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.” 

 

Why We Love Marilyn Monroe

She’s beautiful. She’s sexy. But why does Marilyn Monroe still draw so many people to her, despite passing away almost 60 years ago? Here are 30 reasons why Marilyn fans love Marilyn Monroe:

  1. Marilyn worked hard for her craft, especially earlier on in her career. She studied acting, speech, dance and singing to try and increase her chances of getting movie roles.

  2. Marilyn proved that a girl from a poorer background with an unstable family can star in some of the biggest movies in the world and be known as a legend.

  3. Marilyn was open about her sexual abuse as a child. She spoke about it in My Story saying she discovered sexual contact when she was nine to a man called Mr Kimmel.

  4. Her book collection displayed her desire to learn, her passion for literature, art and history – something which people don’t expect from a sex symbol.

  5. Looks in other men weren’t important to her. She married Joe DiMaggio, a world-famous baseball star and playwright Arthur Miller, not. exactly heartthrobs like James Dean or Marlon Brando (although she did temporarily date Brando).

  6. Marilyn loved animals. It is said that when she was married to her first husband, Jim Dougherty, she wanted to bring a cow into the house because it was stuck outside in the rain.

  7. She wasn’t afraid to break the rules, embrace her body and her sex appeal. Marilyn wore clothes that were not the “norm” for women in the 1950s. Her plunging, tight gowns had much of Hollywood in horror but also encouraged women to be more open about their bodies.

  8. Marilyn wasn’t afraid of telling the truth. For example, when it was discovered she posed nude in the 1940s for a calendar, the studio wanted her to deny that she was the one in the photos. But she didn’t lie, she embraced it.

  9. Marilyn loved children and desperately wanted her own but unfortunately, she suffered from an ectopic pregnancy and miscarriages leaving her childless. She worked with various charities involving children and when she went to an orphanage in Mexico she donated $10,000.

  10. She was very generous. Marilyn’s friends often commented on how Marilyn would buy them gifts despite not having much money. If they commented that they liked something it would most likely be delivered to their door the next day.

  11. Marilyn didn’t talk badly about others. Even when she was angry at her studio after she was fired in 1962, she didn’t mention any names.

  12. Marilyn stood her ground. When filming the Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, she questioned why she was not given a dressing room considering she was “the blonde.” She wasn’t going to be walked over.

  13. She had the courage to stand up to the studio and made her own production company to ensure she wouldn’t be typecast in “dumb blonde” roles.

  14. She saw the best in people and forgave those for their wrongdoing (with the exception of a few). Seven years after her divorce from Joe DiMaggio, he had her released from Payne Whitney after she was wrongly institutionalised. Marilyn spent a lot of time with Joe before her death meaning she put all bad feelings aside.

  15. It was easy for Marilyn to talk about equal rights at a time when it was still a subject of taboo, whether it be sexuality or race. She was also very happy to socialise publicity with people of colour and those from the LGBT community.

    “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.” – Marilyn to Journalist W.J. Weatherby on friend and co-star Montgomery Clift in 1960 recorded in Conversations With Marilyn.

    “I think you’ve got to love people, all kinds of people, to be able to have an opinion about them that’s worth anything. The whole idea of judging people is crazy. We do what we have to do, and we pay for it. We’re no better than we have to be. We can try to be better, and part of trying is not to condemn other people.” – Marilyn to Journalist W.J. Weatherby in 1960 recorded in Conversations With Marilyn.

  16. Marilyn knew what worked and what didn’t in the makeup and fashion department. She had many beauty techniques, doing things that made her stand out from the crowd.

  17. She was a feminist. Check out this book by Michelle Morgan [x]

  18. Marilyn truly cared about her career and wanted to do well at it. She wouldn’t give up just because there were those who doubted her ability or talent.

  19. She always believed in being true to herself.

    “I believe in myself, even my most delicate, intangible feelings.” – from a handwritten note.

  20. She wasn’t ashamed of her insecurities or anxiety. In fact, she wanted to overcome them and better herself.

  21. Marilyn appreciated and loved her fans.

    “And I want to say to the people, if I am a star, the people made me a star. No studio, no person, but the people did.” – Marilyn to Richard Meryman, 1962.

  22. Material possessions weren’t important to her. Marilyn didn’t own lavish gowns (they were often borrowed from the studio and worn on several occasions) or jewels or large homes. She was very modest in her decorating and lifestyle. In fact, when she died she had only a few thousand dollars, not much for the world’s largest movie star.

  23. She was a great comedy actress as well as a dramatic actress.

    “She was an absolute genius as a comedic actress, with an extraordinary sense for comedic dialogue. It was a God-given gift. Believe me, in the last fifteen years there were ten projects that came to me, and I’d start working on them and I’d think, ‘It’s not going to work, it needs Marilyn Monroe.’ Nobody else is in that orbit; everyone else is earthbound by comparison.” – Billy Wilder

  24. Marilyn didn’t sleep her way to fame (if she had she would’ve made more money, a lot faster). She spent time with men who would be able to further her career via networking, and she spent time with them so she would be fed as she had no money to live on. This is why she posed nude in 1949, so she could get her car to travel to work (the shoot had the photographer’s wife present).

    “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 in My Story

  25. She was witty! This is one of my favourite moments [x]

  26. Marilyn wasn’t afraid to dress down or go without makeup in public. She was very down to earth and not as vain as some make-out.

  27. Her laugh was sweet, her smile radiant and her heart warm.

  28. She believed in respecting others.

    “Respect is one of life’s greatest treasures.” – Marilyn to George Barris, 1962.

  29. Marilyn knew exactly how to get the attention of those around her. She studied body language and movement and was able to switch it on as soon as she had to become the Marilyn Monroe that people expected to see.

  30. She wanted to be surrounded by intellectuals, not Hollywood stars. Her friends and associates were acting coach Lee Strasberg, poet Carl Sandburg, husband and playwright Arthur Miller and author Truman Capote.

Marilyn was more than just an image, she was a person. A human being who worked hard and suffered for her art. Why do you love Marilyn?

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.

5 Things I DISLIKE About Marilyn

They say “love is blind” and I feel this doesn’t stop with romantic relationships. Family, friends and even dead celebrities… And believe me, I LOVE Marilyn. But she was by no means perfect. It’s slightly delusional to think she was an angel. But, I also think this is something many people actually like about her because it makes her relatable. More human if you will. But what is it about Marilyn Monroe that I dislike? What actions did she or didn’t she take that make me have some judgemental feelings towards her?

A quick disclaimer… I don’t completely feel like these events/qualities are ALL Marilyn’s fault and I will defend her on these points too, even if I don’t 100% agree. Read until the end before making comment on these “judgements”

Trigger warnings apply.


HER DEPENDENCE ON THE WRONG PEOPLE

Throughout Marilyn’s life, she had been let down by the people she loved the most. Her father, mother, grandparents, foster families… The list goes on. She clearly found it hard to maintain certain relationships and whenever true love, commitment and dedication reared their beautiful head Marilyn gripped it with both hands. And I don’t blame her. But I also feel this was her downfall.

My first issue with certain people is that she was PAYING them to be there for her. If she wasn’t paying them would they still have been as attentive? Maybe it was “stress tax”. More often than not they were paid the same (if not more) than she was.

In the early 1950s, Natasha Lytess was making more money than Marilyn was, earning $750 a week. There’s even a cancelled cheque made out to Paula Strasberg in 1960 for $10,000. In 1956, during the filming of The Prince and The Showgirl Marilyn insisted Paula be present. Lee Strasberg required that Paula receive $25,000 for ten weeks of work. She was ultimately paid $38,000 with Marilyn reducing her own salary in order to pay her.

Obviously, Marilyn had friends who were also her colleagues/employees such as Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder and Ralph Roberts but they were paid for the services they delivered. But they weren’t paid to be around Marilyn and guide her in every life and career choice.

Not to mention they gave her little space to breathe… I feel this created more anxiety in her. I feel Marilyn was so desperate for emotional security that she was happy to literally PAY for it and let lines be crossed in the meantime.

For example, Lee and Paula Strasberg were her acting coaches. They were paid extraordinary sums (as shown above) to be with Marilyn on set although it created immense tension with the rest of her colleagues. Marilyn was willing to risk that. She’d dine and stay at their home. She was treated like a second daughter to them which must have been hard on their ACTUAL children. Let’s not forget they encouraged psychoanalysis which resulted in her taking prescription drugs… More on that later.

Another example was her psychoanalyst Ralph Greenson who saw or spoke to Marilyn several times a day. But this was not for social visits. It was paid work. Of course, it must have been hard on Greenson and his family to constantly live the life of Marilyn’s therapist but they still had her stay and dine in their home too. Marilyn depended on their sessions as well as the coaching of Paula and Lee Strasberg. Seeing the therapist and taking acting lessons with Lee and Paula brought up a lot of emotions for her, leading to the medication she would be prescribed.


NOT GIVING UP MEDS & DRINKING WHEN PREGNANT

When I fell pregnant there was no question I was going to give up the medication that could have caused harm to my baby. This is why I find it shocking that Marilyn didn’t despite being warned by her own Doctor.

By 1958, Marilyn was heavily dependent on her medication which at that time consisted of barbiturates.

According to Donald Spoto’s biography: “Both for sleep and as a tranquillizer, she had been taking Amytal, a brand name of the barbiturate amobarbital, and now she guiltily recalled Leon Krohn’s warning, as she wrote the Rostens: “Could I have killed it by taking all the Amytal on an empty stomach?  I took some sherry wine also.”  For weeks she was inconsolable, convinced that the drug abuse she now freely admitted had caused the spontaneous abortion.”

Dr Leon Krohn stated, “She often told me how she longed for a child, but I cautioned her that she would kill a baby with the drink and the pills—the effects of those barbiturates accumulated, I told her, and it would be impossible to predict when just one drink will then precipitate a spontaneous abortion.”

I feel, based on losing her baby in 1957, this was a careless error. One that, I am sure, hurt her immeasurably. But this is the sad tale of addiction and the naivety that it may not happen to you. I’m sure she didn’t feel she would be putting the baby at any risk. But it was and is not a risk ever worth taking. And I feel a huge deal of sadness for Marilyn. How much blame she must have put on herself when she lost that second child is inconceivable and possibly caused a huge amount of strain on her mental health and marriage with Arthur.

Edit: I have had my head bitten off for this one… But at the end of the day, Marilyn was told to stop at the risk of losing the baby. And she didn’t. There was a miscarriage scare and she was told it was nothing. But then it did happen. This isn’t an attack on Marilyn. It’s an attack on addiction. Those are the horrible and unfortunate facts that poor Marilyn and Arthur had to face. Whether the medication and occasional drink actually played a part in her losing the baby, I don’t know, but the early months of pregnancy are the riskiest and therefore it is a sad fact that Marilyn’s medication dependency took over.


APPARENT LACK OF CONSIDERATION FOR OTHERS

Marilyn arrived hours late for the inauguration of the Time-Life building in NY, 1957.

Connected with her dependence on others, I feel that Marilyn being late to appointments and shutting herself away was her way of having some control.

Did she sit and cry in front of the mirror attempting to “become her”? I doubt it. That’s a romantic tale from the likes of Truman Capote (a known fantasist). She suffered from anxiety and I doubt Marilyn shutting herself away and being hours late for an appointment was about trying to turn on the Monroe-isms. But I don’t think her anxiety about appearing in front of others was totally the issue here.

I feel that although her tardiness was incredibly rude and her lack of real explanation was inconsiderate, it’s clear she wanted some say on when “the people” would get to see her. And it was HER say, not theirs. For this, I do not blame her. She even discussed her tardiness stating, “I am invariably late for appointments – sometimes as much as two hours. I’ve tried to change my ways but the things that make me late are too strong and too pleasing.” Marilyn did things for herself including taking her time getting ready or having long baths to help her relax.

Sadly, this would not be understood by her fellow cast and crew giving her an incredibly negative reputation, even resulting in her being fired in 1962.

Marilyn became infamous for her lateness, hence her introduction by Peter Lawford at the Madison Square Garden, “the late Marilyn Monroe.” Ironically, she had been on time and her coming on the stage late was planned.


HER AFFAIR

No matter what, if a relationship is not going well, being unfaithful is not the answer. It’s unfair to all parties, especially those who are being cheated on.

I get that she felt distanced from Arthur, especially after losing the babies and him writing all the time (it was his job after all) and whatever other troubles they were facing, those we may never entirely know. However, Marilyn’s response to an affair with Yves Montand during Let’s Make Love was not the way to deal with her marital issues.

We cannot analyse relationships we aren’t a part of but I don’t think cheating on your partner will fix much. If anything, it’s a cry for help and the marriage should’ve ended the moment she considered sleeping with a married man. The same goes for Yves.


OVEREXAGGERATING AND CREATING PITY

Marilyn’s tales of woe begin with chatting about her childhood and how she lived the life of Oliver Twist. A poor girl, whose mother died and she was whisked away to an orphanage where she was forced to clean, wistfully looking out at the RKO Studio water tower dreaming of her future.

But this isn’t exactly true.

Marilyn was not forced to clean toilets or wash one hundred dishes at the orphanage. Her mother wasn’t dead. She told stories about her mother being deceased, but really she didn’t want the world to know her mother was mentally ill. The truth is Marilyn was both great at publicity as well as being immensely private. And yes, most of her childhood was unprivileged and unstable but it wasn’t as horrific as many others. She was not the only celebrity to have a difficult upbringing but some fans act as if she was.

Other white lies Marilyn told include:

  • She did not find her childhood piano in an auction house during her modelling days as told in My Story. She bought it back from Aunt Ana who originally purchased it from Grace when Gladys went to the hospital.
  • That she was going to focus on her marriage and not so much on her career when she married Joe DiMaggio. He quit his job as a sports commentator as it was believed that they would have. quieter life but Marilyn was just as busy as ever.
  • Marilyn said in 1956 that she had never seen Joe DiMaggio play baseball however there are photographs of Marilyn at a charity game in March 1952 where he played.
  • She made out that she lived with strangers throughout her childhood however most of the people knew Grace or Gladys and cared for her the best they knew how.
  • That she was not in a relationship with Arthur in February 1956. However, letters from April and May 1956 show their relationship wasn’t anything new…

Do I blame Marilyn for these very natural and human qualities that she possessed? Not at all. We all make mistakes and as Osgood says, “Nobody’s perfect.”

Marilyn had her troubles and very valid reasons for her negative characteristics. They were shaped and brought on by her personal experiences and outside influences. This is something I have learnt to accept in many people… And I am still learning too. That perhaps there is a reason behind the actions people take, whether we agree with them or not. Empathy and compassion are important traits I feel we need more as a society but definitely not to the point of delusion where we accept people’s bad behaviour. There is a fine line. And I feel it is important to recognise what we don’t like about the people we love so we can look deeper at what makes them act in a certain way, thus creating sympathy when and where it is deserved.

What I Would’ve Bought At Christie’s in 1999

I’ve been asked a few times “what item of Marilyn’s would you like to own?” so I had a flick through the 1999 Christie’s catalogue and decided to share my top 5 items. This is if I was a millionaire, which I am not… A girl can dream.

WHITE BABY GRAND PIANO

In 1933, Marilyn’s mother Gladys purchased a property for her and her daughter in order to provide stable family life for the two of them. It was at this time she also purchased a Franklin Baby Grand Piano.

Unfortunately, in 1935 Gladys had to sell the property as well as the piano to pay off existing debts.

How Marilyn got back the piano after Gladys sold it is foggy… According to My Story, Marilyn found the piano at an auction house and paid for it with her modelling money. But documents show that in 1945, Norma Jeane sold the piano to Ana Lower for $100. When she took ownership of it again, I don’t know for certain.

She is first photographed with her piano in 1953. Whether this the actually one from her childhood cannot be verified and we can only go by Marilyn’s accounts.

EDIT: My dear friend April clarified a few points. Gladys never sold the piano… It was Grace. Who then sold it to Ana. Then Norma Jeane bought it back from Ana. I had always misread the document!

Marilyn had the piano painted between 1953 and 1958, likely in 1954 based on when she was interviewed for My Story. An item from her childhood (even if it’s not the EXACT same one) is a beautiful sentiment. It’s Marilyn’s connection to her beginning, her past and was clearly something very important to her.

Price realised USD 662,500

Estimate USD 10,000 – USD 15,000


HANDWRITTEN POEM

A Sorry Song, no place, no date. The poem reads:

I’ve got a tear hanging over
my beer (?) that I can’t let go

it too bad
I feel sad
when I got all my life behind me

if I had a little relief
from this grief
then
I could find a growing
stare (?) to hold on to

A poem, written with her own hand is an incredibly personal item and provides a true connection to her creativity and mind.

Price realised USD 36,800

Estimate USD 6,000 – USD 8,000


ETERNITY BAND

When Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio first got married the platinum band, set with thirty-five baguette-cut diamonds was not her wedding ring. The original ring photographed on their wedding day and throughout their Asia trip had belonged to Joe’s mother, Rosalia, who died in 1951. The eternity band Marilyn wore from that point on, up until their divorce, is first seen in April 1954, three months after the wedding.

January 1954
April 1954

The fact that Marilyn kept this ring, as well as other items related to Joe, shows her continued respect and love for him all the way up until she died. Not only is the ring beautiful, but it displays the special relationship between the couple even after they were divorced.

Price realised USD 772,500

Estimate USD 30,000 – USD 50,000


BLACK COCKTAIL DRESS & COAT

This black cocktail dress was worn by Marilyn in the 1960 film Let’s Make Love. The sleeveless dress was constructed with a bodice of coffee-coloured chiffon, embroidered with black scrolling foliage and a matching cropped jacket. She also wore it to the 1959 ceremony for the presentation of her David Di Donatello Award at the Italian Consulate in New York, at a luncheon for Nikita Khrushchev as well as during hair and make-up tests for Something’s Got To Give in 1962.

In September 1961, she was going to have the dress sent over from her apartment in New York to LA for a party she was attending with Frank Sinatra. Instead, she purchased and wore the Norman Norell mermaid dress she later wore at the Golden Globes in 1962.

I love the simplicity of the dress and it was clearly a favourite of Marilyn’s. I was definitely torn between this dress and some of her Pucci items, as well as the JFK gala dress but I absolutely adore this outfit and the gala dress would’ve been too easy a choice!

Price realised USD 79,500

Estimate USD 20,000 – USD 30,000


MAKE UP CASE

One of the most iconic and recognisable qualities of Marilyn was her make-up and, of course, beauty. Everyone wants to know her secrets. So, to be able to own some of those tools and products would be nothing short of incredible. The black case with five metal drawers contained an assortment of make-up comprising:

  • Three lipsticks by Max Factor labelled LS/7-22/N.I.
  • One highlighter and two Elizabeth Arden cream eyeshadows in gold-tone tubes named “Autumn Smoke” and “Pearly Blue”
  • Two Elizabeth Arden “Eye Stopper” eyeliners, one brown and one black
  • One cream “Light Green” eyeshadow in a pot by Leichner of London
  • Two bottles of nail polish by Revlon, one “Cherries a la Mode”, the other “Hot Coral”, and a bottle of cuticle oil
  • An eyeliner and a box containing flash eyelashes by Glorene of Hollywood
  • A bottle of black liquid eyeliner
  • A box of “Hollywood Wings”
  • Two bottles of perfumed lotion from the “Quintess” line by Shisheido, in their box
  • Anita d’Foged “Day Dew” cream make-up and cover-up
  • Two pots of Erno Lazlo make-up
  • A box of tissues
  • A selection of matchbooks, including one printed MMM and others from restaurants including Sardi’s
  • Two paper fans
  • Three satin purses
  • Two pocket mirrors
  • A bottle of smelling salts

Price realised USD 266,500

Estimate USD 1,000 – USD 1,500


If I had purchased all of these items for their realised price I would have spent a grand total of $1,817,800 (!!!) You can view the items sold at Christie’s here.

What 5 items would you buy and what would the total cost have been?