Marilyn ‘s Friends and Confidantes

Although she was the most iconic sex goddess in the world, Marilyn was known to keep herself in distinctive company who usually had little to do with the entertainment industry. Playwrights, literary authors, the President, the Attorney General, and photojournalists all shared Marilyn’s company during different stages of her life yet many of these relationships were transitory, that is, they came and went.

Playwright Clifford Odets
Marilyn Monroe and Clifford Odets worked together on the movie Clash by Night, where Marilyn starred as Peggy.  Like Arthur Miller, Odets was called before the Clifford_Odets-signedHouse Committee on Un-American Activities (HCUA; more commonly, HUAC). However Odets had dalliances with communism: he had belonged to the Communist Party for less than a year, between 1934 and 1935. Unlike Arthur Miller, who ultimately eclipsed him, Odets chose to ‘name names’ in the House Un-American Activities Committee trials of the early 1950s, a decision he would bitterly regret. He was highly competitive with Miller and was critical of The Misfits. In a collection of essays, director Peter Bogdanovich  wrote, ’Clifford told me that Marilyn Monroe used to come over to his house and talk, but that the only times she seemed to him really comfortable were when she was with his two young children and their large poodle. She relaxed with them, felt no threat. With everyone else, Odets said, she seemed nervous, intimidated, frightened.` 

Photojournalist Eve Arnold
Eve%20ArnoldArnold worked sporadically with Marilyn for 11 years, from 1951 until the last year of her life being 1962. Arnold claimed sometimes she felt sorry for Marilyn when she looked at her “fat legs”. She claimed Marilyn was rather “dumpy” but managed to make herself appear willowy in pictures. Arnold claimed that before Marilyn became famous, when she pretended to be a movie star she was fine, “she could deal with it.”. After she did become a star however, “she was fragmented. Everybody wanted something from her.”

Aretha Franklin, singer
arethaMarilyn knew talent when she saw (and heard) it. I don’t know the connection between the two, but there was a mutual respect between them. That makes sense: the black woman fighting prejudice in the 1950s and a blonde bombshell fighting stereotyping.

Shelley Winters, actress
Winters and Marilyn were roommates in Marilyn’s early years as a starlet. Both women were groomed as bombshells but Winters stepped away from that stereotype winters-shelley-04-gand became renowned as a solid, dramatic actress, something Marilyn would covet in years to come. Winters stated she taught Marilyn how to make her famous facial expression: heavy-lidded eyes, head tilted back and her mouth just slightly open. When their respective careers parted them, they remained friends. Marilyn saw Winters again when she sang happy birthday to JFK. I can picture Winters smiling up at Marilyn, then being the first one in the audience on her feet, cheering and clapping. Some people don’t have envy in their soul.

Norman and Hedda Rosten, Laureate poet, playwright, novelist
So close was Marilyn to the Rostens that if they predeceased her Marilyn willed $5,000.00 not to them but to their daughter Patricia Rosten. Norman (the male form of Norma) wrote Marilyn: The Untold Story, Marilyn Among Friends, and several plays, poems and novels. Rosten was a Poet Laureate, About Marilyn: The Untold Story, a critic wrote: In my opinion, the greatest of all the little books is Norman Rosten’s “Marilyn: An Untold Story”. In 1980 the biography was made int a very successful film. Catherine Hicks, a rather plain-looking Marilyn,gave what is considered the best performance of Marilyn Monroe.The movie was also based on Norman Mailer’s “novel biography.” (whatever that is). Considering Mailer wasn’t at all fond of Marilyn since she withheld her friendship from him, that was an odd choice.

Michael and Xenia Chekhov, acting coach and director
Michael was Marilyn’s acting coach. Marilyn and his wife Xenia formed a lifelong friendship with both. Marilyn willed $2,500.00 to Xenia which by today’s currency would be approximately a quarter of a million dollars. It was once stated about Marilyn that she had difficulty giving herself to people so she gave materials instead. Marilyn used Michael’s acting technique.Chekhov explored addressed the question of how to access the creative self through non-analytical means. He taught molding, floating, flying, and radiating to find the physical core of a character.

Jeanne Carmen, Pin-up Queen
jeanneAlso a Hollywood cheesecake model, Carmen and Marilyn met early in Marilyn’s career. The two often dolled up and went out on the town together. They remained friends until the night Marilyn died. Not sensing her friend’s distress, Carmen refused an invitation from Marilyn to attend her house the evening Marilyn died. Carmen had been out with friends and she was quite intoxicated. She didn’t want to drive to Marilyn’s house and be caught by police so she begged off and told her they could get together another night. They never did.

Robert Kennedy, Attorney General
There are rumours (always rumours) that Marilyn and the Attorney General were romantically involved but I am skeptical about this one. Bobby functioned to “clean up after Jack” when he broke off an affair with a woman. Bobby broke the news to Marilyn that Jack was no longer interested in her. Highly distraught, Marilyn reacted with anger and denial. Trying to comfort her and to keep her from pursuing Jack any further, Bobby became a friend and regular confidante during her last weeks alive.

Milton and Amy Greene, photographer, businessman
Not only was Milton Greene Marilyn’s business partner and, along with Marilyn, the founder of marilyn monroe milton greene 19Marilyn Monroe Productions, he was her good friend, as was Amy. Their personal relationship perished after Miller intervened and had Marilyn disband Marilyn Monroe productions but over the years, Marilyn occasionally contacted the Greenes. During the last week of her life, Amy Greene contended that she had a premonition about Marilyn and insisted that Milton contact her. He did and the two made an arrangement to get together after he and Amy returned from their Paris trip five weeks later. Of course, by then Marilyn was dead.

Robert Mitchum, actor
Marilyn-Monroe-with-Robert-MitchumMitchum knew Marilyn since she was 16 and still Norma Jeane Dougherty. He stated she was “a very sweet girl” and he “loved her”. Mitchum claimed that Norma Jeane didn’t have “an aura of sexiness about her….[as a movie star] she thought this whole lark of being a sex goddess was just that. She would play it if that’s what they wanted…she really felt she didn’t have the inner qualifications of a sex goddess, As a comedienne she was very comfortable… she never really felt worthy”. They were “trusted friends“. One night Mitchum was in New York. Marilyn was in the Waldorf Towns. She called Mitchum and wanted to talk to him. Mitchum stated “I never got around to it so of course, next thing she’s gone”. Much later he had a long lunch with Pat Newcomb who, ironically, had become Jackie Kennedy’s secretary. Newcomb told Mitchum “‘she really wanted to talk to you. She really needed to talk to you.’ It made me feel grief”. In River of No Return Marilyn was cast opposite Mitchum. He said “she seemed like a lost child”. 

Lena Pepitone, maid
Marilyn’s maid in her New York City apartment for 6 years from 1956 to 1962. Pepitone wrote a lenabiography about Marilyn entitled Marilyn Monroe Confidential (not anymore).I’ve read it. It was quite good. There are no interviews or in-depth research into Marilyn’s life: Pepitone left that for other, more professional writers.It makes her biography seem more authentic and personal. Pepitone wrote many anecdotes about Marilyn’s life that seem authentic, from her problems with Joe DiMaggio to her childhood stories, all of it accurate information. Pepitone told a funny story about her husband, Joe Pepitone, and Marilyn’s panties. Pepitone visited Marilyn’s apartment one day when she was prancing about with no underwear as usual. Lena told him Marilyn didn’t wear underwear but he didn’t believe her and Marilyn lifted her robe, proving her maid to be correct. “Jesus,” Joe said.” and she and Marilyn laughed. Then Marilyn ran into her bedroom, slipped on a pair of panties, showed Joe she was wearing them and signed her name on them with a pen Lena handed her. She gave them to Joe to take to work and show his colleagues. “Those panties made me the king!” he bragged. The King!” 

Allan Whitey Snyder – Marilyn’s makeup man throughout her career, beginning in 1948 to 1962. whitHe is primarily known for his work with Marilyn. They developed a warm relationship and Marilyn confided many professional and personal concerns to him. She told him about her troubled childhood. Once when Marilyn was in a depressed mood she asked Snyder if he would be sure to do her makeup when she died. Later she gave him a watch with the inscription “while I’m still warm, Marilyn” Snyder was also a pall-bearer at the funeral.

James Haspiel – Haspiel, a photographer, befriended Marilyn while she lived in New York City. He haspielwas outside of the “Monroe Six”, a group of fans who followed her wherever she went. Haspiel was the same but he didn’t consider himself part of this group. One day at 16, he asked Marilyn for a kiss. “You could see it all over her face she was about to say no,” he recollected, but when the Six encouraged her, she kissed him on the cheek. .” After that, they became good friends, with Marilyn even attending social events with Haspiel. He became one of the most renowned and respected expert on Marilyn the world over.He was one of the few who saw the true woman behind the legend, photographed her, and adored her. Haspiel had also suffered a somewhat tragic childhood, after being put into foster care when his mother left his father. 

Sidney Skolsky – an American writer best known as a Hollywood gossip columnist. He ranked cherie-20090724121802-378-originalwith two powerful gossip columnists: Hedda Hopper (with whom he shared a birthday) and Louella Parsons, as the premier Hollywood gossip columnists of the first three decades of the sound picture era. Gossip columnists had great power over celebrities in the early decades of the 20th century. Hedda Hopper was known to have ruined an actress’ career when the actress snubbed her in some manner. He helped champion and was very close to Marilyn Monroe.

Carl Sandburg – was an American writer and editor best known for poetry. He won three carlPulitzer Prizes; two for his poetry and one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln.In 1919 Sandburg won a Pulitzer Prize “made possible by a special grant from The Poetry Society for his collection Corn Huskers. ” He won the 1940 Pulitzer Prize for History for The War Years, the second volume of his Abraham Lincoln, and a second Poetry Pulitzer in 1951 for Complete Poems. As of 2013, Sandburg remains the only American poet ever invited to address a joint session of Congress.  Sandburg supported the civil rights movement, and was the first white man to be honored by the NAACP with their Silver Plaque Award, proclaiming him to be a “major prophet of civil rights in our time.”Sandburg and Marilyn met in Hollywood when Sandburg asked for her autograph,

Anne KargerFred Karger was Marilyn’s voice coach during her short spell at Columbia Pictures in 1948. Marilyn fell deeply in love with Karger and according to several biographers anneactually wanted to marry him. He was recently separated and had a young daughter called Terry. He told Marilyn her that he wouldn’t marry her because he didn’t feel that Marilyn was suitable mother material to his young daughter. This upset Marilyn tremendously. Karger married Jane Wyman. Marilyn crashed their wedding reception to give the bride and groom her personal congratulations. Sidney Skolsky this was the only ‘bitchy’ thing she ever did. Fred Karger’s mother Anne ‘Nana’ Karger liked Marilyn as soon as she met her and remained friends with her until the end of her life.

Milton Berle – Berle met Marilyn when she was filming a forgettable movie called Two Sisters. He noticed her on the set and commented to the director, “who is that girl? She’s gorgeous!” Berle took Marilyn out on a date and stated she was the antithesis of femininity. She was a “tomboy and not glamorous. She didn’t act glamorous…She used to like junk food. She stopped for a hamburger.” What Milton didn’t realize was that he was on a date with Norma Jeane, not Marilyn Monroe.

Robert Wagner – Marilyn and Wagner were under a Fox contract at the same time. Wagner did two screen tests with the 19-year-old Marilyn. She was signed then dropped then brought back again. Wagner “thought she was great…she had a great sense of humour. She was so fresh and so honest.” Wagner and Marilyn remained friends until her death in 1962.

During her early years in showbusiness Marilyn had few friends, mostly lots of aquantainces and tended to attach herself to powerful male individuals that could further her career. (Such as Johnny Hyde, among others.) Early influences were people like Natasha Lytess, her acting coach. Of course, paid by Marilyn. Later on Marilyn became part of Photographer Milton Greene’s family for a time, then her acting coaches Lee and Paula Strasberg. Many of her friends were her employees or were involved in a business relationship with her. We can speculate as to why this happened. She was a private, introspective person who didn’t leave her house often to attend an excessive number of parties or premieres. Marilyn was envied by many women. Men weren’t permitted to befriend her by their wives. Marilyn was too focused on her career to pursue personal relationships. Certainly in the beginning of her career this was true. In fact Marilyn was known to end romantic involvements, or not to begin them, when she discovered who the most powerful men in Hollywood were, as she needed people to open doors for her.









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