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.
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!
Today would be Marilyn’s 93rd Birthday, she has been in my life for almost a decade and I still find it so surreal to think that in theory, she should still be here. Sadly, we all know that is not the case and the reality is that Marilyn left the world over fifty five years ago. It’s sometimes hard to comprehend that Marilyn wasn’t just a Hollywood Star but a human being, just like you and me. However, today is not for dwelling, it is a very important day to millions of fans and myself, as the worlds Brightest Star is ultimately still shining half a century later!
Marilyn photographed by Ed Cronenweth in 1948.
To celebrate Marilyn’s big day, I usually spend it in the best way I know possible, having a Movie Marathon watching my favourite Actress. Unfortunately, so many people see Marilyn as just another silly Blonde Bombshell who didn’t have much talent and was basically playing herself on the screen. However, I can’t emphasize enough that the sweet, lovable, pretty face was so much more than what people perceive. As someone who has watched her films a countless number of times, I actually appreciate her comedic performances over her dramatic ones. This is because people tend to view dramas with more acclaim and respect and the Award Shows further prove this, when in fact comedies should not be overlooked.
In the wise words of Vivien Leigh – an Actress who yes, was more respected critically than Marilyn, but, ultimately was more appreciated more for her looks too,
“Comedy is much more difficult than tragedy – and a much better training, I think. It’s much easier to make people cry than to make them laugh.”
Marilyn photographed on Tobey Beach by Andre de Dienes on July 23rd 1949.
Marilyn was incredibly dedicated to her craft and spent numerous hours educating herself on the Performing Arts and trying to be the best she could possibly be. When you learn about Marilyn you realize how much she suffered mentally and the strength she must have found to deliver such beautiful performances. It hurts to think that she didn’t always feel like the bubbly Blonde Bombshell so many know and love her for, as no one more than Marilyn deserved to be appreciated and loved. She was such a perfectionist and would spend hours analyzing and being critical of her acting abilities and performance in each film.
“We not only want to be good, we have to be. You know, when they talk about nervousness, my teacher, Lee Strasberg, when I said to him, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I’m a little nervous,” he said, “When you’re not, give up, because nervousness indicates sensitivity.” Also, a struggle with shyness is in every actor more than anyone can imagine. There is a censor inside us that says to what degree do we let go, like a child playing. I guess people think we just go out there, and you know, that’s all we do. Just do it. But it’s a real struggle. I’m one of the world’s most self-conscious people. I really have to struggle.”
– Marilyn to Journalist Richard Meryman for LIFE Magazine, published on August 17th 1962.
Marilyn attending a Court Hearing on June 26th 1952.
Therefore, I thought it would be appropriate to choose five of Marilyn’s films in which she believed she gave the best performances or received great critical acclaim, to recommend for others to watch. If there is any day that Marilyn should be celebrated (personally, I believe it’s all day every day) than it is on her Birthday.
Whilst looking through reviews of Marilyn’s films that were published during their original releases, it’s shocking to me to read the downright prejudice, sexism and ignorance surrounding her as an Actress. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, in my belief Marilyn was the greatest Actress of all time as it seems that even then, 99% of people believed she was just playing herself. Therefore, in believing their own ignorance, critics could continue their lack of acclaim and respect for ultimately, an extremely talented woman.
Marilyn photographed by Milton Greene in June 1955.
• The Asphalt Jungle (1950)and The Seven Year Itch (1955)
Person to Person television appearance interview on April 8th 1955.
“Marilyn, what’s the best part you ever had in a movie?” – Edward R. Murrow
“Well one of the best parts I’ve ever had was, in The Asphalt Jungle, John Huston’s Picture and then, The Seven Year Itch, Billy Wilder’s Picture.” – Marilyn
“You think that’s going to be a big one too, don’t you? The Seven Year Itch.” – Edward R. Murrow
“I think it will be a very good Picture and I would like to continue making this type of Picture.” – Marilyn
Dallas Morning News Review by Harold Hefferman published on June 18th 1950.
“Virtually unbilled and unidentified in a current movie, Asphalt Jungle, Marilyn’s breathtaking appearance immediately piques fandom’s curiosity and imagination. Not since the brief introduction of another tempestuous blond, Shelley Winters, three years ago in A Double Life, has a newcomer stirred up so much interest.”
Marilyn photographed by Earl Leaf at a Press Party held for Bus Stop on March 3rd 1956.
• Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
LIFE Magazine Interview with Journalist Richard Meryman published on August 17th 1962.
“I remember when I got the part in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Jane Russell – she was the brunette in it and I was the blonde. She got $200,000 for it, and I got my $500 a week, but that to me was, you know, considerable. She, by the way, was quite wonderful to me. The only thing was I couldn’t get a dressing room. Finally, I really got to this kind of level and I said, “Look, after all, I am the blonde, and it is Gentlemen Prefer Blondes!” Because still they always kept saying, “Remember, you’re not a star.” I said, “Well, whatever I am, I am the blonde!” – Marilyn
The Los Angeles Times Review by Edwin Schallert on August 1st 1953.
“Miss Monroe sparkles much of the time just as the diamonds do. Her work is insidiously intriguing in this picture, and at the same time almost childlike in its utter lack of guile. Her portrayal demonstrates that much may be maneuvered in her instance in the future to humorous advantage. She discloses a surprising light comedy touch.”
Time Magazine Review on July 27th 1953.
“As Lorelei Lee, who believes that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, Marilyn Monroe does the best job of her short career to date. [She] sings remarkably well, dances, or rather undulates all over, flutters the heaviest eyelids in show business and breathlessly delivers such lines of dialogue as, “Coupons – that’s almost like money,” as if she were in the throes of a grand passion.”
Marilyn photographed by Sam Shaw in the Summer of 1957.
• Bus Stop (1956)
Speaking to reporters upon her arrival back in Hollywood to film Bus Stop, on February 25th 1956.
“Marilyn, are you happy to come back and do this Picture, are you pleased with the Bus- Picture Bus Stop?” – Reporter
“Oh yes, very much, I’m looking forward to working with Josh Logan, doing the Picture and it’s good to be back.” – Marilyn
“Was he in your selection as a Director?” – Reporter
“Twentieth Century Fox selected him and I have Director Approval and they asked if I would approve of him and definitely.” – Marilyn
“So you’re very happy, you think you’re going to make a very good Picture?” – Reporter
“I hope we do make a good picture, yes.” – Marilyn
The New York Times Review by Bosley Crowther published on September 1st 1956.
“HOLD onto your chairs, everybody, and get set for a rattling surprise. Marilyn Monroe has finally proved herself an actress in “Bus Stop.” She and the picture are swell!”
Marilyn in Let’s Make Love in 1960.
• Some Like It Hot (1959)
Variety Film Review published on February 24th 1959.
“To coin a phrase, Marilyn has never looked better. Her performance as “Sugar,” the fuzzy blonde who likes saxophone players “and men with glasses” has a deliciously naive quality. She’s a comedienne with that combination of sex appeal and timing that just can’t be beat.”
The New York Times Review by A. H. Weiler published on March 30th 1959.
“As the hand’s somewhat simple singer-ukulele player, Miss Monroe, whose figure simply cannot be overlooked, contributes more assets than the obvious ones to this madcap romp. As a pushover for gin and the tonic effect of saxophone players, she sings a couple of whispery old numbers (“Running Wild” and “I Wanna Be Loved by You”) and also proves to be the epitome of a dumb blonde and a talented comedienne.”
Marilyn photographed by Bert Stern in June 1962.
I hope however you choose to spend this day, you take a moment to think about Marilyn and in her own words, hold a good thought for her as if anyone deserved that, it was she.
“I Love Marilyn” by Sidney Skolsky published in Modern Screen Magazine in October 1953.
“Before the picture flashed on the screen, Marilyn whispered to me in that low, sexy voice that is natural with her: “Hold a good thought for me.” She always says that when embarking on an venture. She feels much better when you tell her you will.”
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.
If Marilyn was alive today, it’s incredible to believe that she would be turning ninety two years old. In the seven and a half years I’ve known and loved her for, I still find it incomprehensible, due to Marilyn leaving the world at such a young age. I guess I almost have to remind myself that even the most famous woman in the world was just like us, she was human too. However, I’ll openly admit that I don’t know if that fact will ever sink in, not because I view Marilyn as an Icon, although she undoubtedly is, but because it’s amazing to think that she walked the earth we all live on.
Marilyn by Andre de Dienes in July 1949.
Although it’s been over fifty five years since Marilyn left us, in many ways it feels like she’s still here, almost like she never really left. What I mean by that is her spirit and presence is so prevalent in today, I bet there’s not one person in the world that doesn’t know her name or face. Of course, with such fame and status comes the dreaded myths and conspiracies, which myself and many strive to dispel, but, I do like to think that the majority of people smile and feel happiness when they see or watch Marilyn. She has such a unique warmth and kindness that truly lights up the screen when she appears and I’m sure it’s true that she lit up a room when she entered one over half a century ago.
Marilyn by Milton Greene in October 1953.
Every year Marilyn’s Birthday and Anniversary come around, I always wonder to myself what I should write and how do I go about not being repetitive. After all, there’s only so much that can be said on one particular person, however, to me it’s all about spreading love and enlightening others on the real Marilyn and if I can do that through writing a few words, I’ll definitely try. I’ve mentioned many times how inspiring I find Marilyn, how unbelievable her story is and how she achieved so much considering the odds against her were beyond enormous. I’ve also said how Marilyn was so much more than a beautiful Blonde Bombshell, she was a special soul who was always striving to perfect her talents and be the best person she could be. However, even as I reiterate previous statements, I can’t help but thinking about how true they are and how incredible Marilyn really was.
Marilyn attends the Premiere of Call Me Madam in March 1953.
Of course I absolutely adore Marilyn and there’s no doubt that I truly cannot say many, if any bad things about her, some would say I’m extremely biased and I would to an extent admit to that. However, I pride myself in being honest and speaking the truth and everything I state about Marilyn’s life and achievements are historically proven. Therefore, this is the main reason why I’m so dumbfounded when people don’t like or respect Marilyn, I mean, how can you possibly not? Not everyone has to become a huge devoted fan like myself, but to be so judgmental, inaccurate and assuming is such a huge annoyance to me – we should all be supportive and admire anyone’s achievements and why should Marilyn be any different? Just because a person has their struggles doesn’t make them someone not to admire, to me it makes them even more inspirational in that they achieved so much when they were suffering.
Marilyn by Milton Greene in March 1955.
Ultimately, today is a very special day for myself, all of Marilyn’s fans and Hollywood, for without Marilyn the world would definitely have been a little duller. Not only did she accomplish so much and forever make her mark in Cinema, she was a kind person and just wanted to put a smile on people’s faces. I always love reading little anecdotes showing Marilyn as a person and not the star as they show her beautiful soul and caring nature. Things like her anonymously gifting money to crew members in need or bringing a cow inside because it was raining, just show how generous she was and how little material things actually meant to her.
Marilyn during the filming of Let’s Make Love in 1960.
Wherever Marilyn may be I hope she knows how appreciated, loved and respected she is by so many. There may be a few ignorant and judgmental people still out there but she had that during her lifetime and I like to think it wouldn’t phase her all too much. Marilyn always knew that people didn’t expect much from her other than a pretty face and she never failed to prove them wrong. At 24 years old I think about Marilyn every day and have done since I first discovered her in late 2010, she fills my heart with love and joy and I will never not stick up for her. I like to think that however old we all get, Marilyn will continue to always be with us in spirit and never fail to place a smile on a sad face. It takes an incredibly special person to have the ability to make someone feel such love and emotion for someone they have never met and Marilyn is one of those rare people. I love you with all of my heart beautiful Marilyn and I undoubtedly always will.
Marilyn by Bert Stern in June 1962.
“I don’t understand why people aren’t a little more generous with each other. I don’t like to say this, but I’m afraid there is a lot of envy in this business. The only thing I can do is stop and think, “I’m all right but I’m not so sure about them!” – Marilyn to Richard Meryman in Life Magazine, August 1962.
Whenever I hear the news that a new Marilyn book is to be released, I’m mostly filled with joy and excitement, as well as slight trepidation around the accuracy and respect given towards my favourite lady. However, if the Author is Michelle Morgan, aka in my opinion, the best Marilyn writer, I know one hundred percent that there’s truly nothing for me to worry about.
Michelle has recently released her latest book on Marilyn, which takes a refreshingly new focus beyond the image of the legend and on the actress herself. The Girl overall stays between the pivotal years 1954 to 1956 and tells the true story of Marilyn taking control of her career by breaking through the male dominated Studio Systems and proving to the world she was so much more than just a pretty face.
Thanks to Michelle and Running Press Publishers, I had the pleasure of receiving a media copy to read and review before the release date and as I expected, I was definitely far from disappointed. The introduction alone was truly memorable and it’s so refreshing to read how much Michelle herself loves and cares for Marilyn, writing with respect and sensitivity, whilst staying completely unbiased. Furthermore, she makes sure to portray the three dimensional person Marilyn was, conveying her many struggles and successes, dedicated to preserving the truth and staying far away from the gossip and sensationalism that sadly so often is unfairly connected to our Star. Plus, I love how witty the title is; any super Marilyn fan will know that The Girl is in fact Marilyn’s character name in The Seven Year Itch (1955) and writer George Axelrod actually had this to say about the unnamed lady.
“I have been asked if there is any symbolic significance in the fact that the Girl has no name. The truth of the matter is that I could never think of a name for her that seemed exactly right, that really fit the girl I had in mind. I think if I were writing the play today, I might be tempted to call the Girl Marilyn.”
Even though Marilyn lived for just 36 years, it’s undeniable the amount she achieved in such a short lifetime and for any Marilyn fan or someone who’s interested in Hollywood, Feminism or the 1950s, this book is simply a must have for your Library. I personally feel Michelle has done such a good job with accuracy and creating a detailed perspective that she could write many volumes focusing on each year of Marilyn’s life! In fact, I really hope she does.
At just over 300 pages long, this book is just right – not too long and intense and not too short and lacking detail. Even though it doesn’t document Marilyn’s full story, through focusing on these such important years, you arguably learn more about Marilyn than you would in a standard biography. However, if you’re wanting to read more and well, who could blame you, there’s always Michelle’s other books on Marilyn and I recommend them because in my opinion, they are the best – respectful, honest and sincere.
Out of Marilyn’s 30 Films, three are discussed in The Girl and those are the following; The Seven Year Itch (1955), Bus Stop (1956) and The Prince and The Showgirl (1957). Even though this is due to the specific time period documented in Marilyn’s life, I think it’s wonderful for someone who may know Marilyn only for her image and Icon Status. I say this because the three discussed throughout the book show her versatility and strength as an artist – something she continually dreamed to be known and appreciated for.
The Girl consists of a Preface, ten Chapters, an Epilogue, selected Bibliography and Source Notes, with between 30-40 beautiful photos of Marilyn featured throughout the book. The colour theme consists of red white and gold and I absolutely adore the cover photo chosen; a 1955 Marilyn wearing a Red Sweater by Milton Greene. It’s refreshing to see a different perspective of Marilyn shown yet still being undoubtedly, The Star. Plus, it’s lovely both a photo from 1955 was used and one by Milton – someone so pivotal in believing in Marilyn as a human being and helping her change the course of her Career.
Each Chapter Title conveys many important words that should continually be used to describe Marilyn, some may say I’m biased and I would never deny that. However, you cannot be biased about the truth and each of these titles contain important moments and achievements Marilyn herself made happen, through sheer strength and determination. Although beautiful and talented, she was never viewed as anything but a Blonde Bombshell, a Sex Goddess who added glamour to the Silver Screen and ultimately Marilyn had all the odds against her throughout her whole life. Yet, through The Girl, Michelle shows that even the Underdog can prove to everyone that not only was she Beautiful, she was also strong, passionate, intelligent and believed that she deserved better.
I can without a doubt say that The Girl is one of my favourite Marilyn books and definitely a staple in my Marilyn Book Collection – 167 and counting! At £19.99 this isn’t the cheapest one available, but quality and authenticity are priceless and this is something that will be treasured and kept in your library forever. Even though I’m fortunate enough to have an early Media Copy, I will of course be purchasing one for myself! You can never have enough good Marilyn books and this will have pride of place in my Marilyn book shelf, yes, she really does have her own library.
I can’t say enough good things about The Girl and Michelle herself, I’ve been fortunate enough to know this wonderful lady for quite a few years and I know that if Marilyn was here she would be honoured to have such a thoughtful and authentic writer tell her incredibly brave and progressive story. I think it’s fair to say that I know a lot about Marilyn and with Michelle’s books there’s always unique, special anecdotes and trivia that I continue to discover. Ultimately, go to amazon or your local bookstore and start reading The Girl, I can assure you any stereotypical views you may have of Marilyn will quickly vanish and you’ll be astounded and in awe of what an incredible person she really was.
The Girl is available to Pre-Order from Amazon UK and will be released on May 31st and is out in the USA now!
Although Marilyn is so prominent and recognized in the present day, It’s hard to comprehend that in reality, she tragically passed away fifty five years ago on the evening of August 4th, 1962. At just thirty six years old, her death was announced on the morning of August 5th and shocked the world and the millions of fans who mourned the loss of this very special woman. As someone who wasn’t even born until thirty plus years after Marilyn left the Earth, new readers may wonder why I’m writing about a celebrity I never actually knew. However, I’m assuming if you know anything about me, you’ll know that Marilyn is one of my absolute favourite people, I adore her with all of my heart and have done for coming up to seven years.
Personally, I feel that you can still have a special connection and feeling towards someone you’ve never had the privilege to meet, whether this is due to them being a worldwide celebrity or being born quite a few decades after they’ve passed – or both! As I’ve said many times before, Marilyn entered my life in October 2010, pushing seven year ago and she’s never left, I think about her every day and she has changed my life for the better astronomically. I found inspiration and comfort from her during my darkest days and she honestly has never failed to not brighten my days. However, this post is not about me – this post is about celebrating the life of Marilyn and how fifty five years on, she’s still loved and adored by just as many, if not more fans who love and admire the amazing woman she was and the achievements she made.
Sadly, as the night of Marilyn’s passing is a huge interest for conspiracy lovers, both her life and death are often filled with hundreds of rumours, theories and downright defaming myths. When a celebrity passes away young and unexpectedly, millions of people look for answers to the big question, why? Of course, this is completely natural and makes perfect sense, but ultimately, the only person who can confirm or deny how they died is no longer around to tell us.
In reality, we have lost many celebrities to the tragedy of overdoses – Marilyn’s death was ruled as a, “probable suicide”, although I believe it was accidental. However, many people cannot comprehend or believe this and go down the root of following conspiracies, ultimately forgetting about the person and obsessing over theories that have no substance. Over the years, many people who have created life stories and careers on their “relationship” with Marilyn and how she supposedly died, earning thousands in the process and damaging Marilyn’s name. In reality, the real reason for Marilyn’s death was pretty simple – medical negligence and incredibly, her doctors were never accounted for this.
Ultimately, I think it’s safe to say that Marilyn wouldn’t want her untimely death to be the main focus point of her life, she wouldn’t want us to be sad and spend countless hours trying to work out why she left. I like to think Marilyn would want us to celebrate her amazing achievements and ground breaking moments in such a short space of time. I know she would be overwhelmed that over fifty years after she passed, millions of people of all ages, still love and care for her all these years later. Hundreds and thousands of people are discovering this beautiful human every day and Marilyn continues to bring so much light and joy to people like myself, who were never fortunate enough to be able to meet her.
Tonight, instead of focusing on the sad times, I will be thinking about my angel Marilyn for all the right reasons. I’ll be remembering her for the wonderful talent she possessed, the determination she had to succeed, her love of learning, plus, the kindness and generosity she showed to so many others. Thankfully, her legacy she has left behind is forever imprinted through thousands of images and thirty films she made during her short but incredibly special life.
Whenever I feel upset and hurt with how unfair life was at times to Marilyn, there is one particular quote which comes to mind. Many people seem to think of Marilyn as a tragic victim and in doing this, they are unjustly underestimating her incredible strength. Through research and reading about Marilyn for quite a few years, I’ve noticed that although she suffered tremendously, she never lost hope and always tried to remain somewhat positive, even in her darkest times.
Through 1960, Marilyn made her last completed film, The Misfits (1961) and during this time she suffered incredible pain through a nervous breakdown and split from her husband, Arthur Miller. The movie was made in Nevada during 40 degree heat and was incredibly strenuous for practically everyone involved. Although The Misfits (1961) is now hailed as one of Marilyn’s best acting performances, she came to hate the film and resent Arthur for her character, Roslyn – the film which was originally a Valentine’s present to her.
Yet, despite going through arguably the toughest period in her life, she had this to say at the end of the filming.
“Remember now, cheers, no tears..”
I for one, will be following this advice, from one of the strongest women who ever lived. Wherever you may be, beautiful Marilyn, I hope you know how loved and appreciated you are by so many people around the world. I know I say this quite often, but I like to believe that somehow, you see how much you have enriched millions of fans lives and gave them hope and strength.
“It’s a terrible pity that so much beauty has been lost to us.”
John Huston, Director of The Asphalt Jungle (1950) and The Misfits (1961)