Marilyn Monroe’s native city, Los Angeles, was once part of Mexico, and her final home in the city was built, and decorated, in the style of an authentic villa. In 1962, a few months before her death, Marilyn visited Mexico and fell in love with its art and culture instantly.
The Spanish have always had a soft spot for Marilyn. Artist and writer Frederic Cabanas has published several books about his muse, including Marilyn in Spain.
Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that some of the best, non-English books on MM have come from Spanish-speaking countries. In the last year, My Story has been published in Spanish; and two intriguing titles, Vintage ’62: Marilyn y Otros Monstruos, and Por el Cielo, Norma Jeane: El deseo concedido de Marilyn Monroe.
Por Cielo, Norma Jeane loosely translates as Norma Jeane in Heaven. Francisco Catena Fernandez describes his novel as a meditation on life after death, and a love story.
Vintage ’62 is an anthology of short stories by various authors, and its subtitle translates as Marilyn and Other Monsters. Its remit encompasses not just MM, but a selection of famous people who died in 1962, including Charles Laughton and Isak Dinesen, who both knew Monroe.
The stories featured include ‘Marilyn and the Invasion of the Body-Snatchers‘, by Mario Escobar; and ‘River of No Return‘, by Rafael Marin.
Today’s San Diego Reader, and The Mirror feature vintage news reports on Marilyn’s death, while NBC has revealed a TV broadcast on the tragedy. Time has posted a variety of articles about Marilyn from their archives – some written during her lifetime.
Dean Chance, ‘perhaps the greatest high school pitcher ever’, was at the Dodger Stadium on Marilyn’s last birthday, when she attended a benefit match for Muscular Dystrophy, reports the Washington Examiner.
‘”In 1962, we’re playing a game in Dodger Stadium on June 1. They put up on the big scoreboard, ‘Today a special happy birthday!'” he said. “I was thinking it was mine. But who was it? Marilyn Monroe. The only time I ever met her.”‘
The final extract from Patrick McGilligan’s Nicholas Ray: The Glorious Failure of an American Director concerns Ray’s reaction to Marilyn’s death.
Ray was filming 55 Days at Peking in Spain when he heard the news. (The magazine cover above shows a rather gossipy Confidential article about Marilyn and Ray from 1956, available to read at Everlasting Star.)
“The first week of August brought the bulletin that Ray’s old flame Marilyn Monroe had been found dead in the bedroom of her Brentwood home. More than Humphrey Bogart’s death, Monroe’s sudden passing, at thirty-six, seemed a personal augury to Ray. He had loved the blond sex symbol, for her obvious qualities but all the more for her elusiveness; now he would never have the chance to direct her in a motion picture. Monroe’s death left Ray ‘deeply shocked and grieved,’ according to news accounts, but the director could not leave the high-pressure filming in Spain and had to content himself with sending a floral display to her funeral.”
In later years, Ray criticised John Huston’s direction of The Misfits:
“In interviews, Ray himself tended to denigrate certain filmmakers by name. Though, for example, he praised Marilyn Monroe’s last picture, ‘The Misfits’, directed by John Huston, Ray said it was ‘not as good as The Lusty Men,’ his rodeo film.”
Albie Pearson – former centre-fielder with the Los Angeles Angels – told the San Bernardino Sun about a strange encounter with Marilyn, possibly at Yankee Stadium where she made her final public appearance on her 36th birthday, June 1st 1962:
‘”In the summer of 1962 there was some sort of charity function at the stadium and I’m selected to escort a celebrity to home plate for a pre-game presentation,” Pearson said. “So I go out to the dugout and they tell me the person I’m going to walk to home plate is Marilyn Monroe.
“Now I am nervous. So I ask, `Where is she?’ And it turned out she was standing over in the far corner of the dugout, completely in the shadows. And she’s pale and shaking and I’m thinking this can’t be Marilyn Monroe, the famous movie star.
“Anyway, we’re called out to home plate and I thought I would have to drag her out of that corner. But once she hit that top step of the dugout she became Marilyn Monroe the movie star, smiling and waving. I was simply amazed at the transformation.
“Well, we finish the presentation and I walk her back. Now, this whole time I never said a word to her and she never spoke to me. Once we’re back in the dugout, she turns back into this shy, withdrawn person.
“And the strangest thing, all this time I have these Bible verses running through my mind. Marilyn Monroe and Bible verses. Talk about God working in mysterious ways.
“As she’s leaving, she suddenly turns to me. And she says, `What is it you are trying to tell me?’ And I was just absolutely speechless. She looked so lost and lonely and I felt I needed to say something, but what do you say to Marilyn Monroe?
“It was a haunting experience, but I went on and played that game. We finished the homestand and went on the road and, I think this was in New York, I go down to the lobby to get a morning paper and there’s the headline `Marilyn Monroe Commits Suicide.’
“And I knew right then that God had plans for my life, bigger plans than just being a ballplayer. I didn’t save Marilyn but I could save others. I had to save others. So I prayed and turned my life over to God.”‘
My Week With Marilyn has been screened at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre, followed by a Q & A with stars Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh. Full report by ‘misskelleen’ at LiveJournal’s 1962 fan forum.
Joan Copeland, the actress sister of Arthur Miller, claims that Marilyn’s breathless rendition of ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ was not intentional, but due to her late arrival, reports the Daily Mail.
This is a funny story, but Marilyn was not late. She was backstage for the entire concert. Peter Lawford introduced her as ‘the late Marilyn Monroe’ as a joke. And the sexiness of her vocal was entirely deliberate!
Copeland says she attended the gala. Now 89, she recently performed a one-woman show in New York. But Arthur Miller’s father, Isadore, was Monroe’s escort, and he accompanied her to a party afterwards.
Among the longest-standing fansites is 1962, a LiveJournal community. Reija Roberts has posted an excellent article on her blog focussing on this group of loyal fans, Relighting the Candle: The Legacy of Marilyn Monroe.
The rumours about Marilyn and JFK are unending. In the Redding Record Searchlight this weekend, local historian Dottie Smith outlines the story of an alleged tryst at a log cabin in Castella, California in 1962 (now owned by Brian Theriot, also who took these photos.)
Personally I find it hard to believe that the notoriously restless president would have spent a whole weekend with a supposed girlfriend – even if she was Marilyn Monroe. However, it’s an interesting read nonetheless.
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’