Sex, Lies … and Marilyn Monroe

Fans of the Loving Marilyn website will already be familiar with the lively, perceptive writing of MM superfan and vintage style queen Shar Daws. Shar has now written a scintillating new piece for Tease and Cake, a UK-based burlesque magazine. Illustrated with several gorgeous photos of MM, ‘Sex, Lies…and Marilyn Monroe’ debunks some common myths and reflects upon Marilyn’s timeless sex appeal. Tease and Cake can be ordered here for £6.95, plus shipping to the UK, Europe and beyond. (Please note: this magazine contains some mild nudity.)

What ‘Fragments’ Taught Us About Marilyn

Writing for the Huffington Post, psychologist Romeo Vitelli considers a new study by Spanish psychiatrist Mercedes Fernandez-Cabana. Originally published in the medical journal, Crisis, the article speculates on what Marilyn’s personal writings, as collected in Fragments, may tell us about her possible suicidal intentions in the years leading up to her death.

But most of the writings date from the mid to late 1950s, and as far as we know, Marilyn left no suicide note when she died in 1962. These are Vitelli’s own thoughts on the investigation:

“Studying Fragments was made easier by the dates of the letters and notes left behind by Marilyn Monroe. Using the dated material as a timeline in the years leading up to Monroe’s death, Fernandez-Cabana and her colleagues were able to group the Fragments materials into four time periods ending in 1962. Statistical analysis showed a significant rise in health concerns, death issues and personal pronoun use over time. Also, the period just before her death showed a significant decrease in negative emotions, anxiety, and religious ideas.

Though there were no clear indications of suicidal intention in any of Marilyn’s Monroe’s writings, the notes written shortly before her death suggest a strong sense of isolation. The LIWC evidence does not reflect what has been typically found that depressed individuals but may indicate that her suicide death was an impulsive decision rather than a planned act.

In discussing Monroe’s death, Mercedes Fernandez-Cabana and her fellow authors avoided commenting on the elaborate theories that were raised about her possibly being murdered for political reasons. Also, the lack of any notes written in the critical few weeks leading up to Marilyn Monroe’s death means that important data may be missing from the final analysis.”

Marilyn and the Therapists

Marilyn by Cecil Beaton, 1956

A very insightful post at Tales From the Reading Room on Marilyn and psychoanalysis:

“It wasn’t until I realised that Marilyn Monroe is considered (among other things) as one of the great failures of psychotherapy that I started to look into her life. Like most people, I knew the general outline of her life: fame, films, love affairs and early death. My PhD supervisor had been keen on her and papered the walls of her bathroom with pictures. If we wanted to use it, her students uttered the code phrase ‘I’m just going to visit Marilyn’. So I’d seen pretty much all of the pictures. But when I began to read her story, it felt like a novel gone wrong, written by someone who couldn’t resist putting too much over-the-top plot in it. And the thought that one of her last, and most influential, therapists was implicated in her death seems extraordinary.”

Acting, Imagination and Marilyn

 Douglas Eby focuses on Michelle Williams’ recent portrayal of Marilyn in an article for PsychCentral:

“Michelle Williams devoted some ten months to researching Marilyn Monroe for her acclaimed performance in ‘My Week With Marilyn.’

Producer Harvey Weinstein said he was impressed at the level of Williams’ preparation, how she could quote passages from Maurice Zolotow’s biography on Monroe.

‘Michelle researches a role like no one I’ve ever encountered,’ Weinstein wrote in an email. ‘She watched and studied the movies and photos; she read every book, every biography.… She could describe how Marilyn wiggled and winked while quoting some of her best lines, [like] when she teased that she was nude by saying, “I have nothing on but the radio.’” …

Williams probably also read: My Story, the autobiography by Marilyn Monroe.

She commented in an interview, ‘So I lived with her, and I never stopped trying to find more information. Even on set, on the 10-minute breaks, I would be back poring through photos or with my earphones in watching a movie. I was obsessed. I was on the trail of something. There were clues, and I had to solve a mystery.’

From my Inner Actor post Michelle Williams on Interpreting Marilyn Monroe.”

‘One of the many elements of My Week With Marilyn that I appreciated was the depiction of the emotional challenges Monroe suffered from the onslaught of fame and media attention.’ Eby explores this theme further in another article, ‘Actor’s Privacy and The Dark Side of Fame‘, with reference to ‘Through Your Own Grievous Fault’, an essay by Ayn Rand written shortly after Marilyn died.

 

Marilyn’s Last Sessions: A Novel

Marilyn’s Last Sessions, a 2006 novel by French author Michel Schneider, about her relationship with psychoanalyst Dr Ralph Greenson, will be published in English on November 3.

The book inspired a 2009 documentary of the same name. While I felt that the film blurred fact and fiction too liberally, Schneider’s novel has, so far, been critically acclaimed. It does concern me, however, that Schneider was inspired by John Miner’s disputed transcripts of tapes supposedly made by Marilyn for Greenson, which have never been found.

Andrew O’Hagan, author of The Life and Times of Maf the Dog and His Friend Marilyn Monroe, describes Marilyn’s Last Sessions as ‘marvellous and insightful, a real vision of human delicacy, and one of the international novels of the year.’

Lisa Appignanesi, who wrote about Marilyn and psychoanalysis in her 2008 book, Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors From 1800, has said that ‘Celluloid meets psychoanalysis in this riveting evocation of Marilyn Monroe’s life and ultimate suicide. As an analyst himself, Michel Schneider’s perceptions about the star’s relations with her last psychoanalyst are astute, and he writes with great flair and insight. Tender, provocative, brimming with perception, this is a novel about both our fascination with celebrity and its inner life.’

Schneider will discuss Marilyn’s Last Sessions with Appignanesi at London’s Freud Museum on November 1 at 7pm. Tickets £10/£7 concessions.

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.'”

Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn?


Try this fun quiz at Vanity Fair

Inspired by Mad Men, Pamela Clarke Keogh‘s Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn: Timeless Lessons on Love, Power and Style will be published by Gotham Books on October 28.


“The hit TV show Mad Men recently featured an ad campaign with two images of a model in her underwear. As a brunette, she sips from a china teacup. As a blonde, she swirls a cocktail. Debutante or bombshell? Sometimes women want to be both. On the surface, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Marilyn Monroe could not be more different, but they had more in common than just JFK. Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? is a fun way to explore the classic madonna/ whore conundrum while becoming fabulous in all aspects of life.

Readers start by taking the definitive quiz to determine where they fall on the Jackie/ Marilyn spectrum, and then it’s on to customized advice on beauty and style, sex and marriage, power and career, decorating and entertaining, and more. Any woman who has aspired to Marilyn’s sultry allure or Jackie’s unstoppable elegance (or who wants to balance sexy and serious) will love these entertaining lessons on channeling your inner Jackie or Marilyn in any situation, from throwing a dinner party to penning a love note. Sidebars compare Jackie’s and Marilyn’s dating tips, lists of favorite books and music, diet plans, and even makeup know-how. Packed with charming two-color illustrations, this is the book that gives every woman her own star power.”

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.’

Source

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’.

Gemini Child: Marilyn’s Star Chart

Photo by Bob Willet, 1952

Jennifer Angel has penned an astrological profile of Marilyn from the New York Daily News

“As a Gemini, MARILYN MONROE was not scared of pushing the envelope on creativity, if she could visualize it she could achieve it and would not let many tell her what she could or couldn’t do. As a Gemini, she would have had a knack of communicating her feelings and visions exactly as she saw them, hence, allowing other people to help her fulfill her dream of putting her individual edge on whatever she was working on, which she indeed did.”