I have just finished reading a wonderful biography of Marilyn Monroe, "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe", written by J. Randy Taraborelli, that dispels all the rumors and myths we have heard over the years, particularly about Marilyn's so-called relationship with the Kennedys. Both JFK and RFK were known philanderers, and JKF did indeed have a one-night stand (perhaps two nights) with Marilyn, but afterwards he basically told her to "move on with her life" and he refused to take her phone calls. Nice guy, that JFK... A few months later, RFK invited Marilyn to sing "Happy Birthday" to the President for his 45th birthday, which she famously did, wearing a skin-tight dress. Her attitude was, "They want Marilyn, I'm going to give them Marilyn". This iconic photograph taken at a house party later that evening is the only photograph of the three of them together. Of note, Pat Kennedy Lawford, the President's sister, was one of Marilyn's closest and long-standing friends, and cherished their friendship.
If Marilyn were alive today, she would be recognized for what she was -- a brilliant comedienne, a wonderful actress, singer and dancer, and a young woman who got caught up in the world of Hollywood stardom, self-doubt and drugs. In reality, she was an intelligent woman, well-read, well versed in the arts, literature and politics. She painted, wrote poetry and was an astute businesswoman who started her own production company. She had created the persona of "Marilyn Monroe" and constantly battled the chauvinistic attitude of the men who controlled the movie industry and refused to take her seriously. She was a feminist before her time, but she had become type-cast as "Marilyn" and could not break away from "her". She was trapped in her own creation. If you want to see three brilliant performances, watch "Bus Stop", "The Seven Year Itch" or "Some Like It Hot". If those movies were to be produced today, Marilyn Monroe would be nominated for an Academy Award -- and probably win -- for all three performances. There is not an actress today who can even come close to those performances. Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon, Kate Hudson, Kate Winslet -- eat your hearts out.
Marilyn's downfall was that she ultimately allowed herself to be controlled by the men in her life, including Joe DiMaggio, Arthur Miller, and her psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson. Dr. Greenson took advantage of her fragility, and pumped her full of barbiturates. He planted someone in her house -- Eunice Murray -- to watch Marilyn 24 hours a day and report back to him with her every move. The weekend before her death Marilyn had been seen injecting drugs intravenously, and when the people around her expressed their concern, she said, "Don't worry, I know what I'm doing". When Marilyn died, her body had enough Nembutal, Demerol, Librium and chloral hydrate in it to kill ten people. Since her untimely death in 1962, we have all seen what drugs have done to dozens -- hundreds? -- of entertainers in their prime: Jim Morrison, River Phoenix, Andy Gibb, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Chris Farley, Judy Garland, Michael Jackson -- the list goes on. Marilyn was simply another victim of drug addiction, the same way that Diana was another victim of a drunk driver. These woman were beautiful and larger than life, but in the end they died stupidly and needlessly -- no murder conpiracies, just carelessness and stupidity. Despite all the rumors and innuendoes, there is no conclusive evidence to prove otherwise. And, almost 50 years after her death, the world is still fascinated with Marilyn Monroe because she did indeed have that magical something that defines not only an actress but a star, which is all she ever wanted to be. Perhaps one day the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will have a posthumous award category. Norma Jean Baker should definitely get the long overdue recognition for her brilliant creation and portrayal of "Marilyn Monroe".