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.
Of 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.