Marilyn and Female Misogyny

Annex%20-%20Monroe,%20Marilyn_NRFPT_029Of all the women who hated Marilyn (and there were many, especially celebrities) I would have thought that one of the most empathetic, Gloria Steinem, would have hated her the most. Steinem was a radical feminist. She made that oddball comment “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” When she published Marilyn in the late 1980s, I was surprised by her kind and tentative narration about the late star. Clearly, Steinem is no beauty. That also made me think she would have reason to envy Marilyn and perhaps she did. The first entry in Marilyn claimed that she was angry after she watched Marilyn for the first time in a film. “How dare that big-breasted blonde act as insecure as I felt?”

Other women were openly jealous about the iconic beauty. Here is an apt entry written by Isabel Moore from the blog Retrorambling.

It all began when one of them inquired of another if she had seen Monroe at a party they’d all been to the night before. [The party was one where Marilyn received a People’s Choice award. She wore a gold lame dress open to the navel. Her husband Joe DiMaggio got up and walked out when Sammy Davis Jr and Frank Sinatra jumped on top of a table and howled liked wolves at her. ]The Christian having been thrown to the lions, the ring was cleared and the fight was on. The occasional defence of Marilyn by any of the men present only whipped the ladies up to new frenzy.
“That dress!” said one. “I wasn’t sure if she was trying to get into it or out of it.”
“Vulgar,” said another anonymous voice behind me. “After all, we know she’s got a figure. She doesn’t have to keep showing it.”
“Have you seen the suit she wears?” “You mean the one with the bunch of red roses tucked into the front of it? Seen it, my dear? How could you miss seeing it? I think it’s the cheapest, loudest, Sadie Thompsonish sort of thing I’ve ever-“.
”What do you expect?” chimed in another dear lady. “If I told you where I first saw Marilyn Monroe”
A male voice said mildly, ’What were you doing there?” “I was there on business.”

Later I said to a studio executive, “What’s Marilyn Monroe got, or what does she do, that brings the pack down on her in full force like that?”
and women.  Marilyn was delighted.
“There,” she said happily. “That will prove to those old cats who are always criticizing what I wear that I can look good in anything.”
But ..the old cats. were…were not deterred. ….
Marilyn Monroe continues to be the rage of Hollywood, the girl who’s done more than any other woman there to provoke the rage of other women. Marilyn has one answer to all the shouting.
“Oh, well,” she says, “I’d rather talk to men, anyway.”       

I’m sure they felt the same.

Once when she was at a party, Marilyn made a comment of some sort and a jealous woman laughed, “see how stupid she is?” Women and men bought into the whole dumb blonde image, without realizing Marilyn was a natural brunette who bleached her hair blonde, and that she played up to the image because that was what the studio wanted. Perhaps it’s understandable that many women who met Marilyn, or who were celebrities when Marilyn lived, or even just women in the general public were jealous of this sex icon. She was unbelievably beautiful and very famous. Men salivated over her, and that included these women’s husbands and boyfriends. Ouch. No one wants to feel second best.

Annex%20-%20Monroe,%20Marilyn_NRFPT_021Someone else who perhaps should have loathed Marilyn was Betty Grable. How to Marry a Millionaire was heralded as the movie where Betty Grable “passed the mantle [of being a sex symbol] along to Marilyn.” Grable had enjoyed her share of pin-up fantasy in her day and she now paled in comparison to the flawless Marilyn. Studio execs cruelly told Marilyn to pose in front of Grable’s dressing-room door but Marilyn refused. Grable liked Marilyn and enjoyed working with her. She held no grudges and she was the actress who was replaced by Marilyn.

Here is a blog entry entitled Marilyn Monroe was no role model, by Meg Bergeron, that insults everything that Marilyn was in life.

I can quite honestly say that if she were someone I knew in person, I would not want to be her friend. Sure, she sounded very sweet, but so are a lot of people. The truth is, according to this biography, she was unpredictable and unhappy, and not even the long-term therapy she received was enough to help her.

Are other tragic female celebrities who suffered sudden, premature deaths destined to be that legendary? I highly doubt girls everywhere will one day be putting up posters of Brittany Murphy and Anna Nicole Smith in their bedrooms, quoting them, or trying to look like them. So what sets Marilyn apart? I honestly don’t know.

Really? Millions of people seem to know. Perhaps the author should ask them.

Charlotte Green implores Young women stop idolizing Marilyn Monroe in the blog Thought Catalog:

I don’t know if she is a “good” or “bad” person, only that she is someone we have chosen to idolize for deeply wrong reasons. Her world was one built on fantasy and elaborate, Photoshop-esque makeup routines. ….Young women deserve more than Marilyn Monroe. We deserve to be whole, and flawed, and not transformed (through both surgery and extensive makeup routines) into something we are not. We deserve more than tumultuous relationships that we believe are magical because they are complicated. We deserve to be seen for who we are, not what the world wants us to be.

There are some truths to this blog entry. It’s not wise to idolize a woman based solely on her beauty and certainly not on the tragedy that was her life.

Rosjke Hasseldine wrote in her entry Why are women so critical of each other?

Women’s misogynist behaviour towards each other exposes something deep and dark within Annex%20-%20Monroe,%20Marilyn_NRFPT_025women’s relationships. Underneath the popular image of women being good at relationships lies a reality that blocks our ability to support, protect and fight for each other. Something is causing women to hate each other, to feel jealous of each other and to tear each other down. Something is teaching women to use the language and weapons of patriarchy against each other…..It makes sense that women would internalise the language and gender beliefs that taught our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers what ‘good’, ‘nice’ and ‘acceptable’ women look like and behave like. It is very hard not to internalise this sexism because the consequences of rejecting it, especially in our mothers’ and grandmothers’ days, was to be ignored, criticised or rejected as a ‘bad’ woman. For many, internalising the language and beliefs of patriarchy was an economic necessity.

It wasn’t only that women’s need to fill the patriarchal roles of “good girl” or “bad girl” were an economic necessity. They were a religious necessity too. The early 20th century was still a time of huge religious influence, and the Madonna-whore syndrome was very real. It was indeed instilled in girls at a very early, impressionable age and that is understandable. Perhaps it still is in many families, and certainly it is in many cultures.

Yet for all that, the beauty and sexuality of Marilyn has its enduring, unending appeal, including to women and men who publicly reject it, yet privately desire to covet it.

 

 

         


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Brentwood, Los Angeles

 

The mid-sized, attractive bungalow at 52 Brentwood, Los Angeles, was the only home Marilyn would ever own. She purchased it as a divorcee in 1960, two years before she died. Marilyn was reported to have burst into tears upon completing the purchasing, stating she hadn’t imagined Marilyn-Monroes-living-rm-60sbuying a home by herself. At that time, it was more common for couples or men to buy homes, not women. Looking at the purchase with 21st Century eyes, it is easy to be confused about her reaction: Marilyn was successful, independent and owned her own home in a reasonably prominent area in California. In the 1950’s however, homes were a symbol of the family, something Marilyn never believed she had.

The house was mid-sized, a Spanish-style bungalow, with a kidney-shaped swimming pool surrounded by interlocking brick, and a decent-sized backyard, easily less than an acre. It was shrouded in bushes and trees, as if in an effort to maintain privacy. There were two prominent palm trees close to the house in the back yard. There was a ceramic tile over the front door and on it in Latin was the phrase cursum perficio –  “my journey is over.”  She favoured a relatively simple interior, accentuated with Mexican mirrors, bowls and a beautiful canvas pinned to one wall. A Van Gogh painting owned its own wall above a stylish, wooden chair. She kept a small record player on the floor of one room. A Spanish-style bench was beside it. The house was tasteful and attractive but it was not the auspicious mansion of a movie star.

Marilyn-Monroe-in-living-roomOn the same cul-de-sac as Marilyn were Peter and Pat Lawford, Kennedy relatives. The Lawfords genuinely liked Marilyn and often invited Marilyn over to their home for dinners and pool parties whenever she was in Los Angeles. Usually if the Kennedy brothers were present, Marilyn made it a point to attend. Most of her trysts with the President took place at the Lawfords or in her Brentwood home. Robert Kennedy was rumored to have visited Marilyn at her home on a number of occasions although it is disputed as to whether or not the two had a sexual affair. A friend of Marilyn’s named Jeanne Carmen stated “Marilyn loved Bobby” and not JFK. Carmen stated it was Bobby’s boyish charm and good looks that endeared him to Marilyn

.Marilyn’s psychiatrist, Robert Greenson, visited her daily at the Brentwood house to counsel her and renew her medical prescriptions. Marilyn ended her life in her Brentwood home, alone except for the housekeeper who also lived in the residence. Marilyn’s bedroom was reported to look like that of a person with suicidal ideation: it resembled a hospital room and gave one the impression of a tomb. The room was sparsely decorated with only a double bed, white satin sheets, one small night stand littered with pill bottles, and a small lamp. There were no pictures on the white walls, no area rug, and the room had an overall “blankness” to it. There was one windows with iron bars over it, rather like a prison. Like her house, it certainly wasn’t the elaborate bedroom one would expect of a film star.

On the day of her death, two stuffed animals were photographed on her back lawn, a strange sight for a grown woman’s home (but appropriate for a little foster girl). By the time the house was sold again in 2010, impressive upgrades had been done to most of the rooms and the back yard. It sold for $3.6 million U.S., the going price for the tragic memories of a Hollywood icon.

 

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Taylor

The long-standing professional and personal feud between Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe is legendary. Both women were stunningly beautiful actresses and highly successful movie stars. Both women were sex symbols with millions of admiring male fans.  And both women loathed one another as much as two Hollywood actresses of the 1950s era ever did.

Although it isn’t documented there may have been an element of envy in Marilyn that Taylor never had to occupy the casting couch. She entered show business at the tender age of 7. Her Elizabeth_Taylor_-_childfather, Francis Lenn Taylor and mother, Sara Sothern, were instrumental in securing her film roles. Sothern was a stage actress in England. When the Taylors moved to Los Angeles, Francis opened an art gallery that catered to the upscale, including celebrities, connections that led directly to Elizabeth’s success. Both Universal Studios and MGM wanted the little beauty and Universal signed her without even a screen test.After less than a year, however, the studio fired Taylor for unknown reasons, a Hollywood experience Marilyn knew only too well in her early years with Fox. Insofar as Taylor’s firing was concerned, it has been speculated that she did not live up to her film promise. Francis believed his daughter wasn’t welcome at Universal Her casting director complained, “The kid has nothing.”. Even her beautiful eyes did not impress him.”Her eyes are too old, she doesn’t have the face of a child,” he said. Taylor’s looks were slightly strange at this age. She bore an expression in those beautiful eyes that made people think she was older than she was, something they found disconcerting.

Marilyn bore that same trait. In early pictures as a 16-year-old, Norma Jeane looked considerably Norma-Jeanolder than she was, particularly in her wedding photos. Her appearance also didn’t impress Fox studio executives, who described her as having a “potato nose” and a “weak chin.” She wasn’t cast in her first successful role, The Asphalt Jungle, until Johnny Hyde, her first influential agent, convinced her to have plastic surgery on her nose and chin. Her beautiful body however was au naturel. Her measurements were reputed to be 38-25-36.

Taylor’s first film success was in Lassie, a film that was important in securing her importance with MGM..It was followed closely by National Velvet, the movie that, at age 12, made Taylor into a child star. She managed a smooth transition from child actress to adult movie star, a feat that has been impossible for most Hollywood actors and actresses. Some of Taylor’s more successful films include Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Father of the Bride, Giant, A Place in the Sun, Cleopatra, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and Suddenly, Last Summer. A lesser known odd movie, The Driver’s Seat, showed some of the middle-aged Taylor’s finest acting, where she starred as a schizophrenic woman searching for a man who is “her type”, one who will tie her up and stab her to death. Taylor’s films spanned three decades, and throughout the years her deepening talent as an actress was apparent and impressive. America watched as Taylor aged over the years, still retaining her famous if maturing beauty until her mid-50’s, when her weight ballooned into the 200-lb range. Even then, her gorgeous face, dominated by those violet eyes, was a beauty icon.

Marilyn too brought a maturation in her beauty and acting skills. Her portrayal of Cherie, the promiscuous chanteuse in Bus Stop, showed a very different Marilyn from any of her previous films. 20th Century Fox hadn’t allowed for the depth of Marilyn’s acting skills and the film was made under Marilyn Monroe Productions, rather than Fox. It was a box office success and earned Marilyn critical praise for her acting ability. Her next attempt at a role outside of her usual comedic fare wasn’t so successful. She played the showgirl alongside Lawrence Olivier in The Prince and the Showgirl, a box office bomb. After the failure of Showgirl and along with Arthur Miller’s complaints about her personal investment in MM Productions, Marilyn reluctantly returned to comedic film roles and to Fox. Miller wrote Marilyn’s final finished film, The Misfits, after her return to Fox. It was another box office bomb, described as an “Arthur Miller movie.” However, Marilyn displayed a good range of acting ability that was unfortunately overshadowerd by the dull plot and odd film characters.

Taylor was known as a great screen actress, a status that eluded Marilyn. Taylor was recognized for 640px-Taylor,_Elizabeth_posedher acting ability, her elaborate lifestyle, and beauty. She too led a controversial personal life. Taylor was wed 8 times to 7 men (twice to Richard Burton). Marilyn also found no success in her 3 marriages. Her search for love was as vain as Taylor’s. Like Marilyn, Taylor was known to be a difficult actress who indulged in her own melodramatic behaviors on-set. Taylor was obliged to play the role of a high-priced call girl in Butterfield 8. One scene in particular exasperated her: she awakens from a night of sex in a man’s residence to find he hasn’t paid her full fee. She takes a lipstick and writes “NO SALE” across a mirror. In real life, Taylor reacted more violently to the scene: she threw an object at a mirror, smashing it to bits. Ironically early in her career Marilyn also played a prostitute, although she was a beautiful street-walker during the Victorian Era rather than a call girl, in O’Henry’s Full House.

Although the two women shared some similar, unstable private behavior, Taylor and Marilyn exhibited very different personalities to the press. Taylor was audacious, blatant in her criticism of the press and anyone else who crossed her. She exuded a satirical sense of humour, directed at herself and others. In complete contrast, Marilyn was demure, witty, and always courted the press, taking every press interview as an opportunity to cement herself even further into the public’s adulation. Taylor however displayed a laissez-faire attitude as to how the public perceived her. Her films were successful at the box office and made her very famous and very wealthy. That was all that mattered to Taylor.

Where Marilyn was decided uninterested in material wealth and self-indulgence, Taylor was the marilyn white blondeextreme opposite. Taylor and Burton were known to rent entire floors in 5-star hotels while travelling for professional and personal reasons. Marilyn was content to live in a trailer when she was filming. She owned a relatively modest home on a quiet street in Brentwood, Los Angeles. Taylor settled for nothing less than an estate worth several million dollars . Marilyn once made the famous statement to her accountant that “I don’t want to be rich. I want to be wonderful.” She was. Marilyn wasn’t happy with the low income she received from during her career but not because she was a Material Girl. Her highest salary was $100,000.00, for the unfinished film Something’s Got to Give, about one million by today’s currency. Taylor on the other hand, was known to command and receive as much as $500,000, about $5 million or so today, making her the highest-paid actress in Hollywood during the 1950s – 1960s. Perhaps one reason Marilyn was unhappy with her salary was the knowledge that Taylor was worth much more to the studio than she, even though the name Marilyn Monroe was an equal draw on a movie marquis. It also emphasized to Marilyn how little Fox appreciated its reigning star.

Two beautiful, successful icons in the Hollywood film industry, each one equally envious of the other for different reasons. In her own codicil to the competition, close to her career and her life’s end, Marilyn once asked a photographer to ensure she was never featured in a magazine or other print production with Elizabeth Taylor in the same issue. I do believe this request was honored in life, but I am quite certain her wish wasn’t honored posthumously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marilyn and Men-moirs

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 JohnHustonway 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 whitething 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 marilynmonroephotossevenyearitch20adone 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 Marilyn-Monroe-Psychiatrist-Ralph-Greensonconveyed 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 USA<FILM "MARILYN : SOMETING'S GOT TO GI  VE"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 thmailereir 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 tommy-zahn_jpg-296x300shoot. 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.’”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carole Landis

There are a multitude of beautiful blonde actresses who died far too soon by their own hand in the 40’s and 50’s. Carole Landis was one of them. In many ways her personal history reminds me of Marilyn. So did her beautiful, platinum blonde looks. She was both a sex symbol and a respected actress but this Carole_Landis_in_Topper_Returnsdidn’t bring her emotional fulfillment.

Landis was born Frances Lillian Mary Ridste  in Fairchild (appropriate) Wisconsin. Her mother Clara was a Polish farmer’s daughter (you know that sexy stereotype), and her father was a “drifting railroad mechanic”, whatever that meant. Landis was the youngest of five children, two of whom died in childhood. Her early years were filled with poverty and sexual abuse at the hands of many of the “uncles” who were sexually involved with her mother. At the age of 15, Landis dropped out of school. In order to escape her family, in January 1934, 15-year-old Landis married her 19-year-old neighbor, Irving Wheeler, but the marriage was annulled in February 1934. 30 days. Celebrity marriages. They never last. However Landis remarried Wheeler in August but they divorced again in 1939 after Landis became romantically involved with a man named Busby Berkeley. She started out as a hula dancer in a San Francisco nightclub and later sang with a dance band. She bleached her hair blonde and changed her name to “Carole Landis” after her favorite actress, Carole Lombard. After saving $100 she moved to Hollywood.

Her 1937 film debut was as an extra in A Star is Born. She also appeared in what waLandis11s then known as horse operas, western films filled with silly clichés. Like Marilyn, she posed for hundreds of
cheesecake photographs. When she finally appeared as a cave girl in One Million B.C. she became an overnight star. A press agent nicknamed her “The Ping Girl” (because “she makes you purr”). I have no idea how ping and purr are connected. Landis appeared in several good films in the early ’40s. She was usually the second female lead. Like Marilyn, Landis’s own voice was considered good enough to be used in her roles, and this was during a time when most actresses’ voices were dubbed.She also starred in films with Betty Grable. Landis landed a contract with 20th century fox and became sexually involved with Darryl Zanuck in order to further her career. Not surprisingly when Landis ended her relationship with Zanuck, her career suffered and she was assigned roles in second-rate films, also known as B-movies. A B-movie is made with a much cheaper budget than an A-list film. It seldom features any major performers and is usually panned by critics. It was a definite step down for Landis and her career never recovered.

note (1)In 1940 she married yacht broker Willis Hunt Jr., a man she called “sarcastic” and left after two months. Two years later, she met an Army Air Corps captain named Thomas Wallace in London, and married him in a church ceremony; they divorced a couple of years later. Landis wanted to have children but, like Marilyn, was unable to conceive due to endometriosis. With such poor luck in her marriages, it’s probably just a well.

Landis, like Marilyn, entertained soldiers in the South Pacific.She traveled more than 100,000 miles during the war and spent more time visiting troops than any other actress. Landis became a popular pin-up with servicemen during WWII. She worked on Broadway and there she met Jacqueline Susann the novelist who wrote Valley of the Dolls. Reportedly, they became involved in a lesbian affair. Susanne reportedly told some friends “how sensuous it was when they stroked and kissed each other’s breasts.” if that was true, it was likely the young Landis was experimenting rather than being fully bisexual or lesbian, and in 1945, Landis married a Broadway producer. Only three years later, in 1948, her career was in decline and her marriage collapsed. She became romantically involved with married actor Rex Harrison and was crushed when he wouldn’t divorce his gorgeous wife for her. Unable to cope, she committed suicide in her home at 1465 Capri Drive by taking an overdose of Seconal. She had spent her final night alive with Harrison. She was 29.

65370986_6e64db3069_oMarilyn too, suffered emotionally due to her inability to have children and her many failed marriages. Her career began to disintegrate during the filming of Something’s Got to Give when she was fired for absenteeism. Her devastation over JFK and his refusal to divorce Jackie to marry her, resulting in her suicide, are an eerie echo Landis’ own death..The early trauma of sexual abuse was something neither woman would ever overcome, setting the stage (pun) for the later traumatic experiences both women would experience.Of course, the possibility of murder instead of suicide circulated about Landis for years and of course (you guessed it) the killer was Rex Harrison. Landis’ surviving family state he murdered her to avoid scandal surrounding the affair they had been having. Ridiculous. Everyone knew about the affair. Harrison usually flouted convention and was unconcerned about the media’s reaction.

The last weekend of her life was July 4th. Landis threw a successful holiday party and many guests attended. Her niece contends that “She was in a bubbly and radiant mood that 4th of July carole_landis_mystery_pixweekend. Not one friend said that she was down and depressed. She even said she had “never been happier”. Now, if she had stayed in the house, secluded herself from friends, and put on a fake smile it would be a different story. She was a great actress but by no means could you pull it off that well. Marilyn too was reported to be “radiant and happy” in the last days of her life. She had repaired her relationship with Fox and was to begin re-filming that Monday under very different work conditions. She had every reason to live, yet in her mind, she had none. This type of contradictory emotional affect is typical of people who have planned their suicides. They know that soon the pain will end. This is the knowledge that gives them a tragic buoyancy in their last hours. Harrison did share some responsibility for Landis’ death. He found her while she was still alive, albeit with a weak pulse. Worried about more public scandal for both of their sake, he wasted half an hour looking through her address book for her doctor’s phone number. This strange behaviour isn’t so odd to understand in the atmosphere of 1940s Hollywood. Any scandal was reputation and career-threatening; Harrison probably acted in good faith, believing Landis would recover.

 

 

 

 

Six Degrees of Separation

Grin and Bare It - The Black Dahlia Murder Case

Six degrees of separation is a theory that everyone is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any person in the world, so that a chain of a friend of a friend statements can connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. It was originally set out by Frigyes KarTeamwork Illustrationinthy and popularized by a play written by John Guare. Theories on optimal design of cities, city traffic flows  and demographics were a trend after WWI. This concept was expanded in 1929 by Karinthy who published a volume of stories titled Everything is Different. One of the stories was “Chains,” or “Chain-Links.” The story investigated many of the problems that would captivate generations of mathematicians, sociologists, and physicists within the field of network theory.Karinthy’s characters believed that any two individuals could be connected through at most five acquaintances. In his story, the characters create a game out of…

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Elizabeth Short

Even though Elizabeth Short died in 1947, rumours about Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Short since Marilyn’s death in 1962 still persist. The reasons are plentiful although there is no concrete evidence to back many of these facts.

  1. Both women were approximately the same age during the same years when they were in Hollywood, modelling and attempting to land film roles.
  2. article-2272640-174FCEE2000005DC-291_634x772Both women auditioned for screen tests around this time.
  3. In Marilyn’s early years, both women probably haunted (pun) the same establishments when they were “partying”
  4. Both women may have been acquaintances or at least knew of one another, due to their attendance at these nightclubs and bars, and that they were in the same industry.
  5. Both women were young and glamorous.
  6. Both women “depended on the kindness of strangers” to maintain their living during Marilyn’s earlier years….meaning Marilyn looked for men who were reasonably powerful in Hollywood to live with during her early career. Short did the same, although these men weren’t connected closely to Hollywood’s directors and producers, but they were in some distant manner involved with the film industry.marilyn-monroe-love-happy-1948
  7. Both women were reputed to be involved with the mob. Short dated two members of the mafia.
  8. Both women associated with Mafia men, without realizing the perilous situation they may have
    placed themselves in.
  9. Both women achieved nationwide celebrity that will live on eternally – although for very different reasons.
  10. Both women died far too soon.
  11. Both women’s deaths have been the subject of conspiracy and unsolved murder for decades.
  12. Both women are eternally young and beautiful.
  13. Both women are tragic heroines of their own lives and tragic Hollywood legends.
  14. Neither woman achieved the level of success she dreamed about.
  15. Neither woman was lucky in love.

 

Contrasts

1. One was a beautiful blonde, the other a sultry brunette.
2.  Marilyn became an international star.
3. Short never realized film success.
4, marilyn white blondeMarilyn became famous due to her beauty and living celebrity.
5. Short became famous due to her beauty and her tragic murder.
6. Short had a supportive family and a home.
7. Marilyn had no stability in her childhood and was raised in foster homes.
8. Short was a drifter for about 3 years of her life.
9. Marilyn remained close to home, seeking fame.
10. Short wasn’t close to any particular friends, and no one seems to have many details
about her life.
11. Marilyn had many celebrated marriages and frishort_bulletinendships. many facts are known about her life, beginning in childhood to her adulthood.
12. Short usually dressed in black.
13. Marilyn usually dressed in white.
14. Short became famous after her murder.
15. Marilyn was famous in life.
16. Marilyn was a screen goddess.
17. Short was never cast in a film role.
18. Short is defined as one of the most fascinating mysteries in the world along with the Shroud of Tourin and The Count of St Germain..
19. Short’s fame arrived in death.