Martha Coigney, who worked at the Actor’s Studio in the late 1950s, recalls meeting Marilyn Monroe in an interview with the Moscow Times. (Director Elia Kazan is named as the teacher here – he was a founder of the Actors Studio, as well as Marilyn’s friend. By the time Marilyn joined, Lee Strasberg was the head teacher. Kazan was less active but still connected to the Studio, and probably kept a protective eye on Marilyn.)
“One of Coigney’s many tasks at the Actors Studio was to stop students who arrived late for class from entering the room until the first break. Monroe, whom Coigney recalls as a ‘lovely, sensitive woman that Hollywood typecast terribly,’ was invariably among that group.
Elia Kazan, the director conducting Monroe’s class, resolved to make an exception for the popular Hollywood actress. ‘When Marilyn arrives late, just let her in,’ he once told Coigney.
‘I can’t do that,’ Coigney told him. ‘I can’t make everyone else sit and wait and let her go in alone.’
‘Just do it,’ Kazan said.
But Coigney would not. When Marilyn invariably arrived late, Coigney would open the door, let Marilyn in and then invite the rest of the late students to enter with her.
This caused Kazan to have a private talk with the actress.
The next morning Coigney arrived at her usual early hour to open the studio and get it ready for the day’s work. A few minutes later Marilyn Monroe showed up.
‘What are you doing here so early?’ Coigney asked in surprise.
‘Kazan said he knew I would never come on time,’ Monroe explained. ‘But he said, Can’t you come early instead of late? So here I am.’ After a pause, Monroe added, ‘As long as I’m here, is there anything I can do to help?’
‘Sure,’ Coigney said, ‘you can help me wash the dishes.’
Monroe happily joined in cleaning plates and glasses.”