It is said that every story has a beginning and an ending, and that whatever happens in between, is the journey. However, what matters the most is the way you make this journey memorable, not only for yourself but for others as well.
The journey that we are going to traverse here is that of a little girl who tried to find love in this cruel and harsh world throughout her life. This is the story of a beautiful young girl, Marilyn Monroe. Hers is the journey of love and madness, beauty and insanity, death and deceit.
Marilyn once said, “I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that they can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you can appreciate them when they are right, you believe lies so that you can eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can fall together.” She was the epitome of poise and confidence, beauty personified. Her relationships, her sexuality, her acting, her appeal, her childlike innocence and spontaneity, all were a charisma for the masses. She lived a very brief life but whatever she achieved in that short period can solely be accredited to her dedication, strength and aspirations. However, according to some, a part of her aspirations was also responsible for her tragic end, but mostly, she is remembered as the most beautiful and sexiest blonde in Hollywood till date. An actress, who bloomed and reached the summits of success with sheer determination and a firm resolve.
With no ‘godfather’ in the industry she had to work immensely hard to get recognized as a serious actress. When she first started with her acting career she was just used as a tool to add glamour to movies or to portray some dumb bombshell’s role. It was solely due to her endless inner stimulation that she transgressed from being an actor with such an image to an actor who received various accolades for her cinematic brilliance. All this took a lot of iterative toiling, with respect to her looks and acting but she never feared it. For her, no change was too daunting, no challenge too big and no risk that fearsome; such was the forte of her character.
She always believed that she had the ‘carte blanche’- the free rein. Her most successful period of international cinema lasted from only 1954 to 1957, but that is not all what defines Marilyn today. Marilyn Monroe is much more. She was the girl who wore outrageously skimpy dresses on grand public platforms without caring a bit about the speculations that would follow. She was the actress who brought life to all her roles. She was the girl whose smile makes you smile even today and whose naughty eyes still make men skip a heartbeat. And above all, she is that one person whose name is one of the most highly searched names on Google even after 50 years of her death..!!!
The controversial childhood
Born on June 1, 1926, to Mrs. Gladys Mortensen in the charity ward of ‘The Los Angeles County Hospital’, Marilyn was always a child of controversy. Right from her birth, there was one or the other hullabaloo surrounding her. A person’s childhood is the best time of his or her life. We always wish to retain as much as we can from our childhood. But unfortunately, such was not the case with Marilyn. So much so, that she could not she could not even retain her real name. She was born as Norma Jean Mortensen. However, as there was no knowledge of her birth father her mother deliberately misspelled the name as Mortensen and not Mortenson. Henceforth, all her birth records carried the same name, Norma Jeane Mortensen. As a kid, Marilyn had this picture of a light moustached man, which her mother brought up to her as the image of her birth father. Since the man resembled too much to Clark Gable, the great American film actor, Marilyn appeased herself by referring to Clark Gable as her father. Her way of living life might appear delusional today to some of us, but she sure knew the tact of being happy.
Life did not serve Marilyn a happy and normal childhood which is the most precious and integral asset of any person. Her childhood was in fact more of an ordeal. Very soon after her birth, her mother Gladys became mentally sick and thus was judged unfit to take care of a child that young. Owing to this tragedy, Marilyn was sent to foster care where she got adopted by a Californian couple, Ida and Albert Wayne Bolender who were staying in Hawthorne at that time.
She stayed with them till the tender age of seven. The time which Marilyn spent with them can be accounted as the best memories of her childhood. Ida was a disciplinarian and Albert on the other hand, was a very sweet and liberal father. Marilyn however was one of the many kids that Ida and Albert were looking after. Records show that if Marilyn used to call Albert as daddy, her aunt Ida would get furious at her. Ida always had Marilyn’s best interests at heart. She never wanted her to believe any self generated appeasing lies. So she made it very clear to Marilyn and her other foster kids that she and Albert were not their parents. In spite of all this, Marilyn could never feel disconnected to Albert who for her, was her father. One of the foster siblings of Marilyn, Nancy Jeffery remembers “Norma was always very inquisitive. There was a stool near the bathtub and whenever our father would shave, she used to sit there and ask him all sorts of questions. Which way are North and South..? How do flowers grow? How many people are there in the world..?” She always asked because she very firmly believed that her daddy had all the answers in the world. Sadly, Marilyn could not enjoy the warmth of this affectionate relationship for quite long. In an unfortunate turn of incidents, her mother Gladys, in her unstable state of health tried to steal her from Ida and Albert. Although the attempt went futile that day but later Gladys somehow managed to prove herself stable and got the custody of her daughter back when she bought a house in August 1933. After that Marilyn started living with her slightly unbalanced and clairvoyant mother and her friend Grace McKee. Although, both Gladys and Grace tried a lot to make Marilyn feel at home but all that the latter could ever think was how and when would she get to meet her daddy. On the other hand, her mother’s mental state went on deteriorating and incidents of her madness kept daunting young Marilyn. Under these circumstances, Marilyn was declared a ward of the state. Later on, due to this shaky and unstable upbringing that Marilyn was getting, Grace decided to become her legal guardian.
A lot of what Marilyn became and depicted can be attributed to this initial phase of her life when she lived with Grace. Grace used to curl her hair, take her to the movies and instill these hopes in her, that one day she would become a great actress.
Her fascination for the glamour world was mainly because of this early childhood influence. All was going well but in the year 1935 things again took an ugly turn for Marilyn when Grace got remarried to a ‘Doc Goddard’ and the former was left alone as an orphan to be taken into foster homes. After many years when Marilyn used to remember this time, she recalled that she felt as if she were being sent to a prison. During this time, Ida Bolender tried a lot to adopt Marilyn and bring her back, but both Grace and Gladys thought that Ida had a bad influence on Marilyn and that if she was left under Ida’s supervision, they would lose her forever. So, ultimately, the nine year old Marilyn was left in an orphanage in Los Angeles. Ida Bolender, on the other hand was still trying to make all possible attempts to get in touch with Marilyn. She used to visit the orphanage frequently which Grace did not approve of. Eventually, the tussle between the ladies grew so much that by the year 1937, Grace decided that she would bring Marilyn back to her married household. But this time situations were not the same. Doc Goddard was under too much financial stress and his drinking had become a hitch for everyone. Years later, Marilyn recalls that sometimes he made her feel very uncomfortable. He used to force her to kiss him. After learning about all these facts Grace got so much disturbed that she packed Marilyn’s bags and sent her to live with the latter’s distant related Aunt Olive Monroe in North Hollywood. This was not a very good experience for Marilyn as Olive hardly had any money to take care of her own family and under these circumstances an additional mouth to feed was nothing but a burden.
It was during this time that Marilyn discovered that she also had a half-sister called Bernice. Marilyn’s mother Gladys had two children from her previous marriage and after the marriage ended her husband took both children under his custody. Pertaining to her ill health, Gladys never really got a chance to talk to her daughter about the existence of Bernice. But when Gladys was in the sanatorium undergoing treatment, she decided to write to her parted family. Bernice, who by now was 19 years old, was exhilarated to hear from her long lost mother whom she had assumed dead. When Gladys told Grace about Bernice, the latter stressed that Bernice should write to Marilyn. And as she had predicted, Marilyn was delighted to find out that she had a sane family member alive and wanted to know more about her sister. During the coming years, Bernice and Marilyn got very close. They became good friends and each other’s confidants.
Meanwhile, the stay at Aunt Olive’s was getting tremulous with each passing day, and so in the fall of 1938, Grace shifted Marilyn into the proximity of LA with another one of her aunts Ana Lower. The next four years Marilyn lived with Ana Lower in her two-storied apartment in Nebraska Avenue. Ana Lower was a divorcee and a Christian Science practitioner by profession. She was a very kind and intelligent lady and with her Marilyn lived a very peaceful and stable life which she always cherished and spoke about. She was very close to her but at the age of 16 she had to be separated from her due to the former’s worsening health conditions.
This was again a very crucial transition for young Marilyn as it was now that she greatly required a stable roof over her head and a sense of permanency in life but unfortunately, she had to wander hither thither for the same. Being forced to spend her life in such a nomadic way further consolidated her beliefs in the importance of money and power.
When Marilyn was brought back from Ana’s, she started living with Grace again. She was enrolled in Van Nuys High School where she met her first future husband James Dougherty. James and Marilyn began dating and their relationship seemed to be going pretty well. However, Doc Goddard got a high salary offer from Virginia and he decided to shift to the new location. Sadly for Marilyn, he was reluctant to take her along with them as he believed that with his entire family on a move in a completely strange locale, it would be foolish of them to carry any sort of extra ‘baggage’. Grace’s main objective of getting Marilyn married early, as told by her friends later was; ‘to keep her charge out of another orphanage. ’
This led to the early marriage of James and Marilyn in 1942. At this time, Marilyn was two years below the legal marriageable age and this was the very reason that she did not conceive out of this marriage. James too was concerned about her being underage and thus he explained his concerns to Marilyn and left for his service in the Merchant Marine during the World War II in 1943.
The multi-faceted diva
While her husband was gone serving the nation in bad times, Marilyn did her bit to serve the family by working in a Radio plane Munitions Factory. Near the end of 1944, Marilyn, with a few other women, were asked to model for a photo session by a military unit , for a film which they were making for army training purposes. The same were to be published in a government magazine called Yank. Marilyn not sure if she could do it, still tried. The day when David Conover, one of the photographers, came to click her pictures, “she couldn’t have been more thrilled.” She was being photographed in her work clothes-drab grey slacks and a green blouse.
With the first click of the camera her life changed forever. Officer David Conover who was bowled over by Marlyin’s photogenic face and smile, suggested her to apply into the Blue Book Modelling Agency. It was during one of her modelling assignments with this firm that she dyed her hair a light golden blonde from brunette.
While she was elated due to her steady progress on the professional front, her personal life was going from bad to worse. Her in-laws never approved of her fascination to show-biz. Her mother-in-law always insisted her to write to Jim and ask for his consent before getting into any kind of commitment with any agency. Tired of the continuous friction, she left her in-laws house and started living again with Aunt Ana Lower.
By the summer of 1945, the entire focus of Marilyn’s life shifted to modelling. She had already quit her job with the Radio plane Munitions Factory and took up modelling full-time. During the Christmas festivities, when Jim returned home he was disappointed to see Marilyn so self absorbed and unmoved. There were arguments between Marilyn and Jim due to her eccentric career concerns. Finally, catalyzing her career, Marilyn moved away and settled in Nevada and filed for a divorce. Jim was still not ready to give up on his marriage and tried to give it yet another try. But any kind of settlement seemed impossible for their relationship and though reluctantly, but Jim had to sign back the divorce papers in the early autumn of 1946.
After this slight tremble in her life, Marilyn was back on track with her unfulfilled career dreams. She amassed a lot of appreciation as a model. In fact she became one of the most popular and successful models of Blue Book. She started studying the works of famous models like Jean Harlow and Lana Turner. This was the period that led to the initiation of her getting completely transformed into an onscreen goddess. It was due to her numerous features on magazine covers that she caught the eye of Ben Lyon, an executive from 20th Century Fox. He was so impressed by her looks and talent that he wooed and flattered her by saying that she reminded him of Jean Harlow all over again. She was offered a six month contract with the 20th Century Fox and a decent pay of $125 per week. Up until this time Marilyn was living with the name ‘Norma’. Ben Lyon was however keen on changing this. After a repeated round of discussions and a lot of druthers which were kept forward by various people, the name “Marilyn Monroe” was finalized. Ben had a gut feeling that it would be lucky because of the 2 M’s. To a certain extent it did become lucky as she got her first round of movies after the changed identity. She was signed for a six month contract by Columbia Pictures after her short and sweet appearances in many movies. There she got introduced to Natasha Lytess, one of the studio drama coaches in Columbia Pictures, on March 10,1948, who coached her in bits and pieces throughout her acting career. The first movie with Columbia, named the ‘Ladies of the Chorus’ in 1948 did not do well and consequently, Monroe was dropped from the contract. Marilyn was not entirely disheartened by this blow. She kept on waiting for film offers which were not coming her way back then and so she decided to go back to modelling. During this period, she shifted into a double room at the Hollywood Studio Club which costed her $12 per day. Her expenses were going steady but the career and earnings were not. For the coming one year, the situation remained pretty much the same, until that New Year’s Eve party where she met Johny Hyde.
Johny Hyde was a very memorable chapter in Marilyn’s life. When she first met Johny, he was 53. He was a heart patient. The degree of the seriousness of his ailment was not known to many people but they say that it was so serious that he had to visit the cardiologist twice a week. The chemistry between Marilyn and Johny became apparent in the party itself. It was quite visible that Johny was dumbfounded by Marilyn’s beauty and on the other hand, Marilyn too understood his power and position and the fact that staying near him was the only way out for her. After her death, when people talked about Marilyn and Johny together they always remembered Marilyn as the dumb blonde who had nothing to express and opine but just nod her head in agreement to whatever Johny said. However, later on it became very clear that the she had some other motives behind acting dumb. It was due to this relationship that Marilyn got her next chance into Hollywood. Many of the movies that she earned with Johny’s aid flunked and failed. Gradually, Marilyn started realizing that her dependency on Johny was doing no good to her. Johny too had by then become adamant on the fact that he wanted to marry her whereas Marilyn was still indecisive.
In 1949, Marilyn was noticed by the famous photographer Tom Kelly, who convinced her to pose nude. During those times it was considered low grade and despicable for a woman to expose and use her sexuality like this. This incident had its consequences but they were not immediate.
Marilyn’s next successful project was ‘The Asphalt jungle’ in 1950, which she secured with Johny’s help. The movie was highly appreciated and Marilyn’s acting got great admiration from everyone. After this, the success of ‘All about Eve’ followed. By the year ending of 1950, Marilyn had two successful films and a seven film contract with 20th Century Fox in her basket. Considering all this one can say that 1950 was a breakthrough year for her film career but then, again like all her life till day, even this was not a year she could fully rejoice. The end of the year brought in a new shock for her, the one she just could not survive. Around the year end, while Christmas festivities were at their peak, Marilyn and her acting coach Natasha decided to go to Tijuana for christmas shopping. Meanwhile, Johny was also away to Palm Springs for the weekend. However, during his stay there he suffered a major heart attack that took away his life. As soon as the news spread, Marilyn rushed back to LA but she still could not reach in time. She could only hear others saying that while lying on his death bed he was calling out for her.
Soon, she left Johny’s place and shifted with Natasha. Marilyn could never cope up with Johny’s death. She became very desolate and unstable. She always felt that her inability to respond to his plea of marrying her had made him weaker and finally killed him. This incident raised her guilt conscious too high and also exposed her to trying death attempts. Her neighbours remember that she used to buy stuff for her home and then forget to bring them back from the grocery store. This gloomy phase went on for a long time, until one day when Natasha returned from work and found Marilyn lying on the floor with a handful of pills dissolving in her mouth.
When she was cured, she told Natasha that she was just trying to have some sleeping pills so that she could sleep properly. In a way, Johny Hyde was the one loss that shook Marilyn inside out and from then on, she just kept on getting herself in one mess or the other.
In 1951, Marilyn tried to regain that part of her life which she had tossed away due to her early marriage with James. Her education was never complete because she had to handle domestic responsibilities at a tender age. Owing to that, she enrolled herself in the University of California, Los Angeles to study literature and art.
In 1952, the nude pictures from her photographic session in 1949 were leaked and they created a massive hoo-hah in the media.
Speculations were made on the identity and the looks of the model and her close resemblance to Marilyn. In such grave circumstances, Marilyn exemplified courage and spirit by standing up to her past and admitted to the whole press that it was indeed her in the pictures. She also told them, that by posing nude she was able to pay off her rent and since it was the only option available to her, she had no guilt about it. Although this incident did not shake Marilyn’s confidence but it surely made her career path difficult. As a result of the negative image that was formed in the media after that leak, she was dropped by 20th Century Fox. Her public apology for that incident earned her a lot of sympathy from her fans and from then on she became a well-known face. This incident also came as a blessing in disguise for Marilyn as it was due to this leak that people started seeing her under the forbidden light of sensuality and oomph and after that there was no denial that she was, in true sense, a sex goddess!!
In 1954, she was able to revive the trust of 20th century Fox due to the recognition she got from her other films. As a result, they renewed their contract with her. Thereafter, the career graph of Marilyn Monroe stayed almost constant until the big hit, ‘The Seven Year Itch’ in 1955. With this movie, Marilyn made a great impact in the minds of millions. Her famous skirt-blowing scene on Lexington Avenue in New York is a timeless milestone in Hollywood.
While movies and career were under a perfect grip, relationships were slowly going down the hill for Marilyn. In 1954, at the age of 28, she married Joe DiMaggio (an American Major League Baseball player). This was her second marriage and was truly born out of love. The press reports described Marilyn and Joe as a very beautiful and love rooted couple. It was only during the shooting of ‘The Seven Year Itch’ that the couple went fighting bizarrely over the skirt-blowing scene and their relationship completely disintegrated. Marilyn filed a case of mental cruelty against Joe as a plea to divorce him. Later in June 1955, Marilyn and DiMaggio got divorced.
The egg head and the hourglass
Just after a year and a half, while she was still married to Joe, Marilyn started seeing Arthur Miller, the famous play writer. Marilyn and Arthur were friends since 1950 when they had first met on the sets of one of her movies.
“The egg head and the hour glass”, as they were commonly referred to, were quite an eye candy for the film fraternity back then. They never accepted their relationship publicly in front of the media until the time they got married in 1956. Marilyn kept on doing regular movies after her third marriage. Her movie, ‘Bus Stop’, in which she played a singer with less intellect, marked a diversion from her earlier comic roles. Her performance was more reflective and as a result she got her next film in 1957, ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’, in which she co-starred with Laurence Oliver. After its release, she got her first ever award for being an outstanding actress. She was felicitated with a David di Donatello award, which is considered as prestigious as the Academy Awards in Italy. She also received a French Crystal Star Award and was nominated for the BAFTA award (British Academy Of Film and Television Arts) for the same.
Due to her husband’s support and encouragement, Marilyn went on to strengthen her roots in Hollywood. In the year 1958, she signed a very consequential movie ‘Some like It Hot’ for which she got an overwhelming response, both from the critics and the masses. The movie got astounding success and got nominated for six Academy Awards making it a path breaking success. Marilyn won the Golden Globe Award for the Best Actress in a Motion Picture that year.
Post this substantial success, she went on to complete her four- film contract with 20th Century Fox which she had signed earlier in 1955. In the same series, the next movie that she worked on was ‘Let’s make Love’, during which she befriended Yves Montand, the French actor and singer. While this movie was being shot, Arthur had to go to Europe for his business reasons and his absence weighed down heavily on Marilyn. She started exhibiting serious mood swings and became very temperamental and unpunctual on the sets too. The crew used to be infuriated on her instability but eventually all these problems were seen to be getting better when her co- actor Montand confronted her with this. At that juncture, the problems that Marilyn was facing seemed transitory to all, but this was actually the beginning of much serious problems for Marilyn. The real issues were yet to arrive. Meanwhile, the relationship between Montand and Marilyn took a different turn when Signoret, Montand’s wife also went away to Europe for a movie shoot. During this brief period,, Montand and Marilyn came really close. They were said to be sharing more than just friendship but whatever it was it could not continue for long. The reason for its end was considered as Montand’s refusal to leave his wife. On the other hand, Marilyn’s married life with Miller was also weakening. Their marriage continued for four years and in January 1961 they got divorced. In 1961, Marilyn who was now 33, completed her last project, ‘The Misfits’, which was an adaptation of Arthur’s story of some local people in Nevada. Some reports suggest an idea that Arthur wanted to protect her marriage with Marilyn and the script and screenplay of the movie ‘The Misfits’ was a valentine day gift for her but he realized later that the destruction had crossed the limits of any kind of repair. The film got some heads up and some heads down too, but here again Marilyn’s performance was profoundly appreciated by the critics. For this movie, she received a Golden Globe Award for the World Film Favourite. The irony in this whole scenario was, that day by day her onscreen presence and talent was being appreciated with hit films whereas on the other hand her personal life was getting jeopardized. She had already been into three marriages but still kept on seeking her true love and was not in her best mental state of health.
Her career went through some serious jerks right from the beginning when she dropped out of contracts of leading film producers due to her bad attitude and bad performances. Initially, maybe it was not her concern, but the more she walked down the lane, the needier she became. Her aspirations to gain fame led her in wrong directions. She was not true to herself and to the people that should have mattered in her life at that point of time. She made decisions that were unnecessary and unacceptable to some extent. Leaving her two husbands and making wrong career choices made her suffer. Her leniency towards the schedules and devoting inappropriate importance to people made her unpopular amongst movie makers as well.
Walking the Unsteady path
When a person is born, the environment he is raised up in, defines a major part of his character. The person you grow up to be reflects a great part of your childhood. Marilyn was not a very lucky kid but she grew up to become an immensely famous actor. Her childhood memories kept lingering on to her and somewhere down the line that disturbed her health. She was a lonely kid who had experienced a shaky and unsteady childhood. She never had a sole guardian or a permanent home. She kept on wandering from one place to another in her unsaid chase of mother like love and father like care. Her relationships during the early childhood days to adolescence were kind of forced upon her. Whether it was her foster parents, the return of her mother Gladys, her aunt Grace or her grand aunt Ana, she never chose any of it. She just did what others pushed upon her. Whatever she went through in her childhood days, be it the absence of a permanent home, the inability to stop the injustice that was being done to her or the never ending hunt for a family, everything just strengthened one simple fact for her that power and fame were very imperative to survive. In terms of her relationships, she always ran after people who gave her that security which came with someone powerful by your side. During the later part of her life when she became who she is remembered for, fame and friends both came pretty easily to her. The only change that happened was that now she had the power of discretion. She was linked to a number of famous personalities, some of which were very close to her and some others were just provisionally filling in. Her list of friends was big and the list of linkages, even bigger.
The botched marriages
Marilyn’s inability to get the love and care of a father left this hollow inside her and all her male friends especially her first husband whom she weirdly referred to as Daddy at certain situations, were just a means to fill in that position. Her first husband Jimmy recalls that she used to threaten him that she would commit suicide if he did not listen to her and that she warned him at certain instances that “if something bad happens to our marriage, I’ll jump off a bridge, daddy.” The reason behind the termination of her first marriage was understood to be boredom and her career dreams. Her first husband said during the making of a documentary on Marilyn, “the reason our marriage could not sustain was, because her dreams lured her away.” He also mentioned that he was always in love with Marilyn and that she was her most precious friend. Marilyn had some very peculiar traits that can be accounted as the reasons that her marriages did not work out. She once said, “A wise girl kisses but doesn’t love, listens but never believes and leaves before she is left.” She may have been a beautiful and attractive person throughout her life but patience and trust were never her tenets. She was too quick to judge and implement. Her second marriage to Joe DiMaggio broke off only because of this slight quarrel and misunderstanding. After her death, many of her fans opined that her relationship with Joe was real and had she been still married to him, who knows what her future would have been like..!!
Continual mental instability and anxiety were part of her life right from the beginning. At the age of 16, when she was married for the first time, she frequently complained to her husband Jimmy about hearing voices and people following her.
Later on, when she entered into Hollywood she became very close to Johnny Hyde, who was again a very powerful man in his position. Not only he grew very fond of Marilyn but he even helped her with these issues that she was facing. He was the person who introduced Marilyn to drugs. He made doctors prescribe her barbiturates (medicinal drugs) to get rid of problems like anxiety and depression. Initially, the pills did help Marilyn overcome her problems but who could have foreseen that Johnny’s help was actually getting her more and more reliant on drug intake which would ultimately prove to be fatal for her!!
When Johnny Hyde died in 1950, Marilyn was left destructed. Her urge of being with someone protective and reliable all the time made her dependent on people day by day. When faced with some kind of confrontation or rejection, Marilyn was never able to take it in the right sense, the reason being that her body was always full with dose of medicines and drugs that drew her far from the reality of life. She never lived in her complete senses. Whenever a situation came, she would just become a handicap and take the aid of her drug prescription.
The later part of her life when she was married to Arthur Miller, a man more than ten years elder to her, it was apparent that she was once more attracted to the intellect and stability of the man. To her, Arthur was again a father like person. When she suffered a miscarriage after this marriage she was completely shattered as she went through the immense trauma of losing her child. This was a major setback to her health. To worsen all the conditions, a cruel letter came from her mother accusing her of being an irresponsible mother. This confrontation further drove her round the bend and her intake of drugs increased. During this period, when she was examined to be seriously ill, she started seeing Dr. Ralph Greenson in Los Angeles. According to him, Monroe always complained about insomnia and cribbed about how Arthur was inept at taking care of her. Arthur on the other hand was shocked by Marilyn’s disrupted mental health. She would start screaming and yelling at him for no reason. He always knew that she needed psychiatric help. One day, when he was in a restaurant he got a call from Marilyn asking him to come and save her, and he knew then that he should have been more proactive. She was desperately in need of medical supervision. All this while, Dr. Greenson was trying to reduce her dependency on drug consumption because he knew that it would ultimately do her no good.
In 1961, when her marriage ended with Arthur, it was like another catalyst in her destruction. Her doctor at that time was Marianne Kris and she was very well aware of Marilyn’s obsession with suicidal threats. To keep her under a close watch while she was withdrawn from drugs, Marilyn was admitted to the New York Hospital under a pseudonym. She was reluctantly taken to the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Division of the hospital. While she was passing through the division she started freaking out on seeing all the steel doors one after the other and made desperate efforts to stop them from putting her into one of those cabinets. When all her attempts proved futile, she broke a window glass and held it against her wrist threatening the doctors that she would kill herself if they did not release her.
That occasion was somehow tackled and she was sent onto a different floor in the asylum which was meant for seriously disturbed patients.
During her treatment she was allowed to make one call to any person of her choice. Marilyn knew she had to contact someone who would come to her rescue at any cost, someone that she could trust. So she called Joe DiMaggio. One of Joe’s friends recalls that the former was sitting in his motel in Florida when he got a call from Marilyn. First he assumed that it was just another of her drug overdose trips and maybe she was delusional, but when he heard the growing pain in her voice and the continuous pleading to come and save her, he did not think twice. She needed him and he knew that. He went to New York and got her out of the asylum.
For another three weeks she was in a hospital where she underwent treatment on DiMaggio’s trust. At that time, she also had her attorney draw a document which made DiMaggio her legal guardian. Anyone who ever wedged her without DiMaggio’s approval would be considered guilty and punishable under law. After some time when Marilyn was found stable enough to take care of herself she was released from the mental care.
The Kennedy Kitsch
Although Marilyn had a tough time working out her relationships in the past, one fact that surfaced out from all her relationships was her need for an eternal loving source. She was driven to the men who were powerful and outspoken. Her gloomy childhood had led to the formation of this vacuum in her life that only a strong fatherly figure could fill.
The first brick of her doom was laid when she met Patricia Kennedy Lawford in LA after her release from the mental clinic. Pat, as she was fondly referred to by Marilyn, was John F Kennedy’s sister. She and Marilyn became friends instantly. Later, Pat’s husband Peter Lawford, an actor by profession, also befriended Marilyn. Eventually, she became close to the Kennedy clan. John F. Kennedy (JFK) had always been an admirer of the Hollywood culture and beauties. He had many flings with many beautiful women in the past too.
Early in 1962, Marilyn was invited to this dinner party by Peter at the Kennedy house. The party was scheduled for 8 PM but Marilyn deliberately pushed her arrival because she knew that someone was desperately waiting for her. When she arrived, everyone was able to sight the look on John and Marilyn’s faces. The moment she entered, everyone, including the president were spellbound by her mesmerizing beauty. When she descended, it was actually like a movie scene being played out. Everyone drifted apart to make way for her. All activities came to a halt as she passed by. People were dying to get introduced to her.
This party was the first time that John and Marilyn actually got a chance to talk. Before this there had been instances when they had come face to face but could do nothing except for exchanging a few flirtatious looks. In the very same party, John proposed his wish to spend the weekend with Marilyn in Palm Springs, Florida.
The relationship between JFK and Marilyn took another leap after that weekend. Philip Watson, a former LA county assessor got the chance to meet Marilyn for the first time when she was in Palm Springs with the president. He recalls her being in a very relaxed state wearing nothing but a robe. He also spoke of the intimacy he saw between JFK and Marilyn. There were no doubts that they were enjoying each other’s company to the fullest. This rendezvous went on smoothly till that weekend but whatever came after that was catastrophic. In Marilyn’s head it was a beautiful beginning and she was looking forward to a relationship but for John Kennedy it was just one of his another casual flings which would eventually fizz out.
Unlike all her other previous broken relationships, what went wrong in this case was that Marilyn was still holding on to what John Kennedy and she had shared that weekend, whereas, JFK was too immersed in his political career’s elevation. He was not the one with the image of a very noble and decent man. The media, the people, the press; everyone was aware of his philandering ways. To him Marilyn was just an addition to that list. Maybe a preciously priced addition, but still he never treasured it more than that. He in fact told Marilyn once, “You my dear are the not the first lady material exactly.” This statement of his was more than enough to drive Marilyn off the bridge. It not only invoked her insecurities that she was losing him but it also made her realize that she was being rejected and that she had no power whatsoever to alter it. They did not have a very long affair. It was just a matter of two or three weeks that made things irremediable.
A very close friend of Kennedy’s, George Smathers once said, “For John it was insignificant right from the time he came back from Palm Springs, but the girl kept on calling him and he kept on dodging the calls.”
Another one of their secret meetings in Washington DC happened because Marilyn showed up impromptu to the White House, but then after a brief meet she was sent back in a motor boat.
An already unstable and drug addict Marilyn, was all the more bewildered by these instances. She was going to great lengths to make herself heard by John, but nothing was working out. The worst thing was that John never confronted her personally about his inability to keep up the relationship. It was always a messenger who would communicate the message to her and that aggravated her even more. John Kennedy was completely aware of Marilyn’s tragic past and all her insecurities and anxieties. He knew that any more broken relationships would not be accepted properly by her. She was very resistant to turn downs and yet, he gave her the exact same pill in the most obscene manner. He always led her to false ways. He just played her round and round but little did he know that this time he was playing with a highly destructive inflammable.
The very famous “Happy Birthday Mr. President” sung by Marilyn on Madison Square garden, on May 19, 1962 in her scintillating sensuous tone was in a way, an acceptance of her relationship with the president in front of the entire public of the United States. It was also her honey-coated dagger to JFK telling him that it would not be so easy to get rid of her. This incident lit a huge fire inside the White House leading Jackie Kennedy, John’s wife go ballistic on what Marilyn did publicly. She threatened John that she would divorce him if things were not ended then and there. Looking forward to an election in the near future, John did not want any more tampered image. In his complete sanity, he decided to pluck out Marilyn from his life forever. To do the deed, he sent over his brother Robert, more popularly known as Bobby Kennedy. Robert spilled the word to her that it was now over. This was like the last nail in the coffin for Marilyn. It was more than enough of news to make her lose all senses and destroy herself bit by bit. Her drug toll started escalating. She went into a major trauma and never came out of it. She made uncountable calls to the White House. But after continual crashing even she understood that nothing miraculous was going to happen. Her hallucination and drug overdose incidents became very recurrent as she was always on pills. It all became like a vicious circle for her. She was afraid of turning into a mentally sick person like her mother and these incidents made her more dependent on medication and drugs which in turn worsened her state of health. Things that had actually started on a good note after her release from the hospital led to her death because of her wrong choices of friends.
The curtain comes down
A lot has been said and suspected about Marilyn’s death. She was found dead in her house in LA on June 5, 1962.She died under really mysterious circumstances. Her death came out in the media as another attempt of suicide, only this time a successful one. Her blood was found flooded with drugs in the autopsy. The pills that she took poisoned her system leading to death. It was said that Marilyn’s last call, right before her death was to John Kennedy. This information strengthened all the speculations about their relationship which were still going in and out in the media. Although for a very long time it was believed that whatever happened was due to her attempts of committing suicide but the facts that came out later made people believe that such was not the case. There was another angle that came to light when it was discovered that Bobby Kennedy had gone to visit Marilyn at her Brentwood house on the night she died.
In fact, there has been a claim by Dr. Jack Hattem, in his book ‘Marilyn Monroe- Death by Consent’, that there was a set of FBI records that was released only 20 years later which have certain facts that should have been paid heed to at that time. The book also seems to hint that it was Robert Kennedy and Peter Lawford who actually tricked Marilyn into committing suicide that day. They told her to fake a suicide attempt so that she could get sympathy from the media and 20th Century Fox who had fired her because of her ill health and precariousness. The major reason behind planning this entire cold blooded scheme to make Marilyn kill herself was that she was beholding some secrets of the Kennedy family in one of her diaries, more precisely, her Red Diary, which is still nowhere to be found. Dr. Hattem, in his book, also clarifies that according to him Robert took it when he visited her house after her death. One of the conversations from the FBI files that is recorded in the former’s book is between Robert Kennedy and Peter Lawford, in which Robert is recorded asking Peter, “is she dead yet..?”
According to the FBI reports, Marilyn was aware of some of the major treacheries of the Kennedy’s and she was threatening to expose them if they did not stop ignoring her. The FBI had their eye on Marilyn right from the time she was married to Arthur Miller. FBI always considered Arthur a leftist and thought that he might become a trouble later on. In this process of discovering facts about Arthur, there was yet another shocking truth revealed which was nowhere in the limelight earlier. This was the liaison between Robert and Marilyn. It is assumed that they were involved with each other too. And during some of their pillow talks, as the book of Dr. Hattem says, Robert had revealed certain Cuban missile secrets to her. And this later became his primary concern that if Marilyn went totally berserk any day and came down to take revenge, he would end up facing the wrath of his entire family.
The mystery prevails…
So many questions have been raised time and again as to why no action was taken if the involvement of Robert Kennedy in Marilyn’s death was so clearly evident and its proof was recorded in the FBI files too? Dr. Hattem says that it was probably so because somewhere down the line everyone had already believed that the Kennedy’s were responsible for Marilyn’s death. Although the answers have not been given and the proof has also not been brought forward to everyone directly, but enough has been said about the incident, for all and sundry to understand that whether intentionally or unintentionally, the Kennedy’s did dig a part of her grave and that, no amount of cover would be able to conceal the names that pushed her towards her final doom.
Marilyn once said, “I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I’m out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you cannot handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” We know that John F Kennedy never loved her nor did he deserve her. Her second husband Joe was the one whom she relied upon the most, in her good and especially in her bad times. It should have been him on her side throughout because he loved her immensely. He even kept on sending flowers to her grave until 20 years after her death.
He had his share of Marilyn’s worse when she was argumentative, when she was unhealthy, when she was in pain but he never really got the best of her. That part of her which he fully deserved, was always denied to him!
It is evident that Marilyn was an impulsive person who was continuously searching for attention. All the fears that she exhibited whenever she was troubled, were stemmed from the anxiety of turning into someone like her mother, or her hallucinations that someone was trying to harm her. She had seen her mother going mad as a child and the fear of becoming the exact same person was pilfering her mind and soul.
She was an innocent soul who was bestowed upon with people who loved her inside out. But what went wrong with her was that she never settled for anything. She had this never ending hunt for love and due to this she left behind the people who already loved her. As she said “I am good, but not an angel. I do sin, but I’m not the devil. I am just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love”.
What we saw
Life of a person is not just a journey, it is more like a ride, but one which we not only direct but control too. Famous philosophers have compared human life to a chariot and the human brain as its control system. Until the time, the controller directs it, it stays stable but in Marilyn’s case, her urges started directing her actions and her entire life went haywire. It is difficult to comprehend the reasons behind her insecurities. Some say she just overcrowded her mind while others feel that it was in her blood only. Whatever the reason might have been, she was a wonderful person who was in certain situations played around by many due to her ingenuity.
50 years have passed since she died, but still people find it difficult to believe that the starlet beauty is no more. People talk about her work, her life and her mysterious death even today. She was an utterly attractive person not just because of her facial beauty but also because of her artlessness and naivetés.
Her life and her death both give us a different angle to examine and handle our own lives. When you think about what happened to her, at one point of time, you will be empowered to dream big and achieve it, and then again at the same time you will also understand the importance of being grounded. Her journey makes us realize the importance of a stable childhood and the immense contribution of our parents in our existence.
She always said, “Success makes so many people hate you. I wish it was not that way. It would be wonderful to enjoy success without seeing envy in the eyes of those around you.” Balancing success was not her forte. She never regretted her actions, not even the bad ones. But history is witness that some kind of reconciliation once in a while has never really harmed anyone.
As they say, “It is only human to be Grey!!” Someday, maybe, if she would have lived a bit more, she would have realized it.
She was a reflection of her own words, “imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it is better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” Believing what she believed, we now know that she was not imperfect, she was beautiful. She was not mad, she was a genius. A believer of her own self and no one else. And that she was not boring ever, and everyone who had spent any amount of time with her cannot stop talking when they try explaining her in words.
Marilyn was a dazzling name and that is the reason her image will always lighten up the screen and her mention will always make you smile..!!! She was indeed a diva who will never grow old in our minds. She was Marilyn Monroe…