Peter Lawford: Downfall of a Golden Boy

The English-born actor, Peter Lawford, was one of the last people to speak to Marilyn on the night she died. A new radio documentary, Brother-in-Lawford, about his glamorous life and tragic decline, airs tomorrow at 10pm on BBC Radio 2 – narrated by Buddy Greco, with input from Lawford’s son, Christopher, reports the Daily Express.

‘“Marilyn taught me to dance the twist but it didn’t feel amazing at six years of age – only when I told people later,” says Christopher.

Indeed his father introduced Marilyn Monroe to JFK and brought her to Kennedy’s 45th birthday party to sing her infamous rendition of happy Birthday.’

Vanity Fair’s Hollywood Scandals

I’ve always suspected that Vanity Fair was just a high-class gossip mag – and they may have confirmed my hunch with this one-off, special edition, Vanity Fair: Hollywood Scandal. Available for a limited time only, it ties in with a recent 48 Hours special on CBS in the US, featuring the untimely death of Marilyn Monroe among other infamous real-life dramas.

You can read editor Grayson Carter’s introduction, At the Corner of Hollywood and ‘Noir’, online. Reviewing the magazine, Liz Smith comments, ‘This kind of collection pretty much puts the Lindsay Lohans and Paris Hiltons in their place.’

Famous Eulogies: Lee Strasberg on Marilyn

Photo by Allan Grant, 1962

Lee Strasberg’s tribute to Marilyn, read at her funeral, is featured at Flavorwire in a meme on famous eulogies, posted to mark Halloween. You can read the full text here.

‘Prestigious acting teacher and director of the Actors Studio, Lee Strasberg, gave screen icon Marilyn Monroe’s eulogy in 1962. Strasberg helped train the legendary star and noted, “The dream of her talent, which she had nurtured as a child, was not a mirage.” Norma Jean had a troubled childhood — spending most of it in foster homes — but her young modeling career eventually led to screen stardom, which was sadly cut short after her suicide. As Strasberg points out, “In her own lifetime she created a myth of what a poor girl from a deprived background could attain.” ‘

‘Marilyn: A Case For Murder’

A new investigation into Marilyn’s death by author Jay Margolis, now available in softcover, hardback or as a digital download from publisher i-Universe and other online stores.

“It is one of the greatest mysteries of the twentieth century. How did Marilyn Monroe die? Although no pills were found in her stomach during the autopsy, it was still documented in the Los Angeles coroner’s report that she had swallowed sixty-four sleeping pills prior to her demise. In Marilyn Monroe: A Case for Murder, biographer Jay Margolis presents the most thorough investigation of Marilyn Monroe’s death to date and shares how he reached the definitive conclusion that she was murdered.

Margolis meticulously dissects the events leading up to her death, revealing a major conspiracy and countless lies. In an exclusive interview with actress Jane Russell three months before her death, he reveals Russell’s belief that Monroe was murdered and points the finger at the man she held responsible. While examining the actions of Peter Lawford, Bobby Kennedy, and Monroe’s psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson, Margolis establishes a timeline of her last day alive that leads to shocking revelations.

In August 1962, Marilyn Monroe’s lifeless body was found on her bed, leaving all to wonder what really happened to the beautiful young starlet. Marilyn Monroe: A Case for Murder provides a fascinating examination of one of the most puzzling deaths of all time.”

Marilyn and Jean Seberg

Actress Jean Seberg had a few things in common with Marilyn. They shared two directors, Otto Preminger and Joshua Logan. I have often thought that Jean’s role in Logan’s Paint Your Wagon might also have suited Marilyn.

Both Marilyn and Jean were monitored by the FBI during the J. Edgar Hoover era. Marilyn was followed, and perhaps even bugged, because of her connections with liberals like Arthur Miller and, possibly, the Kennedys (whom Hoover hated.)

During the 1960s, Seberg was pursued for her radical views on issues like civil rights. The FBI used illegally obtained information to plant a false story in Newsweek, claiming that a leading member of the Black Panthers had fathered her child.

Some researchers believe that the FBI campaign against Jean led to her suicide in 1979. Like Marilyn, she suffered from depression, and died of an overdose. Unlike MM, however, Jean left a note.

Seberg’s death is now the subject of a docu-drama, The Murder of Jean Seberg, and the stills of Daphne Guinness as Jean are somewhat Monroe-esque.

“I want to write that allusions to Marilyn Monroe coupled with the presence of alcohol and cigarettes indicate self-destruction. I want to write about the sunglasses that often conceal Guinness’ eyes, and the way her eye sockets turn into hollow holes of light when she takes them off—that this suggests a lack of identity. I want to write about the inclusion of limiting traffic signs (‘No Parking’ and ‘Dead End’), and the voice-overs and footage from past political horrors, which allude to society’s capacity to subordinate. I want to write that these elements are all suggestive of the way Hollywood and society metaphorically- or literally- murder those whom we worship, and rob the famed of individual identities through exploitation. I want to say that the film is a meditation on fame’s destruction of the celebrity. But I shouldn’t…”

Wonder Mode

Marilyn and ‘Majestic 12’

Marilyn by Ted Baron, 1954

Robin Ramsay casts a sceptical eye upon one of the more exotic conspiracy theories linking Marilyn with JFK and UFOs in The Fortean Times, in response to allegations recently made in the UK’s Daily Mail.

In his article, Ramsay traces the Monroe connection to journalist Dorothy Kilgallen, who knew Marilyn professionally throughout her Hollywood years – though they were not close friends – and was one of the first to investigate the Kennedy rumours after her death.

However, the rumour appears to be based on documents compiled by Majestic 12, a secret committee formed at the orders of President Harry S. Truman in 1947, after the Roswell Incident. The FBI has since declared documents authorised by MJ-12 ‘completely bogus’ – though UFO enthusiasts will disagree.

Murray Garrett Remembers Marilyn

Murray Garrett – whose photographs of Marilyn Monroe, and other great stars of Hollywood’s golden age, are now on display at New York’s Washington Square Hotel – has spoken movingly to Out Impact about his memories of Marilyn:

“I always refer to her – and a lot of my contemporaries would laugh at me because they felt differently, but I always felt that she was a deer in the headlights, and that all this pressure – the throngs would scream and yell when she’d get out of a car. 60, 70 guys with flashbulbs and strobe lights and you could see how she fought fear.

I always felt sorry for her. I remember when my wife woke me one day and said ‘Oh my god!’; I said, ‘What?’ she said ‘Marilyn Monroe died’. I sat there and thought for a minute, I said, ‘She finally found peace.’

I don’t think this woman could have grown old gracefully in that business … she wasn’t tough, hard – because if she was, she would have survived. But she couldn’t have survived; she was threatened by almost everything.

I think there are eras …. (Betty) Grable was a part of the war publicity, stuff to make you feel very patriotic. Monroe didn’t have that going for her. All she had was that she was the sexiest thing to come down the pike since Jean Harlow, and Harlow was another one of those stories that didn’t work out as well as it might have.”

You can read the article in full here

Gorman’s ‘Marilyn Tapes’ on Kindle

Ed Gorman’s 1995 detective novel, The Marilyn Tapes, joins the growing list of Monroe-related books being reissued in E-book format. Available on Kindle for just $1.13.

But according to David Marshall (author of The DD Group and Life Among the Cannibals) it’s not exactly Shakespeare…

“The premise is old. Every hack writer, (and some good ones), has already jumped on the same wagon as Mr. Gorman. It seems that Marilyn’s bedroom really was bugged and everything that went on in there was captured, (gasp), on tape! So sets off this Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World chase with J Edgar Hoover, Bobby Kennedy, Jack Kennedy, Louella Parsons, Johnny Rosselli, and Clyde Tolson grappling for the tapes with assorted maniacal lesbians and tabloid columnists along for the ride…

So if the book is such rot and the author gets so much wrong, why on earth did I keep reading it? Because, simply put, sometimes even crap can be addictive. Why we were all transfixed by the O.J. Simpson trial? Why do I love schlocky 1950s sci-fi? Why does anyone watch Fear Factor? Because, as much as we hate to admit it, sometimes there’s nothing like a big dollop of sleaze. And it doesn’t get much sleazier than ‘The Marilyn Tapes’.

If you really want to read a fictional account of Marilyn and the Kennedy Boys, find a copy of George Bernau’s ‘Candle in the Wind’, Michael Korda’s ‘The Immortals’ or Sam Stagg’s ‘MMII: The Return of Marilyn Monroe’. If you want hardboiled fiction about the convoluted plots and skullduggery of the Kennedy years, pick up a copy of James Elroy’s ‘American Tabloid’ and his follow up, ‘The Cold Six Thousand’. But, should you happen upon a copy of ‘The Marilyn Tapes’ do not, if you respect Marilyn’s memory or your very own self, read that first page. Because, believe me, if you read that first page, you’re going to find yourself on page 320, embarrassed, slightly ashamed, and feeling in need of a shower. Next you’ll be wondering not only why you read it but if there is a 12 step program for people who actually read such crap.

Or, even worse, admit that they did and enjoyed it.”