Oliver Stone and the Marilyn Conspiracy

Liz Smith shares an intriguing rumour about yet another Marilyn-related movie project in her column today.

“I have heard that Oliver Stone (The Doors, JFK) is finally interested in Monroe as a subject. Or at least in what supposedly went on around the star. He would probably concentrate on her final frantic years – choice material for the director who has such a flair for the dark and lurid.

This is just ‘talk’ at the moment. There’s many a slip twixt the lip and the overdosed blonde with her hand on the telephone. And two Monroe films are in pre-production now.

But if and when … don’t be surprised if Lindsay Lohan is in on it. Lohan is a great fan of the late MM, and Oliver Stone is a great admirer of Miss Lohan; he thinks she is a serious actress who just needs her one ‘breakout’ adult role. (First she needs to stay in rehab for a long time!)

We’ll see how it goes. I know I’d be fascinated to see how Oliver Stone would handle Marilyn, no matter who played her.”

‘My Great-Aunt, Eunice Murray’

Marilyn at the Fox lot on her 36th birthday with Henry Weinstein, Murray (Photo by George Barris)

“Aunt Eunice and Dr. Greenson eventually became friends, and as time went by, he became very impressed by her stable character. For this reason, when the need later arose, Dr. Greenson, and some of his colleagues, hired her as a ‘support worker’ for some of their high-profile clients. She became the stable ‘friend’ that most of them did not have.”

An intriguing article about Marilyn’s last housekeeper, Eunice Murray, at Galveston Music Scene

Gaga for Marilyn

This month’s Vanity Fair interview with singer Lady Gaga took place close to one of Marilyn Monroe’s old haunts….

“Bungalow 9, the Beverly Hills Hotel…the pink stucco bungalow stands between No. 10 – where Marilyn Monroe had a torrid affair in 1960 with her ‘Let’s Make Love’ co-star Yves Montand – and No. 8, home at one time to Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.”

Photo by Bruce Davidson, Beverly Hills Hotel, 1960

During the interview, Gaga referenced MM while discussing her controversial ‘Paparazzi’ video of 2009.

“And while my fascination with celebrity has almost left the building, I had this incredible fascination with how people love watching celebrities fall apart, or when celebrities die; I wanted to know, what did they look like when they died? Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana, JonBenet Ramsey…I think about all those dead girls, all those dead blonde icons. What did they look like when they died? So then I thought, well maybe if I show what I look like when I die, people won’t wonder. Maybe that’s what I want people to think I’ll look like when I die.”

Marilyn’s 2010 Memorial at Westwood

Photo by Scott Fortner

Speakers at this year’s service, organised by Marilyn Remembered Fan Club:

  • John Gilmore, author of Inside Marilyn Monroe
  • Noreen Siegel, wife of Dr Lee Siegel, Marilyn’s longtime physician at Twentieth Century Fox
  • Marion Collier, ‘Olga’ from Sweet Sue’s Band in Some Like It Hot
  • Audrey Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald’s promoter (Marilyn arranged for Ella to perform at LA’s Mocambo Club in 1954)
  • Stanley Rubin, producer of River of No Return
  • Lois Banner, Professor of History and Gender Studies at USC, currently working on two books about Marilyn
  • Diana Levitt, whose father, F. Hugh Herbert, directed Marilyn’s first movie, Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! in 1947. Diana also took acting classes with Marilyn

For a personal account of the service by ‘misskelleen’, join the 1962 community at LiveJournal


Thoughts on a Sad Anniversary

Bert Stern, 1962

“The star born Norma Jean Mortensen suffered an almost Dickensian childhood of hardship, which culminated in an arranged marriage to a neighbour’s son when she was just 16. But on the silver screen Norma Jean created a glittering, carefree and carnal image that made her Hollywood’s most enduring sex symbol. It is that sensuously hedonistic yet innocent image fans still fall head over heels in love with.” – John Costello, Irish Independent

“She brought out a protective impulse in people. And, in my opinion, that is part of her movie magic. She was not a sassy sex symbol who ‘owned’ her sexuality. She did not seem calculating about it. There was always the wide-eyed innocence there, in spite of the body made for lovin’ – and that somehow engendered a protective response in audiences … male AND female – so she was one of those very rare movie creatures: a sex symbol whom men loved and desired, but also whom women respected and looked up to … and I think it had something to do with that fragmented innocence peering out of her radiant face. She seemed unaware of the responses she brought up in men, and she never seemed out for sex – the Marilyn Monroe persona was all about finding love. Her gifts as an actress and comedienne are obvious – but her appeal is still rather complicated, which, I suppose, is why people still obsess over her, and talk about her, and pick her apart.” Sheila O’Malley

Buddy Greco on the ‘Last Weekend’

Marilyn with Buddy Greco and Frank Sinatra at the Cal-Neva Lodge, July 1962

Singer Buddy Greco has spoken to the UK’s Daily Mail about meeting Marilyn Monroe at Frank Sinatra’s Cal-Neva Lodge on Lake Tahoe, just a week before her death.

This so-called ‘last weekend’ (actually, Marilyn died on the following weekend) remains one of the most controversial aspects of Marilyn’s days, and Greco’s memories are bittersweet:

“Buddy Greco recalls of her demeanour later that weekend: ‘She was fragile, very fragile  –  well, she’d gone.’ Many blamed the Kennedys.

Of course, she could still shine when she wanted to. But by now her gloss was too often just a thin veneer.

Despite her depression, she initially appeared in good shape when she arrived at Cal-Neva, after flying there on Sinatra’s private plane.

‘When she arrived that Saturday, you’d never believe that she had a care in the world,’ recalls Buddy Greco. ‘I was sitting with Frank [Sinatra], Peter Lawford and a bunch of other people, outside Frank’s bungalow, when a limousine pulls up and this gorgeous woman in dark glasses steps out,’ he says.

‘She’s dressed all in green  –  everything green: coat, skirt and scarf. Before I realised who it was, I thought: “My God, what a beautiful woman. No taste in clothes, but what a beautiful woman!”

‘I knew that she’d been to my concerts and shows. She was a regular at the Crescendo club in Hollywood where I often played.

‘We’d said hello a few times, but were never properly introduced. When Frank introduced us, I said: “You won’t remember me, but I was the piano player when you auditioned for the Benny Goodman band in 1948.”

‘She got emotional at that and hugged me. She had such warmth  –  and I was moved. Somebody took some wonderful shots of that moment, of us hugging.’

But by the end of the first evening, a darker Monroe was beginning to emerge. Greco had finished his first performance in the hotel’s lounge and had joined Sinatra and the other guests at Sinatra’s regular table.

‘It was a wonderful time, a magical weekend. It is so hard to describe now but it was maybe the best time of my life.

‘Then suddenly the room went silent and very still. It was surreal. As if somebody had turned the sound off. I looked at Frank. I could immediately tell he was furious. His eyes were like blue ice cubes.

‘He was looking at the doorway where Marilyn was stood, swaying ever so slightly.’

‘She was still in the same green outfit she’d worn all day,’ says Greco. ‘But the woman I’d met that afternoon – smart , funny, intelligent, fragile – had gone.

‘Now she looked drunk and, well, defiant. She was clearly angry and I think I heard her say: “Who the f*** are they all staring at?”‘

Sinatra  –  who was obviously irritated by her erratic behaviour  –  acted fast.

‘It was clear Sinatra was worried. She was in a state where she could have said anything,’ says Greco.

This would have been a major concern for many of those around the table. Monroe, after all, knew an awful lot of secrets  –  and, in her condition, might have been prepared to share them.

‘Sinatra motioned to his bodyguard  –  Coochie  –  to get her out of there. Coochie, a big guy, escorted her out. Actually, he picked her up and carried her out. It wasn’t the star we were used to seeing.’

The incident upset Buddy Greco. He had felt such warmth and vulnerability in her only a few hours earlier and could not understand how she had changed so terribly and suddenly.

‘She was on my mind,’ he says. ‘I was worried about her. I went outside to find out whether she was okay. I knew that she had taken accidental overdoses in the past.

‘I found her by the pool. There was nobody around. It was late and the pool was deserted.

‘Maybe it was the moon but she had a ghostly pallor. It still didn’t occur to me that she might be a woman not long for this world.

‘She was distressed, out of it, but that was all. Maybe her friends were used to seeing her like that but it worried me. Anyway, we talked.

‘I walked her back to her bungalow in the complex reserved for the guests of Frank and Giancana where we all stayed.

‘I thought that the next morning I could put her with Pat Lawford [the Kennedys’ sister], who was her companion, and make sure she got back to L.A. safely.

‘But the next day when I called, she had already left. That was the last time I saw her.’ So does he think that Sinatra had finally lost patience with Monroe and by abandoning her had left her to her fate?

‘That’s a possible scenario,’ Greco answered thoughtfully. ‘After she had created that problem, he certainly wanted her out of there. He could be quite firm with her.'”

The article is very speculative, but nonetheless, Greco’s memories are fascinating, as veteran showbiz columnist Liz Smith has noted:

“IT WAS 48 years ago today that Marilyn Monroe died. On the evening of Saturday, August 4, 1962, or the wee hours of Sunday, the fifth. (Talking to her therapist earlier in the day, she exclaimed, “Here I am. I am supposed to be the most glamorous woman in the world, and I don’t have a date on Saturday night!”)

Sinatra, by every account, was totally undone, devastated when word came of Marilyn’s death. (Sinatra’s valet, George Jacobs, believes Sinatra would have married Monroe, if for no other reason than to ‘save her.’) In any case Frank certainly never spoke of what really happened at the Cal Neva Lodge.”

Lee Strasberg’s Eulogy for Marilyn

George Barris, 1962

“In her own lifetime she created a myth of what a poor girl from a deprived background could attain. For the entire world she became a symbol of the eternal feminine.

But I have no words to describe the myth and the legend. I did not know this Marilyn Monroe. We gathered here today, knew only Marilyn – a warm human being, impulsive and shy, sensitive and in fear of rejection, yet ever avid for life and reaching out for fulfillment. I will not insult the privacy of your memory of her – a privacy she sought and treasured – by trying to describe her whom you knew to you who knew her. In our memories of her she remains alive, not only a shadow on the screen or a glamorous personality.

For us Marilyn was a devoted and loyal friend, a colleague constantly reaching for perfection. We shared her pain and difficulties and some of her joys. She was a member of our family. It is difficult to accept the fact that her zest for life has been ended by this dreadful accident.

Despite the heights and brilliance she attained on the screen, she was planning for the future; she was looking forward to participating in the many exciting things which she planned. In her eyes and in mine her career was just beginning.

The dream of her talent, which she had nurtured as a child, was not a mirage. When she first came to me I was amazed at the startling sensitivity which she possessed and which had remained fresh and undimmed, struggling to express itself despite the life to which she had been subjected.

Others were as physically beautiful as she was, but there was obviously something more in her, something that people saw and recognized in her performances and with which they identified. She had a luminous quality – a combination of wistfulness, radiance, yearning – to set her apart and yet make everyone wish to be a part of it, to share in the childish naïveté which was so shy and yet so vibrant.

This quality was even more evident when she was in the stage. I am truly sorry that the public who loved her did not have the opportunity to see her as we did, in many of the roles that foreshadowed what she would have become. Without a doubt she would have been one of the really great actresses of the stage.

Now it is at an end. I hope her death will stir sympathy and understanding for a sensitive artist and a woman who brought joy and pleasure to the world.

I cannot say goodbye. Marilyn never liked goodbyes, but in the peculiar way she had of turning things around so that they faced reality – I will say au revoir. For the country to which she has gone, we must all someday visit.”

Lee Strasberg, 1962

Life: A Poetic Fragment

The ‘Marilyn Monroe’ Rose

“Life-

I am of both your directions
Existing more with the cold frost
Strong as a cobweb in the wind
Hanging downward the most
Somehow remaining
those beaded rays have the colours
I’ve seen in paintings-ah life
they have cheated you

thinner than a cobweb’s thread
sheerer than any-

but it did attach itself
and held fast in strong winds
and singed by the leaping hot fires
life-of which at singular times
I am both of your directions-
somehow I remain hanging downward the most
as both of your directions pull me”

 – Marilyn Monroe