Marilyn Miller

Although Marilyn retained her professional name after she married Arthur Miller the irony was in choosing she the name Marilyn based on another actress she liked, Marilyn Miller.

Why would two such completely opposite people fall in love and marry? The intellectual and the beauty, it made worldwide news. How critics must have laughed at both people, especially at Marilyn, as they always did.

Marilyn wanted to be taken more seriously in her work and as a human being. “The problem with being a sex symbol is you become a thing. Nobody wants to be a thing!” she stated in what would be her last interview. Marriage to Arthur Miller held the promise of not being regarded as an object, or a thing. Here was an intellectual man who had written a number of reasonably successful plays and literary works who took Marilyn seriously. Perhaps the world would follow suit and begin to look at Marilyn with a different perspective.

marilyn-readingOf course Miller’s reason for marrying Marilyn was obvious: she was the beautiful sex goddess of the world. Who wouldn’t want to be in her bed and parade her around in public for everyone to see? She was his prize, the reward he’d earned for all his years of hard work and his journey towards his own recognition.

However there was more to it than that. Marilyn was a very intelligent woman. No one who was “stupid” (as an announcer had the nerve to suggest during a radio interview) could have achieved Marilyn’s success.Miller suggested books for Marilyn to read and English Literature and Art Appreciation courses for her to take at UCLA and she took the advice; quite an ego boost for Miller.

Over time however Miller revealed a jealous streak, a la Joe DiMaggio. Miller wasn’t annoyed about Marilyn revealing herself to the world, in fact he reveled in it (“look what I’ve got for a wife”). He became jealous of Milton Greene, who began spending many hours with Marilyn during the making of Bus Stop. Miller also didn’t like the amount of time Marilyn spent working on the movie. Marilyn Monroe Productions had become another contender for his attention. No matter how great the man Marilyn wed, jealousy always seeped into the marriage, weakening the bond and leading to divorce.

The marriage did have its intrigue however. Miller was pulled before Congress to ascertain his innocence when accused of Communist practices. Marilyn supported her husband by accompanying him to the hearings and making brief statements to the press. This was yet another unprecedented move for an actress. McCarthyism was rampant in America. Very few people would associate with a person who had come under the radar yet here was America’s sex goddess defending her husband. Her agent and friends advised her against this move but, displaying extreme loyalty to her husband, she refused to listen. Once again it was a controversial move that only Marilyn could make and survive.

Ultimately however the reciprocity Miller and Marilyn found in each other wasn’t strong enough to save their four-year marriage. Marilyn’s drug use, Miller’s jealousy, the constant scrutiny from the press all worked against the couple and they parted ways.

After the couple separated Marilyn found a diary Miller had left behind, claiming that his first marriage had led to disappointment but his marriage to Marilyn had been much worse. He felt she had betrayed and misled him about the sort of woman she was before they were wed. Marilyn read it and was distressed over it. One of Miller’s items that was also left behind was a photograph of Marilyn. Marilyn found it and wept to her housekeeper. “He really just wants to forget doesn’t he?”

Miller might have forgotten Marilyn but the rest of the world never did.

Jacqueline Kennedy’s Fears about Marilyn

Although many people remember her for her generosity and gentle spirit, Marilyn wasn’t always a nice person, certainly not to the first lady of the United States. Jackie Kennedy was no stranger to JFK’s many mistresses. Her one insistence (since she couldn’t control his dalliances anyway) was that he never humiliate her publicly. So far as the public in the 1950s and 1960s knew, he didn’t. Privately, the humiliation was a different matter.

jackieOf all the President’s women, the one Jackie feared the most was Marilyn Monroe. Why? For one significant reason: she felt Marilyn was a “was a loose cannon who could go public at any time, causing a scandal that would obliterate her husband’s reputation, destroy her marriage and hold her up to public ridicule.”

It was little wonder that Jackie feared the worst from Marilyn. Although unconfirmed, rumour has circulated for decades that Monroe called the White House and spoke to Mrs Kennedy, telling her of the affair with her husband. She even insisted that jack was going to divorce Jackie and make her, Marilyn Monroe, first lady.

Jackie wasn’t ruffled easily. She already knew of the affair, even if she wasn’t expecting the phone call. Without hesitation, Jackie replied: “Marilyn, you’ll marry Jack, that’s great. And you’ll move into the White House and you’ll assume the responsibilities of first lady, and I’ll move out and you’ll have all the problems,” and hung up on Marilyn.

Later, an irate Jackie supposedly berated her errant husband, reminding him that he’d promised never to humiliate her or his family with his affairs. Jack listened and sprang into action (no, not that kind for once). He disconnected his personal telephone line so Marilyn couldn’t reach him anymore. He stopped associating with her and didn’t visit her any longer at her Brentwood bungalow. Supposedly, he enlisted brother Bobby’s help in discouraging Marilyn from pursuing him any longer.

Rather than assuring her place among the Kennedys, Marilyn’s telephone call to the first lady resulted in her being ostracized from the Kennedy clan. She must have been stunned by this development. Who knows what Marilyn was thinking when she made the audacious phone call? Her lack of discretion was succeeded only by her lack of reality.

At the time, Jackie Kennedy had every reason to fear Marilyn and her public behavior about Jack.

Against All Odds

The Bolenders
Marilyn’s accomplishment in Hollywood was nothing less than miraculous. She started her life as a nobody: an “illegitimate” child (as fatherless children were known to be in the 1920s), to a mentally ill 6edaad4cbe671fbbb0ee316eccaf5e52mother who would never be well enough to care for her. She was born into poverty in the charity ward of Los Angeles General Hospital. She was fostered out at 8 days old to the Bolenders, who raised Marilyn until she was 8 years old. The most devastating memory Marilyn had of the Bolenders was the day she called Mrs. Bolender “mama.” Bolender hissed in the child’s face. “Don’t you call me mother. I’m not your mother!” So hurtful was this comment that Marilyn mentioned it possibly 27 or 28 years later, during the last interview of her life to Richard Merryman.

The Orphanage
Marilyn wasn’t a particularly pretty child. She was plain and gawky and generally no one took notice of her. At the age of 9, the child was forced to live in an orphanage for one to two years. She was devastated and had to be dragged into the institution screaming “I’m not an orphan! My mother is alive!” Imagine the trauma the little girl suffered and the sense of abandonment by both her mother and the Bolenders. Her sense of stability was probably shattered at this time in her life.

Foster Homes
Marilyn was fostered out after spending one year in the orphanage to several foster homes, most of which were neglectful and substandard. She recalled one home where her foster mother forced her to drive around in her hot, stuffy car all day while she made deliveries. Marilyn remembered another family that didn’t want her in the house pestering them, so they gave her money to go to the movies every day. it may have been at this point in her life that Marilyn began to dream about becoming a movie star. In total, Marilyn lived in 11 foster homes and had 13 foster brothers and sisters. She was sexually abused on two occasions in two separate foster homes, wounds that never healed. So unhappy was the child that she actually asked Grace McPhee if she could return to the orphanage.

Finally she was taken in by Ada Lower, a close friend of Gladys Baker’s friend Aunt Grace, who kept Marilyn for one year. Aunt Grace decided to move out west. At 61, Ada Lower wasn’t able to continue normato care for Marilyn. By now Marilyn was 15 years old. She would soon be turning 16. Marilyn’s only options were either to return to the orphanage or to marry a young man she barely knew, a friend of a foster sister named Jim Dougherty. After Dougherty agreed to marry the lonely girl, at the age of 16, Marilyn became a bride.

Although Dougherty accepted her as his wife, he wasn’t a faithful or particularly loving husband as he would have the public believe. He had ongoing affairs with women, and one in particular was an ex-girlfriend and beauty pageant winner who was approximately two years older than Marilyn. Marilyn discovered the affair and was devastated. Perhaps she wasn’t hurt at the betrayal: Norma Jean was used to it. It might have been that her sense of security was threatened; what if Dougherty left her and she had to return to the orphanage?

Modelling and Movies
After Dougherty was sent overseas with the marine corps, Marilyn was left to fend for herself financially. The bit of money Dougherty sent her wasn’t enough to live on. Marilyn began modeling, appearing in All-American girl outdoor type photographs. She soon discovered that cheesecake or pin-up girl photographs were worth much more. By then she had gone completely blonde and she posed for sexy cheesecake photographs to bring in better money. The Blue Book Modelling Agency had a great deal to do with Marilyn’s connection to 20th Century Fox. Emmeline Snively presented her photographs and persisted until Marilyn was signed to a short contract with the studio.

Marilyn would appear in a series of mostly unremarkable films, playing very minor roles. Her first role in the movie Scudda-Hoo Scudda-Hey! was edited from the final film. It was her association with Johnny Hyde, a William Morris agent, that truly launched her career. Marilyn was a clever woman. glassesShe knew a strong connection in the industry when she saw one and she allowed Johnny to  cut her a seven-picture deal with Fox. Years later, after Marilyn became famous, she was forced to star in the film There’s No Business Like Show Business, she told her housekeeper she hated the film and was obligated to perform in it as, “part of an old contract. I had nothing to say.” After Hyde died unexpectedly, Marilyn was again thrown to the wolves without any assurance that her contract with Fox would continue. At one point during this rocky ride, MGM picked her up but after Marilyn refused to spend the weekend with the president of MGM on his yacht, he fired her. She never walked through the gates of MGM again.

One thing Marilyn did was to persist. No matter who insulted her, discouraged her, used her and left her, Marilyn kept working toward her goal. She took courses in ballet, jazz, singing and acting. She poured over her photographs for hours, asking photographers why one shot worked and another didn’t. Years after her death someone commented, “if models these days worked half as hard as Marilyn Monroe on their careers, they’d be a lot more successful than they are now.”

Throughout her slow, painful climb to the top of the Hollywood ladder, Marilyn’s mother was another obstacle. She disapproved of Marilyn’s career and made no secret about it. Whenever Marilyn visited her mother in the psychiatric hospital, her mother argued with her daughter about her career and insisted she quit working as a model and actress. Usually their meetings ended poorly. Even at the end of her life, after Marilyn had died, Gladys commented to the press, “It was her career that killed her. It never did her any good.”
Joe DiMaggio
joe-dimaggioThat DiMaggio was a sincere, kind-hearted man who loved Marilyn implicitly, there can be no doubt. But he, like Gladys, disapproved of Marilyn’s career. He was exceedingly jealous when other men ogled his gorgeous wife. Marilyn’s publicity stunt for The Seven Year Itch, where she stands over the subway grating, her white sundress over her head, caused a major row between the couple who nearly broke up over it. DiMaggio wanted Marilyn to “get out of Hollywood.” It was the only way he could remain married to the most desirable woman in the world.

Against all odds, Marilyn achieved spectacular success and became arguably Hollywood’s most famous movie star. Never was there a deck more stacked against a person’s hand that somehow ended with a win.

Say Goodbye to the President

John F KennedyIf ever there was a man who used and abused Marilyn Monroe it had to be John F. Kennedy, the Roman Catholic President of the United States. JFK had a plethora of lovers, most of them unknown to the public. He also bedded down with a number of women celebrities including Angie Dickinson, Marlene Dietrich, Ellen Romesch, a German prostitute, Blaze Starr, a stripper, and Judith Campbell Exner, a beautiful mafia moll.

If I don’t have sex every day, I get a headache,” John F. Kennedy would remark to anyone who would listen, from British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan to a lowly senatorial aide. Most people found his comment vulgar but Kennedy seemed oblivious. Too bad he wasn’t referring to having sex with his wife, the long-suffering, classy Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. How it was that Kennedy managed to keep a wife and behave the way he did I will never know. Women are a mystery.

Marilyn met with Kennedy throughout different junctures in her life, not just the end. They were introduced on a number of occasions through the Lawfords, close friends and neighbours of Marilyn’s. Peter Lawford, of course, was JFK’s brother-in-law. However, in the last year of her life, Marilyn was especially vulnerable. Although Frank Sinatra kept company with her from time to time, he began dating a dance-turned-movie actress named Juliet Prowse. Prowse was an unusual-looking woman: not especially beautiful, but with a dynamite figure and known for her dancer’s long legs. On Sinatra’s arm, Marilyn was the Queen of Hollywood. Without Sinatra, Marilyn felt de-throned. After the media released pictures of Sinatra and Prowse together, Marilyn began calling several friends to ask them what was wrong with her gorgeous legs. After the skirt scene in the Seven Year Itch, it’s difficult to imagine Marilyn having such a lack of self-confidence, but that vulnerability was always at her core.

Add to this the fact that Marilyn was struggling with her role in Something’s Got to Give. Her absences were legendary and extreme. Her lateness when she arrived at all was equally bad. In the midst of this Marilyn was unable to resist the chance to attend JFK’s public birthday celebration in New York City. After all, it was the chance to see him again. He wasn’t answering her phone calls to the White House anymore. She was rumoured to have spent the night with JFK after the performance but this was never proven. Afterward, Marilyn never heard from JFK again.

marilyn-death-431x300During this time, many former friends and acquaintances stated that Marilyn insisted JFK promised to divorce Jackie in order to marry her. They were shocked by her lack of discretion and reality. No one was surprised when JFK ended all contact with the movie star. There were many unhappy developments at this juncture in her life, and certainly JFK alone cannot be blamed for her drug overdose. But the affair certainly had a negative impact on Marilyn. In hindsight had JFK ended the affair long before Marilyn began work on Something’s Got to Give she may not have still been suffering from the end of the affair. This might have empowered her – however slightly – at this shaky juncture in her life. Or it may not.

We will never know. But one thing is for certain: JFK was on Marilyn’s mind during the last phone call she would ever make. The words came from her own mouth: “Say goodbye to the President…”

Marilyn and Men

“They’re only interested in my body. That’s what it always comes down to.” Marilyn often lamented this perspective to friends and professionals. It was said by various people who knew her that Marilyn never believed any man truly loved her for her but I doubt she felt that way. Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller were two men who loved her dearly, albeit the relationships were ill-fated.

quotesaboutmovingon-18Naturally Marilyn’s first husband, James Dougherty, didn’t exploit his wife (at the time). She was then Norma Jeane Dougherty, not Marilyn Monroe. Dougherty himself stated, “I wasn’t married to Marilyn Monroe. I was married to Norma Jeane.” Of her teenage marriage to Dougherty, Marilyn stated, My marriage didn’t make me sad, but it didn’t make me happy either. My husband and I hardly spoke to each other. This wasn’t because we were angry. We had nothing to say. I was dying of boredom.

Marilyn suffered many lonely, suspicious years with men after she became Marilyn Monroe. It was very difficult for her to establish and maintain relationships with men when she often believed her men had ulterior motives. If anyone should know, however, it would have had to be the star herself. I’m certain there were many men who came and went after they got sex. They must have plied her with promises of a future together and lies about true love and marriage. Sadly, Marilyn often stayed in relationships with men who hurt her very much, just to avoid being alone. These were men who were straightforward in telling her they had no future, but no matter how much it hurt her, Marilyn stayed and was often the one who was left.

One such man had a son. He often told a young Marilyn he loved her yet he was cynical and misogynistic towards this sensitive girl. He liked to imply that they had no future, just to make her react. In the quasi-autobiography My Story, written by Ben Hecht, Marilyn offered an interview where she described this man:

“What’s most important in life to you?” [he asked].
“You are,” I’d say.
“After I’m gone,” he’d smile.
I’d cry.
“You cry too easily,”  he’d say. “That’s because your mind isn’t developed. Compared to your breasts it’s embryonic….. You mind is inert…you never think about life. You just float through it on that pair of water wings you wear.”
He was happy to inform Marilyn that “it would be alright for me” if they got married “but I keep thinking of my son….it wouldn’t be right for him to be brought up by a woman like you.”
I cried all night….that’s why I had tried to make myself more and more beautiful for him, why I had clung to him as if I were half mad…”

Marilyn finally left this cold-hearted lover but only after weeks of humiliation and insults. It wouldn’t be the only relationship where Marilyn was abused and despised by the very man who warmed her bed and pretended to warm her heart. The most famous of these men was JFK, who made promises to Marilyn of marriage, and divorcing Jacqueline Kennedy for her. Why he maintained this charade during the eight times they were intimate together, who knows.

Just another example of the kind of man who exploited and slowly helped to destroy Marilyn Monroe.


Every Baby Needs a Da-Da-Daddy

Marilyn certainly needed one, and a mother, since in spite of Gladys being alive, she definitely wasn’t able to mother her child. Perhaps this was what made Marilyn into the combination of siren and little girl that was so captivating to the public. In public, she was a brilliantly beautiful curvaceous blonde with the disposition and innocence of a little girl. It was near impossible for a man to be intimidated by a woman like Marilyn. It was a strong reason why many of her most successful roles were that of a naïve woman who traipsed her way through life without direction, but somehow made it through with the help of a patient, kindly man (of course). Seven Year Itch, The Asphalt Jungle and Ladies of the Chorus are among several films where Marilyn portrays a rescue fantasy for men.

The real Marilyn was a different story altogether but the movies were her arena, and it was movie theatres that brought her into public consciousness. Whatever she radiated onscreen was what the audience believed. Her suicide must indeed have come as a shock to those who saw her only as a gullible, giggling blonde.

ladiesOne of her earliest movies, Ladies of the Chorus, featured her in a solo where she sang Every Baby Needs a Da-Da-Daddy. The tune is quite catchy and Marilyn has a pretty voice. She looked beautiful in the scene, her hair was long and she was young, probably 23. Although people didn’t know it, Marilyn had come a long way just to act that lackluster role in a cheaply made movie that bombed at the box office. She was called “second lead”, what is known today as supporting actress. After the film failed, Fox dropped Marilyn’s contract. The song sounds innocent but the lyrics are more enlightening. Marilyn’s character is repeating a conversation she had with an older gentleman about needing a Sugar Daddy, which was the last thing the real Marilyn wanted.

Marilyn could have become Marilyn Hyde, the wife of billionaire William Moore agent Johnny Hyde, who was in love with her and worked hard to promote her career. He was responsible for securing her a critical role in the movie Asphalt Jungle. But she refused to become Hyde’s wife. For several months Marilyn lived with Hyde, which was a typical arrangement between a beautiful starlet and her agent or manager at that time. They often fought because Marilyn wouldn’t marry Hyde and she frequently left his house for a day or two, before she cooled off and returned.  Marilyn didn’t want money. She wanted fame and love.  As Marilyn herself told her accountant, “I don’t want to be rich. I want to be wonderful.”

Marilyn’s quest for a father wasn’t but the bucks. As Gloria Steinem noted in a documentary about Marilyn, “she called all of her lovers and husbands Pa or Daddy, seeking the father figure she never had.” She spent decades obsessing over who he might be, pretending he was Clark Gable, and telling this to friends in high school. Marilyn admitted in an interview that she convinced several of her school friends that Gable was indeed her father. It added to her allure. In an interesting irony (and what wasn’t an irony in Marilyn’s life?) she eventually acted alongside Gable in The Misfits. No one ever stated she called him daddy.

Marilyn once contacted a man she believed might be her father. He was married and well into his 50’s. She timidly told him she was Marilyn Monroe. Unimpressed, his curt reply was, “talk to my lawyer.” Then he hung up.

Marilyn made a sad statement once to an interviewer. As a child she dreamed of her father walking through the door of her bedroom to speak to her. But never could she make him “take off his hat and sit down.” One of her lines in the song every baby needs a da-da-daddy is, “every baby needs a da-da-daddy, but where’s the one for me?” Marilyn never did find him. Even in her fantasies, daddy was an elusive figure.



Pat Newcomb

Pat Newcomb was an attractive, golden-haired woman in her 20’s, and later 30’s, who became Marilyn’s secretary and press agent during two separate phases in Marilyn’s career. She began crop-jfkworking for Marilyn sometime in the early – mid 1950s. The two had constant personality conflicts  however and Newcomb left Marilyn in 1956 (the year Marilyn legally changed her name to Marilyn Monroe). In 1960, Newcomb returned to work for Marilyn and remained with her until literally the last day of Marilyn’s life in 1962. Newcomb was filmed leaving Marilyn’s house after the body was removed from the home, looking composed. Two weeks later, Newcomb was photographed at Peter Lawford’s beach house, enjoying herself at a small party. JFK was present and in good spirits. It was as though Marilyn Monroe had never existed.

There were almost as many coincidences and ironies in Newcomb’s life as there were in Marilyn’s. Newcomb’s father, Carmen Adams Newcomb, represented  big companies of the coal industry in Washington D.C, two of which were run by George Skakel. The latter was the father of Ethel Skakel, the future Mrs Robert Kennedy. In a creepy coincidence, George Skakel’s son, Michael Skakel, would murder his pretty, 12-year-old neighbor, Martha Moxley, when he was 15. It wouldn’t be for 30 years that Skakel would finally be brought to justice. That Kennedy connection, you know.

Marilyn-Monroe-Pat-NewcombNewcomb spent her childhood in Chevy Chase (Maryland), then settled with her parents in Los Angeles. She attended the Immaculate Heart School in Hollywood, then the Mills College for girls in Oakland where she graduated in psychology in 1952.  On March 1, 1956, she was present for the agreement signed between Marilyn Monroe Productions and Warner Brothers.  In March 1956 she went with Marilyn in Los Angeles and to deal with her press relations during the shooting of “Bus Stop,” (1956). However, relations between the two women deteriorated so much during the outdoor shooting, that Arthur Jacobs called Newcomb back to Los Angeles.

In November 1960, Rupert Allan, another press agent for Marilyn,  also left Marilyn during the shooting of a film, this one being “The Misfits,” (1961). Arthur Jacobs suggested to replace him with Pat Newcomb, who returned to work with Marilyn again. Newcomb’s job wasn’t easy. Aside from her personal conflicts with her famous employer, her first mission was to deal with the consequences of the divorce between Marilyn and Arthur Miller. She accompanied Marilyn and her lawyer Aaron Frosch to Mexico City where the divorce was granted.

During the following18  months, Newcomb became an essential member of Marilyn’s circle, a friend as much as an employee. In May 1962, she went with her to Madison Square Gardens in New York City, where Marilyn sang for John Kennedy.  In July 1962, Newcomb organized the final, famous series of interviews and photography sessions that Marilyn would ever have. Newcomb wanted to resurrect Marilyn’s ailing career after Fox  dismissed her from the shooting of “Something’s Got to Give.”

crop-MM6-254x300Perhaps it was this flurry of press that made the execs at Fox reconsider their decision to fire their star, for soon after the interviews and photos were released to the world, Marilyn was rehired, and under a far more lucrative contract. Marilyn demanded $100,000.00 for the picture, and now they gave it to her, along with other demands, including the right not to attend the set when she was menstruating. This was still a paltry amount of money, consider Marilyn was one of their biggest box office names, and that her rival, Elizabeth Taylor, by comparison, made $1 million dollars per film. It was one of the many reasons why Marilyn loathed her long-time studio producers. In fact, The Last Interview, as it became known, was all about fame. Marilyn vented her frustration with 21st Century Fox to Richard Merryman, the reporter, for hours.

On the morning of Marilyn’s death, Marilyn and Newcomb fought over Newcomb’s long hours of sleep. Marilyn suffered from insomnia and Newcomb’s ability to sleep until noon annoyed her. Dr. Greenson arrived at Marilyn’s house and around 5:30 or 6:00 pm, he told Newcomb to leave, which she did. It was the last time the two women would see or speak to each other. About Marilyn’s death, Newcomb stated: “The lawyer, Mickey Rudin, woke me up at 4.00 AM. He told me that Marilyn was dead of an overdose. I rushed to Marilyn’s house. It had been written that I saw Marilyn’s body, but it’s not true. All the reporters were there, I was infuriated and I screamed, treating them as vultures. Then I came back home, not knowing anything more than anybody else about the way Marilyn died”.

Pat-newcomb01During the two days following Marilyn’s death, Newcomb dealt with a myriad of phone calls from reporters around the world.  Newcomb speculated, wrongly, that Marilyn died of an accidental overdose, and said so to the press. Immediately after Marilyn’s burial, Newcomb flew to Hyannis Port, the Kennedys property. Perhaps she felt sheltered there. Certainly, it wasn’t the most tactful move on Newcomb’s part.

Do I believe Newcomb was involved in a conspiracy to murder Marilyn? No. Do I believe Newcomb when she stated that she knew as much about Marilyn’s death as the public? Yes. Newcomb wasn’t present when Marilyn died and for that reason she was unable to offer any clarity on the matter to anyone. Whether or not she was saddened by her employer’s death is anyone’s guess.