One of the catalysts that lured Marilyn away from Hollywood was Milton Greene, a fashion and celebrity photographer. He believed in the serious side of Marilyn and took numerous photographs of her that frequently covered her famous figure, and brought out a personality not seen before in her pictures. He was a partner in Marilyn Monroe Productions and in filming Bus Stop. Greene first encountered Marilyn Monroe on assignment for Look Magazine. They quickly became close friends and ultimately formed their own film production company, which produced Bus Stop and The Prince and the Showgirl. Before marrying Arthur Miller and Marilyn lived with Greene and his family in their Connecticut farmhouse. These were idyllic years for Marilyn. There are numerous photographs of her in the Greene’s home wearing no makeup, her hair brushed back from her face. She hadn’t discovered snow and she was in awe of it. “She loved the sound of the snow beneath her feet,” Amy Greene commented. During this period, Greene captured some of the most famous photographs taken of Monroe. During their four years together, Greene photographed Monroe in 52 photographic sessions, including the famous “Black Sitting”.
When Milton and Marilyn first met, he looked so young that she proclaimed “why, you’re just a boy!” To which Milton famously replied “and you’re just a girl!” Their work relationship was exceptional. Marilyn wasn’t known to frustrate Greene. She was always made up beautifully and appeared on schedule for their photo shoots. They lived together harmoniously. This was an idyllic time in Marilyn’s life, especially when she discovered she could actually walk about in Connecticut without being recognized by people, just as she had in New York. When Marilyn Monroe Productions dissolved, Marilyn and Milton were both devastated. Marilyn felt she had no choice. An envious Arthur Miller gave her a stern ultimatum: “it’s either me or him.”
Marilyn entrusted Greene with her autobiography, called My Story. He would later collaborate with Norman Mailer on a fictional auto-biography of Marilyn, entitled Of Women and Their Elegance. Greene’s choice of Mailer to co-write the story was ironic: Mailer was not a Marilyn fan. He briefly met her and wanted an interview but she refused. Mailer was insulted and penned a rather cruel narrative about her after her death. Greene’s photography won him many national and international honors, medals and awards; among them the American Institute of Graphic Arts and the Art Director’s Club of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Detroit. One of his last awards was from the Art Director’s Club of New York for his work in Harper’s Bazaar. Frankly I don’t see the hullabaloo over his Marilyn Monroe pictures. What is truly outstanding about them is the manner in which he generally down-played her sexuality. There were some semi-nudes and the suggestion of nudity but the majority of pictures were nothing like cheesecake. They were sensitive photographs showing a much classier side of the screen goddess. The photographs themselves however aren’t a study in photographic genius.
Amy Greene was Marilyn’s close friend while Marilyn lived with her. Amy described Marilyn at this point in her life as “confused. She didn’t know which direction she was going but she knew enough that she had to leave this place…Los Angeles” After Marilyn married Miller, the friendship ended and the two women never met again. She enjoyed being a co-conspirator in Marilyn’s flight to New York. Once when Bob Hope called the Greene home, Amy happily took the phone stating “I haven’t seen Marilyn, Mr. Hope. Is she lost?” The two women rolled around on the floor hooting with laughter after Amy hung up. While staying with Milton and Amy, Marilyn came across a coffee table book with a picture of Isadora Duncan. She wanted to know more about the American dancer and why she was in a book. Amy explained Isadora lived in the early 20th century when cars were still early models. Duncan was enchanted with long scarves and this led to her death. Duncan wore a long scarf around her neck that caught on the spokes of one of the tires when she was a passenger in an automobile, breaking her neck. Marilyn, ever fascinated by the macabre, talked about nothing but the unfortunate woman for days. “It was Isadora Duncan week,” Amy recalled fondly.
Amy also recalled how she and Marilyn liked to drive in her convertible with the top down on a chilly day. They’d put the heater on their legs and enjoy the feel of the cold wind against their faces. Once an observer stated when the Greenes had guests for dinner, Amy told Marilyn to go and get the sandwiches, which Marilyn did. The guest got the impression that Amy was treating Marilyn poorly, as if she was a servant. When questioned about the incident years later Amy denied this accusation. “I didn’t look down on Marilyn at all,” she objected. As proof of this Amy claimed Marilyn had given her (of all things) a beige silk scarf to wear around her neck. After so many years, the scarf was slightly damaged. “If I fold it a certain way, the fray doesn’t show,” Amy stated.
After MM Productions dissolved, Marilyn called the Greenes again but she spoke briefly to them. .Marilyn and the Greenes were very unhappy about the dissolution of both the business and their personal relationships. Amy insisted Arthur Miller was to blame. “He was jealous of her time away from him,” she recalled. He also suspected that Greene and Marilyn were having an affair. His attitude was “either the business goes or I do.” Marilyn made her choice and the business was dissolved.
Here’s an interesting side note: Amy claimed she was Cuban and was suckled by a “witch”. She believed she had prophetic dreams in July 1962 and insisted that Greene call her. Marilyn and Greene spoke for 3 hours.When the Greenes went to Paris the following day, Amy found herself sitting beside the wife of Corning-Clark, of the Corning dishware empire. Mrs. Corning-Clark, quite drunk, informed Any that Marilyn “is going to die soon…I know she’s gonna commit suicide,” exactly twenty-four hours before the overdose. Amy insists today that Marilyn’s overdose “was a mistake. It was a mistake. No doubt in my mind. No doubt in Milton’s mind. The doctor was to be shot at dawn, but there you are…for the pills. [she was being] careless. And her memory wasn’t that…well at the end of the film when she’s working for Cukor…she looked so beautiful, she couldn’t remember her lines.” Of the suicide, Amy said, “that broke my heart. That broke my heart.”
The whole witch thing skewers her story somewhat but I was impressed with the rest of her interview.