George Masters on Marilyn’s Death

Marilyn en route to Mexico, February 1962. George Masters at right

Tapes recorded in 1998 by Jeff Platts, nephew of George Masters, suggest that the celebrity stylist was with Marilyn the night before she died:

“About a month before he passed away, he sat down and recorded some discussions with Platts. Recently, Platts shared a portion of the tapes with me, specifically one that dealt with Monroe’s last night.

In a frail but controlled voice, here’s what Masters remembered about the last night he saw Monroe alive.

‘The night before she died, the last time I saw her, was in Lake Tahoe at the Cal-Neva Lodge. She was there with Sam Giancana, who was the head of the Mafia.'”

Masters was one of Hollywood’s top hairdressers, and he styled Marilyn’s hair for her ‘Last Sitting’ with Bert Stern in June 1962. He can also be seen with Marilyn in photos taken at a Miami airport earlier that year, en route to Mexico.

Though she admired his skills as a stylist, Marilyn never seemed to confide in Masters as much as some of her other aides, eg make-up man Whitey Snyder or masseur Ralph Roberts. According to Platts, Masters did not remember Monroe fondly:

“George and Marilyn had a love-hate relationship. He described her as the coldest person he’d ever known. He said she’d never really loved anyone but herself. She would do whatever was necessary to keep all the attention focused on her. Her public image was a complete fabrication. George stayed with Marilyn because she was his biggest client (financially as well as level of celebrity).”

These claims appear in an article by Chris Epting for AOL. Epting is also the author of Marilyn Monroe Dyed Here: More Locations of America’s Pop Culture Landmarks.

Over at The Examiner, Elisa Jordan offers her opinion on these latest allegations:

“Let’s start here: Pat Newcomb (Monroe’s publicist) said she slept over at Marilyn’s house that night, but doesn’t address whether or not Marilyn was there—only that Marilyn woke up about noon.

Actually, although Newcomb has spoken very little, at least publicly, about her relationship with Marilyn, she has stated that she and Marilyn went out to dinner at a local restaurant that Friday night. Some people maintain that the women were with Peter Lawford. And even other stories report that Bobby Kennedy was there. I tend to believe it was a low-key evening at a restaurant with Marilyn and Pat, but I wasn’t there. The important thing to remember is that in all versions of the story, Marilyn and Pat were out together on the night of August 3. How could Marilyn have been in Lake Tahoe?

And let’s address Lake Tahoe. Epting does ask some important questions. Were there other people on the plane, for instance? It’s unclear. I would like to take that a step further. What about the pilots? Were there flight attendants? Airport employees?

Masters claims he drove Marilyn home from LAX, but who picked her up in Lake Tahoe? Wasn’t there a driver? Where is he? What about the employees at the Cal-Neva? Cooks? Waitresses? Maids? Bellhops? No one saw Marilyn Monroe, the world’s most famous movie star, at the lodge that night? No other guests saw her? These types of people were able to place her at the Cal-Neva a week earlier. Why not on August 3, too?”

Jordan also adds some thoughts on Master’s credibility:

“If Epting’s reporting is correct—and I believe that it is—then Masters died broken and drug addicted. And if George Masters and Marilyn Monroe had a ‘love-hate’ relationship as reported in Epting’s article, was Masters merely trying to get the last word over Marilyn? Did he merely want to involve himself in one of the most famous mysteries of the 20th century?

Sound like a credible witness to you? Not to me, but I admit that I’m cynical about stories people tell about Marilyn Monroe—especially stories concerning her death. At this point there are so many that it’s nearly impossible to keep them straight.

Now George Masters has added himself to that list. Is it any wonder why people are so fascinated with Marilyn Monroe’s death? The victim is an American icon. The suspects and coconspirators are also celebrities, including a beloved President of the United States. It is a story that instantly makes you famous if you claim to be involved in it. And everyone, it seems, wants to be involved.”

My personal view on these tapes is that though interesting, I am highly sceptical of Masters’ claims. I find it hard to believe that Marilyn really did visit Lake Tahoe the night before she died, because there are no other witnesses. I think she probably spent the evening with Pat Newcomb, and perhaps stayed at home because Pat was unwell that weekend.

Pat Newcomb is still alive and in her eighties. She has never spoken publicly about Marilyn’s death and I doubt she ever will. The truth, I suspect, is more mundane – and even more sad – than the conspiracy theories espoused by Masters et al.

I think Newcomb is the only person still living who knows the truth about Marilyn’s final days. Even if she did tell all, the rumours would carry on regardless. So while her silence may be frustrating to those of us who would like to see the record set straight for once and for all, I can understand her reluctance, and even respect it.

‘Mad Men’ Team on Marilyn Episode

Andre and Maria Jacquemetton, Mad Men‘s husband-and-wife producing-and-writing team, discussed the significance of Marilyn in the series:

“Q: How have you determined which real-life events to reference in the series and how much importance to give them in the world of Mad Men?

A: If the historical event facilitates a theme Matthew Weiner and the writers are interested in exploring, then it becomes part of the season. It’s very important that we not just “do” an event because it happened that year. For instance, there was a great deal of discussion about how to use the death of Marilyn Monroe in [Season 2, Episode 9] “Six Month Leave.” Don Draper, like Marilyn Monroe, is very much a construct of the way people view him. Marilyn’s suicide ended up becoming thematically linked to Don’s feelings about the firing of Freddy Rumsen and, on a personal level, what’s in a name — the idea of identity and Don’s own crisis with that in the episode.”

John Miner Dies in LA

John Miner, a former Los Angeles prosecutor who was involved in the original investigation into Marilyn Monroe’s death, has passed away aged 92.

Miner made headlines in 2005 when the Los Angeles Times published a transcript (from memory) of private tapes, supposedly made by Marilyn, for her psychiatrist, Dr Ralph Greenson. Some fans have pointed to inconsistencies in the text, summarised in an article, Songs Marilyn Never Sang.

Though Miner claimed to have heard the tapes in the days after Monroe’s death, the recordings have never been traced.

Miner believed that Marilyn was murdered. Most recently he collaborated with collector Keya Morgan on Murder at Fifth Helena Drive, a documentary and book set to be released in 2012 (the 50th anniversary of MM’s death.)

Whatever one may think of Miner’s theories and evidence, his certainty never wavered.

Postscript

An obituary was published in error Friday for a death that occurred a year ago. The article was about former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney John W. Miner, who was an investigator in the 1962 death of Marilyn Monroe. The obituary reported that he died Feb. 25. Miner actually died Feb. 25, 2010.

Chicago Tribune

The Kennedy Detail

Former FBI agent Gerald Blaine, one of the security staff who witnessed the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, is the author of a new book, The Kennedy Detail, which is also the title of an upcoming Discovery Channel documentary.

Regarding the rumour that Kennedy had an affair with Marilyn Monroe, Blaine says that there were only two occasions on which they were known to be together – on May 19, 1962 after she sang ‘Happy Birthday’ at his 45th birthday celebration in New York, and once the previous year, at the home of his sister and brother-in-law, Patricia and Peter Lawford.

Mr Blaine says Monroe attended a party after the birthday celebration at the Carlyle Hotel – but left before the other guests.

The Australian

A Poem for Marilyn, by Edwin Morgan

A 1968 work by the Scottish poet Edwin Morgan, who died earlier this year.

The Death of Marilyn Monroe

What innocence? Whose guilt? What eyes? Whose breast?

Crumpled orphan, nembutal bed,

white hearse, Los Angeles,

DiMaggio! Los Angeles! Miller! Los Angeles! America!

That Death should seem the only protector –

That all arms should have faded, and the great cameras and lights

become an inquisition and a torment –

That the many acquaintances, the autograph-hunters, the

inflexible directors, the drive-in admirers should become

a blur of incomprehension and pain –

That lonely Uncertainty should limp up, grinning, with

bewildering barbiturates, and watch her undress and lie

down and in her anguish

call for him! call for him to strengthen her with what could

only dissolve her! A method

of dying, we are shaken, we see it. Strasberg!

Los Angeles! Olivier! Los Angeles! Others die

and yet by this death we are a little shaken, we feel it,

America.

Let no one say communication is a cantword.

They had to lift her hand from the bedside telephone.

But what she had not been able to say

perhaps she had said. ‘All I had was my life.

I have no regrets, because if I made

any mistakes, I was responsible.

There is now – and there is the future.

What has happened is behind. So

it follows you around? So what?’ – This

to a friend, ten days before.

And so she was responsible.

And if she was not responsible, not wholly responsible, Los Angeles?

Los Angeles? Will it follow you around? Will the slow

white hearse of the child of America follow you around?

‘There Was a Golden Girl Called Marilyn’

This bittersweet tribute to Marilyn, by Ruth Waterbury, was published in Motion Picture magazine in November 1962, just three months after Monroe’s tragic death.

“Poor, beautiful, intellectual, laughing Marilyn. She began on a note of mystery and she ended that way, too, alone as she been all her life. May heaven be good to her. She gave much to everyone who knew her, even those who only knew her through that glorious image on the screen. She was like a golden ray of sun on a darkling plain. This is the legacy she leaves to us all, this memory. It will linger long.”

You can read the article in full on Everlasting Star – with thanks to ‘hollywoodcinderella’

Monroe Investigator Dies

Ronald H. ‘Mike’ Carroll, the retired Los Angeles County deputy district attorney who supervised the 1982 review of Marilyn Monroe’s 1962 death, has died aged 74.

The enquiry into Marilyn’s death lasted nearly 4 months. A 30-page report concluded, ‘Our inquiries and document examination uncovered no credible evidence supporting a murder theory…The homicide hypotheses must be viewed with extreme skepticism.’

Lionel Grandison’s claim to have found Monroe’s ‘red diary’ was also rejected. (Grandison was employed by the coroner’s office when Marilyn died.) The Los Angeles Times noted that Carroll’s report cited ‘reasonable evidence’ of suicide, arguing that murder in this case would have required a ‘massive conspiracy’.

One of Monroe’s many biographers, Anthony Summers, interviewed Carroll for a Reader’s Digest article, ‘Bombshell’, in 2006. Carroll staunchly defended the 1982 enquiry: ‘My job was to look for evidence of murder,’ he said, ‘and I didn’t find any. There were pieces of information that might have thrown light on aspects of Marilyn Monroe’s final days, her involvement with the Kennedy brothers, for instance. But that’s for the biographers and historians. It wasn’t my job, wasn’t the assignment we had.’

Philip Larkin on Marilyn’s Death

“6 August 1962, 21 York Road, Loughborough, Leics.

“[. . .] Isn’t it a sad shock about Marilyn Monroe? ‘The People’ (a British tabloid newspaper) made her sound very dopey, but I was shocked all the same. ‘The Mirror’ said her fan mail had shrunk from 8,000 to 80 a week! I’m sure Hollywood is a ghastly place to work in for anyone like her, everyone wanting to screw you and get a cut for doing it, nobody really helping you.”

Extract from Letters to Monica, a collection of correspondence between the English poet, Philip Larkin, and his longtime companion, the literary professor Monica Jones, which will be published later this month.