Marilyn, Joe Kennedy, and ‘The German’

Photo by David Hoyt Hastie

Fifty years after her death, Marilyn makes the front cover of US scandal sheet, the National Examiner. Their ‘new’ story is that she was murdered by mafioso, including Frank ‘The German’ Schweihs, at the order of the president’s father, Joseph Kennedy. (This seems somewhat unlikely, as Joe had recently suffered a  debilitating stroke and was then incapable of speech.)

The mobster’s daughter, Nora Schweihs, denied this long-standing rumour last year on the axed reality show, Chicago Mob Wives. She is now writing a book, Marilyn Monroe: Murder Cover-Up, and says dramatically, ‘My father didn’t take his secrets to the grave, he gave them to me!’

This conspiracy theory was, in fact, first mooted in Milo Speriglio and Adela Gregory‘s 1992 book, Crypt 33, now available on Kindle.

Marilyn in Dundee

 Fifteen images of Marilyn – taken throughout her career – are on display at Dundee’s art24sevenmedia gallery, and will be auctioned, reports The Courier.

“The collection of 15 pictures have been taken from vintage negatives shot by infamous Hollywood photographers Gerry Franks and Earl Leaf, among others.
The candid images include Marilyn in a drama class with coach Natasha Lytess and relaxing in the garden of Johnny Hyde who is credited with discovering her.

There are also test shots taken early in her career for publicity and to see if she was photogenic.

Gallery owner Fiona Henzie said: “The photographs are taken from vintage negatives and some are very collectible items.

‘They are totally unique and have only been seen once before in a museum in Holland.

‘They have all been in the hands of some quite famous people.

‘One was owned by Elizabeth Montgomery, also known as Samantha in Bewitched, before she sold it on.'”

I contacted Fiona via the gallery’s Facebook page, and she gave me further information about the collection:

“The 15 Marilyn pics will remain on show along with the other great photography during March…Everyone seems to have their own favourite – in the meantime if anyone would like to place an offer or request further information they can send a message to

It is a silent auction so all the information will be collated and the highest bids will be contacted… They have a very fair estimated value of £1500 (in today’s market) and we can guarantee that these are originals taken from the original vintage negative at the present time as a one off but sole exclusivity may be available. I will be posting details of where they can all be seen more clearly. The Scotsman newspaper are interested in doing a feature for this coming weekend .. the actual interview still has to be confirmed so I will try and post the news on our FB page if I believe it is happening.”

All photos on this post were taken by Fraser Penney – my fellow Immortal Marilyn staffer and longtime friend of ES Updates. He visited the gallery this weekend.

What ‘Fragments’ Taught Us About Marilyn


Writing for the Huffington Post, psychologist Romeo Vitelli considers a new study by Spanish psychiatrist Mercedes Fernandez-Cabana. Originally published in the medical journal, Crisis, the article speculates on what Marilyn’s personal writings, as collected in Fragments, may tell us about her possible suicidal intentions in the years leading up to her death.

But most of the writings date from the mid to late 1950s, and as far as we know, Marilyn left no suicide note when she died in 1962. These are Vitelli’s own thoughts on the investigation:

“Studying Fragments was made easier by the dates of the letters and notes left behind by Marilyn Monroe. Using the dated material as a timeline in the years leading up to Monroe’s death, Fernandez-Cabana and her colleagues were able to group the Fragments materials into four time periods ending in 1962. Statistical analysis showed a significant rise in health concerns, death issues and personal pronoun use over time. Also, the period just before her death showed a significant decrease in negative emotions, anxiety, and religious ideas.

Though there were no clear indications of suicidal intention in any of Marilyn’s Monroe’s writings, the notes written shortly before her death suggest a strong sense of isolation. The LIWC evidence does not reflect what has been typically found that depressed individuals but may indicate that her suicide death was an impulsive decision rather than a planned act.

In discussing Monroe’s death, Mercedes Fernandez-Cabana and her fellow authors avoided commenting on the elaborate theories that were raised about her possibly being murdered for political reasons. Also, the lack of any notes written in the critical few weeks leading up to Marilyn Monroe’s death means that important data may be missing from the final analysis.”

Marilyn at Macy’s

 US department store Macy’s has launched a teen range inspired by Marilyn, reports the New York Times.

“Macy’s plans to carry Marilyn Monroe designs in 150 stores, targeting younger shoppers with updated styles for modern blond bombshells. Not to sound prudish, but this means shorter, racier, Kardashian-er.

Take a very little red dress for $59.50, a preview of what is to come, sold at Macy’s this month to benefit the American Heart Association. It evokes several famous Monroe looks, only she typically wore her dresses below the knee, as opposed to below the nothing. Denim shorts, $39.50, are cut short enough to see pockets.”

The range – which was designed in conjunction with ABG, the licensing arm of MM’s estate – seems very loosely connected to Marilyn’s own style. While I appreciate that their aim was to modernise, you could construct this ‘look’ in any chain store, and for far less money.

While I’m glad that ABG are keeping Marilyn’s profile high, I had hoped for a better quality product than this seems to be.

Dale Robertson 1923-2013

Actor Dale Robertson died on February 27th in San Diego, aged 89. He was suffering from lung cancer.

Best known as a television actor, Robertson starred in Tales of Wells FargoThe Iron Horse, and as a host on Death Valley Days. In later years, he appeared in Dallas and Dynasty.

In his 2012 book, They Knew Marilyn Monroe, author Les Harding wrote that Dale had been preparing for a photo shoot with a young Marilyn when her agent, Johnny Hyde, nixed the idea. Hyde was in love with Marilyn, and did not want people to think she and the handsome actor were involved.

Dale also appeared in the episodic film, O. Henry’s Full House (1952), but in a different segment to Marilyn’s. However, they did become friends, and were photographed together on September 15th at a charity event, the Hollywood Entertainers’ Baseball Game.

Biographer Michelle Morgan interviewed Robertson for her 2007 book, Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed. ‘We would go to ball games together and she was very pleasant company,’ he recalled, ‘but we were never boyfriend and girlfriend because we just weren’t attracted to each other.’

Fifty years later, Robertson remembered sensing a sadness in Marilyn. ‘She had a rough time for a while,’ he said, ‘and her biggest enemy was herself.’

After hearing of Robertson’s death, Morgan wrote in her blog, ‘I won’t pretend that I was close to Dale Robertson, in fact I never spoke to him again after I had interviewed him back in 2006, but he was such a lovely person that I truly felt very blessed to have been in touch with him, no matter how short our association had been.’

Willy Rizzo 1928-2013

Collage by Marilynette Edits

Willy Rizzo, who photographed Marilyn in 1962, has died aged 84. Born in Naples, he moved to Paris during the 1930s, and became interested in photography.

Rizzo’s photos of the North African war caught the eye of Life magazine. He later worked for France Dimanche, and covered the first Cannes Film Festival.

Rizzo worked for the Black Star agency in New York, and in 1948, he began a 20-year tenure at Paris Match. He photographed historic events like the Nuremberg Trials, and stars including Brigitte Bardot, Vivien Leigh and Audrey Hepburn.

In his 2010 book, The Final Years of Marilyn Monroe, author Keith Badman gives a detailed account of how her photo shoot with Rizzo came about.

It was originally arranged with Paris Match in December 1961. Marilyn had been out of the public eye since The Misfits, so this was considered quite a coup. He planned the shoot with Marilyn’s publicist, Pat Newcomb, who suggested an afternoon session.

On February 8, 1962, Newcomb informed Rizzo that Marilyn was unwell, and promised that she would appear the next day.  And indeed, Marilyn did so – however, exhausted after moving house, she apologised with a kiss.

‘For you, I would wait a week,’ Rizzo said.

She arrived on Saturday, February 10th. ‘Marilyn was immensely sad at the meeting,’ he said later, ‘and that sadness was very visible in the pictures.’

‘These photos showed a very different side to Marilyn,’ wrote biographer Michelle Morgan (in MM: Private and Undisclosed), ‘in that her hair is rumpled, her clothes are plain and she looks thin and exhausted. Still, she loved them and on March 9th Pat Newcomb wrote to Rizzo to express that Marilyn thought the photos were sensational and she looked forward to working with him again.’

The photos were first published in Paris Match on June 23rd. In recent years, outtakes from the shoot have emerged, showing a softer, more flattering view of Marilyn than the original shots had indicated.

During the 1960s, Rizzo launched a successful second career in furniture design, and was much favoured by the international jet set. In 2010, he opened a gallery in Paris with the help of his wife, Italian actress Elsa Martinelli, and their son.

Willy Rizzo died in Paris on Monday, February 25th. His funeral was attended by, among others, actor Jack Nicholson.

For more information on Rizzo’s work with MM, please visit Immortal Marilyn.