Marilyn Monroe’s rise to stardom has often been clouded by speculation surrounding her involvement in the notorious casting couch system prevalent in Hollywood. However, by examining her own words and the circumstances of her career, we can gain a clearer understanding of her determination and hard work that propelled her to success.
Contrary to popular belief, Marilyn Monroe vehemently rejected the notion of using her body to advance her career. In her ghost-written biography, My Story, she candidly expressed her refusal to succumb to the pressures of the industry. She boldly stated, “The only acting I’ll do is for the camera.”
Pursuit of Craft
Marilyn Monroe’s journey to becoming a talented actress was marked by relentless effort and a thirst for improvement. She recognised her limitations and actively sought opportunities to enhance her skills. Taking several classes in dance, singing, and acting, she dedicated herself to honing her craft. She stated, “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 the ability to act.”
During her tenure at Fox in the late 1940s, Marilyn seized the opportunity to immerse herself in the world of acting. She attended The Actors Laboratory, where she encountered stage writers and directors from Broadway, exposing herself to diverse perspectives and methodologies. Her interest in Method Acting further exemplified her dedication to her profession. She actively engaged in study and theatre groups, continuously refining her skills.
The Power of Networking
While Marilyn Monroe wasn’t particularly fond of social events and parties, she recognised the significance of networking in Hollywood. Attending various public events and studio parties, she took advantage of these opportunities to connect with influential figures in the industry. She stated, “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.”
Rumours and speculation surrounding Marilyn’s relationships with influential figures in Hollywood persist to this day. However, both Marilyn Monroe and Joe Schenck vehemently denied any romantic involvement. Marilyn stated, “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.” Schenck himself said, “No, I never had any romantic thoughts about Marilyn, and she never had any thoughts about me.”
Johnny Hyde: A Different Dynamic
Marilyn Monroe’s relationship with Hollywood agent Johnny Hyde was unique but should not be misconstrued as part of the casting couch system. Hyde provided her with guidance, connections, and security, but it was Marilyn’s talent and hard work that ultimately propelled her career forward. Her true ascent to stardom occurred after Hyde’s passing, further highlighting her individual determination and the merit of her abilities.
The story of Marilyn Monroe challenges the pervasive notion that her success was solely a result of the casting couch system. Through her own words and the evidence of her tireless efforts, we see a woman who refused to compromise her principles and relied on her talent and hard work to forge her path. Marilyn Monroe’s legacy as an iconic figure in Hollywood is a testament to her perseverance, shrewdness, and unwavering commitment to her craft.