Marilyn & Her Husbands – Fact VS Fiction

Many Marilyn fans are happy to defend her legacy but will at the same time, with no consideration, criticise her husbands based on rumour and speculation.

As fans, we have absolutely no right to comment on Marilyn’s (or anyone else’s) relationships. It is completely impossible to tell how happy couples are on the basis of photography and news reports… even by what is said by the individuals involved. Hindsight and bias come into play with a lot of these conversations. And that is what I want to try and demonstrate with this article which will discuss both the truth, the lies, and the “we don’t know”.

It’s important to also consider these men as individuals who had lives of their own, their own struggles and issues to overcome, and that doesn’t even include the fact they were married to a complicated, difficult and complex woman and worldwide celebrity.

BEFORE WE BEGIN

 

This is a long post and has a trigger warning as I discuss abuse and miscarriages 

The information I am sharing here considers both reliable and unreliable sources, documents, quotes etc. I will be talking about many speculations whether they are accurate or not. Not all of the below are myths, some are true.

As always, I shall look at that information and whether there’s any factual evidence that supports the claims made. Sometimes I will mention my personal opinions, but it doesn’t mean I am correct. You can have your own opinions but my job here is to break down where these myths have come from and state factual information to support or dismiss them.

I am saying all of this because many members of the Marilyn Monroe community have their favourite husband and they feel it is perfectly okay to be hypocritical in their thinking, defending one husband for their behaviour whilst condoning another for doing the same.

Finally, I absolutely do not condone or make excuses for some of the claims within this post. As mentioned earlier, these men met Marilyn at different periods of her life and their own lives. I have respect for each man for different reasons but we aren’t here for my opinion. What I want to do is remind people that things aren’t always black and white, especially with Marilyn Monroe.

THE HUSBANDS

 

Marilyn Monroe was married on three occasions. And all of those marriages were very different.

The first was to James (Jimmy) Dougherty in 1942. In order to remain out of an orphanage, she was advised to marry Jimmy. They met on a few occasions and decided it was the best choice and that they could happily get by being husband and wife. Norma Jeane attempted to throw herself into married life, but she was still a young girl and had a lot to learn. However, as time went on Norma Jeane became unhappy. Jimmy was suspected of seeing an ex-girlfriend and he wasn’t supportive of her new career as a model. She divorced him in 1946.

The second was to baseball legend, Joe DiMaggio. The two met on a blind date in 1952, marrying two years later only to divorce nine months after saying “I do.” The two continued seeing one another until the summer of 1955 when Marilyn began seeing her (still married) future husband, playwright, Arthur Miller.

Marilyn and Arthur met in 1951 at a party but did not meet again until 1955. The earliest published letters are dated at the start of 1956 but it is safe to assume Marilyn and Arthur started seeing one another in the summer or end of 1955. They were married in 1956, separated in 1960 and divorced in 1961. 

After her break up with Arthur, Marilyn and Joe became reacquainted, in somewhat of an “open relationship.” They remained close friends until her death in 1962.

 

JIMMY DOUGHERTY

 

Norma Jeane was happiest with Jimmy”

Despite Norma Jeane’s best efforts as a teenager to be a “good wife”, she stated later on in 1962 that her “last two” marriages were her happiest (aka Joe and Arthur). Marilyn also stated she didn’t enjoy sex when she was married to him and this possibly was due to the set-up of the marriage.

 

“Norma Jeane wanted a baby”

According to some biographers and Jimmy, Norma Jeane wanted to get pregnant to keep him home from the merchant marines. However, being as young as she was, it is unlikely she would’ve committed herself to such a burden. Whether she did for certain is a mystery.

 

“Jimmy was the only one to treat her right”

Many like to state that Norma Jeane would’ve been better off with Jimmy than with her later husbands. But as stated previously, she confessed that she was unhappy with him.

She stated to friends, “All I wanted was to find out what I was. Jim thought he knew, and that I should’ve been satisfied. But I wasn’t. That marriage was over long before the war ended.”

From her own notes, she even discusses his unfaithfulness and Maurice Zolotow’s biography even discusses physical fights between the couple.

 

“Jimmy wanted her to quit modelling”

This is true.

Jimmy was unhappy about her career writing to her, “All this business of modeling is fine, but when I get out of the service we’re going to have a family and you’re going to settle down. You can only have one career, and a woman can’t be two places at once.”

Of course, this opinion wasn’t unheard of in the 1940s. But it’s this mentality which had Norma Jeane file for divorce.

 

“Their sex life was satisfying”

Jimmy claimed that he and Norma Jeane had a fruitful sex life. “I was a lucky man!”

But not according to Marilyn… “I wasn’t very well informed about sex. Let’s just say that some things seemed more natural to me than others. I just wanted to please him, and at first, I found it all a little strange. I didn’t know if I was doing it right.”

 

“Norma Jeane was faithful to Jimmy”

It was believed for years that Andre De Dienes lied about his affair with Norma Jeane… She had stated that she was faithful to Jim. But this wasn’t the case. De Dienes actually had evidence to back up his claim which came to light in 2019 at auction:

“My Dearest W.W. I’m so much in love with / you, Andre my darling…Don’t worry W.W. I’m being / a good girl. I wouldn’t for / the world be insincere toward / you… / all I / think about is Andre, Andre, / Andre. When will he ever get / here”

There are also telegrams and letters that imply the relationship was beyond professional.

JOE DIMAGGIO

“Marilyn was seeing other men whilst with Joe”

Photographer Sam Shaw once stated, “If Marilyn slept with every guy that claims he was with her, she would have never had time to make any movies.”

According to book critic Robert Slatzer, he and Marilyn were dating and even eloped and got married in 1952 – whilst she was dating Joe DiMaggio. Allan “Whitey” Snyder backed up this relationship to Anthony Summers stating, “In my opinion, she always loved him very much.

Unfortunately, this connection has ultimately made Whitey an unreliable source as Robert Slatzer had absolutely no proof of this marriage, relationship or friendship with Marilyn. There is only proof he met her twice in 1952 whilst she was filming Niagara using his press pass despite knowing her since she was Norma Jeane.

But Slatzer became an obsessive pest, writing articles to gossip magazines such as Confidential about their “relationship”, later going on to claim he knew what happened the night Marilyn died and so on. The claims made in 1957 had supposedly upset Marilyn so much she had considered suing the magazine. Essentially, all claims of this bond have been debunked. There are absolutely no other connections between Marilyn and Slatzer (no letters, telephone records, phone numbers in her address book, or other photos). Whitey, although a loving friend and colleague to Marilyn, seems to have been swept up in the lies. Whether he was paid to make certain claims is unknown. Unless items suddenly turn up at auction, Slatzer is deemed unreliable.

Milton Greene, a friend and business partner who had last seen Marilyn in 1957 had also made claims of a relationship. In a book written by another unreliable biographer, Norman Mailer, Milton claims he had a brief relationship with Marilyn in 1953 stating, “Amy (his wife) never knew about the sex”. Amy, outliving her husband, has never stated this affair was true. Marilyn and Joe were also rather serious in their relationship at this point, but again there’s no valid proof other than the testimony decades after Marilyn’s death.

William Travilla, a costume designer considered to be a good friend to Marilyn, also claimed to have had an affair when he was married and Marilyn was with Joe. Again, there is no proof and until there is, we can dismiss this claim as unlikely.

 

“Joe wouldn’t let Marilyn out of his sight”

Being Marilyn’s partner and husband, it shouldn’t be surprising that Joe spent a lot of time with his wife.

Marilyn was often taken to dinners and parties by Joe, with him leaving her at the door so he could do his own thing and she does hers.

The fact of the matter is Marilyn did a lot without Joe. Not just because he didn’t want to be in the limelight, or because he was an introvert or because he was “cold” and a “loner” but because their schedules didn’t allow it.

When Marilyn was asked why Joe wasn’t with her for the filming of The Seven Year Itch, she said, “We just can’t seem to fit the schedules together.” Of course, Joe did arrive in New York for some of the shoot (which will be discussed shortly).

Photographer Jock Carroll said Marilyn vainly tried to explain to Joe that she wouldn’t be able to visit him due to a schedule change which also likely caused tensions in the marriage.

 

“Joe didn’t support her achievements”

Joe was a huge celebrity throughout his career and retirement. One who wasn’t a fan of the spotlight. Therefore, if he attended events that were to celebrate Marilyn, it may have taken the spotlight off her. It was not a shock for Marilyn when Joe didn’t attend events such as award ceremonies or Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (he met her after instead).

“He hates premieres and parties. So do I. But it’s my business to go. It makes no difference that we’re married. Joe has always been like this. I knew what he was like before we were married,” said Marilyn to Modern Screen in 1954. “He wouldn’t come then, and I don’t think it’s fair to him to try and change him now. I married him from what he was when I fell in love with him.”

She had even stated that when she met Joe she had, “expected a flashy New York sports type and instead I met this reserved guy who didn’t make a pass at me right away.”

 

“Their marriage was a publicity stunt”

“Joe and I had been talking about getting married for some months,” Monroe told Ben Hecht. “We knew it wouldn’t be an easy marriage. On the other hand, we couldn’t keep on going forever as a pair of cross-country lovers. It might begin to hurt both our careers.”

Joe had apparently suggested doing it during her suspension from the studio and then having their honeymoon in Japan and Korea where he was travelling to on baseball business.

They had been together for two years and likely felt it was the “proper” thing to do in order to be together without scandal.

 

“Joe was jealous of Marilyn’s fame”

Joe DiMaggio was, and possibly still is, one of the biggest names in baseball history.

He was incredibly famous in his own right. And he hated it. According to Jimmy Cannon, “Fame irritated DiMaggio. He is one of the loneliest men I’ve ever met and usually he moved through crowds. The flattery most men enjoy embarrasses him. I’ve spent most of my adult life in the newspaper business. Joe DiMaggio is the shyest public man I met.”

Joe was quoted in True Magazine in 1954:

“I suppose I’ve tried to avoid the spotlight off the ball field. Like any other guy with a job, I liked a private life when the day’s work was done. This was seldom possible. Since I’ve been married to Marilyn I’ve led a normal, quiet life. Of course, I’m out of baseball now, and that makes a difference.”

Joe wanted a private life, out of the spotlight and Marilyn’s increasing fame harmed that privacy. This explains his irritation on their (technically second) honeymoon when Marilyn was happy to pose for the cameras and answer questions. It was perfectly understandable for him to be irritated at the nature of some of the questions such as whether she slept in the nude and photographers taking images from underneath, attempting to upskirt her.

In an interview, he smiles whilst stating he hadn’t seen Marilyn much on the trip due to her meeting troops in Korea and his busy schedule. However, this Korea tour was not the spontaneous event biographers make it out to be. Marilyn had planned to visit Korea for some time, and Cary Grant had even given advice to her in a letter. Joe and Lefty O’Doul were also busy with their own trip.

Joe had met Marilyn just as her career was starting to take off and therefore there was no way to tell how it may have affected their relationship at that point as she wasn’t as busy as she had been. Considering she had stated at the start of marriage she wanted to settle down and start a family, it’s not unreasonable for Joe to feel frustrated and confused by her actions which went against everything she had stated to both him and the press..

Marilyn told Ben Hecht:

“My publicity, like Joe’s greatness, is something on the outside. It has nothing to do with what we actually are.”

“Joe was physically abusive to Marilyn”

This is one of the most common items that crop up whenever one speaks about Joe DiMaggio. It’s also an incredibly sensitive subject.

Did Joe DiMaggio hit Marilyn? Well, possibly. It can never be fully confirmed. Neither Joe nor Marilyn ever discussed this in public or in notes or letters. Marilyn was previously open about her abuse from her childhood but never mentioned any sort of abuse from Joe later. Arthur Miller, Marilyn’s third husband, had never mentioned it either. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible but the proof is limited to a few claims from others.

In the 1950s, when the couple were married, it was accepted and even expected that a husband could strike his wife if he felt she was out of line in any way. Jimmy, Marilyn’s first husband, during an argument, shoved her head under a cold shower to “cool her off”.

Obviously, this is by no means justification and there were plenty of men who did not hit their partners in this era.

It is considered today as being repugnant behaviour, which it absolutely is, but in “those times” it wasn’t, it was very normal. Many males, including celebrities, during that time period, would’ve been physically abusive to their partners.

Allan “Whitey” Snyder stated to Anthony Summers, “he beat her up a bit” but whether this was witnessed or spoken about between Marilyn and Whitey cannot be certain. As mentioned in an earlier point, some of his claims have been highly debatable.

An unnamed publicist claims, “Joe wasn’t any great hero in Marilyn’s life. He was vicious. He couldn’t have treated her worse. He beat the hell out of her and she was terrified. He continued bothering her months after their divorce. It seems nice and considerate not to talk to anybody because of his precious memories, but he was rotten to her. I’m not sure how they got back as friends near the end… I know their friendship was blown out of all proportion by the newspapers.”

Another unnamed friend of Joe’s had supposedly said, “He was smacking her around, yes.”

Other rumours have circulated such as a broken thumb Marilyn had in 1954 before their honeymoon. Marilyn claimed, “I just bumped it.” There have been many origins to the broken thumb and none can be verified.

She was also seen with a large bruise on her right arm whilst visiting Marlon Brando on the set of Desiree whilst she was filming There’s No Business Like Show Business.

According to Bunny Gardel (Fox make-up artist), Marilyn would bruise easily during this time. But Bunny had not worked with Marilyn during her relationship with Joe DiMaggio, so it is unlikely how she would have known this for certain. Marilyn had said to reporters that she bit herself in her sleep. Marilyn also had an iron deficiency which can lead to bruising. She confirmed her anaemia in January 1955 stating, “I had anaemia pretty badly.”

It should be pointed out that a bruise doesn’t equal abuse. At the same time just because someone has said how they achieved bruises or injuries, doesn’t mean they’re telling the truth. However, Joe shouldn’t be blamed for every bruise seen on Marilyn. For example…

The image above shows bruising again but was taken in 1960, whilst Marilyn was married to Arthur, interestingly in the same position as the 1954 arm bruise.

Did Marilyn leave Joe because of the abuse? When asked by Maurice Zolotow the real reason why she divorced Joe, she said:

“For the reasons I gave in court. I know a lot of women, when they’re getting a divorce they put out reasons which are not the true reasons. But I said the truth. He didn’t talk to me. He was cold. He was indifferent to me as a human being and an artist. He didn’t want me to have friends of my own. He didn’t want me to do my work. He really watched television instead of talking to me. So what I said in my testimony was really so.”

Joe never denied or admitted to these rumours.

“He physically abused her after she filmed The Seven Year Itch subway grate scene”

In the early hours of 15 September 1954 hundreds of journalists and photographers swarmed Lexington Avenue to watch Marilyn Monroe perform one of the most iconic scenes in cinema history. Joe was convinced by gossip columnist Walter Winchell to go too. This didn’t bode well with Joe, seeing his wife’s crotch be exposed to thousands of prying eyes for the sake of publicity. The rumour is when Marilyn returned to the St Regis Hotel, she and Joe argued and he was physically abusive. The levels of abuse vary from whoever tells the story.

One of the earliest mentions of a fight that night comes via Norman Mailer in 1973, stating that hotel guests in nearby rooms heard “shouting, scuffling, and weeping before the dawn”. From that point on it is hard to tell whether people witnessed much of this abuse, or they were getting their information from Mailer’s book (which he admitted he mostly got from speculation). People in the hotel did witness shouting coming from Marilyn and Joe’s room. But was it a physically violent argument?

Amy Greene reportedly said to Anthony Summers in 1983, “her back was black and blue – I couldn’t believe it.” However, in the documentary Love, Marilyn, Amy questions where these claims came from. She doesn’t deny his anger on set but goes on to state that Joe is “one of my Gods” and that she would never “say anything bad about Joe DiMaggio.” Safe to say IF Amy really did make this statement, she retracted this claim.

Later that day before her flight to LA, on 15 September, Marilyn was photographed by Philippe Halsman (I personally confirmed this with the official Halsman Instagram account).

No comments were made about her demeanour and Marilyn seemed in good spirits before she and Joe left New York the following day. That’s not to say the marriage wasn’t in trouble… it definitely was. Joe by no means was a good husband to Marilyn.

Gladys Rasmussen, Marilyn’s hairstylist for the film also claimed to Summers in 1983, “they had a suite in a real old, beautiful hotel. And he beat her up a little bit. Marilyn said that she screamed and yelled for us. But we couldn’t hear her through those thick walls … It was more on her shoulders. But with a little makeup, she went ahead and worked.”

However, others have said that they could hear them shouting through the walls contradicting this tale. Not to mention Marilyn and Joe flew home on 16 September so Gladys wouldn’t have seen any bruising the next day as she wasn’t working.

A similar quote from Gladys and Whitey is combined in Spoto’s biography with Gladys claiming, “he beat her up a bit. There were bruises on her shoulders, but we covered them with make-up.”

Natasha Lytess who despised Joe and had an odd obsession with Marilyn later made claims of abuse too but Natasha also implied Marilyn was a lesbian and they had a relationship.

Another source often used to back up this story is hairstylist Sydney Guilaroff. Apparently, Marilyn had said, “Joe beat me up twice… he slapped me around the hotel room.” Sydney Guilaroff is not considered by Marilyn researchers as a reliable source so his testimony on this could be questionable. One of his many claims was that said Marilyn had contacted him on the day she died, 4 August 1962, and that “Robert Kennedy was here, threatening me, yelling at me… you know, I know a lot of secrets about what has gone on in Washington, dangerous secrets.” However, RFK had absolutely no involvement in Marilyn’s death as he was with his family at John Bates’s ranch from 3-6 August 1962.

It should be noted Joe went to therapy after the divorce (and after the Wrong Door Raid then he definitely needed it but that’s a story for another day) and credited Marilyn for him taking this step at a time when therapy was considered not a very masculine task to undertake. He wrote a list of things he wanted to do in order to improve his relationship with Marilyn in 1955. None of these items mentions violence.

He also attended the premiere of The Seven Year Itch with Marilyn in June 1955 something he had not done before. If this scene had enraged him to the point of abusive behaviour, it’s doubtful he would’ve attended a screening with his ex-wife. Needless to say, Marilyn clearly made amends with Joe and forgave him for wrongdoing – whatever that may have been. That’s not to say his behaviour, violence or no violence, was acceptable.

Safe to say that many of the claims of abuse on that night come from questionable sources, were retracted OR were discussed two decades after the event supposedly happened. However, this does not mean it didn’t happen, it just means we have no reliable proof.

 

“Joe tried to make Marilyn quit her career as an actress”

 

Although it is true Joe disliked how Marilyn was treated by the studio, that’s not to say he insisted she quit her job as an actress. Quite the opposite.

Joe quit his job in New York to be able to move to Los Angeles in order for Marilyn to work. Even after the divorce, and her subsequent marriage (and divorce) in 1961, he stated she should consider buying a home in California for work and not New York. Joe even loaned her money to help buy the property in Brentwood. He also helped her negotiate the terms of her contracts with the studio whilst they were married and had her hire a business manager to ensure her life and career were organised.

Many husbands, as proven by Jimmy (and later by Arthur), expected their wives to settle down and start a family. Joe was no exception. Marilyn had repeated to the press when they got married that being a wife was her priority before her career and that she wanted to have several children with her husband. But Marilyn was becoming more and more famous, making it very difficult for the couple to have their own lives out of the view of the media.

Marilyn’s press agent Lois Weber Smith recalled:

“For a while, when they were married, Marilyn had the idea she could have both lives, the private and the public. She deceived herself in that. She couldn’t keep them separate. The press wouldn’t allow it. They were both too big, too famous, too much a part of America to just disappear when they weren’t working.”

 

“Joe saved her from Payne Whitney”

 

The day before Marilyn was mistakenly institutionalised against her knowledge, she attempted to contact Joe. Whilst confined to the hospital she managed to get in touch with him but Joe would not have had the legal authority to have Marilyn released, only Dr Marianne Kris.

A letter to Lee Strasberg written by Marilyn during her stay at Payne Whitney implies Marilyn had asked the hospital to contact both Dr Kris and Joe.

It’s more likely Joe put pressure on Dr Kris to have Marilyn released, as opposed to doing it himself. He then helped Marilyn check into Columbia Presbyterian hospital where she could rest and recover from her ordeal. 

 

“Marilyn and Joe were going to get remarried in 1962”

 

After Marilyn and Arthur were divorced, Joe asked a friend if he would ask Marilyn if it were okay to get in touch. Marilyn agreed.

Joe and Marilyn spent plenty of time together during the last years of her life. Marilyn insisted to the press they were “just good friends” but because she had said this before, the media speculated they were back together.

When Marilyn was flying to New York, her plane had experienced from engine trouble so had to turn back to the airport. She sent a telegram to Joe under a pseudonym:

 “Dear Dad Darling [longtime nickname for Joe] airplane developed engine trouble plus all oil ran out of same plane so we had to turn back and land back in LA. Leaving again on another plane at 5pm arrive New York 1pm. When plane was in trouble I thought about two things, you and changing my will. Love you I think, more then ever. -Mrs. Norman.“

It has been rumoured Marilyn had been fitted for a wedding dress in the weeks leading up to her death, however, she was being fitted for a premiere.

A letter written by Marilyn around the time of her death implied her feelings for Joe were more than just friendship, but this does not insinuate marriage was on the cards, especially when the pressures of marriage caused their relationship to break down in the first place.

Pink note: Dear Joe, If I can only succeed in making you happy – I will have succeeded in the bigest (sic) and most difficult thing there is – that is to make one person completely happy. Your happiness means my happiness.

White note: Dear Joe, If I can only succeed in making you happy – I will have succeeded in the bigest (sic) and most difficult thing there is – that is to make one person completely happy. Joe

 

“Joe planned her funeral and banned many people from attending”

 

Inez Melson, Marilyn’s business manager confirmed in a BBC interview that she was in charge of the guest list for Marilyn’s funeral and Joe simply helped her and Berniece make arrangements.

 

“Joe sent flowers to Marilyn’s grave until his death”

 

Joe sent flowers to Marilyn’s crypt thrice a week from 1962 to 1982. Joe died in 1999 and never commented on the roses, or why he stopped sending them.

 

“Joe hated the Kennedys”

It is believed by fans that Joe hated the Kennedys because of the “affairs” or because he felt they had some involvement with her death. Joe supported them and was even invited to the inauguration. He even stated that JFK was a “hero” in 1979.

 

“Joe’s dying words were ‘I finally get to see Marilyn.'”

Joe DiMaggio died in 1999 from lung cancer and was in the hospital at the time of his death. With him were his lawyer, Morris Engelberg, his brother, Dom DiMaggio and his granddaughters. According to Engelberg Joe had said “I finally get to see Marilyn” before passing away. Dom has said this was not true. Not only is Engelberg a shady character but due to the pain medication, Joe would not have been able to speak. A hospice worker also stated Joe had no last words and therefore, it’s highly unlikely Joe mentioned Marilyn before passing.

You can read more about his relationship with Marilyn here by the amazing Silver Technicolor who also helped me fact-check this post. 

Thoughts on Joe and Marilyn

Ignoring the rumours of abuse, which have never been confirmed by any reliable sources, Joe wasn’t a good husband to Marilyn in the nine months they were married. They seemed happy in their two years of dating and had a good friendship in the last two years of her life. Maybe if Joe had done therapy whilst they were married things would’ve worked out differently. And perhaps if Marilyn wasn’t so overworked between 1953 and 1955 he would’ve felt better about her career but the reality was Joe barely saw Marilyn and when he did she was exhausted. Things didn’t work out in their marriage but it is a positive that he was able to be there for her when she needed him most.

ARTHUR MILLER

 

“Arthur used her for fame”

Arthur Miller was a prolific Pulitzer Prize winner and playwright years before he met Marilyn Monroe. In fact, Marilyn was a fan of his work before she became his mistress.

He had written over a dozen plays before marrying her and was incredibly well-known in the literary world. In fact, many people wondered if Marilyn was using Arthur in order to be taken more seriously.

It was only when he had become reacquainted with Marilyn did his work decrease. It could be said being Marilyn’s husband was a job in itself, especially when her addiction to prescription pills and constant need for validation via her acting coaches had become an issue.

It’s also unlikely that Arthur expected Marilyn to keep working at the rate she had in previous years. In September 1956, whilst in England he told journalists Marilyn will make one movie every eighteen months for a maximum of twelve weeks and for the other fifteen months will “be my wife, that’s a full-time job.”

 

“Arthur was the reason why she stopped talking to Milton Greene”

Amy Greene believes Arthur’s jealousy of Milton is what caused their partnership in Marilyn Monroe Productions to cease and for Marilyn to fall out with Milton in 1957. However, letters from Arthur in 1956 discuss how Marilyn and Milton had a tense relationship in June 1956. “ALL of these Milton troubles and Josh troubles and all that crap is nonsense that will fade off as soon as I can take charge. You will simply have a business relationship with these people.” In the same letter, Miller says, “I don’t worry about him stealing you from me because you are my soul and nobody can steal my soul.”

The icing on the cake came with The Sleeping Prince (aka The Prince and the Showgirl). Apparently, she had felt Milton had become friendly with Laurence Olivier and this was a betrayal of their friendship. She had also become paranoid that he was spending too much through MMP despite the fact she was also putting a lot of personal expenditure through the company. These issues were beyond Arthur and any jealousy he may or may not have had.

 

“Marilyn was the insecure one in the relationship”

Although it is true Marilyn was an insecure individual, letters demonstrate how Arthur himself was jealous and insecure.

In June 1956 he begs her in a letter to “Love me. Love me. You will never regret it for as long as you live.”

He also discusses his fear of not being able to satisfy her, “The main thing I saw was that it had all worked to make me unconsciously jealous of you and fearful that in fact I was not ‘big enough’ for you and could not satisfy you either sexually or as a friend and a man. To say that I do not satisfy you implies that someone else could. In turn, I am therefore in danger of being ‘replaced.’ The final development, therefore, is withdrawal to one degree or another, and the deadening by degrees of my confidence in myself in relation to you.”

On September 21, 1956, he wrote:

“I am going to do a risky thing. I am going to try to tell you as precisely as I know how what has been going on in me—but beyond the point where my defenses stand…. One of the feelings in me is jealousy…. I only realize now that certain things began to press in on me, some of them very subtle, until the point has come where I must face them for both our sakes so that they may be understood and be deprived of their effect on me.”

“Arthur ran away to NYC after ‘the diary incident'”

The “diary incident” occurred six weeks into Marilyn and Arthur’s England trip in 1956. This coincides with Marilyn’s first absence from filming The Sleeping Prince on 22-24 August.

She had read his diary whilst looking for her script and the diary was supposedly left open at a pivotal point. Marilyn noticing her name read the contents with the passages being of a negative and insulting nature.

On 24 August, on one of the days Marilyn was absent from filming she was photographed dining out in London not wearing her wedding ring.

According to Berniece Miracle, Marilyn’s half-sister, Marilyn told her, “He said he agreed with Larry that I could be a bitch.”

Ralph Roberts had spoken to Marilyn about it briefly during a massage, with Paula Strasberg telling him that he had written, “I’ve really done it. I thought I was marrying an angel, and find I’ve married a whore.” Paula told Roberts that she managed to convince Marilyn that his artistic ego had been “battered to such an extent he had to flail out at her.”

The Sleeping Prince publicist Jerry Juroe said, “It was the ultimate betrayal.”

This slip-up left a dark mark on the marriage, with Marilyn mentioning it throughout the marriage to friends and family. Staff at their rented home, Parkside Manor, noticed a shift in the atmosphere. Alan, who played the piano at the house heard arguments and felt Marilyn’s health suffered after the event.

It was something that she never got over. Arthur didn’t discuss it in his autobiography but does allude to it in his play After the Fall. He also told biographer Fred Lawerence Guiles that he did not recall the exact words used but admitted it did have something to do with Marilyn’s working relationship with Laurence Olivier. It is unknown if he left the diary out for Marilyn to see or whether this was never meant to have been read by her.

Understandably Marilyn was deeply hurt and upset, especially as someone with little self-esteem. But in defence of Arthur, personal notes about a relationship can be written out of anger or frustration. He probably didn’t expect Marilyn to read his personal journal and probably had not realised her insecurities. Arthur and Marilyn truly had a whirlwind romance, built on lust and passion. He was married and they only began to get to know one another after his divorce.

People think he was deterred by this incident and flew back to New York in order to avoid confrontation. But this wasn’t the case. On 26 August Arthur left England to return to the USA but this trip had been planned since the beginning of the trip. A month before, columnist David Lewin wrote about Arthur’s plans which included a trip back to the US at the end of August in order to deal with his legal issues with the House Un-American Activities Committee.

 

“Marilyn was pregnant with Arthur’s baby during the filming of The Sleeping Prince

There was speculation in 1956 that Marilyn’s absences were a result of pregnancy-induced illness. This was not the case.

Marilyn is confirmed to have been pregnant in 1957 resulting in an ectopic pregnancy and in 1958 ending in miscarriage. Arthur discusses the first pregnancy as being in 1957 so any earlier than that can be dismissed.

 

“Arthur made money from being married to Marilyn”

This is partly true. Marilyn had made Arthur Vice President of Marilyn Monroe Productions after she and Milton parted ways meaning he had a share in the company.

Marilyn also wrote several checks to Arthur totalling $47,300.00

Arthur also went against a writer’s strike in order to help with the scriptwriting of Let’s Make Love just like he had offered to do with The Sleeping Prince (“I can go through the script and make the changes”).

He also stated how being married to Marilyn has helped his career:

“Marry Marilyn was the greatest thing I ever did. It’s done my work a lot of good. 

“Arthur didn’t help Marilyn with her addiction”

As of 1956, Marilyn began regularly taking medication to assist with her anxiety and sleep. These barbiturates were highly addictive and one of the hardest drugs to stop taking.

Some consider it irresponsible of Arthur to have let it get as out of hand as it did. But Marilyn was not an easy person to convince and she was an addict.

Even after getting pregnant and losing her babies and being weaned off the pills in 1961, Marilyn never gave up the pills for longer than a few weeks.

It doesn’t matter who attempted to reason with her about the medication, it’s incredibly hard to come off certain prescriptions. Arthur stated, “She was a flower of iron to survive this onslaught.” He was very aware the only person that could get Marilyn off the pills, was Marilyn.

 

“Arthur used The Misfits to punish Marilyn”

What started as a romantic gesture in 1957 turned into the breaking point of Marilyn and Arthur’s marriage. She had felt that her life was being exposed and mocked via Roslyn, by the man she had once loved.

Marilyn was incredibly sensitive and perhaps Arthur made a mistake by making such a personal script. By this point, the relationship was definitely on its way out and the constant rewrites made life a lot harder for the couple. By the end of the film, they were no longer together.

 

“Arthur left Marilyn in 1960”

According to Ralph Roberts’s diary, on 31 October 1960 (at the end of filming The Misfits) at 5:30 am he heard Marilyn scream, “Get out of here and don’t you dare ever return. I’ve finally had enough of you for years but this is it! I don’t give a damn where you go! To Hell, for all I care.”

Despite Marilyn having an affair with Yves Montand during the filming of Let’s Make Love, it was Marilyn who broke off the marriage. Despite this dramatic ending Marilyn and Arthur made amends and spoke respectfully of their marriage in the press.

 

“Arthur cheated on Marilyn with Inge Morath”

Magnum photographer Inge Morath was one of many who took photos on the set of The Misfits. It was here she would meet Arthur Miller, who would later become her husband and father to her children. However, their relationship did not start until after Marilyn and Arthur broke up.

 

“Arthur didn’t love Marilyn”

Marilyn and Arthur were very much in love at the start of their relationship. You can see from their letters how much he appreciated Marilyn.

However, career pressures, issues with Arthur and the HUAC, the miscarriages, Marilyn’s dependence on medication and constant need for reassurance caused a lot of issues in the marriage.

Arthur later said, “I too was struggling because I could not smash her enemies with one magic stroke, our own relationship was wounded because she was beyond my reassurance, she had no means of preventing the complete unravelling of her belief in a person once a single thread was broken.”

 

“Arthur didn’t care about his son Daniel”

Although Marilyn doesn’t have anything to do with this point, it’s one people love to bring up.

When Arthur and Inge were married they had two children – Rebecca and Daniel. Daniel was born with Down Syndrome in 1966 and was institutionalised shortly after.

Broadway producer and friend Robert Whitehead said “Arthur was terribly shaken—he used the term ‘mongoloid’. He said ‘I’m going to have to put the baby away.’”

A friend of Inge’s visited Roxbury, about a week later. “I was sitting at the bottom of the bed, and Inge was propped up, and my memory is that she was holding the baby and she was very, very unhappy. Inge wanted to keep the baby, but Arthur wasn’t going to let her keep him.” Apparently, Arthur felt it would be very hard for Rebecca, and for the household to raise Daniel at home. Another friend remembers that “it was a decision that had Rebecca at the center.”

This may seem cold and cruel, however, despite the lack of conversation surrounding Daniel, it appears this choice was not an easy one for Arthur or Inge. This was the 1960s and there was very little knowledge, tolerance or support for those with Down Syndrome.

Rebecca Miller later made a documentary about her father entitled, Arthur Miller: Writer. “I found myself not doubting the doctor’s conclusions, but feeling a welling up of love for him. I dared not touch him, lest I end by taking him home, and I wept.”

Due to the heartbreak of having his son in his care, Arthur never visited or publicly acknowledged Daniel (other than in the Arthur Miller: Writer). Inge visited Daniel often and supposedly his son-in-law Daniel Day-Lewis managed to convince him to see Daniel.

 

“Arthur wasn’t invited to the funeral”

There is no initial invite list for the funeral and therefore it is uncertain whether he was asked personally by Inez or Berniece and ultimately declined.

In an unpublished 1962 essay, Arthur wrote, “Instead of jetting to the funeral to get my picture taken I decided to stay home and let the public mourners finish the mockery. Not that everyone there will be false, but enough. Most of them there destroyed her, ladies and gentlemen.”

“She was destroyed by many things, and some of those things are you,” he said, referring to the entitled big shots in Hollywood. “Now as you stand there weeping and gawking, glad that it is not you going into the earth, glad that it is this lovely girl who you at last killed.”

Thoughts on Marilyn & Arthur

Being married to Marilyn at that time in her life would not have been an easy experience. She was struggling with her self-esteem and mental health. But Arthur endured and continued to try and make it work. Outsiders looking in would later comment on how cruel Marilyn would be to Arthur at times. Perhaps Marilyn was attempting to get a reaction out of him. Again, we cannot judge, we can only surmise.

Arthur encountered a lot with Marilyn. They lost two children together and everything they did was in the public eye. Other than his passionate love letters to Marilyn, his telegram to Billy Wilder demonstrated how much he cared for his wife.

It’s a shame it did not work but they were not meant to be.

What is unfortunate is how Arthur felt it was appropriate to release a play, two years after Marilyn’s death, based on their marriage. The parallels are hauntingly similar and in poor taste.

Arthur had begun to write After The Fall when still married to Marilyn and eventually completed it and had it produced in 1964. This would’ve broken Marilyn if she had still been alive. His own friends such as Norman Rosten felt this was distasteful and disrespectful. Which it was.

WJ Weatherby stated, “Miller was obviously writing out of deep personal experience and, although Maggie was only a shadow of Marilyn – the other side of Roslyn in The Misfits, the missing side that made her unsatisfying in the movie and hard for Monroe to make convincing – it was easy to see how Miller thought Marilyn had died, and why. But many admirers of hers were indignant at the portrait and the interpretation. James Baldwin, for example, was seen stalking up the aisle and out of the theatre before the end of the play.”

From Rebecca Miller’s documentary about her father, “The play addressed his own failure to ‘save’ Marilyn, and the realisation that ‘people were far more difficult to change than I had allowed myself to believe.’ It was a success, but due to its shocking portrayal of Monroe’s downfall, was subject to ‘ugly, strident criticism’ and ‘vicious attacks’ in the press. ‘I managed to have an illusion that this wasn’t really Marilyn,’ Miller says, ‘… but it was close enough …’”

Arthur was married to Inge until her death. Arthur quickly (too quickly in my opinion) got into a relationship, with Agnes Barley who was almost 50 years younger than him

Marilyn & Her Sexuality

“Labels–people love putting labels on each other. Then they feel safe.” – Marilyn Monroe to WJ Weatherby in 1960

We live in a world where someone is “queer-baiting” because they have a large gay fan base and they support the gay community or because they pose nude for gay magazines and wear certain clothes. And because they won’t come out, they are immediately seen as “baiting” the LGBTQ+ community.

And yet we have those who will comment on how a seemingly heterosexual individual is “gay” or “queer” purely because one wants them to be. Why we cannot just be ourselves and keep our private lives private is astonishing to me…

The TikTok generation has made Marilyn Monroe into many things:

  • ADHD
  • Depressed
  • Bi-Polar
  • A devout Jew
  • Mexican
  • Lesbian
  • Paedophile
  • Autistic

But one of the most common claims is that Marilyn was asexual.

Other than paedophilia it is perfectly acceptable and fine to be any of the above. But not if it isn’t genuine or factually accurate.

 

WHAT IS ASEXUALITY?

The “official” definition of asexuality is as follows:

Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction to others, or low or absent interest in or desire for sexual activity.

This isn’t to say some asexual people don’t enjoy sexual experiences by themselves. However, this isn’t true of Marilyn.

 

“SHE DID NOT LIKE SEX”

Emily Ratajkowski claimed on her podcast that Marilyn Monroe “did not like sex.” It’s not a completely false statement. But it does show how Em Rata limited her research to a couple of online articles. If she had looked into Marilyn a little more, she would’ve seen Marilyn speak about sex and her enjoyment of it very openly.

Many are defending this label being given to a woman who has been dead since 1962, by commenting on statements Marilyn made regarding her early marriage:

“I was completely faithful to my overseas husband, but that wasn’t because I loved him or even because I had moral ideas. My fidelity was due to my lack of interest in sex.” (This statement is untrue as letters confirm Marilyn did in fact have an affair with Andre De Dienes…)

“Sex is a baffling thing when it doesn’t happen. I used to wake up in the morning when I was married, and wonder if the whole world was crazy, whooping about sex all the time… Then it dawned on me that people – other women – were different than me.”

“They could feel things I couldn’t. And when I started reading books I ran into the words ‘frigid,’ ‘rejected,’ and ‘lesbian.’ I wondered if I was all three of those things.”

Marilyn had just turned sixteen when she married James Dougherty, which she did in order to not to be sent to an orphanage. And although Jimmy claimed he and Marilyn had a fruitful sex life Marilyn didn’t speak of it as fondly as he did.

Let us remember that her first sexual experience was with a man she married for convenience purposes. Although she felt great affection for Dougherty, it probably felt to Marilyn that she was obligated to have sex with this man, who got her out of a tricky situation.

“WE’RE ALL BORN SEXUAL CREATURES, THANK GOD.”

The obsession to label someone, which is conveniently dead, is something I can understand. But only to an extent. We put labels on ourselves to make sense of our feelings and identity. But it is ludicrous to do it for other people, primarily based on a sexual relationship between a teenage bride and her scapegoat husband.

Firstly, our sex lives (no matter how much we discuss it) are no one else’s business. To label someone just because it makes you feel better is unfair.

It is not acephobic to say Marilyn was not asexual. Just as it isn’t homophobic to state Marilyn was not a lesbian. Whatever she was, I’d love her. But that fact is – she wasn’t asexual or a lesbian.

Marilyn spoke about sex. Sex with men, specifically. She chatted about it with journalists. She even discussed it with friends (she supposedly told Amy Greene how Joe DiMaggio was “fantastic in bed.”)

Here are a few quotes where Marilyn discusses sexuality:

“A man who kissed me once had said it was very possible I was a lesbian because I apparently had no response to males – meaning him. I didn’t contradict him because I didn’t know what I was. There were times even when I didn’t feel human and times when all I could think of was dying. There was also the sinister fact that a well-made woman had always thrilled me to look at. Now having fallen in love, I knew what I was. It wasn’t a lesbian.” – Marilyn Monroe to Ben Hecht in 1954.

“The world and its excitement over sex didn’t seem crazy. In fact, it didn’t seem crazy enough.” – Marilyn Monroe to Ben Hecht in 1954.

“I think that sexuality is only attractive when it’s natural and spontaneous. This is where a lot of them miss the boat. And then something I’d just like to spout off on. We are all born sexual creatures, thank God, but it’s a pity so many people despise and crush this natural gift. Art, real art, comes from it — everything.” – Marilyn Monroe to Richard Meryman in 1962.

“It’s a part of nature. I go along with nature.” – Marilyn Monroe discussing sex to Pete Martin in 1956.

“I sometimes felt I was hooked on sex, the way an alcoholic is on liquor or a junkie on dope.” – Marilyn Monroe to WJ Weatherby in 1960.

“I was remembering Monty Clift. People who aren’t fit to open the door for him sneer at his homosexuality. What do they know about it? Labels–people love putting labels on each other. Then they feel safe. People tried to make me into a lesbian. I laughed. No sex is wrong if there’s love in it. But too often people act like it’s gymnasium work, mechanical. They’d be as satisfied with a machine from a drugstore as with another human being. I sometimes felt they were trying to make me into a machine.” – Marilyn Monroe to WJ Weatherby in 1960.

“No director ever said, ‘Now Marilyn, be sexy!’ Sex isn’t a thing apart, it’s all of you. Sometimes, after a scene, somebody will say, ‘Great! Very sexy, Marilyn!’ But I have just done something very natural.” – Marilyn Monroe, LOOK magazine in 1957.

It doesn’t matter how you live your sex life, or who with – as long as it is legal and safe. But we should not label others, especially those who are not here now, as it isn’t anyone’s place to do so.

 

Marilyn Monroe & The Casting Couch

Marilyn Monroe was part of the casting couch system in Hollywood. That’s what many believe… but is it true?

In many people’s minds, Marilyn Monroe was unable to reach Hollywood stardom without using her body. However, she stated that she was “determined” to not become another starlet who slept her way to fame. That’s not to say she didn’t have help along the way…

 

IN HER OWN WORDS

In her ghost-written biography, My Story which was drafted in 1953 and 1954 (initially as articles), she discusses her time as a starlet, trying to make her way into Hollywood.

 “These wolves just could not understand me. They would tell me, ‘But Marilyn, you’re not playing the game the way you should. Be smart. You’ll never get anywhere in this business acting the way you do.’ My answer to them would be, ‘The only acting I’ll do is for the camera.’ I was determined, no one was going to use me or my body—even if he could help my career. I’ve never gone out with a man I didn’t want to. No one, not even the studio, could force me to date someone. The one thing I hate more than anything else is being used. I’ve always worked hard for the sake of someday becoming a talented actress. I knew I would make it someday if I only kept at it and worked hard without lowering my principles and pride in myself.”

Marilyn also discussed how she turned down offers of private yacht trips with Harry Cohn, head of Columbia Pictures, which he did not appreciate. It may have even slowed her career down as her contract was not renewed after Ladies of The Chorus.

She had completed 12 films (credited) in the space of five years. Five of those movies didn’t even show her on the screen. Alas, she kept working even when her contracts weren’t extended.

In fact, Marilyn didn’t get a starring role until Don’t Bother to Knock (1952)

 

“I’VE ALWAYS WORKED HARD FOR THE SAKE OF SOMEDAY BECOMING A TALENTED ACTRESS.”

 To stand out, Marilyn took several classes. She studied dance, singing and acting. Marilyn would also have many publicity photoshoots and attend events in an attempt to gain media attention.

“I could actually feel my lack of talent, as if it were cheap clothes I wear inside. But, my God, how I wanted to learn! To change, to improve! I didn’t want anything else. Not men, not money, not love but to ability to act.” – My Story

Whilst she was at Fox in the late 1940s, they sent her to The Actors Laboratory where stage writers and directors from Broadway came to present their work in Los Angeles. Many of the works focussed on the difficulties of the world which helped expand Marilyn’s outlook. It developed her interest in Method Acting, something she continued to work on until her death in 1962. Marilyn enjoyed her studies and spent 1947 following these acting lessons, reading plays and studying scenes. When she wasn’t working at the studio, she would often be taking part in study and theatre groups to continue her craft. 

 

 IT’S WHO YOU KNOW

Not only did she toil, but she attended many publicity events and studio parties where she networked, despite not being a fan of parties.

This is how she met connections like Joe Schenck (the former head of Fox) and Darryl Zanuck (current head of Fox at the time).

“In Hollywood a girl’s virtue is much less important than her hair-do. You’re judged by how you look, not by what you are. 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.” – My Story.

Rumours had circulated that Marilyn and Schenck had been sexually involved, however they both denied this. Marilyn stated to Maurice Zolotow:

“Get this straight Mr. Schenck and I were good friends. He gave me encouragement when I needed it. He didn’t do anything for me. He let Mr. Zanuck run the studio the way Mr. Zanuck wanted to run it. I know the word around Hollywood was I was Joe Schenck’s girlfriend, but that’s a lie. The only favor I ever asked him, Mr. Schenck, was later, when I was back at Twentieth. I wanted a decent dressing room, and I asked him about it, and he put in a good word for me and I got a good dressing room. I never asked him to help me get good parts at Twentieth, and he didn’t. He knew how I felt about it, that I wanted to succeed on my talent, not any other way, and he respected my feelings. I went to his house because I liked Mr. Schenck and I liked his food and it was better than the Studio Club food. I don’t mean to imply the Studio Club had bad food. I mean, let’s say, that Mr. Schenck’s cook was just better than their cook.”

Schenck himself said:

“She used to come here quite often for dinner. I think she liked to eat. We have good food here. No, I never had any romantic thoughts about Marilyn and she never had any thoughts about me.“

JOHNNY HYDE

Marilyn met Hollywood agent Johnny Hyde at the end of 1948.  Hyde, who was thirty years Marilyn’s senior, was married with children but became smitten by the young starlet. He left wife and children for Marilyn in the hopes she would agree to marry him, however Marilyn refused. She said of Johnny in 1961:

“I loved him dearly. But I wasn’t in love with him. He was wonderful to me and he was a dear friend. It was Johnny who inspired me to read good books and enjoy good music.”

Although Marilyn’s relationship with Johnny was not that of a typical casting couch system, it cannot be denied that he didn’t help her. With his connections, guidance and security Marilyn was able to help develop her status in Hollywood. Despite this, Marilyn’s career was slow and steady. with bit parts as a sexy secretary or dumb sex pot. It wasn’t until after Johnny Hyde’s death Marilyn’s career soared. 

Whatever connections Marilyn may have had it took networking, work and time to make Marilyn Monroe the icon she was (and is). As Marilyn’s benefactor, Lucille Ryman said to Floral Muir in the 1950s: “Under Marilyn’s babydoll exterior, she is tough and shrewd and calculating or she wouldn’t be where she is today.” 

 

60 Years Gone: The Distorted Legacy of Marilyn Monroe

By Robert Barger

“If I am a star, the people made me a star,” Marilyn Monroe declared in 1962.

The motion picture industry has long been defined by its stars. No star shined brighter than Marilyn. She made a total of 31 films during her 16-year career, but her social impact remains unrivalled. 2022 marked the 60th anniversary of her passing, however, she resonates today as much as she ever did.

In 2022, Kim Kardashian made international headlines when she donned a vintage Jean Louis gown for her appearance at the Met Gala. The cause for the Kardashian uproar was due to one reason. It was the same gown Monroe wore to serenade President John Kennedy at his 45th birthday celebration. That was in 1962. Marilyn may be gone, but she is certainly not forgotten. 

Her origin story is not a glamorous one, but it is inspiring. Born Norma Jeane Mortenson on June 1, 1926, Marilyn grew up in a constant state of peril. She never knew her father and her mother was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. As a result, she was forced to change living conditions a number of times as a child. Norma Jeane found solace in the movies, saying, “I didn’t like the world around me because it was kind of grim … When I heard that this was acting, I said that’s what I want to be”.   

In January of 1945, Norma Jeane began modelling around her hometown of Van Nuys, California despite protest from her first husband. To cope with the tastes of the time, the budding model straightened her naturally brown hair and dyed it blonde. Before long, executives at 20th Century-Fox took notice and she was signed to a standard six-month contract in August 1946. She was 20 years old. By September of that year, Norma Jeane was freshly divorced and going by her newly minted stage name, “Marilyn Monroe”. Within eight years, Marilyn Monroe was the biggest movie star in the world. In the 60 years since the legendary icon’s death, her legend has only amplified.   

According to Forbes’ annual list of the highest-paid dead celebrities, Marilyn made $8 million in 2020. Her image and likeness are routinely and extensively licensed. In May of 2022, Andy Warhol’s 1964 silkscreen image of the late actress sold for $195 Million. This is the most expensive work sold by an American artist ever at auction. Marilyn is once again in the centre of the cinema world as well. In September, entertainment giant Netflix released a controversial Monroe “biopic” entitled Blonde. The film is based on Joyce Carol Oates’ 2000 historical fiction novel and stars Ana de Armas as the doomed heroine. In short, Marilyn does not go out of style. She is remembered for her immense aesthetic influence and colossal cultural significance, but her greatest aspirations went unfulfilled. 

The thing Monroe desired most was to be taken seriously as an actress. She once remarked, “I want to be an artist, an actress with integrity.” Her life ended before she could realize her ambitions. Marilyn died in 1962. She was 36 years old. The details of her passing are shrouded in controversy. Most experts agree that the cause was an accidental drug overdose. Her premature passing ensures that she will always remain vibrant and beautiful in the public consciousness. Monroe will also be forever worshipped, but for reasons unintended by her. For 60 years, Marilyn’s acting ability has been based on myth and unjustly judged. She is the personification of the “blonde bombshell”, but this was placating performance. For any critic who insists the ageless icon was not a talented actress, they need only consider her greatest role: Marilyn Monroe. 

Decriers of Marilyn assert she was severely limited as an actress due to a lack of range and sparse sensibility. Journalist Derek Adams proclaimed that “Monroe flaunts her attributes too blatantly and seems less human because of it”. It was presumed that her talent didn’t extend beyond a curvaceous figure and a perfect smile. These were unfair criticisms, but they were real. As far as her movie studio was concerned, they had found a winning formula. Sex sells – and Monroe was the sexiest star on the planet. Thus, the industry brass could not afford for Marilyn to play a character with any kind of considerable depth. “The Seven Year Itch” (famous for the notorious updraft dress scene) wrapped in 1954. After filming, Marilyn became all too aware that she was regarded merely as a robotic sex symbol. The industry was exploiting her. She was fed up with it. 

In 1955 Monroe left Hollywood for New York. She decided it was time to battle both the studio system and her reputation. As the studio saw it, it was simply bad business not to have her identified as the sultry fantasy girl. But Marilyn was, as she said at the time, “tired of the same old sex roles”. The actress, now a genuine superstar, took courageous action. First, she sued 20th Century Fox due to a breach of contract. By the end of the year, Marilyn signed a lucrative new seven-year deal. She was also granted creative control over her projects and formed her own production company with a friend, photographer Milton Greene. Monroe took on the studio system and won. This case paved the way for many freedoms that artists enjoy today. The next step in her plan was to attain what she continually craved, industry credibility. 

Thespian titan Martin Landau was a friend and classmate of Marilyn’s. He first encountered her in 1955 when he stated, “She was being used and abused in Hollywood…People perceived her as a Hollywood blonde bimbo…She wanted to become an actress”. A goal to which she was totally committed. Monroe was very devoted to honing her craft. She relocated to Manhattan to study at the prestigious Actor’s Studio. This was a pivotal point in the evolution of her career. Marilyn was sick of being treated as a commodity and wanted credit for her ability. She famously asserted, “I have feelings too. I am still human. All I want is to be loved, for myself and for my talent”.        

Monroe was receiving a masterclass in the art of acting while studying alongside many incredible young performers. They included the likes of Marlon Brando, Geraldine Page, Landau, Kim Stanley, Patricia Neal, Maureen Stapleton, Lou Gossett Jr., and Jane Fonda. Those classmates alone represented a total of 31 future Academy Award nominations. Up to this point, the closest that Marilyn got was a Golden Globe Best Actress nomination for the film “Bus Stop”. Don Murray co-starred with her in the 1956 drama and could sense her recharged resolution. In a 2012 interview, Murray said Monroe, “Was trying to prove she was a serious actress and not just a movie star playing bimbo parts. She was trying to prove she was an actress of substance, and in my opinion she certainly did.” This was Marilyn’s first performance after taking on the tutelage of Lee Strasberg.         

If acting instruction were a formal institution, Lee Strasberg is a charter member. His revolutionary teachings are the basis for the now infamous style of “method acting”. Some of the most important actors of all time studied with him. That list includes James Dean, Paul Newman, Montgomery Clift, Robert De Niro, Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman, and Al Pacino. Strasberg’s contribution to the world of acting cannot be overstated. Marilyn became a private student and even a surrogate daughter to the acting teacher. Under Strasberg’s instruction, Monroe flourished and found the range and depth that she was previously criticized for lacking. After her death, Strasberg summed up Marilyn’s acting abilities rather succinctly. He said, “She was one of the two or three most sensitive and most talented people that I’ve seen in my life. One of the others is Marlon Brando”.

Marilyn was an astute screen performer with tremendous timing. The great tragedy is that fans today truly have no idea how gifted Monroe was as an actress. It has been so long since her death that she no longer exists in memory as a performer, but only as a caricature.  Unfortunately, people usually only associate her as the stereotypical “sexpot” in roles such as “Gentleman Prefer Blondes” and “Some Like It Hot”. Those are great pictures, and they required serious skill. But they are not the best representation of Monroe’s skill. In the end, she could not shake the biased labels that she repeatedly had to endure. Motion picture historian Paul Batters refers to it as “an unfortunate truth…the ‘sexy dumb blonde’ persona that plagued Monroe’s career”. The persona that Marilyn created, responsible for her fame and fortune, had obscured her talent. And she knew it.  

Photographer Larry Schiller took some of the most famous ever pictures of Monroe. He was also one of her closest confidants during the last two years of her life. In his 2012 book, “Marilyn & Me”, Schiller recounts a conversation that he had with the star shortly before she died. It serves to illustrate the level of frustration Marilyn felt about her career. “Sometimes I feel my whole life has been one big rejection,” Marilyn told Schiller.  “But look at you now,” he said. “You’re a star! Your face is on magazine covers all over the world! Everyone knows Marilyn Monroe!” “Let me ask you, Larry—how many Academy Award nominations do I have?” “I don’t know,” he said. “I do,” she said. “None.”

The Misfits, filmed in 1960, was Marilyn’s last completed movie. It again paired her with director John Huston and co-stars fellow Hollywood immortals Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift. Strasberg’s teachings helped Monroe through the difficult shoot. The role was terribly challenging, but it stands up as some of her best work. Film scholar Joe Zentner states, “Marilyn Monroe’s acting in ‘The Misfits’ is superb…She transforms her stunning good looks into something more vulnerable than sexuality”. Marilyn’s character is in emotional shambles. Sadly, this is an example of art imitating life. At this point in her career, Monroe was considered unstable and a professional liability due to her dependence on drugs. However, despite her considerable obstacles, Marilyn turns in a tragically brilliant performance.   

Ana de Armas, who has gained rave reviews for her portrayal of Monroe in “Blonde”, developed an interesting perspective concerning her subject. She says, “Fame is what made Marilyn the most visible person in the world, but it also made Norma the most invisible”. Six decades after her death, the public continues to distort Monroe’s legacy. While she remains highly recognizable, her contributions as an industry trailblazer are almost never recognized. She is routinely considered a great brand ambassador yet is routinely branded “silly” and “witless”. It is the Monroe façade. But the hard truth is the façade survives because she was always in character.  She once divulged, “I never wanted to be Marilyn – it just happened. Marilyn’s like a veil I wear over Norma Jeane.” Perhaps the problem is that Monroe played the role of Marilyn just a little too well. 

The Personal Style of Marilyn Monroe

The glamorous Marilyn we see on the silver screen and on the red carpet is rather contradictory to the dressed-down Monroe that could be seen trawling bookshops or wandering the streets of New York. But that shouldn’t be surprising. No one wakes up and decides that their day-to-day attire should consist of diamonds, fur and silk… Unless you’re Elizabeth Taylor maybe, but even then I think she liked a day off… But for Marilyn, she much preferred wearing clothing for comfort as opposed to the purpose of creating fashion statements.

Now, Marilyn wore clothes from a TONNE of designers, which, for more detail, I’d recommend purchasing this book – Marilyn In Fashion and today I am going to be going discussing a couple of them but mostly we will be looking at her general taste in clothes that aren’t costumes. This will include formal wear and day-to-day. Please note, I am by no means a fashion writer and you’ll be able to tell.


THE GIRL NEXT DOOR

Marilyn’s personal wardrobe before and during her modelling (and early acting) career was minimal due to her limited budget. However, she made it work. Her “girl-next-door” look was initially crafted, almost by accident, as she began developing a shapely figure before her teens, noticing how people paid attention to her.

One morning both my white blouses were torn, and I would be late for school if I stopped to fix them. I asked one of my “sisters” in the house if she could loan me something to wear. She was my age but smaller. She loaned me a sweater.

I arrived at school just as the math class was starting. As I walked to my seat everyone stared it me as if I had suddenly grown two heads, which in a way I had. They were under my tight sweater.

‘My Story’

Norma Jeane knew what caught people’s eye – cropped patterned blouses, tight sweaters and skirts, cute lace trim dresses, checked capri pants or blue jeans – not so dissimilar to her casual looks in the 1950s.

The soon-to-be-star wore clothes that accentuated her shapely physique usually by displaying her midriff or wearing flattering fabrics that clung around her tiny waist and curvaceous hips all the while being innocently sweet and seemingly pure. This look was desirable, especially for pin-up and magazine photographers, helping her get modelling jobs and soon, an acting career.


“IT GIRL”

1954, divorcing Joe DiMaggio

As she grew from Norma Jeane to Marilyn Monroe so did her style, maturing and growing in sex appeal all the while being understated. The 1950s was Marilyn’s decade in terms of career and fashion. Ahead of her time, Marilyn’s style was both full of elegance and sensuality. While the trend of the decade consisted of full skirts and Peter Pan collars, Marilyn would purchase body-conscious pieces that showed her hourglass shape as well as plenty of her luminous skin. The paradox was, and still is, phenomenal. The plunging necklines of a monochrome dress, for example, really display how she knew to use her body to get people to pay attention, not the clothes themselves.

Atlantic City, 1952

However, despite being a style icon today, Marilyn didn’t enjoy dressing up for fancy get-togethers…

I could never understand why important people are always so eager to dress up and come together to look at eachother.

My Story

This conveys how Marilyn wasn’t interested as much in setting trends as many believe despite being a huge inspiration within the fashion industry.

A perfect example of Marilyn’s effortless but elegant taste is through clear love for a stunning crepe, deep purple, beaded dress designed by Ceil Chapman. Marilyn wore this dress on several occasions including when she performed for troops in Korea in 1954 as well as at a party in October 1952 and at the Redbook Awards in 1953. In 1957, Marilyn even wore a white version of the dress with white gloves… she also had one in black. Needless to say, she loved this design.

Other formal dresses she wore as part of her personal wardrobe included designers such as Charles LeMaire whose suits were adorned with collars that catch the eye either with bows, white ermine trims or wide portrait designs which she would wear at dinners, press events and even on her wedding day to Joe DiMaggio.

As for luxurious fashion items, furs were Marilyn’s go-to. Even after her divorce from Joe DiMaggio, Marilyn still wore the black fur coat he gifted her. She also accessorised basic looks with a brown mink collar, now owned by Scott Fortner.

Of course, she also owned other opulent items such as Ferragamo heels and various designer clothing. However, when you look at Marilyn’s personal, formal wardrobe there are two common threads… simplicity and elegance with little (if any) flair. For Marilyn, it was as if the outfits she was wearing at these events were there simply to elevate her beauty, not be the main focus.

In a 1953 article, entitled “I Dress For Men”, she stated:

I believe your body should make your clothes look good – instead of using clothes to make the body conform to what is considered fashionable at the moment, distorted or not.

But Marilyn’s everyday outfits were very straightforward. Mostly consisting of white, black and beige Marilyn hardly wore anything extravagant. In fact, some of her most beautiful dresses were unlabelled including these lace sundresses. Again, looking at Christie’s ‘The Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe’ auction (linked at end of post) you can see how much Marilyn loved a LBD – timless.

That’s not to say she didn’t try more daring attire from time to time…

As with her looks in the 1940s, Marilyn still loved patterned cropped capri pants and blue jeans. In fact, Marilyn’s favourite thing was to wear jeans:

I have always felt comfortable in blue jeans. I have found it interesting, however, that people also whistle at blue jeans. I have to admit that I like mine to fit. There’s nothing I hate worse than baggy blue jeans.

Modern Screen, July 1952

SWINGING SIXTIES

Photo by George Barris in July, 1962

The neutral colours of Marilyn’s wardrobe switched over in 1961. After a tough couple of years into the new decade, 1961 and 1962 brought a burst of colour to her private wardrobe.

A favourite designer of Marilyn’s was Emilio Pucci, whose bold and patterned designs made him an award-winner and style innovator. According to Susan Strasberg, Marilyn had seen a Pucci and exclaimed “Gee, if it fits on the hanger that well, imagine what it would look like on me!”. She wasn’t wrong. She had been attracted to the “wrinkle-free silk that clung” and it conveyed the new chapter in Marilyn’s life, before her untimely death. It implied she was ready for a fresh start, a clean slate which is why the George Barris photos (where she wears primarily Pucci outfits) are some of my favourites.

Marilyn was seen wearing Pucci repeatedly throughout the last two years of her life, even being buried in a green Pucci dress that she wore in Mexico as well as leaving Polyclinic Hospital in 1961 (she may have more than one). Christie’s in 1999 sold most of Marilyn’s Pucci wardrobe, displaying the items before the auction.

via Pinterest

Famously, Marilyn’s Jean Louis gown which she wore to sing Happy Birthday to the President of the United States was personally chosen by her. Marilyn had asked Jean Louis to design a “historic” gown for the event. Ever the publicity queen Marilyn wanted to turn heads. Berniece Miracle, her half-sister, said, “Jean Louis sketched two possibilities. Both were. form-fitting. One was covered in sequins, the other rhinestones. One dipped to the waist, the other was décolleté.” Marilyn asked Berniece to choose, to which her sister replied, “Well honey, you know which side I think is your best.” Can you get any more simple than the illusion of nudity? And yet it became the most historic and expensive dress of all time. You can read more about it here.

THE UNINTENTIONAL STYLE ICON

Marilyn’s personal day-to-day style, I feel, is far more appealing than the dressed-up glamour girl we are so used to seeing. But Marilyn was no clothes-horse. She wore what she knew looked good and was a pro at crafting her image even if it seemed effortless. That never stopped her from wearing what she was comfortable in. Even if it wasn’t always polished…

Nice socks, sweetie!

Despite a few questionable style choices, there are very few occasions where people dislike Marilyn’s personal style, and for good reason. Just take a look at Christie’s 1999 auction. These items reveal what great taste she had as well as how her style changed between the 1950s and 1960s. It screams timeless. But I guarantee no one could pull those pieces off as Marilyn did. Many of the items she was never photographed in (and may have never worn), which is sad as it shows (in my opinion) that she had intentions for her future. I wonder how she’d feel if she knew what an icon she’d be today!

SOME OF MY FAVOURITE MARILYN LOOKS

What is your favourite Marilyn look?

Marilyn Monroe’s Diet & Workout

Frankly, I’ve never considered my own figure so exceptional; until quite recently, I seldom gave it any thought at all”

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe has one of the most desirable figures in the world. Well, so the internet seems to say, each to their own, right?. Needless to say, Marilyn had a curvaceous, hourglass figure. So, how did she obtain it? First of all, this is by NO MEANS a recommended diet or workout plan, this is for informational purposes only. Every body type is different and reacts in different ways to dietary plans and workout routines. And I personally want to say YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR WEIGHT OR SIZE. Focus on your personal mental and physical health and the rest will follow.


MARILYN’S WEIGHT AND MEASUREMENTS THROUGHOUT THE YEARS

  • 2nd August 1945 – Blue Book Modeling Agency
    120lbs
    36-24-34
  • 1951
    36½-23-34
  • 8th February 1954 – DOD ID Card
    118lbs
  • 1955
    38-23-36
  • May 1962
    Approximately 35½ – 23½ -33¼
  • 5th August 1962 – LA Coroner Medical Report
    117lbs

You can read more about Marilyn’s true size here


“NORMA JEANE HUMAN BEAN”

Growing up, Norma Jeane stood out from her classmates. Naturally, tall and skinny the children at her school nastily nicknamed her “Norma Jeane Human Bean.” A boy in her class also cruelly commented., “I hope someday your legs fill out.”

However, like many girls, Marilyn began developing a shapely figure on the cusp of teenagehood, resulting in getting attention from the opposite sex. She stated, “At twelve I looked like a girl of seventeen. My body was developed and shapely.”

As Marilyn had no money for a new blouse (her others were torn) she wore another girl’s sweater, which was too small. This accentuated Norma Jeane’s natural curves which drew in groups of boys on her way home from school. This attention she thoroughly enjoyed. These famous curves would later be a household name alongside her films, quick-witted personality and ethereal beauty.

By Andre de Dienes, 1945.

1952 DIET AND WORKOUT

When married to James Dougherty and living in Avalon, Norma Jeane was taught how to lift weights a skill she would continue to do for much of her adult life. In 1952 Marilyn was interviewed by Pageant Magazine where she discussed her diet and workouts. She was photographed by both Andre de Dienes and Philippe Halsman using weights in 1952 with De Dienes’s images being used alongside the article.

By Andre De Dienes, 1952

Frankly, I’ve never considered my own figure so exceptional; until quite recently, I seldom gave it any thought at all. My biggest single concern used to be getting enough to eat. Now I have to worry about eating too much. I never used to bother with exercises. Noe I spent at leasy 10 minutes each mornng working out with small weights. I have evolved my own exercises, for the muscles I wish to keep firm, and I know they are right for me because I can feel them putting the proper muscles into play as I exercise.

She Doesn’t Like To Feel Regimented

Exercise. Each morning after I brush my teeth, wash my face and shake off the first deep layer of sleep, I lie down on the floor beside my bed and begin my first exercise. It is a simple bust-firming routine which consists of lifting five-pound weights from a spread-eagle arm position to a point directly above my head. I do this 15 times, slowly. I repeat the exercise another 15 times from a position with my arms above my head. Then, with my arms at a 45-degree angle from the floor, I move my weights in circles until I’m tired. I don’t count rhythmically like the exercise people on the radio; I couldn’t stand exercise if I had to feel regimented about it.

How To Feel Blond All Over

Sports. I have never cared especially for outdoor sports, and have no desire to excel at tennis, swimming, or golf. I’ll leave those things to the men. Despite its great vogue in California, I don’t think sun-tanned skin is any more attractive than white skin, or any healthier, for that matter. I’m personally opposed to a deep tan because I like to feel blond all over. 

By nature, I suppose I have a languorous disposition. I hate to do things in a hurried, tense atmosphere, and it is virtually impossible for me to spring out of bed in the morning. On Sunday, which is my one day of total leisure, I sometimes take two hours to wake up, luxuriating in every last moment of drowsiness. Depending upon my activities, I sleep between five and ten hours every night. I sleep in an extra-wide single bed, and I use only one heavy down comforter over me, summer or winter. I have never been able to wear pajamas or creepy nightgowns; they disturb my sleep.

A Set of Bizarre Eating Habits

Breakfast. I’ve been told that my eating habits are absolutely bizarre, but I don’t think so. Before I take my morning shower, I start warming a cup of milk on the hot plate I keep in my hotel room. When it’s hot, I break two raw eggs into the milk, whip them up with a fork, and drink them while I’m dressing. I supplement this with a multi-vitamin pill, and I doubt if any doctor could recommend a more nourishing breakfast for a working girl in a hurry. 

Dinner. My dinners at home are startlingly simple. Every night I stop at the market near my hotel and pick up a steak, lamb chops or some liver, which I broil in the electric oven in my room. I usually eat four or five raw carrots with my meat, and that is all. I must be part rabbit; I never get bored with raw carrots. 

P.S. It’s a good thing, I suppose, that I eat simply during the day, for in recent months I have developed the habit of stopping off at Wil Wright’s ice cream parlor for a hot fudge sundae on my way home from my evening drama classes. I’m sure that I couldn’t allow myself this indulgence were it not that my normal diet is composed almost totally of protein foods.”

By Andre De Dienes, 1952
By Phiilippe Halsman, 1952

WEIGHT GAIN AND PREGNANCY

In both 1958 and 1960 when Marilyn stepped off the plane to make Some Like It Hot and The Misfits, the press commented on Marilyn’s weight gain.

1958

During the filming of Some Like It Hot, Marilyn was in the early stages of pregnancy so it’s natural she would’ve put on some weight. Nontheless it seems unnecessary to comment on her figure whether she was pregnant or not, and its unfortunate that even today the press comment on figures of both men and women and see weight gain as a negative. Marilyn was also a sufferer of endometriosis which can cause severe bloating. You can read more about endometriosis here.


1000 CALORIE DIET PLAN

In 2016, Marilyn’s personal diet plan, written by Dr Leon Krohn, was sold for $3,437.50.

Although the typed meal plan had been found in a 1958 notebook it is quite likely that it could be from after Marilyn’s 1961 gall bladder surgery where she was required to not eat fatty or rich foods, however, it is undated and unconfirmed.

This Calorie Restricted Diet/ 1000 Calories/ 100 Grams Protein, as stated by Julien’s “presents sound health advice even by today’s standards, recommending the restriction of sugar, fats and carbohydrates to whole wheat and “one small white potato boiled baked or riced” as a substitution for one slice of bread.”

The plan consists of two options for each meal, consisting mostly of fruit, vegetables and meat/fish.


AUGUST 1961

Marilyn was delighted with the fact she had lost an awful lot of weight, effortlessly, on the diet prescribed after the gallbladder operation.

“And all the massages are keeping the body firm,” she said. “As a matter of fact, I think I have a better body than I’ve had since the early days at Fox. If you want to give the diet to any of your friends out here, I would certainly recommend it.”

Then, as if I didn’t know it by heart, she repeated it. “Before each meal, half a grapefruitt. The grapefruit is better than half a glass of the juice , because the bulk helps grind up fat. For breakfast, the whites of four eggs, I poach mine. The whites of eggs are among the highest concentrated protein anywhere – the yellow highest concentrated of fat. A piece of toast. Lunch, a tuna salad with greens and diet dressing. Or, the white meat of chicken or turkey. Dinner, a salad, a small baked potato, and a filet mignon, preferably charcoaled. If I get ravenously hungry mid-afternoon, a few bites of white meat of chicken, a few shrimp. Vary the steak with fish of some kind.

“I never feel the need of stuffing the face withbread, or sweets, and oddly enough, fruit…”

… I thought it’s interesting that in the diet I could pass on to other friends, she neglectede to mention the split of champagne before dinner. I think that’s the main ingredient of any diet – relax.

Mimosa by Ralph Roberts

Along with her diet, Marilyn felt that a huge part of her losing weight was down to receiving regular massages with Ralph. She said to Ralph in September 1961, “Thanks to the diet and to you, I’m sure I could make the best impression for an awfully long spell” before going to a party with Frank Sinatra.


MARCH 1962

Ralph Roberts later comments in the book on how slim she looked in March 1962, ready for Something’s Got To Give.

She removed a loose jacket she was wearing, and displayed her trim, firm body, very slender.

“Having those massages while losing all that blubber sure paid off. I went to the wardrobe at Fox the other day and tried on a dress I wore in “Gentlemen,” and it was a perfect fit everywhere but the waist and a teensy bit loose there. I’m better than I’ve ever been.”


As with all of us, our weight and body change over time. Marilyn was no exception. Marilyn’s diet and routine would change regualrly depending on what was occurring in her life at that time.

As mentioned at the start of this blog post, this article is for information purporses only. I don’t by any means believe you should attempt to follow Marilyn’s diet just because it worked for her and health and diet advice has changed a lot over the years. Please talk to your own doctor or a dietician plus trainer when planning weight loss options.