Friday, March 9, 2012

Comet Blogathon Gone Too Soon: Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn Monroe (1 June 1926 – 5 August 1962) was a actress, singer, model, and one of the most famous Hollywood icons who ever lived. Marilyn Monroe, returned to Hollywood in August 1958 to star in the film, Some Like It Hot. Wilder had already dealt with Monroe's tardiness, stage fright and not remembering her lines during filming of the film, The Seven Year Itch.

This time was no different, she refused to participate in filming with her outbursts. Even with all her bad behavior, Some Like it Hot was nominated for six Academy Awards. Monroe won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. Wilder commented that the film was the biggest success he had ever been associated with.

She then went on to perform in the film, Let's Make Love, which was to be directed by George Cukor, but she was not happy with the script, and Arthur Miller rewrote it. Monroe, began to leave the film set early and on several occasions failed to show up, but her attitude improved after being confronted by Montand.

Monroe's health continued to deteriorate and she began to see a psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson. Where she complained that she had trouble with insomnia.

In 1956, Arthur Miller wrote a story about a divorced woman and a aging cowboy. By 1960 he had written the screenplay and thought it would be a perfect role for Monroe. It became her last completed film. The Misfits, directed by John Huston and starring Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift, Eli Wallach and Thelma Ritter. Shooting began in July 1960 and in August, Monroe was rushed to Los Angeles where she was hospitalized for ten days.

Monroe returned to Nevada to complete the film. Making the film also took it's tole on the other the actors: Montgomery Clift had frequently been unable to perform due to illness, and by the final day of shooting, Thelma Ritter was in hospital suffering from exhaustion. Gable, also said that he felt unwell. Within ten days Gable had died from a heart attack. Gable's widow, Kay, blamed it on the "eternal waiting" on the set of, The Misfits.

Monroe received the 1961 Golden Globe Award as "World Film Favorite" in March, 1962, five months before her death. Huston later commented that Monroe's performance was taken from her own experiences, rather than a character.

During the following months, Monroe's dependence on alcohol and prescription medications began to take a toll on her health and in February she voluntarily entered the, Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic.

She phoned Joe DiMaggio and he traveled from Florida to New York to help transfer her to the, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. She remained there for three weeks. She underwent surgery to correct a blockage in her Fallopian tubes and in May underwent gallbladder surgery. She returned to California and rented an apartment.

In 1962, Monroe began filming Something's Got to Give. It was to be directed by George Cukor, and co-starred Dean Martin and Cyd Charisse. She was ill with a virus as filming was about to begin, and suffered from high temperatures. Henry Weinstein recalled seeing her being physically ill as she prepared to film her scenes.

On May 19, 1962, she attended the early birthday celebration of President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden, at the invitation of Kennedy's brother-in-law, actor Peter Lawford. Monroe performed "Happy Birthday". Kennedy said, "Thank you. I can now retire from politics after having had 'Happy Birthday' sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way."

Monroe returned to the set of Something's Got to Give and filmed a scene in which she was nude in a swimming pool. Commenting that she wanted to "push Liz Taylor off the magazine covers", she gave permission for several partially nude photographs to be published by Life.

Having only reported for work for a total of 35 days of filming, Monroe was fired. The studio 20th Century Fox filed a lawsuit against her for half a million dollars. Monroe was replaced by Lee Remick, and when Dean Martin refused to work with any other actress, he was also threatened with a lawsuit.

Soon after, Monroe gave an interview to Cosmopolitan and was photographed at Peter Lawford's beach house sipping champagne and walking on the beach. She next posed for Bert Stern for Vogue that included several nude photos. Published after her death, they became known as 'The Last Sitting'. Richard Meryman interviewed her for Life, in which Monroe talked about her fans and her uncertainties as a "star" and "sex symbol".

In the final weeks of her life, Monroe continued negotiations on the film, Something's Got to Give. Among her other projects was a biography of Jean Harlow filmed two years later with Carroll Baker. Starring roles in Billy Wilder's Irma la Douce and What a Way to Go! were also discussed. Shirley MacLaine eventually played the roles in both films. Kim Novak replaced her in Kiss Me, Stupid, a comedy in which she was to star opposite Dean Martin.

A film version of the Broadway musical, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, and an unnamed World War I-themed musical co-starring Gene Kelly were also discussed, but the projects were never to be because of her death.

Her dispute with 20th Century Fox was resolved, and her contract renewed into a $1 million two-picture deal, and filming of Something's Got to Give was scheduled to resume in early fall 1962.

Also, there was an Italian four film deal worth 10 million giving her script, director, and co-star approval. Allan "Whitey" Snyder who saw her during the last week of her life, said Monroe was looking forward to her future and that she never looked better.

On August 5, 1962, LAPD police sergeant Jack Clemmons received a call at 4:25 am from Dr. Ralph Greenson, Monroe's psychiatrist, proclaiming that Monroe was found dead at her home in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California. She was 36 years old. At the autopsy, Dr. Thomas Noguchi of the Los Angeles County Coroners office recorded cause of death as "acute barbiturate poisoning,". Many theories, including murder, circulated about the circumstances of her death.

On August 8, 1962, Monroe was interred in a crypt at Corridor of Memories, at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. Lee Strasberg delivered the eulogy. Joe DiMaggio took control of the funeral arrangements which consisted of 31 close family and friends. Police were also present to keep the press away. Her casket was solid bronze and was lined with champagne colored silk. Allan “Whitey” Snyder did her make-up which was supposedly a promise made in earlier years if she were to die before him. She was wearing her favorite green Emilio Pucci dress. In her hands was a small bouquet of pink teacup roses. For the next 20 years, red roses were placed in a vase attached to the crypt, courtesy of DiMaggio.

I highly recommend watching on YouTube: Marilyn: The Last Sessions, a very revealing documentary, based on tapes made during psychoanalysis sessions in the months prior to her death. I would post the videos here, but.. it is recommended for mature audiences..


  1. Nice tribute to Marilyn Monroe you did Dawn!

  2. Dawn, you did a good job of profiling Monroe. I like some of her movies, but I don't think I could have stood working with her. Her self-absorbed ways would have given me a heartache, too.

  3. Such a great write-up! I originally wanted to do Monroe for the Blogathon as I'd spent a month covering her movies, but you did a fantastic job! So much is known about Monroe that I don't think people appreciate her as much which is a shame.

  4. Thank you Monty.

    Kim, sometimes I thought Marilyn Monroe, was her "own" worst enemy. I also do not think.. Hollywood is a very friendly place to work.

    Kristen, Thank you. After watching the documentary Marilyn: The Last Sessions. I came to understand her better.

  5. I thought she was so beautiful in the footage from "Somethings Gotta Give." Yes, gone way too soon.

  6. Favourite Marilyn Movie: "How to Marry a Millionaire". She had great comic timing which made her so much fun to watch.

  7. Again a great post, Dawn! Marilyn Monroe is one of my favourite persons ever. Have a lovely weekend!

  8. I recently read an essay written by Truman Capote about an afternoon he once spent with Marilyn in 1955. His recreation of their conversation is uncanny; he presents her as profane, petulant, impulsive, and insecure. It was more entertaining overall than 'My Week With Marilyn,' that's for sure.

  9. It's so sad how so many of our beloved stars lived such tortured, troubled lives.

    I've discovered that Marilyn was much more capable an actress than people gave her credit for being. When people think of her, they usually think comedy or bombshell, but I have found her dramatic performances to be very good, especially "Don't Bother to Knock." I think she sort of got typecast into doing "fluffy" stuff, but she was capable of being a good dramatic actress as well.

    Thanks for an informative post.

  10. Really excellent article about Marilyn's decline and death, Dawn. I never knew the whole series of events that led up to her untimely death, and it was fascinating reading. She was a very sad woman in so many ways. You have done a tasteful and loving discussion about her. Kudos!

  11. Good post.

    If you haven't seen it yet, you may want to check out My Week With Marilyn. I can't honestly recommend it as an overall movie, but both Michelle Wiliams as Marilyn and Kenneth Branagh as Lawrence Olivier do very good jobs. It shows many of the struggles Monroe and Olivier had trying to adjust to the other.

  12. Great write-up Dawn! I remember as a kid during a summer trip seing Marilyn and Clark Gable filming a scene from The Misfits in Reno. It's was so wierd having them both go not long after - like Twighlight Zone or wondering did I really see them?

  13. I didn't know she was supposed to be in Kiss Me Stupid. That movie would have been totally different with her in it. She would have lent that role a lot more vulnerability.

  14. Robin@DecoratingTennisGirl, We are very lucky that they saved the unseen footage from the film. It is available on DVD.

    R.A. Kerr, I agree the film, "How to Marry a Millionaire", is an awesome classic film.

    Irene Palfy, Thank you. You too..

    Rich, I have not yet seen the film 'My Week With Marilyn'. I think it comes out sometime this month on DVD.

    Patti, I have always thought that Marilyn, was a wonderful actress. In the moments.. when things were going well for her.

    ClassicBecky, Thank you.. I have often wondered what Marilyn, would have done for a living if she had not become an actress.

    Chip Lary, Thank you. I have not yet seen the movie, but.. I do plan on adding it to my DVD collection, when it comes out. I can not wait to see it.

    Christian Esquevin, Wow!! What an awesome memory for you. I bet it was very surreal for you.

    KC, I agree.. I would love to have seen her in the film.

  15. I took a movie stars' home tour when I was in Hollywood in December 2010 and guess what -- the house where Marilyn died is still on the tour! I was happy to see a holiday wreath on the front door. I think she would have liked that.

    I so would have loved to see her as Baby, Jean Harlow. Carroll Baker was simply in over her head in that movie. I would have enjoyed seeing Marilyn put aside her breathiness and play it brassy like Harlow.

    Here's my blogathon post:

  16. You did a wonderful job with this post. Being Monroe is my all time favorite, it was nice to see a respectful yet honest post about her troubles toward the end of her life. Great job!

    Ps. I will definitely check out that video.

  17. Nice work, Dawn! Marilyn Monroe is possibly the icon of icons among movie stars and, it seems, a very complex person off-screen. But I can only imagine what it would be like to be the most famous woman on the planet with an image to perpetuate that was as glamorous and out-of-this-world as MM's.

    Will check out the YouTube video.

  18. The Gal Herself, I have never been on a movie stars' home tour. Although, I have always wanted too.

    I also think.. Marilyn Monroe, could relate to Jean Harlow's life and she would have been perfect in the film..

    Craig Wingard, Thank you. While doing research I found so much information about her.. Some of it was not very flattering and it made me sad to read it. I really did not want my post to put Marilyn Monroe, in a bad light. The video has some nudity. Which I was very surprised to see on you tube, but it is still good.

    The Lady Eve, Thank you. I can not even imagine what her life must have been like.

  19. Dawn,
    I'm so sorry I'm so late getting to your tribute to MM!

    You've done a nice tribute, covering the highlights here. Having recently seen My Week With Marilyn again it was nice to read about her again.

    Also, I re-watched The Misfits recently so now every time I hear her name I think of her whacking that ping pong paddle ball game over and over! IT gets me laughing every time.

    She had her flaws to be sure but she was an icon and we were so lucky to have had her as long as we did.

    There was a great article recently regarding her home (where she died) being sold again. The tour of it was amazing as there has been very little renovation.

    An enjoyable read Dawn! : )

  20. Page, Thank you and thank you about sharing the info. on the article regarding her home. I will look for it.

  21. If Elvis is the King, then Monroe is the queen, for me.

  22. Dwijayas, I agree.. :)
    Thanks for stopping by.


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