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…”
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 – 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.”
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.”
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).”
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.
Scott Fortner has made the final, and most haunting, post in the ‘Cursum Perficio’ series over at MM Collection Blog. This entry focuses on Marilyn’s bedroom (you can see the window above as it was in 1962), and includes photographs of the room today.
“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, 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 theLos 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.
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.
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.