard Avedon for LIFE Magazine, which would be released seven months later, on December 22nd. It was entitled, “Fabled Enchantresses” and the text was written by Arthur Miller, which he affectionately called, “My Wife Marilyn”. Marilyn portrayed five Stars, Lillian Russell, Theda Bara, Marlene Dietrich, Clara Bow and her personal favourite, Jean Harlow.
She received a letter from Joe Wolhandler, Marilyn’s New York Publicist, the following year, on January 19th saying the following,
“Dear Marilyn: That issue of LIFE Magazine that carried your picture set an all-time record in sales. More copies were sold of that issue than any other issues in the history of LIFE. The figure was 6,300,000 and more could have been sold if they had printed more. LIFE’s circulation department tells me that this is the highest circulation figure in their entire publishing career.”
JUNE 1ST 1959:
On June 23rd, three weeks after her 33rd Birthday, Marilyn entered the hospital to have more surgery to fix her chronic endometriosis. Over the years she would have at least three other operations to try and help ease her suffering.
JUNE 1ST 1960:
Marilyn celebrated her 34th Birthday on the set of Let’s Make Love (1960) where she received a unique Birthday Card. It was created by Artist Joseph Krutak and showed Marilyn as her character, Amanda Dell, surrounded by various quotes and items from the movie, with the bottom being signed by the whole cast.
Once filming had finished for the day, her Press Agent, Rupert Allan, threw a Party at his home in Beverly Hills. In attendance were Playwrights, Tennessee Williams and Clifford Odets – the latter happened to write Clash By Night eleven years before Marilyn would star in the movie, in 1952. She would end up spending the majority of the night with the two, speaking about one of her favourite things – the Theatre.
JUNE 1ST 1961:
On her 35th Birthday, Marilyn would send a Telegram to her Psychiatrist, Dr. Greenson,
“Dear Dr. Greenson: In this world of people I’m glad there’s you. I have a feeling of hope though today I am three five. Marilyn.”
She also spoke about her Birthday to Journalist Jonah Rudd and it was published four days later, on June 5th in The London Daily Mail,
“I’m very happy to have reached this age. I feel I’m growing up. It was wonderful being a girl, but it’s more wonderful being a woman.”
She also reunited with Photographer, Andre de Dienes, who was one of the few to take pictures of Marilyn as a relatively unknown Starlet (1945, 1946, 1949) and Hollywood Star, in 1952 and 1953.
JUNE 1ST 1962:
On Marilyn’s 36th Birthday, she would have a small celebration on the set of her last film, Something’s Got To Give (1962) which would end up being her last ever day on set. Her frequent Stand-In, Evelyn Moriarty arranged the party.
She would also receive a telegram from Joe Dimaggio, who was currently in Europe, saying,
“Happy Birthday, hope today and future years bring you sunny skies and all your heart desires. As ever, Joe.”
After she had finished work, Marilyn would make what would be her final public appearance at the Dodger Stadium, which was holding a game to Benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association. She would borrow her costume from filming and looked as beautiful as ever.
It’s so wonderful that even 95 years later, millions of fans will be celebrating Marilyn today all over the world. I like to think that wherever she may be now, she knows how eternally loved and appreciated she is, just as she was in her lifetime and arguably, even more so.
It’s hard to believe 58 years to the day, on the night of August 4th, the world’s most famous Star would leave us all. Yes, I know a lot of you will be thinking, “wait, didn’t she die on the 5th?” – she was found in the early hours of that morning, and her death was announced then – so that is the “technical” date. However, as with many Marilyn “facts” that too is incorrect and so like every year, I will be posting this on the 4th.
I’m not going to write about all the ridiculous dramas and he said she said statements that have grown rapidly over the years, as they don’t deserve any more coverage. Whenever a major celebrity dies, the more shocking the statement, the more attention it gains, so much so that it’s almost became ingrained into society as being accepted as fact. But, I am going to have a big name and shame moment for the two main culprits – Robert Slatzer and Norman Mailer I’m looking at you both. Also Anthony Summers – you’re a piece of crap and I will never forgive you for publishing Marilyn’s autopsy photo in your toilet paper worthy biography.
Long story short as they don’t deserve any mention with Marilyn’s name – Slatzer created the whole Kennedy, Mafia and basically everything shit and defamatory written about Marilyn in the early 1970s. If you want to find out the actual truth with documented facts click HERE.
Sorry to disappoint any conspiracy lovers – Marilyn didn’t love JFK, nor did any of the Kennedy’s kill her, she died of an either accidental or intentional prescription drug overdose. Was I there? No, I wasn’t even alive, but it’s really not hard to disregard the nonsense and absurd claims, when you actually take the time to do a little (a lot in my case) of research.
This book is truly one of a kind and is basically a published archive of many of Marilyn’s personal letters, excerpts and anecdotes she had written from 1943 until 1962. Before anyone says it’s disrespectful to publish/share these and it is an invasion of privacy, to an extent I agree. However, as stated a few moment ago, with the amount of disrespectful, outrageous nonsense that has been slurred out over the half a century since Marilyn left us – I think it’s a necessity to see her own words in print. Ironically enough, it’s almost as if Marilyn herself foreshadowed the future of the media, when she said this in an Interview to Georges Belmont for Marie Claire Magazine in April 1960.
“The true things rarely get into circulation, it’s usually the false things.”
Therefore, today I have decided to focus on Marilyn herself, not as a Star, Tragic Icon or a pretty face, but as a human who had a beautiful, sensitive soul. Some of you may already know, but for those who don’t, Marilyn actually wrote numerous poems throughout her years, mostly just for herself. In her rare moments of confidence, she would occasionally show a few to her close friend, Writer Norman Rosten, who said the following in his (must have) book, Marilyn Among Friends.
“She had the instinct and reflexes of the poet, but she lacked the control.”
“Although she gave the appearance of being so confident and self assured, she was in reality incredibly self conscious and her own biggest critic, which is heartbreaking really as she was truly gifted. She was such a perfectionist that she would spend hours preparing herself mentally and physically for her beloved fans, regularly looking in the mirror at her perceived flaws. Marilyn was infamous for her lateness, which is often viewed as diva like behaviour. However, the reality is, it’s rarely noted that her anxiety was so severe, she would break out in rashes and even vomit, before going on set.
In her final interview with LIFE Magazine, published one day before her death, she even said to Journalist Richard Meryman,
“I’m one of the world’s most self conscious people. I really have to struggle.”
I remember the first time I looked through Fragments, of course it was very upsetting to see her pain written down and think about her suffering, However, I strongly noticed this recurring theme of hope, despite some incredibly sad notes, there was always some sparkle of inner strength and I just thought that should be said. Often we ourselves don’t see our bravery and bouts of determination in our inner self, but others do and I for one am glad I can see in Marilyn what she could not.
I love you with all of my heart Marilyn, from the moment you came into my life, a decade ago in October 2010. Wherever you may be, I hope you know how much love, joy and happiness you have brought and continue to bring to many people’s lives each day.
• Undated Poem.
Life – I am of both of your directions Somehow remaining hanging downward the most but strong as a cobweb in the wind – I exist more with the cold glistening frost. But my beaded rays have the colors I’ve seen in a painting – ah life they have cheated you ______________________________________________________________________________
I stood beneath your limbs and you flowered and finally clung to me and when the wind struck with.. the earth and sand – you clung to me. ______________________________________________________________________________
• Undated Poem
Stones on the walk every color there is I stare down at you like a horizon – the space / the air is between us beckoning and I am many stories up my feet frightened as I grasp towards you ______________________________________________________________________________
• Undated Poem
Only parts of us will ever touch parts of others – one’s own truth is just that really – one’s own truth.
We can only share the
part that is within another’s knowing acceptable
is for most part alone.
As it is meant to be in
evidently in nature – at best perhaps it could make
our understanding seek
another’s loneliness out.
• Undated Poem
for life It is rather a determination not to be overwhelmed.
for work The truth can only be recalled, never invented ______________________________________________________________________________
• “Record” Black Notebook – Written in throughout 1951.
What I do believe in What is truth I believe in myself even my most delicate intangible feelings in the end everything is intangible my most precious liquid must never spill don’t spill your precious liquid life force they are all my feelings no matter what ______________________________________________________________________________
• “Record” Black Notebook – Written in throughout 1951. Fear of giving me the lines new maybe won’t be able to learn them maybe I’ll make mistakes people will either think I’m no good or laugh or belittle me or think I can’t act. Women looked stern and critical – unfriendly and cold in general afraid director won’t think I’m any good. remembering when I couldn’t do a god damn thing. then trying to build myself up with the fact that I have done things right that were even good and have had moments that were excellent but the bad is heavier to carry around and feel have no confidence depressed mad ______________________________________________________________________________
• Other “Record” Notebook – Written in throughout 1955.
I do know ways people act unconventionally – mainly myself – do not be afraid of
my sensitivity or to use it – for I can & will channel it + crazy thoughts too I want to do my scene or exercises (idiotic as they may seem) as sincerely as I can knowing and showing how I know it is also – no matter – what they might think – or judge from it ______________________________________________________________________________
• Other “Record” Notebook – Written in throughout 1955.
I can and will help myself and work on things analytically no matter how painful – if I forget things (the unconscious wants to forget – I will only try to remember) Discipline – Concentration
my body is my body every part of it.
• Other “Record” Notebook – Written in throughout 1955.
feel what I feel within myself – that is trying to become aware of it also what I feel in others not being ashamed of my feeling, thoughts – or ideas
realize the thing that they are –
• Waldorf Astoria Stationery – Written in throughout 1955.
Sad, sweet trees – I wish for you – rest but you must be wakeful
• Waldorf Astoria Stationery – Written in throughout 1955.
Not a scared lonely little girl anymore
Remember you can sit on top of the world (it doesn’t feel like it.) You can have any help you want personally – or in your work – or anything else you want – There are technical ways to go about it or problems – figure out if anything tec. can be done about it because there are people to help you – gladly – you more than most they want to help Remember there is nothing you lack – nothing to be self conscious about yourself – you have everything but the discipline and technique which you are learning & seeking on your own – after all nothing was or is being given to you – you have had none of this work thrown your way you sought it – it didn’t seek you
Too much talent Too much ability and and much too much sensitivity to invert yourself
out of fear – not come to class –
or to do things like being afraid to come to
class or to get up.
• “Italian Agenda” Notebook – Written throughout 1955 or 1956.
and the more I think of it the more I realize there are no answers life is to be lived
and since it is comparatively so short – (maybe too short – maybe too long – the only thing I know for sure, it isn’t easy
now that I want to live and I feel suddenly not old not concerned about previous thing except to protect myself – my life – and to desperately (pray) tell the universe I trust it ______________________________________________________________________________
• Parkside House Stationery – Written during her stay in England between July 14th – November 20th 1956.
I guess I have always been deeply terrified to really be someone’s wife since I know from life one cannot love another, ever, really. ______________________________________________________________________________
• Roxbury Notes – Written throughout 1957 or 1958.
In every spring the green is too sharp – though the delicacy in their form is sweet and uncertain – it puts up a good struggle in the wind trembling all the while. Those leaves will relax, expand in the sun and each raindrop they will resist even when they’re battered and ripped. I think I am very lonely – my mind jumps. I see myself in the mirror now, brow furrowed – if I lean close I’ll see – what I don’t want to know – tension, sadness, disappointment, my eyes dulled, cheeks flushed with capillaries that look like rivers on maps – hair lying like snakes. The mouth makes me the saddest next to my dead eyes. There is a dark line between the lips in the outline of several waves in a turbulent storm – it says don’t kiss me, don’t fool me I’m a dancer who cannot dance. ______________________________________________________________________________
• Roxbury Notes – Written throughout 1957 or 1958.
re – relationships
Everyone’s childhood plays itself out No wonder no one knows the other or can completely understand. By this I don’t know if I’, just giving up with this conclusion or resigning myself – or maybe for the first time connecting with reality –
how do we know the pain of another’s earlier years let alone all that he drags with him since along the way at best a lot of lee-way is needed for the other – yet how much is unhealthy for one to bear.
I think to love bravely is the best and accept – as much as one can bear. ______________________________________________________________________________
Today is a very special day, it’s Marilyn’s Birthday! Can you believe that if she were still alive, Marilyn would have been turning 94 years old today – just two months younger than the Queen herself! With each year I always try and write a special post about this amazing woman, who has helped me so much and achieved more than anyone could have imagined in her 36 years. Therefore, I decided to write 94 facts about the Birthday Girl – some you may know, some you may not, all in the hope that genuine things will be learnt and the real Marilyn will be more understood and appreciated.
2. Born in the charity ward of the Los Angeles County Hospital at 9:30 AM on June 1st 1926.
3. Married three times;
– Jim Dougherty: (June 19th 1942 – September 13th 1946) – Joe Dimaggio: (January 14th 1954 – 31st October 1955) (Temporary divorce granted on October 27th 1954) – Arthur Miller: (June 29th 1956 – January 20th 1961).
4. Suffered two confirmed miscarriages; an ectopic pregnancy on August 1st 1957 and miscarriage in December 16th 1958.
5. Suffered with endometriosis very badly, so much so that she had a clause in her contract which stated she would be unable to work whilst menstruating.
6. Starred in 30 films – her last being uncompleted.
8. Winner of three Golden Globes; two for World Film Favourite – Female in 1954 and 1962 and one for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical for her performance as Sugar Kane in Some Like It Hot (1959) in 1960.
9. Her idol was the first Platinum Blonde Bombshell, Jean Harlow.
10. Amassed a collection of over 400 books in her library, ranging from Russian Literature to Psychology.
11. Favourite perfume was Chanel No.5
12. Had two half siblings; Robert “Jackie” Baker (1918 – 1933) and Bernice Miracle (1919) – the former she would never have the chance to meet and Bernice was not informed about Marilyn until she was 19 years old.
13. Former Actor and 20th Century Fox Studio Executive, Ben Lyon created the name Marilyn Monroe in December 1946 – Marilyn after fellow Actress, Marilyn Miller and Monroe after Marilyn’s mother’s maiden name. Ironically enough, Ben starred with Jean Harlow, in her breakout movie, Hell’s Angels (1930).
14. Legally changed her name to Marilyn Monroe ten years later, on February 23rd 1956.
15. Attended The Actors Studio.
16. Third woman to start her own Film Production Company – the first being Lois Weber in 1917 and the second being Mary Pickford in 1919.
17. First had her hair bleached in January 1946 at the Frank & Joseph Salon by Beautician Sylvia Barnhart, originally intended for a Shampoo Advert.
18. Contrary to popular belief, she was technically a natural blonde, not a redhead or brunette. She was born with platinum hair and was very fair until just before her teen years. Her sister described her with having dark blonde hair upon their first meeting in 1944.
19. Another myth debunked – she had blue eyes, not brown.
20. Was one of the few women in the 1950s to use weights when exercising.
21. Wore jeans before it was considered acceptable for women.
22. Her famous mole was real – albeit skin coloured, so she emphasized it using a brown eye pencil.
23. Was a Step-Mother in two of her three marriages to three children – Joe Dimaggio Jr. and Bobby and Jane Miller.
25. Another huge myth dispelled – only actually met President Kennedy four times from 1961 – 1962. Three of them were at public events, with the last being her performance at Madison Square Garden. One of them was at Bing Crosby’s Palm Spring house with various people, so at most (which again, is very unlikely) they had a one night stand – nothing more and nothing less.
26. Was the first Playboy Cover Girl, although she did not actually pose for them, nor give permission for them to be used. Hugh Hefner bought the photograph from a Chicago Calendar Company for $500 and the two never met.
27. Speaking of Playboy, the photo was taken by Photographer Tom Kelley on May 27th 1951 and Marilyn made a total of $50 for the photo shoot. The most famous photo then went on to cause a national sensation after being sold to the Calendar Baumgarth Company and became known as, “Golden Dreams“.
28. In 1955 it was estimated that over four million copies of the Calendar had been sold.
29. Favourite singers were Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.
30. Attended the Academy Awards Ceremony only once on March 29th 1951 and presented the award for “Best Sound Recording” to Thomas Moulton for All About Eve (1951) which she also starred in.
31. Performed ten shows over four days to over 100,000 soldiers and marines in Korea in February 1954 – she actually ended up catching pneumonia because it was so cold.
32. Was one of the few Stars who had Director Approval in their Contracts. Some of the names included were, John Huston, Elia Kazan, Alfred Hitchcock, George Stevens, William Wyler, Joshua Logan and Sir Carol Reed.
33. Was pregnant during the filming of Some Like It Hot (1959) – filming finished on November 7th 1958 and she miscarried the following month on December 16th.
34. Featured on the cover of LIFE Magazine seven times during her lifetime;
– April 7th 1952 – May 25th 1953 – July 8th 1957 (International Edition) – April 20th 1959 – November 9th 1959 – August 15th 1960 – June 22nd 1962
35. Favourite bevarage was Dom Perignon 1953 Champagne.
36. By the time of her death, her films had grossed over $200 million, when adjusted for inflation that is the equivalent of $2 billion in 2019.
37. Designer, William Travilla dressed Marilyn for seven of her films, two (*) of them received Oscar Nominations in, “Best Costume/Design, Color“;
42. Her Production Company, Marilyn Monroe Productions produced only one film, The Prince and The Showgirl (1957) based on Terrance Rattigan’s play, The Sleeping Prince.
43. Was photographed by Gene Kornman on February 25th 1952 wearing a potato sack dress. This was after being criticized by the press for her outfit choice, a month earlier, at The Henrietta Awards in January 1952. A journalist wrote that Marilyn was “insignificant and vulgar“and “even in a potato bag, it would have been more elegant. Ironically enough, this was the second time Marilyn had donned a potato sack dress, the first was photographed by Earl Theisen and appeared in LOOK Magazine in October 1951 and Filmland Magazine in April 1952.
44. Was a huge supporter of LGBT+ rights, saying the following quote about fellow actor and friend, Montgomery Clift to journalist W.J. Weatherby in 1960,
“I was remembering Monty Clift. People who aren’t fit to open the door for him sneer at his homosexuality. What do they know about it? Labels–people love putting labels on each other. Then they feel safe. People tried to make me into a lesbian. I laughed. No sex is wrong if there’s love in it.”
45. Her measurements were listed as the following by her Dressmakers; 35-22-35 and 36-24-24 by The Blue Book Modelling Agency. For the majority of her life she weighed between 117-120 pounds, with her weight fluctuating around 15 pounds, during and after her pregnancies (1957-1960), although her waist never ventured past 28.5 inches and her dress size today would be a UK Size 6-8 and a US Size 2-4 as she was a vintage Size 12.
46. Her famous white halter dress from The Seven Year Itch (1955)sold for $4.6 million ($5.6 million including auction fees) on June 18th 2011, which was owned by Debbie Reynolds. The “Happy Birthday Mr. President Dress” originally held the record for the most expensive dress, when it was sold on October 27th 1999 for $1.26 million. It then went on to be resold for $4.8 million on November 17th 2016, thus regaining it’s original achievement.
47. Was discovered by Photographer, David Conover, whilst working in The Radio Plane Munitions Factory in the Fall of 1944 or Spring of 1945, depending on sources.
48. Now known as the, “Me Too” movement, Marilyn was one of the first Stars to speak out on the, “Hollywood Wolves” in a 1953 article for Motion Picture Magazine entitled, “Wolves I Have Known”. The most famous incident being with the Head of Columbia Studios, Harry Cohn, who requested Marilyn join him on his yacht for a weekend away in Catalina Island. Marilyn asked if his wife would be joining them, which, as you can imagine – did not go down well and her contract was not renewed with the Studio. Marilyn made only one film with Columbia during her six month contract, this being Ladies Of The Chorus (1948) which was shot in just ten days!
49. Loved animals dearly and adopted a variety of pets over the years. These included a basset hound called Hugo and parakeets, Clyde, Bobo and Butch with Husband Arthur Miller. A number of cats including a persian breed called Mitsou in 1955 and Sugar Finney in 1959. Her most famous pet was gifted to her in March or April of 1961 by friend, Frank Sinatra, a little white maltese named Maf. His full name was Mafia Honey, as a humorous reference to Sinatra’s alleged connections to the Mob. After Marilyn’s death, Maf went to live with Frank Sinatra’s secretary, Gloria Lovell.
50. The book she was reading at the time of her death was Harper Lee’s, To Kill A Mocking Bird.
51. One of the movies she starred in was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and won, this being All About Eve (1950) at The 23rd Academy Awards on March 29th 1951. It ended up being nominated for 14 Oscars, a record at the time and has only been matched by Titanic (1997) and La La Land (2016).
52. Her first magazine cover was photographed by Andre de Dienes in December 1945 for Family Circle, released on April 26th 1946.
53. Joined The William Morris Agency on December 7th 1948.
54. Was right handed, not left as often believed.
55. Third Husband Arthur Miller wrote the screenplay for Marilyn’s last completed film, The Misfits (1961) which was originally written as a short story for Esquire Magazine in 1957. After the tragic ectopic pregnancy Marilyn endured in August of 1957, friend and Photographer, Sam Shaw suggested to Miller he alter his short story specifically for her. Ironically the making of this film culminated in their divorce and Marilyn stating,
“He could have written me anything and he comes up with this. If that’s what he thinks of me then I’m not for him and he’s not for me.”
56. Was Author, Truman Capote’s original choice for the role of Holly Golightly in Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961) however, she was advised to turn it down by her Acting Coach, Paula Strasberg, who did not think the role of a prostitute would be good for her image. Writer George Axelrod, who wrote the Screenplay for Bus Stop (1956) and the play, The Seven Year Itch, ironically ended up being the Screenwriter for this movie.
Capote said this regarding Marilyn,
“I had seen her in a film and thought she would be perfect for the part. Holly had to have something touching about her . . . unfinished. Marilyn had that.”
57. Second Husband Joe Dimaggio had The Parisian Florists deliver red roses on Marilyn’s grave twice a week, for twenty years, from August 1962 until September 1982. Marilyn had told him how William Powell used to do this for Jean Harlow after her death and he reportedly vowed to do the same after their Wedding Ceremony. After the 20 years he then donated to a children’s charity, as he thought it would be a nice way to honour her memory. They also created the flower arrangements for her casket at her funeral.
58. The following five Directors directed Marilyn in more than one movie;
– John Huston; The Asphalt Jungle (1950) and The Misfits (1961) – Richard Sale; A Ticket To Tomahawk (1950) and Let’s Make It Legal (1951) – Howard Hawks; Monkey Business (1952) and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) – Billy Wilder; The Seven Year Itch (1955) and Some Like It Hot (1959) – George Cukor; Let’s Make Love (1960) and Something’s Got To Give (1962)
59. Was an illegitimate child, which unfortunately was attached with a lot of stigma in the 1920s. Her mother, Gladys, listed her then husband Edward Mortenson on the Birth Certificate, although it is commonly accepted that her real father was Charles Stanley Gifford, as Gladys left Edward on May 26th 1925. Gladys had an affair with him, which ended when she announced her pregnancy and he never acknowledged or met Marilyn, although she tried multiple times over the years to speak with him.
60. Stayed in a number of foster homes during her childhood,
– George and Emma Atkinson; February 1934 – September 1934 – Enid and Sam Knebelcamp; Fall of 1934 – Harvey and Elsie Giffen; January 1935 – March 1935 – Grace and “Doc” Goddard; April 1935 – September 1935 and June 1937 – November 1937 and end of 1940 – February 1942 – Ida Martin; November 1937 – August 1938 – “Aunt Ana” Lower; August 1938 – End of 1940 and February 1942
61. Had her hand and footprints immortalized in cement at Graumans Chinese Theatre on June 26th 1953, with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) co-star, Jane Russell. Marilyn would place a rhinestone in the dot of the letter “i” as a reference to her character, “Lorelei Lee” but it was sadly stolen. This was an incredibly special moment for her, as she often talked about placing her hands and feet in the many prints there, when she spent her weekends at the Theatre as a child, especially in 1933 and 1934.
“When I was younger, I used to go to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and try to fit my foot in the prints in the cement there. And I’d say “Oh, oh, my foots too big. I guess that’s out.” I did have a funny feeling later when I finally put my foot down into that wet cement, I sure knew what it really meant to me, anything’s possible, almost.”
62. The famous gold lamé dress worn in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and designed by William Travilla, was deemed too risqué by the censors. Unfortunately for fans, this meant that the musical number, “Down Boy” was cut from the film and we only glimpse a few seconds of the dress from behind, on screen.
63. Due to the censors, the original, “Diamond’s Are A Girl’s Best Friend” costume was changed to the now iconic pink dress with black bow. Originally it was to be a diamond encrusted two piece, which was extremely daring for the then Motion Picture Hays Code.
64. Loved Erno Lazlo Skin Cream, Vaseline and Nivea Moisturizer.
65. Had she completed Something’s Got To Give (1962), Marilyn would have been the first Star in a major Motion Picture to appear nude on film. As she passed before it was completed the achievement went to fellow Blonde Bombshell, Jayne Mansfield in, Promises! Promises (1963).
66. Met Queen Elizabeth II in England at the Empire Theater in Leicester Square whilst attending the Premiere of, “The Battle Of The River Plate“ on October 29th 1956.
67. The Misfits (1961) was both Marilyn and Clark Gable’s last completed films. Clark died 12 days after filming finished, on November 16th 1960. The film was released on Clark’s would be 60th Birthday, February 1st 1961 and Marilyn passed 18 months later.
68. As Marilyn died before the completion of Something’s Got To Give (1962) it ended up being remade with Doris Day and James Garner, entitled, Move Over Darling! (1963). The film was originally intended to be a remake of, My Favourite Wife (1940) which starred Cary Grant.
69. Signed a recording contract with RCA Records on September 1st 1953. One of her songs from River of No Return (1954) entitled, “File My Claim” sold 75,000 copies in its first three weeks of release.
70. Was admitted to the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic on February 10th 1961 by her then Psychiatrist, Marianne Kris. Originally thought to be for rest and rehabilitation, following her divorce from Arthur Miller and the strain of filming The Misfits. However, Marilyn was placed on the security ring and held against her will. Thankfully, she was able to contact ex Husband, Joe Dimaggio, who stated he would, “Take the hospital apart brick by brick” if she was not released and after three days of emotional trauma, she left.
71. Visited the following Countries;
– Canada – (July – August 1953) – Japan (February 1954) – Korea (Feburary 1954) – England (July – November 1956) – Jamaica (January 1957) – Mexico (February 1962)
72. Purchased her only home, 12305 Fifth Helena Drive on February 8th 1962, where she would tragically pass just under 6 months later.
73. The home had the following tile located on the front paving entrance saying, “cursum perficio” meaning, “my journey ends here.” The title is still there to this day.
74. Her final interview was published in LIFE Magazine on August 3rd 1962 and was written by Richard Meryman.
75. Aside from her millions of fans, had a staunch group of supporters affectionately known as, “The Monroe Six” who followed Marilyn around New York during her time there. Their nickname for Marilyn was, “Mazzie” and they became so acquainted that Marilyn actually once invited them for a picnic at her home.
76. First married at just sixteen years old, this was to avoid returning to the Orphanage she had spent almost two years in as a child.
77. Supported numerous charity events, most famously riding a pink elephant in Madison Square Garden, to support the Arthritis and Rheumatic Affections Association on March 30th 1955.
78. Left 25% of her Estate to her then Psychiatrist, Marianne Kris and 75% to mentor and friend, Lee Strasberg. For reference, her Will was last updated on January 1961 – a month before she entered the Payne Whitney Hospital on the advice of Marianne Kris.
79. At the time of it’s release, The Misfits (1961) turned out to be the most expensive black and white movie ever made, costing a budget of $4 million dollars.
80. The Premiere of The Seven Year Itch was held on her 29th Birthday, on June 1st 1955, she attended with ex Husband, Joe Dimaggio.
81. Laid to rest at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery on August 8th 1962 at 1:00 PM, with friend and mentor Lee Strasberg delivering the Eulogy.
82. Although so often associated with diamonds, actually wasn’t that fond of jewellery stating, “People always ask me if I believe diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Frankly, I don’t.”
83. Spent her 36th Birthday filming Something’s Got To Give (1962) and then attending a Charity Event for muscular dystrophy at the Chavez Ravin Dodger Stadium, which also happened to be her last public appearance.
84. Whilst recovering in hospital from an appendectomy in April 1952, Marilyn asked long time Makeup Artist and friend, Allan “Whitey” Snyder to do her makeup, should she pass before him. She gave him a gold money clip with the inscription, “Whitey Dear, while I’m still warm, Marilyn” and he did fulfill this promise to her.
85. Converted to Judaism for third husband, Arthur Miller on July 1st 1956.
86. Despite appearing in 30 films, she only actually dies in one, that being her breakout movie, Niagara (1953) where her character Rose Loomis, is strangled by her Husband George, played by Joseph Cotten.
87. Moved to New York City in 1955 and attended The Actors Studio, after breaking her Film Contract with 20th Century Fox. This was for a number of reasons, mainly years of low pay, unsatisfactory scripts and lack of creative control. A new contract would finally be reinstated on December 31st.
88. Repurchased a white Baby Grand Piano that her mother, Gladys, owned during their time living together in 1933. After Marilyn passed it would then be sold at the Christies Auction of her Estate in 1999 to none other than, Mariah Carey for $632,500.
89. Wore long hair pieces in River of No Return (1954) and a medium length wig in The Misfits (1961). The first I can only assume was due to the time period and setting of a Western and the second was due to the bleach damage her hair had suffered. After the filming in 1960, she wore the wig a couple of times in public events and then reverted back to her normal hair.
90. Like all students, it was tradition to perform in front of each other in The Actors Studio and on February 17th 1955, Marilyn acted out a scene from “Anna Christie” with Maureen Stapleton. Although it was an unwritten rule that students were not meant to applaud one another, an eruption of cheers and clapping happened after Marilyn had finished.
“Everybody who saw that says that it was not only the best work Marilyn ever did, it was some of the best work ever seen at Studio, and certainly the best interpretation of Anna Christie anybody ever saw. She achieved real greatness in that scene.”
– Actor Ellen Burstyn, on recalling Marilyn’s performance.
91. Used the pseudonym, “Zelda Zonk“, when trying to remain incognito.
92. Marilyn’s mother, Gladys Baker, suffered from Paranoid Schizophrenia and after various stays in institutions, was declared insane on January 15th 1935, when Marilyn was just 8 years old. After 10 years she was released and managed to retain various cleaning jobs and had developed an intense interest in Christian Science. However, by 1951 she was back in various institutions and would stay in the Rockhaven Sanitarium until 1967. Even after death, Marilyn continued to cover her mother’s care payments and Gladys would go on to outlive her for 22 years.
93. Favourite photograph of herself was taken by Cecil Beaton on February 22nd 1956.
94. Last professional photos were taken by Bert Stern, famously known as “The Last Sitting” for Vogue Magazine on June 23rd, July 10th and 12th 1962. Allan Grant took the LIFE Magazine interview pictures in her home, on July 4th and 9th 1962. Whilst George Barris took his photos for Cosmopolitan Magazine, the previous weekend on the 29th and 30th of June, until July 1st 1962. ______________________________________________________________________________
To those of you who took the time to read through all 3000+ words, thank you! It truly means more to me than you know and I really hope it’s shed some light on the truly special person Marilyn was and made you hold a good thought for her on her big day.
When most people hear the name, “Veronica Lake” usually one of three things comes to mind – that incredible peek-a-boo hair, the Film Noir’s with Alan Ladd or possibly Kim Basigner playing a Miss Lake lookalike in L.A.Confidential (1997) – fun fact, she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for that role. Although, with Veronica’s heyday being well over half a century old, that’s sadly usually as far as it goes.
However, with the Classic Hollywood Era being hugely timeless and forever coming back into fashion, the genre is becoming less of a niché subject and more Stars are on the public radar. If you’re a long time Vintage Lover like myself, you’ll be aware that unfortunately, a lot of our favourites don’t have many books written about them, or if they do, they’ve been out of print for a number of years and can be hard to find, or very expensive. Therefore, when I came across the news that Dean Street Press were publishing a reprint of Veronica’s Autobiography, which was first released in 1969, I was absolutely ecstatic! As most who know me are probably aware of my love for Blonde Bombshells, it may not be as well known that Veronica is my other favourite, after Marilyn.
There have only been two books published on Veronica, which I must add, astounds me – and one of them is this one which was co-written by ghost writer Donald Bain, who sadly passed away in October of 2017. The other is by Jeff Lenburg and I am fortunate enough to have both. However, Lenburg’s book is fairly controversial as he takes a lot of his information from Veronica’s mother, who claims a lot of detrimental things about her daughter – yet was estranged from her for many, many years. I think it’s actually being reprinted this summer and I will read it again, but would definitely advise new fans to stick to Veronica’s own words.
The republished version of Veronica’s Autobiography features a new cover with a stunning publicity photo of her in Ramrod (1947) which was directed by her then Husband, André de Toth. The book is a shiny paperback, with a non crease format, so even when you’ve finished reading, it will be in great condition and can take pride of place on your bookshelf! At 215 pages and 27 chapters, it’s not a huge length, but definitely a substantial read and full of personal anecdotes from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Broadcaster and writer, Eddie Muller adds a new Introduction and his following words really stuck with me, their relevancy still to this day does not go unnoticed,
“I’ll point out instead that while the public has granted Sterling Hayden, a legendary boozer and hash-head, a legacy as a heroic, larger-than-life iconoclast, it has branded Lake’s life after Hollywood a steady downward spiral of abasement, worthy of only pity. Blame a cultural double standard that applauds reckless rebellion in men but shames it in women.”
As the chapters do not have titles, I’ve decided to write down a snippet of information which sums up the pivotal points and various timelines in each section.
– Starts in 1938 and traces Veronica’s move to Hollywood with her mother, step-father and cousin on the 4th of July. Veronica enrolls in the Bliss Hayden School of Acting and has her first role in a movie as an extra in RKO’s Sorority House (1939).
– Veronica’s signature peek-a-boo hairstyle is unintentionally created on the set of Forty Little Mothers (1940) by Director, Busby Berkeley who stated, “I still say let it fall. It distinguishes her from the rest”.
– Director, Freddie Wilcox sets up Veronica’s first Screen Test, whilst at home her step-father suffers a collapsed lung.
– Veronica joins the iconic William Morris Agency and recounts her knowledge of the infamous Hollywood Casting Couch and how she turned away from the many advances.
– Veronica meets her first husband, John Detlie and has her named changed by Producer, Arthur Hornblow Jr., who, after a second Screen Test, decides to cast her as Sally Vaughn in her breakout movie, I Wanted Wings (1941).
– Focuses on the location filming of I Wanted Wings (1941) from August 26th 1940 in San Antonio, Texas.
– Continues filming in Hollywood for I Wanted Wings (1941) and elopes to marry her first husband, John Detlie.
– Veronica discusses the first 8 years of her childhood and her move to Florida in her teen years and the two schools she attended in Montreal and Miami.
– Recounts various appearances in Miami Beauty Pageants as a teenager.
– Returns to 1941 with the release of I Wanted Wings (1941) and focuses on the worldwide phenomenon of the famous hair. Also finishes with Director Preston Sturges hiring Veronica for the role of The Girl in Sullivan’s Travels (1941).
Veronica shares the news of her first pregnancy with her mother and how her third trimester would coincide with the physical demands of filming Sullivan’s Travels (1941).
– Covers the filming of Sullivan’s Travels (1941) from May 12th 1941 and the revelation of Veronica’s pregnancy. It’s simply incredible when watching the film all these years later to come to the realization that she was between six to eight months pregnant!
– Veronica divorces John and retells various anecdotes of the Hollywood Lifestyle in it’s heyday in the 1940s.
– Veronica discusses the filming of Star Spangled Rhythm (1942)and also her dating history during this period. She shares some fascinating stories of various celebrity anecdotes which include such Stars as, Errol Flynn, Katharine Hepburn, Howard Hughes and Gary Cooper.
– Features a highly entertaining story of Veronica flying her plane, whilst carrying her forth child, in her fifth month of pregnancy. With her on board is her secretary Marge, who up until then had never flown before.
– Veronica gives birth to her forth baby, a girl named Diana and talks about the turmoil of her relationship with her mother, who decided to sue her for, “lack of filial love and responsibility” and over $17,000.
– The filming of Slattery’s Hurricane (1949) and Stronghold (1951). Veronica discusses her frustration with Andre’s prolific spending, which results in them filing for bankruptcy and ultimately, the deterioration of their marriage.
– Veronica moves to New York in 1951 and continues her acting career through various television appearances and the stage. She enters her third marriage to husband, Joe McCarthy, which she admits was volatile from the start and they divorce after just four years, in September 1959.
– Covers the years 1959 through to 1961. Veronica discusses her time taking a job as a cocktail waitress – which contrary to popular belief, she actually quite enjoyed. She also talks about the traumatic accident which resulted in a severely broken ankle, which caused her inability to act for two years.
– Delves into her relationship with Andy Elickson, a Merchant Seaman, who she met during her time working in the Martha Washington Hotel and focuses on the period between 1961 and 1966. She also writes about a high note in her stage career; appearing in Best Foot Forward in 1963.
– Veronica discusses her move to Miami from New York in 1966.
Veronica’s words are full of honesty, she does not sugar-coat her flaws and her anecdotes convey a great sense of humbleness towards her career and lots of self criticism to her talent, the latter which saddens me. I’ve noticed many of the great Stars rarely seem to have any belief in themselves. If only they could see how loved and appreciated they truly are. However, her loyalty and generosity towards her close friends and even acquaintances does not go unnoticed. It’s refreshing to see her be able to share her own story, without various opinions and conspiracies that have grown over the years being included.
Overall, there’s only two downsides that springs to mind. Firstly, as the book was originally published in 1969 and finishes at the end of 1967, we’re missing the six final years of her fascinating life and tragically nothing can be done to change this. Of course no one is at fault, it’s just a shame that those last years will remain mostly a mystery to us. It would have been wonderful to read about her time in England. Lastly, in the original edition, a number of pages featured very rare photos of Veronica throughout her years, including her own comments. Sadly, only a small version of the cover photo reappears at the end of the newly republished book. I’m assuming this is down to cost and or copyright, but it would be nice to see these rare treasures reappear in the latest edition for fans that are not fortunate enough to also own an original copy.
Ultimately, Veronica always maintains her true self and comes across as not a Screen Icon, but just like one of us – albeit with some extraordinary Hollywood stories. She’s simply, and I mean this in the most complimentary way – a human being. It’s been almost a decade since I discovered Veronica, eight years in fact and I for one have not only became even more endeared to Miss Lake, but, I have also developed a warm space in my heart for my fellow 5’2″ little lady, Miss Connie/Ronni Keane.
Lastly, a huge thank you to Dean Street Press for believing in the popularity of Veronica and so wonderfully reprinting hers and Donald Bain’s special words for us all to enjoy.
For anyone who wants to see more of Veronica, I’ve amassed a fairly large archive of photos over the years which can be viewed on my blog devoted entirely to her; missveronicalakes.
Tonight marks 57 years since Marilyn left us – her body was found by her housekeeper in the early hours of August 5th and it was officially announced to the world that morning. Every year I try and write about Marilyn on both her Birthday and her Anniversary, each time I make sure to focus on one particular thing – to celebrate and appreciate her for the amazing person she truly was.
So many people and society tend to view Marilyn as a victim, passed around from man to man and used throughout her lifetime. This both angers and frustrates not just me, but many fans, who have spent years taking the time to research legitimate sources and find out who Marilyn herself was. Often her death is viewed as a conspiracy fueled gossip loving debate, so much so that she ends up no longer seeming like a young woman anymore, but an object of fascination.
It seems to me that it’s easier for people to believe in the distasteful lies and conspiracies that surround not just Marilyn, but many other celebrities and icons before and after her. People cannot comprehend someone as beautiful, talented and loved as her to have any demons or hardships. It almost seems like it’s frowned upon to listen to the doctors original death verdict – which was, “probable suicide” as depression can’t always be comprehended or accepted by others. It also doesn’t continue to sell hundreds of books and trashy articles like conspiracies and salacious stories do and sadly, that’s what so many seem to care more about. In the end Marilyn ends up being turned into a former shadow of her true self, which is just not acceptable to me and so many others – therefore, I will continue to try and dispel the lies and bring back her true character.
Furthermore, Marilyn’s death does not define her – intended or accidental it is still and will always be a tragedy, but, it does not take away from her 36 years of life and the achievements she made during and after her lifetime. Marilyn was a voice for the underdog, incredibly ahead of her time she defied gender stereotypes and was never afraid to be honest and speak out about taboo topics such as sexuality, abuse and the pay gap. She was also the third Actress to set up her own Film Production Company – Mary Pickford and Mabel Normand did so in 1916.
Marilyn constantly tried to improve herself as a human and an artist, she suffered immensely for her creativity, always wanting to be the best actress she could become. She was very self conscious of her limited education and loved to read and learn about a variety of subjects – her library had over four hundred books on it’s shelves varying from Psychology to Russian Literature! She loved the simple things in life, such as walking around Brooklyn, caring for animals, listening to music and spending time with loved ones. Ultimately, this was the real Marilyn, the person that so often gets lost in the publicity of hearsay and money making headlines.
I truly hope that whenever a person comes across Marilyn, they take a few moments to discover the real her, the person behind the Blonde Bombshell persona. It’s so easy to see a headliner or false image and believe an inaccurate presentation of a famous person. I may be a little biased, but I can honestly say that feelings aside, Marilyn was truly an incredible woman, brave, generous, kind and strong, someone who just wanted to make the world a little brighter. Plus, even if all of these ridiculous, continuously disproven myths miraculously ended up being true, it would not change my the amount of respect or adoration I have for her.
So many associate sexual promiscuity, addiction and stupidity with Marilyn and honestly, it not only saddens me but I find it incredibly, infuriating. Firstly, even half a century later, the amount of sexism and double standards that still exist in our society is simply disgusting. Therefore, I’d like to touch on each one of these so called flaws and share the facts behind the assumptions.
Did Marilyn have an affair? Yes, she did – with Actor Yves Montand during the making of Let’s Make Love in 1960 – not with the often noted, John F. Kennedy. In reality, they only met a less than juicy four times from 1960 and three of them were at public events. Yet as always, the woman is shamed and condemned – even if the hearsay comes about years after her death by people simply wanting to make some money. I would say that a huge amount of Stars in Hollywood had affairs during their careers, no judgement here, I’m just stating the facts. However, why is it Marilyn that is constantly criticized, judged and linked to every man in and out of Hollywood? In reality she spoke out multiple times about the peril of the, “Hollywood Wolves” and actually lost out on a contract renewal with Columbia Head Harry Cohn for turning down a proposition. Lastly, if she had slept with every single person that she’s been associated with, she’d never have had time to have such a successful career and three marriages.
Was Marilyn an addict? Yes, she was addicted to prescription medications such as Chloral Hydrate and Nembutal, which she would take for her depression, crippling anxiety and insomnia. Medical negligence was extremely high in the heyday of Hollywood and if you were famous and had problems, they could often be taken advantage of instead of resolved. Personally, I don’t know why being an addict gives others the right to condemn, judge, shame and insult someone suffering from this terrible sickness? If anything there should be compassion and understanding, we are all only human and the stigma needs to stop.
Was Marilyn just a, “Dumb Blonde”? No, but for some bizarre reason to me, people seem to not be able to understand that an Actor is performing a role, the character you’re seeing on the screen is just that – a character. However, because Marilyn was able to create such a convincing persona, people could not accept that in reality, she loved to be in her capri pants, with no makeup on, sitting at home reading a good book. Even during her lifetime, her acting was usually only appreciated when she took on dramatic roles, such as in Bus Stop (1956) and The Misfits (1961). Honestly, I don’t know why a persons intelligence has any influence in how they should be viewed and treated by others and I actually think if Marilyn had been less intelligent, she would have been a lot happier.
I think a lot of people forget that Marilyn was actually a real person, just like you and me, a human that graced us with her presence on this Earth. Someone as beautiful, wonderful and pure of heart like her really existed and with such a judgmental and prejudicial society like ours, it can sometimes be hard to accept this. Just because Marilyn’s no longer here in a physical presence, doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve the same respect that we’d give to others. She gave a hell of a lot to this world in just a small amount of time, her contributions to Hollywood and for women are legendary and should be appreciated and shared.
Wherever you are sweet Marilyn, I hope you feel the love and kind words so many of us only wish we could say to you. You’ve given so much happiness to millions of people, this girl especially and we truly love and appreciate you for being undoubtedly your true self.
“But when you’re famous you kind of run into human nature in a raw kind of way. It stirs up envy, fame does. People you run into feel that, well, who is she who does she think she is, Marilyn Monroe? They feel fame gives them some kind of privilege to walk up to you and say anything to you, you know, of any kind of nature and it won’t hurt your feelings.”
– Marilyn to Richard Meryman for LIFE Magazine published on August 17th 1962.
If there’s one Author to be excited about, upon hearing an announcement of an up and coming Marilyn book, it’s none other than Michelle Morgan. Michelle has been a true super fan since discovering the beautiful blonde on a postcard, whilst Holidaying in Devon in 1985. Since then, she has gone on to write a staggering six books devoted to my favourite lady, with her first being Marilyn’s Addresses, written over twenty years ago in 1995. Therefore, all I can say is – thank you Devon!
In the almost nine years since I first Discovered Marilyn, I’ve been incredibly lucky to not only find and appreciate Michelle as a wonderful writer – recommending her work to many Marilyn fans, but I’ve also been able to call her my friend! Not only have her books taught me so much about Marilyn the human and artist, she has always supported me by listening and offering me advice with her kind words – something which has always been greatly treasured.
I’ve been very fortunate to know about The Little Book of Marilyn for over a year and for one almost surreal reason why – Michelle kindly asked me if I wanted to be interviewed for inclusion in the book! Needless to say I didn’t hesitate for a moment to say yes and one month before publication, I’ve kindly received a complimentary copy of the book to share my thoughts with you all!
If you’ve read any of Michelle’s books then you’ll know you’re never disappointed and she always manages to blow even the highest expectations out of the water. Therefore, it’s no surprise to say that The Little Book of Marilyn, is of course, no different!
The book features a stunning glamour shot of Marilyn with a beautiful pink and orange Fleur-de-lis background, it’s flexibound format means it will always stay in beautiful condition and its travel size makes it easy to carry around with you and stay inspired by only the best! If the beautiful outer packaging wasn’t enough, the 224 pages are filled with many high quality pictures – quite a few rare ones too!
The contents include the following sections; ______________________________________________________________________________
Chapter 1: Her Story
Chapter 2: Inspiration
Chapter 3: Style
Chapter 4: Beauty
Chapter 5: Life Skills
Chapter 6: Personal Effects
Chapter 7: Walk With Marilyn
It’s no secret that there have been definitely hundreds, possibly thousands of books written on Marilyn since her passing, almost fifty seven years ago. A unique few, (Michelle’s most definitely are included) have been amazing, a fair amount have been pretty good and a large sum have been downright awful. However, none have had this fabulous concept and that is further reason for it to be a must have in any collection.
It’s full of details on Marilyn’s life and career, but includes many tutorials and lessons on how to be inspired by a Star that is so often misrepresented in society and the media. Michelle offers a true, genuine insight into the real Marilyn and stays clear of the ridiculous conspiracies and lies. She gives fans like myself, the chance to express just how truly inspiring Marilyn has been to so many even half a century after she left us. The guide like format means you can read it in any order you please or choose to focus on a particular section that is interesting to you.
Ironically enough, I feel the person that would benefit from reading this book the most is Marilyn herself, she was her biggest critic and often full of doubt and disbelief. Therefore, I feel if she could read and see the impact she has had on the millions of fans who love and appreciate her, she may have felt just a little less alone.
Lastly, on behalf of all Marilyn fans, I want to thank Michelle for writing such beautiful books about Hollywood’s Brightest Star and continuing to educate and preserve Marilyn’s very special memory. A big thank you to Running Press for publishing Michelle’s amazing work and for kindly gifting me this beautiful copy, I will truly treasure it!
The Little Book of Marilyn is available to Pre-Order from Amazon UK at £11.34 and will be released on July 25th and is out in the USA on July 9th!
Fifty six years ago, the World’s Brightest Star took her final breath and left millions of fans in a state of shock and disbelief. No one could understand why this young beautiful talented woman, loved by so many, could leave Earth in such a heartbreaking manner. An autopsy was performed and the official cause of death was ruled as, “probable suicide” noting how Marilyn had experienced, “severe fears and frequent depressions” throughout her lifetime. However, an extremely large number of people still to this day could not except this as fact, fueling an enormous amount of conspiracies from the incredulous to down right bizarre about this very special human.
Marilyn by Bernard of Hollywood in 1946.
Ultimately, the only person who knows what happened to Marilyn on the night of her death is the lady herself and many can speculate for hours and hours but will still not have the precise answer they’re looking for. Marilyn’s tragic death should not and does not define her, she lived for 36 years and experienced and achieved more than many could wish for in a whole lifetime. She pursued her dreams fearlessly, constantly striving to reach her goals and become the best actress and person she could be – that should not be forgotten.
Personally, I believe her death was due to medical negligence, either accidental or possibly intentional – Marilyn did have a few attempts of suicide over the years, but her anxiety and depression could often change and I don’t think she wanted to leave the world forever, maybe just in that moment.
Marilyn makes her television debut on The Jack Benny Show by Frank Worth in September 1953.
However, I don’t want to dwell on Marilyn’s final moments on Earth and I’m sure she wouldn’t want that either, the focus should be on the beautiful person she was and the unique life she had. When people pass young and unexpectedly, conspiracies and in some cases, morbid curiosities take over and in time this can dehumanize the person and make many forget about who they truly were. Furthermore, when someone has already obtained legend status in their lifetime, it can be further exaggerated and influenced when they are no longer here to speak for themselves.
Marilyn by Milton Greene in September 1954.
Just because Marilyn was and will always be Hollywood’s most brightest star, that doesn’t mean she wasn’t a real person – she deserves just as much respect and love as we would give to any other human. I understand how people can forget this, as it’s almost hard to accept that someone so legendary as Marilyn was ultimately, one of us mere mortals. As she left the world over half a century ago, people seem to dismiss her as a real person and think they can repeat morbid conspiracies and disrespectful myths. Everyone has their right to freedom of speech, but that doesn’t mean a beautiful person should be lost over hearsay and flat out lies.
Marilyn arrives in New York to film The Seven Year Itch in September 1954.
I always think to myself how lucky I am to have taken the time to learn about Marilyn and appreciate her for the amazing person she truly was. Sadly, so many people will miss out on this because they believe everything that’s posted on the internet and automatic judgement steers them away from any authentic research. If there’s anything I can do for Marilyn after all she’s done for me, is to spread the truth and facts about this wonderful lady who blessed us with her presence.
Marilyn by Bert Stern in June 1962.
Marilyn was a woman always ahead of her time, she believed in equality, feminism, speaking out and most importantly, kindness and generosity, none of these should be forgotten. She used her platform to share her story and was continuously giving with both her time and money, never forgetting her fans throughout her ever growing stardom.
Marilyn attends The Golden Globe Awards in March 1962.
On this day I will of course always feel sadness, that is simply impossible to ignore considering how much I adore Marilyn. However, I will focus on Marilyn herself and her incredible life, in all the years before and through all the years after, there will truly never be another one like her. So wherever you are beautiful Marilyn, I will always think of your wonderful words which remind me that no matter how hard life can be, there is always hope.
“Remember now, cheers, no tears.” – Spoken by Marilyn to the cast and crew of The Misfits after filming had finished in November 1960.