Marilyn Monroe’s inner circle was a select group of individuals who held a special place in her life, even though the composition of this circle often reflected the complexities of her relationships. While some were tied to her through marriage or employment, the connections they shared with Marilyn were marked by loyalty, honesty, and a range of dynamics that shed light on different facets of her life. Marilyn’s relationships comprised a diverse array of friendships, each contributing to her life’s tapestry. Their individual recollections, when woven together, offer a multi-dimensional portrait of Marilyn Monroe—a woman who navigated fame, creativity, and personal complexities with a select group of individuals who knew her intimately.
MILTON & AMY GREENE
All I did was believe in her. She was a marvelous, loving, wonderful person I don’t think many people understood. – Milton Greene
Milton Greene, a renowned photographer, is often regarded as one of Marilyn’s closest friends. Their friendship began in the early 1950s, and Milton captured many iconic images of Marilyn. While rumours of romantic involvement between them exist (coming from Milton), there is little evidence to support this claim. Considering Marilyn’s relationship with Joe DiMaggio at the time, it seems unlikely that a romantic affair occurred. However, speculation remains.
Milton’s wife, Amy Greene, was also close to Marilyn (another reason an affair seemed unlikely). Their friendship appeared to be amicable, with Marilyn even conducting interviews at their home and living with them for a short time.
Their friendship began to deteriorate, reportedly triggered by Marilyn’s marriage to Arthur Miller. Amy Greene, Milton’s wife, recounts, “Arthur was always jealous of Milton, which is interesting in a way. Arthur had another life. Why should he be jealous?”
The rift in their friendship became more pronounced in 1956 during the filming of The Sleeping Prince. Marilyn felt betrayed by Milton’s growing closeness to Laurence Olivier, with whom she was having difficulties on set. Arthur’s correspondence during 1956 emphasised his desire for control in Marilyn Monroe Productions (MMP) and his belief that Marilyn need not maintain a personal relationship with Milton.
A final photoshoot of Marilyn and Milton occurred in January 1957, coinciding with escalating tensions within MMP. Both Arthur and Milton traded blame for the struggles faced by MMP. Despite the accusations, no substantial evidence implicating Milton was presented. Marilyn found herself torn between her loyalty to her friend and business partner Milton and her husband Arthur, ultimately siding with the latter.
News of Marilyn’s death in 1962 reached Milton while he was in Paris. He held the belief that Marilyn did not intentionally take her own life. Her passing deeply affected him, given the closeness they shared and the unresolved conflicts. It’s regrettable that Milton and Marilyn did not reconnect after her divorce from Arthur, leaving questions about unexplored possibilities.
Can Milton’s account be considered a credible source of information about Marilyn and her life? Pertinent sources do not suggest he had a penchant for sensationalism, apart from unverified claims of a potential affair, which Amy Greene, the primary source of such anecdotes, has not implied.
Although some stories may have surfaced in Milton and Amy’s later years, it’s important to differentiate between sensationalism and plausible accounts. Amy herself has contradicted several claims on camera that have been made in books.
Allan “Whitey” Snyder shared a profound friendship with Marilyn spanning over a decade. He first worked on her makeup for her 1946 screen test, maintaining this role until 1962. This enduring partnership stood out as one of the few stable relationships in Marilyn’s life.
Their connection was marked by its sweetness and depth. Beyond their professional collaboration, Marilyn entrusted and confided in Whitey. She even reportedly asked him to do her funeral makeup in case she passed away before he did, to which he responded with a playful remark, “Sure, drop off the body whilst it’s still warm.”
Marilyn’s sense of humour shone through in a gift she bestowed upon Whitey – a gold money clip engraved with the words, “Whitey Dear, While I’m still warm, Marilyn.” This whimsical gesture culminated in the sale of the clip for over $21,000.
While their bond was strong, it’s worth noting that Whitey wrote the foreword for Robert Slatzer’s controversial book, raising questions about his honesty. He also made contentious claims about Marilyn’s alleged “affair” with Slatzer which has since been proven to be false.
Synder wrote: “Quite often while I was making her up she would tell me Bob sent me his best or mention that they had just talked on the phone or even tell me about a date she had with him that night…In my opinion, she always loved him very much.”
Despite these complexities, he was among the few individuals who could provide insight into Marilyn’s mental state during her final weeks, given their enduring connection. In the time leading up to her passing, he remarked, “Since her divorce from Arthur Miller, she’s been in her best condition for a long time. She’s happy!”
Whitey Snyder’s role extended beyond friendship; he served as both a pallbearer at Marilyn’s funeral and her makeup artist, fulfilling his promise to her. It is unfortunate however that he promoted a false relationship with someone who caused Marilyn much grief in her life (and death) with his lies.
During Marilyn’s filming of Let’s Make Love in 1959, Ralph Roberts stepped in as a reliable friend, often coming to her aid during the late hours of the night or early morning. He began providing her with massages to alleviate tension and insomnia, forming a close bond with her.
Their friendship provided Marilyn a safe space to discuss a variety of topics, from relationships and politics to her body, movies, and acting. Ralph’s presence became a source of comfort, and his significance in her life extended to a minor role in The Misfits as the ambulance driver who tends to Montgomery Clift in the rodeo scene.
After Marilyn’s passing, Ralph penned a memoir titled Mimosa chronicling their deep friendship. Despite his efforts, the memoir struggled to find a publisher due to its lack of sensational content. Eventually, excerpts from Mimosa were shared on a family website following Ralph’s own demise. In November 2021, the story of their profound friendship was finally released to the public.
In the realm of Marilyn’s associates, Ralph and Whitey stand out as trustworthy voices. Their testimonies offer insights into a side of Marilyn that many never got to see. In a circle where many remain silent, they emerge as figures whose accounts can be relied upon to provide a genuine understanding of Marilyn’s life and character.
Sidney Skolsky, a gossip columnist and friend of Marilyn since her rise to stardom, walked a fine line between journalism and friendship.
While his profession often involved creating stories, Marilyn may have understood the nature of their friendship and the potential publicity benefits it could bring.
Therefore, it’s important to approach Skolsky’s accounts with caution and cross-reference his claims with other reliable sources. While some of his articles and gossip snippets may be harmless, it’s necessary to discern between verifiable interviews and potentially fabricated narratives.
She was a difficult woman, you know. We liked her and we said the nicest things about her and she deserved them; but, she was trouble and she brought that whole baggage of emotional difficulties of her childhood with her. – Norman Rosten
Norman Rosten, a poet and playwright, was friends with both Marilyn and Arthur Miller. Marilyn met Rosten in 1955 and even vacationed with him and his family, wrote to him regularly and entrusted him with her poetry.
His long-standing relationship with Marilyn allowed him to witness aspects of her life beyond the glamour of stardom. Rosten’s firsthand knowledge and close friendship with Marilyn make him a credible source for understanding her personal struggles and aspirations as stated in his book Marilyn: An Untold Story.
His observations, along with other reliable accounts, provide valuable insights into the complex woman behind the public image. Rosten remained loyal to Marilyn commenting on the callousness of After the Fall by Arthur Miller as well as stating that Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio “should have had the happily ever after among her three marriages.”
Rosten even wrote some poems about Marilyn after her passing.
At the core of her, she was really strong… and that was something we tended to forget, because she seemed so vulnerable, and one always felt it necessary to watch out for her. – Pat Newcomb
Pat Newcomb, who briefly worked as Marilyn’s publicist during the filming of Bus Stop, and then again in the 1960s, developed a close friendship with her.
Pat supported Marilyn during difficult times, including her divorce from Arthur Miller. Her frankness and honesty about Marilyn’s well-being, as well as her emotional outburst upon hearing of Marilyn’s death, highlight the depth of their friendship.
While Pat has remained private about their relationship, her genuine concern for Marilyn’s well-being reinforces her reliability as a source.
“It’s my feeling that Marilyn looked forward to her tomorrows.” – Eunice Murray
Eunice Murray, hired as Marilyn’s housekeeper in 1961 by Ralph Greenson, is a more complex figure within Marilyn’s inner circle.
While she may have had insights into Marilyn’s daily life, her conflicting statements and lack of consistency regarding Marilyn’s death raise doubts about her reliability. Murray’s devotion to Dr. Ralph Greenson, coupled with her personal insecurities, may have influenced her recollections.
It’s widely believed that Marilyn was considering relieving Murray from her duties on the day she passed away, along with Greenson. This has led to speculation that they might have been involved in her death. However, the idea of orchestrating a murder to retain employment seems counterintuitive and unlikely as an act of revenge. A more plausible scenario is that Murray’s desire to travel during the summer prompted Marilyn to dismiss her, accompanied by a financial settlement. There are indications that Marilyn was intentionally creating some distance from those she had relied upon, and it’s possible that Greenson’s attempts to dissuade her earlier in the day could have triggered her emotional state. Yet, the exact details remain enigmatic and open to speculation.
It’s important to approach her statements with caution and consider the inconsistencies when evaluating her credibility.
“Marilyn certainly had a sense of humour. I subsequently followed Marilyn around for days, interviewing her and taking photos. She was great to work with.” – George Barris
George Barris stands as an enduring presence in Marilyn’s life, credited as a close friend and collaborator. Their connection is palpable in the photographs they created together, capturing Marilyn’s essence and allure. Barris’s lens documented Marilyn leaning out of a brownstone window on 61st Street in Manhattan, a chance encounter that blossomed into a series of iconic images. He recounts his initial glimpse of Marilyn from behind, an unexpected click of the camera’s shutters, and the ensuing laughter that broke the ice between them.
While Barris is renowned for photographing Marilyn in 1954 and 1962, the scope of their relationship is marked by these significant moments. He captured Marilyn’s last professional photographs before her passing, a testament to their bond. Barris and Marilyn shared aspirations of writing a book together, a project thwarted by her untimely death. Despite this, Barris carried on and eventually authored the book himself in 1995 with many of the excerpts being released just after she had passed.
The authenticity of their rapport is reflected in Barris’s presence at Marilyn’s funeral, a testament to the depth of their connection. However, it’s worth noting that personal perspectives, like that of Barris’s daughter Caroline, might colour the narrative. Barris has also made various claims about how Marilyn died and made offensive and prejudiced comments about Italians (namely Joe DiMaggio). This dimension of subjectivity should be acknowledged when interpreting their relationship.
“My only protection in the world is Marilyn Monroe. I created this girl – I fought for her… Her faith and security are mine.” – Natasha Lytess
Natasha Lytess played a pivotal role in Marilyn’s life, serving as her acting coach from 1948 for a span of seven years. This association saw Marilyn honing her craft and evolving into the iconic actress she became. Natasha’s perspective on their relationship reflects both admiration and complexity.
Natasha’s accounts depict her instrumental contribution to Marilyn’s success, underscored by a sense of ownership over Marilyn’s talents. However, their relationship eventually frayed, driven by Marilyn’s decision to sever ties due to Natasha’s intent to publish a book about her. Despite this, Marilyn retained a semblance of decorum when speaking about Natasha in subsequent interactions.
Natasha’s portrayal of their relationship, at times infused with bitterness and even the claim of romantic involvement, demands a discerning approach. Marilyn’s own declarations about her sexual orientation cast doubt on this aspect. Natasha’s self-promotion and self-centeredness further colour her perspective.
LEE AND PAULA STRASBERG
“She can call up emotionally what is required for a scene. Her range is infinite.” – Lee Strasberg
The influence of Lee and Paula Strasberg on Marilyn’s life cannot be understated. Marilyn’s enrollment at the Actor’s Studio marked the beginning of a significant chapter in her career, placing her under the tutelage of these esteemed acting coaches. Lee’s observation of Marilyn’s depth as an actress and her ability to embody the emotional complexities of a scene speaks to the impact of their training.
The Strasbergs, especially Paula, became integral to Marilyn’s life, extending beyond mentorship to friendship. The dynamic, however, raises questions about professional boundaries as Paula often took precedence over directors on set. Their connection was further reinforced by their daughter Susan, who considered herself akin to Marilyn’s sister.
Despite their role in shaping Marilyn’s performances, their involvement in her personal life prompts reflection on potential exploitation. The Strasbergs’ prominence in Marilyn’s life is evident in their status as primary beneficiaries in her will, underscoring the depth of their connection.
“I could never talk about her. Never.” – Joe DiMaggio
Joe DiMaggio’s relationship with Marilyn Monroe spanned through tumultuous phases, reflecting the complexities of love in the spotlight. Their journey began in 1952 when they crossed paths and embarked on a two-year courtship, culminating in their marriage in 1954. Yet, the all-consuming glare of Marilyn’s skyrocketing fame cast shadows on their union, leading to their divorce by October of the same year.
Their intertwined lives saw periods of distance, with Joe’s baseball career and Marilyn’s cinematic ascension often at odds with the tranquillity they sought. A significant shift emerged in 1955 when Marilyn crossed paths with playwright Arthur Miller, sparking an affair that reshaped the landscape of her heart. The subsequent divorce from Miller in 1961 marked a pivotal juncture, as Joe and Marilyn’s friendship rekindled.
Publicly, Marilyn denied any romantic involvement with Joe, asserting that they were mere friends. However, Joe’s steadfast devotion to her remained unswayed. He proved a pillar of strength during her challenges, playing a pivotal role in her release from Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic. His unwavering commitment extended to facilitating her transition to a new home in Los Angeles, a testament to their unique bond.
In a heartrending twist, it was Joe who orchestrated Marilyn’s final farewell, at the behest of her half-sister Berniece Miracle. The depth of his love and respect for Marilyn was evident in his silent dedication to her memory after her passing. His discretion and reluctance to share intimate details with the public stand as a tribute to the intimacy they shared, upholding the sanctity of their connection.
The letters exchanged between Marilyn and Joe offer an unfiltered view of their relationship, untarnished by sensationalism. These private exchanges offer a poignant glimpse into their emotions, reinforcing the genuineness of their feelings. Through his actions and the candid insights found in their letters, Joe’s commitment to Marilyn emerges as a profound testimony to their enduring bond.
You can read more about Joe and Marilyn’s relationship here
Arthur Miller and Marilyn’s relationship was marked by an encounter laden with passion and heartache. Their meeting, documented through Miller’s recollections and interviews, unfolded against a backdrop of Marilyn’s tears—a poignant response likely triggered by the recent passing of her agent, Johnny Hyde, in December 1950.
There are photographs of Marilyn engrossed in Miller’s literary works, and her public admiration for him was evident in interviews. Sidney Skolsky, a columnist and close associate of Marilyn, recounted her proclamation that she could envision herself marrying Miller someday.
Their relationship progressed while Miller was married to his long-time partner Mary Slattery, leading to a complex affair. The delicate balance of their relationship came into focus as it weathered challenges, ultimately leading to their engagement and subsequent marriage in 1956. However, like many unions, theirs encountered obstacles—such as the loss of their two unborn children, Marilyn’s addiction to prescription drugs, Arthur’s career struggles and Marilyn’s affair with co-star Yves Montand eventually leading to a divorce in November 1960.
Their relationship’s dynamics were noted by Ralph Roberts, who revealed Marilyn’s declaration of being done with Miller towards the end of filming The Misfits, punctuated by a vehement instruction from Arthur to leave. Miller’s later marriage to photographer Inge Morath followed, adding another layer to the complexities and a possible struggle for Marilyn’s already weakened mental state.
Critique of Arthur’s conduct after Marilyn’s passing sparks a spirited debate among fans. As a writer, Miller infused his words with romanticism and poetry, yet the play After the Fall, written during their marriage and released posthumously, drew both praise and criticism. Depicting characters with echoes of their relationship, ignited discussions about artistic expression versus taste.
Perceptions of Arthur’s trustworthiness oscillate, influenced by his writer role and connection to Marilyn. Through his letters, shades of jealousy and control emerged, underlining the intricate layers of their bond. As both wrestled with self-esteem, their journey remains an intimate narrative documented through their letters, shedding light on their vulnerabilities.
In 1944, prior to her transformation into the iconic Marilyn Monroe, Norma Jeane first encountered her estranged half-sister, Berniece Miracle. Their meeting happened before Norma Jeane’s rapid rise to fame, and this encounter remained memorable, bridging the gap between their distinct life paths.
Over the years, their connection remained unbroken. In 1961, following Marilyn’s divorce from Arthur Miller and her cholecystectomy surgery, Berniece paid a visit to Marilyn’s residence in New York. This reunion held deep significance, showcasing the enduring strength of their bond.
Tragedy struck the subsequent year with Marilyn’s untimely passing. In her final will, Marilyn left Berniece £10,000, a testament to the lasting affection between them. Alongside Joe DiMaggio, Marilyn’s second husband, and Inez Melson, her business manager, Berniece played a pivotal role in arranging Marilyn’s funeral, underscoring the depth of their connection.
In an interview with ina.fr, Berniece shared her doubts about Marilyn’s death being a suicide. Recalling their last conversation, she revealed Marilyn’s excitement about her upcoming plans. Berniece recounted Marilyn’s enthusiasm for her new house and her involvement in designing curtains, highlighting her sense of anticipation and happiness.
To immortalize their unique relationship and shed light on their intertwined lives, Berniece collaborated with her daughter, Mona, to co-author My Sister Marilyn: A Memoir of Marilyn Monroe. Published on 1st June 1994—Marilyn’s birthday—this poignant memoir chronicled their rare shared moments. The book delved into not only their personal relationship but also the difficulties they faced due to their mother’s mental health struggles.
Within the pages of the memoir, readers gain insight into their shared upbringing marked by the absence of a stable maternal figure. Berniece and Marilyn found strength in each other, navigating life’s challenges through unwavering support.
Accompanied by a collection of exclusive photographs, My Sister Marilyn garnered accolades from critics, including Entertainment Weekly, which praised it as an invaluable portrayal of Marilyn. It remains the sole authorised biography of Marilyn’s family. Nevertheless, it’s important to acknowledge that the passage of time may have introduced minor inaccuracies in the recollections documented in the book.
Despite maintaining a low profile, Berniece led a diverse professional life, serving as a manufacturing inspector, bookkeeper, and costume designer. Her existence was marked by unassuming dedication, rather than the pursuit of public attention. Tragically, Berniece passed away in Asheville, North Carolina, on 25 May 2014, at the age of 94, marking the end of a life characterised by a unique bond that transcended the challenges of fame and adversity.