Mad Men: ‘Dr Faye Miller’ and Marilyn

It’s 1964 and Marilyn Monroe has been dead for two years, but on Madison Avenue her memory is still very much alive. A new character, Dr Faye Miller, is introduced in the latest episode of Mad Men, ‘Every Wall Glares Like a Glass Ceiling’ (Season 4:4.)

Reviewing the episode for the Vanity Fair blog, James Wolcott wrote:

“Don and Roger field short hops from their Lucky Strikes client (regarding new restrictions on cigarette advertising), interrupted by questions over the Pond’s Cold Cream focus group being held in Joan’s office, much to Joan’s chagrin, which she manages to express without a single facial move, entirely through inflection and the No drama eloquence of her wrists.

The focus group is led by Dr. Faye Miller (Cara Buono), the blonde psychologist and motivational researcher who appears to be intended as a younger, dishier model of the impeccable Dr. Joyce Brothers, TV’s original princess of pop psychology. Yet I may be doing Dr. Brothers an injustice, because during the 60s her braininess was supposedly driving quite a classy chassis. ‘She looks like Loretta Young, walks like Marilyn Monroe, and talks like Dr. Freud,’ purred a publicity handout at the time. Actually, I seem to recall Dr. Brothers looking and walking more like June Allyson and talking more like a sensible sedative, but perhaps when she presented herself in a roomful of male execs back then, she exuded the porcelain sex-pow that Dr. Faye Miller projects.”

‘Faye Miller’ was one of the many pseudonyms used by Marilyn when she checked into hotels and airports incognito. Miller was, of course, the surname of her third husband, playwright Arthur Miller.

Marilyn used the name in February 1961, just after her divorce from Miller, when she entered the Payne-Whitney Psychiatric Hospital. When Monroe’s psychiatrist, Dr Marianne Kris, persuaded her that she needed treatment, Marilyn was unaware that it was a secure unit.

Marilyn’s stay lasted just four days, and it seems her disguise didn’t work as she later told friends of being stared at constantly by patients and staff.

Her experience was traumatic and she blamed Dr Kris, though curiously the analyst was not removed from Monroe’s 1961 will. Weeks before her death in 1962, Marilyn approached her lawyer, Milton Rudin, about changing the will but he did not act in time.

It was Joe DiMaggio, Marilyn’s second husband, who came to her rescue and had her transferred to Columbia Presbyterian, a general hospital where she recuperated in private.

Actress Cara Buono remained tight-lipped about the significance of her character’s name, suggesting to Entertainment Weekly that the MM reference may be explained later:

“Your character’s name, ‘Faye Miller,’ was also the pseduonym Marilyn Monroe used when she checked into a mental facility. What’s the significance there?

‘Well, all that information is revealed bit by bit…we’ll find out if that has any meaning. I wondered how this [interview] would be because we can only talk about the two episodes I’ve been in that already aired. But, yeah…Matt Weiner is such an amazing storyteller and I think everything is deliberate, or not. You find out what everything means — if not in this season, then in another season. Sometimes you’ll have to go back to season 1 or season 2 and think, ‘oh I remember that, that’s what this person meant…’ There’s much more to be revealed, I think.'”

Norma Jeane: A ‘Last-Born’ Child

‘Lastborns are usually rebellious, risk takers, confident, caring, creative, charming, affectionate and “the life of the party”. Lastborns can also be immature, self-centered, spoiled, manipulative and irresponsible. Youngests seem to be more observant and have more diverse interests than their older siblings. They also take more risks, travel more, and are more liberal. Youngest brothers are the most fearless of men. Youngest females are the most feminine and flirtatious of women. Younger sisters of brothers are magnets to men. Examples of younger sisters of brothers include Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Elizabeth Taylor. They often find that they have more men attracted to them than other girls. The best match for a youngest male is a firstborn female and the best match for a youngest female is an oldest male of sisters. Two lastborns in a relationship can be fun but firstborn children bring stability to a relationship.’

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This is an interesting take on how Marilyn’s character was formed, though given her unstable childhood, it is hard to place her as a ‘lastborn’ at any period. Norma Jeane had an older half-brother and sister from her mother’s first marriage, but she never met her step-brother, who tragically died at just 13. At the same age, Norma would learn that she had a ‘sister’, and first met Berniece Baker Miracle, then married with a young daughter, six years later. Marilyn remained in contact with Berniece throughout her life.

The young Norma Jeane was also close to another foster child, Lester Bolender, and later Eleanor ‘Bebe’ Goddard. But Marilyn always considered herself a ‘waif’, passed between relatives, friends and an orphanage, and in some ways was more like an only child. One of her closest friends at the end of her life was masseur Ralph Roberts, whom she nicknamed ‘Brother’.

Marilyn’s Lunch with Carson McCullers

Marilyn watches as Isak Dinesen examines a manuscript at the home of Carson McCullers

An article by Eve Goldberg at The Rumpus about the famous literary lunch date attended by Marilyn Monroe, Carson McCullers, Isak Dinesen (aka Karen Blixen), and Arthur Miller, at McCullers’ home in Nyack, New York on February 5, 1959.

“As the Nyack luncheon with Dinesen and Monroe approached, Carson McCullers was both energized and panicked. Learning at the last minute that Dinesen ate only white grapes and oysters, and drank only champagne, she sent her housekeeper off in a hurried search of the requisite items.

But the anxious hostess soon discovered that she was not the only one with the jitters. ‘Marilyn was very timid and called me three or four times about the dress she was gong to wear, and wanting to know if it should be low-cut or not,’ Carson recollects in her autobiography. ‘I said that anything she wore would be beautiful on her.

Finally the guests arrived. Marilyn, on the arm of her husband, Arthur Miller, looked radiant in a black dress with a plunging neckline and a fake fur collar … Over lunch, Dinesen entertained the group with a story about the killing of her first lion in Africa and how she sent the skin to the king of Denmark. “[She] was a magnificent conversationalist and loved to talk,” recalled McCullers. “Marilyn, with her beautiful blue eyes, listened in a ‘once-upon-a-time-way,’ as did we all…. ‘

Marilyn regaled the group with a story about her culinary adventures. She was preparing home-made pasta for a party, but it was getting late, the guests were soon arriving, and the pasta wasn’t ready, so she attempted to finish it off with a hair dryer. Of Marilyn, Dinesen later told a friend, ‘It is not that she is pretty, although she is incredibly pretty—but that she radiates at the same time unbounded vitality and a kind of unbelievable innocence. I have met the same in a lion cub that my native servants in African brought me. I would not keep her.'”

Playing Catch With Marilyn

Marilyn with ‘Bus Stop’ co-star Eileen Heckart and her sons

In this extract from Just Outside the Spotlight: Growing Up with Eileen Heckart, Luke Yankee writes about his mother’s offscreen relationship with her co-star, Marilyn Monroe, during production of Bus Stop in 1956.

(Thanks to ES member Nettie for bringing this book to my attention.)

“Marilyn was crazy about my brothers. She loved to play a little game with them at night. Marilyn was constantly receiving elaborate gift baskets from agents, publicists, and studio types trying to gain her favor. After a long day of shooting, she removed the grapefruits and oranges from the basket and went out onto the balcony.

She’d call down below, ‘Mark! Philip!’

Four year-old Mark raced out onto the balcony with two year-old Philip tottering close behind. They looked up at the pretty blonde lady on the tiered balcony above.

‘Wanna play a little catch?’ Marilyn asked.

‘Okay!’ Mark replied. And so began the nightly ritual of Marilyn Monroe playing ball on the terrace, using grapefruits and oranges as their only sports equipment. First, Marilyn threw a grapefruit. Mark caught it with pride. Next, an orange to Philip. Of course, at two, he couldn’t catch anything, so the fruit rolled onto the balcony below and off the edge to the pool deck, five flights down.

‘Marilyn,’ Mama would say, ‘it’s very sweet of you to do this, but really, you don’t have to.’

‘Are you kidding?’ Marilyn replied. ‘It’s my favorite part of the day! Besides, Vitamin C is very important for growing boys. They have to have their citrus!’

After a few days of this game, during her nightly phonecall to my father in Connecticut, Mama remarked, ‘Oh, sure, Marilyn’s playing catch with the boys on the terrace again. They’re having the time of their lives. And guess who’s gonna have her raggedy ass down at the pool at two in the morning picking up all those goddamn grapefruits and oranges? It ain’t Miss Monroe, that’s for sure!’ “

Marilyn’s X-Ray Sold at Julien’s

A 1954 X-ray of Marilyn Monroe’s chest is reported to have sold for $45,000 (about £30,000) at the ‘Hollywood Legends’ auction in Las Vegas this weekend. Here’s the item description from Julien’s Auctions:

“X-ray of Marilyn Monroe’s chest. Printed on the x-ray is the following information, ‘Cedars of Lebanon Hospital/Drs. E. Freedman and S. Finck/ Name Di Maggio Marilyn/ No. 50612 Date 11-10-54/ Ref. By Dr. L. Krohn.’ As a radiology resident at Cedars, a young doctor obtained these x-rays. When he taught at the school himself, he used these x-rays to ensure that students were paying attention. Monroe was said to have known about the x-rays and their use, about which she said ‘Isn’t that sweet.’ Monroe’s hospital visit was said to be for her chronic endometriosis – or as her doctor’s described it, ‘For correction of a female disorder she has suffered for years.’ Accompanied by a copy of the X-Ray. 17 by 13 3/4 inches”

It’s hard to know what to make of Marilyn’s comment at the time, or how she might have felt about this sale.

The X-Ray dates from November 1954, when Marilyn underwent surgery to relieve her chronic endometriosis. Photos taken of her leaving Cedars of Lebanon Hospital the following day showed her to be extremely distressed by the paparazzi’s presence.

To illustrate this point, I have posted the least upsetting photo from this occasion above (I have no intention of posting the X-ray here. This is a personal decision, those who wish to see it can search on Google.)

In The X-Rays of Others, an article for yesterday’s Huffington Post, Dr Elaine Schattner criticises the auction:

“It seems ironic that Monroe, who was hospitalized for gynecological reasons and died childless, has no descendants to hold her records near, to intervene or somehow say ‘no, the x-rays are off-limits.’ Rather, it’s her doctor’s children who’ve cut the deal.

I can’t help thinking that she, who struggled so in her life, in and out of strangers’ households, love affairs and flicks, is defenseless now again. The films render her vulnerable, again, to more inspection. The loss of privacy is irrevocable, a violation after death.”

Read full article here

Marilyn in Fort Lauderdale

Leaving Florida after a short holiday, 1961

In March 1961, while Marilyn was recovering from illness, ex-husband Joe DiMaggio invited her to join him for a relaxing break in Florida. According to today’s Orlando Sentinel, Marilyn visited the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel during her stay…

“The New York Yankees once made the hotel their home during spring training, and it is said that a chunk of the bar remains missing, where the former owner broke it off so Marilyn Monroe could sign it.”

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Marilyn and the Greensons

Arnold Newman, 1962

“Marilyn would give me older sisterly advice about men and about life … and at other times, it seemed like I was the older one and more experienced, and I would give her sisterly advice.”

Joan and Daniel Greenson, the children of Marilyn’s last psychiatrist, Dr Ralph Greenson, give a rare interview to Christopher Turner in today’s Telegraph.

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