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.
AUGUST 2ND 1945:
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!”
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.”
RELIABLE MARILYN SOURCES:
• ALL MARILYN BOOKS BY MICHELLE MORGAN
• ICON: THE LIFE, TIMES & FILMS OF MARILYN VOLUMES 1 & 2
BY GARY VITACCO-ROBLES
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