Five famous men (and one relatively unknown) who worked with Marilyn Monroe have expressed their opinions about her over the years. Naturally their comments have been kind and complimentary but the truth is, not all men who worked with Marilyn or knew her, were especially fond of her. I’m thinking of Norman Mailer, several directors, and there were probably others.
Director John Huston – Huston worked with Marilyn on her first serious screen role in Asphalt Jungle. He commented Marilyn is serious about her work and she is unique.She has to go all the way down into herself for everything she does, hauling it up from her middle every time… she draws it out of that wonderful body. Marilyn’s ready now to tackle serious roles like this one in The Misfits. I don’t need to direct her much. She has a keen instinct about a line, a mood, a gesture…I’ve asked Marilyn to play Anna O. in my next picture about Freud…She was extraordinarily good. However I had no notion she would go on to become the star that she became. Arthur Miller commented that Marilyn always loved John because he was the one director she felt regarded her as being potentially an actress. He thought she had a future as a dramatic actress. Huston continued Really nobody was about to give her a dramatic role cause she was essentially a comedian and a light fluff and I knew better. Marilyn placed herself in harm’s way if she deemed it necessary. About The Misfits, Hedda Hopper, Hollywood`s resident gossip queen, she stated Huston murdered Clark Gable during the scene where the cowboys struggle with a wild horse during the filming of The Misfits. Huston commented years later Marilyn came much closer to the horse than Gable. Clearly the relationship between Huston and Marilyn was built on trust and respect, something Marilyn couldn’t get enough of during her lifetime.
Eli Wallach – Marilyn`s co-victim in the dreadful flick stated ``this is no dumb blonde. She`s got guts…We developed a brother-sister relationship…she`s multidimensional; she`s cute, sexy, naive, difficult and insecure. On the set she`s a fun-loving girl, cutting up and joking with the crew….As an actress she has lots of imitators but only Marilyn survives. Why. Because people sense somthing real and helpless from her on that screen; they want to protect this girl. Wallach met Marilyn at the Actors Studio. He took her to a play because she`d en
Allan Whitey Snyder – Marilyn’s makeup artist and a personal friend for her entire career (16 years), Whitey (as he was called) knew a great deal about the private Marilyn/Norma Jeane. One thing Snyder couldn’t fathom was Marilyn’s need for perfectionism to the point where she caused herself great anxiety and depression. Snyder stated, “if they [acting coaches] would have just let her be her cute little self she would have been so much better.” When referring to her cute little self Snyder wasn’t referring to the dumb blonde image that plagued the actress. He believed Marilyn was much misaligned by the studio but studying to play dramatic roles didn’t help her in her career aspirations or her personal happiness either. At one point Snyder stated “why don’t you just be like Betty Grable and be a song and dance girl more or less?” Marilyn replied, “‘Oh no, no, I want to play one of these big, heavy parts. I don’t just want to sing. I don’t just want to play light comedy or something like this.’ She always wanted to be something more.”
Before she went on the set, Marilyn inspected every hair on her head and every inch of her makeup, looking for flaws in her quest for perfection. It was also a means to avoid going in front of the camera especially when she had to sing. Snyder thought her voice was nice, if not exceptional. The movie camera terrified her; the picture camera did not.On occasion in her earlier years Marilyn was known to vomit before she entered the set. So anxious was Marilyn about performing that during post-production of the Misfits she had to fly back to Los Angeles to be treated by her psychiatrist, Dr. Greenson.
Snyder mentioned that Marilyn could be odd when he worked with her although not what he would term difficult. He remembered that once after he and had finished her makeup and a stylist had done her hair she commented, “I forgot to have a bath,” went into the bathroom and had a long soak. “We had to start all over again,” Snyder remembered. “She was a lonely girl all the way through…many, many times in the night she’d call me. She just wanted to talk to you. She would drive herself so hard, she would get so wrapped up and that’s one of the things that led to the sleeping pills.” Marilyn became so groggy that it was impossible for her to work: “she couldn’t go on the set and be dopey and not remember her lines and not do anything.”
Snyder talked about how vulnerable Marilyn could be. “People could talk their way into her and get a lot of things from her just by giving a sad story and a lot of them did. She gave a woman a car for a while her own car. it was a 41′ Pontiac I remember it. I mean that was back in the early days you know.” It was Snyder who prepared Marilyn’s makeup for her funeral, a promise he’d made years ago. Marilyn had once asked him if she passed away before he did would he do her makeup? Snyder joked “Sure drop the body off while it’s still warm, I’ll do it.” Soon after Marilyn bought Snyder a gold Tiffany money clip that stated “Whitey Dear, while I’m still warm, Marilyn”
Dr. Ralph Greenson – Marilyn’s psychiatrist was limited in what he could publicly state but a letter Marilyn sent him, a secretly taped telephone conversation, a statement from his private files conveyed a sense of how he felt about Marilyn. Marilyn wrote him a letter after she was released from the Payne-Whitney Clinic, a mental institution for truly disturbed patients. It was her previous doctor, Marianne Kris, who had placed her. Marilyn found it to be a harrowing experience although most of her writing didn’t focus on the clinic. She stated in one letter “the way you look upwards and tilt your moustache you don’t approve” (most likely a reference to Kennedy). In other words, Greenson communicated his feelings about Marilyn’s affairs with men quite clearly but he didn’t lecture her. He did try to get her to sever her ties with Bobby Kennedy and Jack, but ultimately the brothers did that themselves.
Greenson was a psychoanalyst meaning he followed Sigmund Freud’s teachings and he applied Freud’s questionable therapeutic techniques and theories to his practice with Marilyn. In truth, this did very little to help his client. Eventually even Greenson decided psychoanalysis wasn’t helping Marilyn and he adopted the unorthodox approach of taking her into his home and making her part of his family.I doubt that this technique worked. Eventually Marilyn had to leave. She couldn’t simply adopt a family that wasn’t hers. Greenson once stated to Kris he felt Marilyn was a “lonely little orphan.” Clearly Greenson sought to rectify that situation by inviting her into his home but ultimately this facade had to end and Marilyn was no better mentally than when she first entered his home.
Greenson did work hard to wean Marilyn off the barbiturates she used to sleep and to quell her anxiety. In the last several weeks of her life this was a major goal however Marilyn was able to outsmart him. She visited her medical physician, Hymen Engleberg and wrangled a chloral hydrate prescription from him. Greenson had advised Engleberg against prescribing Marilyn the drug but obviously Engleberg didn’t listen. Ultimately Greenson and Marilyn saw one another every day of the week for the last several weeks of her life. This is proof that Greenson’s counselling wasn’t working. Marilyn needed her doctor more during therapy rather than less, the desired outcome of therapy.
After Marilyn’s death Greenson was taped in a telephone call where he insisted “listen, talk to Bobby Kennedy.” What Greenson meant by the statement has never been made clear. In his own notes Greenson admitted, “””””””[marilyn] was a dear creature I tried to help but ended up hurting.” True that.
Norman Mailer – before I delve into Mailer’s supposed involvement with Marilyn I must mention that it was very limited by none other than Marilyn herself, and to an extent, Arthur Miller. She sensed that Mailer was a cold, cruel man who would ultimately hurt her and she avoided him. Miller knew Mailer would try to take Marilyn away from him. The Mailers were only at the Millers twice and both times Marilyn managed to be persona non grata. Yet somehow Mailer considered himself an expert on her and wrote a biography simply entitled Marilyn: A Biography. During her marriage to Arthur Miller when they lived in Connecticut Mailer admitted that he lived only five miles away from their home. “and that i never forgave him for because there he was with Marilyn Monroe and he never invited me to dinner.” He’s serous. He never forgave his colleague because Miller didn’t invite him to his home. There’s conceited and there’s Mailer. “Miller had excellent instincts because what I had in my mind was if I meet her I’m gonna steal her,” Mailer’s words.
For his part Mailer was also a very public figure. He wrote 30 books, covered every major event in U.S. history including the launch of the Apollo 11 and the assassination of JFK. He delved into the psyches of many people including Hitler. He and Bert Stern, the man who took the last photographs of Marilyn published a book together simply titled Marilyn Monroe. It was a profile of the actress using Stern’s pictures and Mailer’s ruminations. That tells me the book, like so many other books about the enigmatic beauty, could have been a lot better.
Tommy Zahn – Zahn figured very briefly in Marilyn’s life when she was very young. After just having broken into the modelling and movie industries she met Zahn, a lifeguard, at a photo shoot. He was immediately smitten. For her part, Marilyn enjoyed his company for a time but clearly Zahn was going nowhere and she wasn’t about to waste too much time on him. She had ambition and Zahn wasn’t connected. Darryl F. Zanuck’s daughter, Darrilyn (seriously), eventually met Zahn and was instantly smitten. She urged her father to hire him and to keep his little girl happy, Zanuck did. Zahn was that stereotypical California beach – tanned and golden. The ladies swooned over him. Zanuck saw some box office potential.
However, when Zanuck realized Zahn and Marilyn were intimate, they were both fired. Zanuck was never a Marilyn fan. Zahn promptly shipped out to Honolulu and he and Marilyn went their separate ways. Marilyn didn’t become entangled with him or his type again. Her career mattered more than a beach boy. Zahn remembered, “‘[MM] was in prime condition,’ says Tommy Zahn, ‘tremendously fit. I used to take her surfing up at Malibu…She was really good in the water, very robust, so healthy, a really fine attitude towards life.’”