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.
One 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.