Today’s leading news story concerns the release of US government files on the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy. Predictably, tabloid journalists have focused on the president’s rumoured affair with Marilyn before her death in 1962, but in fact, little of substance has emerged on the subject.
Prior to the disclosure, a reporter for gossip website TMZ spoke on camera with Clint Hill, the secret service agent who was in the car when Kennedy was fatally shot. When asked about the alleged Monroe affair, Hill said ‘That’s a fallacy. I never saw her, and I was with him a lot.’
The New York Post notes that an 11-page file was compiled on The Strange Death of Marilyn Monroe, a 1964 polemic by the right-wing conspiracy theorist Frank Capell, and the first to implicate the Kennedys in her death. David Marshall, author of The DD Group: An Online Investigation Into the Death of Marilyn Monroe, has reviewed Capell’s book here, while April VeVea – author of Marilyn Monroe: A Day in the Life – has written about Capell here. With all this in mind, you can also read the book in full here, and judge for yourself.
Over at the MudRock website, JPat Brown looks back at the FBI’s abandoned attempt to ‘fact-check the factoids’ about Monroe and the Kennedys in Norman Mailer’s 1973 bestseller, Marilyn. Did the FBI think Mailer’s claims were too outrageous to be believed? Or were they content to let him smear Camelot? (Incidentally, longtime FBI director J. Edgar Hoover – who kept tabs on Marilyn, and led the official investigation into President Kennedy’s assassination – passed away a year before Mailer’s book was published.)
“FBI files released to Conor Skelding reveal that the Bureau was sufficiently alarmed about author Norman Mailer’s accusations about their role in Marilyn Monroe’s death, leading them to investigate if they had, in fact, wiretapped the actress phone.
The incident, near the end of Mailer’s sizable file, began in 1973, when the former agent in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office, William Simon, received a call from Lloyd Shearer, the editor of Parade. Shearer had received an advance copy of Mailer’s upcoming book, which contained some fairly salacious gossip regarding the Bureau and the Blonde Bombshell.
Simon’s response was a pretty unequivocal ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about.’
While it’s unclear how believable Shearer found Simon’s protestations of innocence, the Bureau apparently found the charges alarming enough to inquire if they did actually know what Shearer was talking about.
The Bureau’s attitude changed completely, however, when they actually got ahold of an advance copy.
Mailer had apparently taken some of the more lurid theories surrounding Monroe’s death and ran with them, positing a joint CIA-FBI murder plot as retaliation against the Kennedys for being mad at them for bungling the Bay of Pigs invasion.
The FBI, releasing the futility of fact-checking someone who was openly challenging the very concept of truth … and who would no doubt capitalize on the controversy, decided to just let the matter rest here.
What’s the takeaway here? If you’re going to lie about the FBI, make it big.”
Unacknowleged, a new documentary about UFOs written and directed by Michael Mazzola, rehashes a very old rumour: that the Kennedys ordered Marilyn’s death because she threatened to tell the secrets she knew about an alleged UFO incident at Roswell, New Mexico. You can view a clip here.
This 2011 article by Nick Redfern for the Mysterious Universe website sums up an outlandish, and (in my opinion) highly improbable conspiracy theory.
“By far the most controversial piece of unauthenticated documentation pertaining to UFOs concerns none other than the late Hollywood legend, Marilyn Monroe. It was during a press conference in 1995 that Milo Speriglio – an investigative author now deceased, who wrote three books on Monroe’s death: The Marilyn Conspiracy; Marilyn Monroe: Murder Cover-Up; and Crypt 33: The Saga of Marilyn Monroe – revealed the document to the world’s press.
Incredibly, according to the document, which surfaced via a California-based researcher of UFOs named Timothy Cooper, President John F. Kennedy had guardedly informed Monroe that he had secret knowledge of the controversial incident at Roswell, New Mexico in July 1947. As a result of Kennedy’s revelations to Monroe, the CIA took keen note of any and all developments as the story progressed. Or, at least, that is what we are led to believe, and what the document implies.
The bulk of the contents of the document are focused upon telephone conversations between Howard Rothberg, the former owner of a New York-based antique store, and Dorothy Kilgallen, the well-known celebrity gossip columnist of the 1950s and 1960s, who was herself the subject of a secret 167-page FBI file.
According to Speriglio: ‘[Rothberg] also dealt with a lot of photographers who used to film Marilyn. He got a lot of information about her from them, and he would feed it to Dorothy Kilgallen.’ Interestingly, Speriglio also revealed that the document was the subject of an investigation that was being undertaken by no less than ‘two federal agencies.’ To date, however, the names of those specific agencies have not been revealed.
When the document surfaced, Vicki Ecker, then the editor of UFO Magazine, said: ‘To put it succinctly, the document suggests that on the day she died, Monroe was going to hold her own press conference, where she was planning to spill the beans about, amongst other things, JFK’s secret knowledge of UFOs and dead aliens.’
Indeed, the document, ominously dated only two days before Monroe’s controversial death on August 5, 1962, tells the whole, remarkable story. Notably, at the top of the page it clearly states: ‘References: MOON DUST, Project’ (which was a genuine U.S. operation designed to capture, understand, and exploit overseas advanced technologies, such as Soviet spy-satellites.)
But, with all that said, where are things at today with respect to this most curious and extremely controversial document? Well, Tim Cooper left the UFO scene years ago, and has utterly washed his hands of the document – as well as many other questionable documents on crashed UFOs that he secured from Deep Throat-type sources in the 1990s.
And the CIA? The Agency officially denies having any files, at all, on the Hollywood hotty – despite the ironic fact that the very first document in the FBI’s ‘Monroe File’ was copied to the CIA! As for the players in the saga, they’re all gone to their graves.”
Among the items included in Julien’s November auction is a letter sent to Marilyn by Jean Kennedy Smith, apparently describing MM and her brother Bobby as ‘the new item’. This will already be familiar to many fans, as biographer Anthony Summers reprinted it in Goddess (1985.)
Martin Nolan, executive director at Julien’s, has cited the note as evidence that ‘there was in fact a relationship between Bobby Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe.’ Several news outlets have followed his lead, including the Telegraph. However, other sources close to RFK do not believe they were romantically involved.
“Efforts to prove an affair between the two began in the 1960s. At the time Bobby Kennedy, who was married and had 11 children, was his brother’s Attorney General.
FBI Director J Edgar Hoover, as part of his titanic feud with Bobby Kennedy, tried and failed to catch the politician with the actress.
In his autobiography William Sullivan, Hoover’s Deputy Director at the FBI, wrote: ‘Hoover was desperately trying to catch Bobby Kennedy red-handed at anything he ever did. We used to watch him at parties.’
Eventually, Hoover concluded ‘the stories about Bobby Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe were just stories.’
Much of the speculation about Monroe and the Kennedys in the following decades centred instead on her alleged relationship with President Kennedy.”
“Most occasions where this letter is quoted conveniently leave out the first few sentences because they certainly cast doubt on any romantic relationship. Here’s what the note says in full:
‘Dear Marilyn, Mother asked me to write you and thank you for your sweet note to Daddy-he really enjoyed it and you were very cute to send it. Understand that you and Bobby are the new item! We all think you should come with him when he comes back East! Thanks again for the note-Love, Jean Smith.’
The excised portions certainly put a completely different perspective on it, which explains why they’re excised…..it takes away from a possible scandal. The patriarch of the Kennedy clan, Joe Kennedy, had suffered a stroke and had to undergo months of physical therapy. More than likely, Marilyn had heard about his health issues from her close friend Pat Lawford and sent a get well note, as she was known to be very compassionate to anyone who was ailing. Although we don’t know the date Jean’s note was written, it could have been any time from February to June 1962. This is the time period that people severely lacking in credibility and the authors who believed them reported that there were affairs going on with one or both Kennedy brothers. However, no one can explain why the alleged mistress was being invited to family events (that the wives of both men would have attended), was writing cheerful notes to their father and being thanked for it by their mother and sister. The reference to Marilyn and Bobby being an ‘item’ more than likely refers to them amusing dinner party guests by doing the twist at [their] first meeting back in February. However, these things tend to get overlooked because they don’t support the myths, which in turn doesn’t bring in high book sales or sky rocketing auction bids.”
Writing for the Associated Press, Anthony McCartney reports that previously redacted FBI files relating to Marilyn have been released in full by the FBI after a request was made under the Freedom of Information Act.
The new information refers mostly to the FBI’s monitoring of Marilyn’s allegedly left-wing colleagues in her production company, her Jewish wedding to Arthur Miller, and her friendship with Fred Vanderbilt Field, the expatriate communist whom she met on a trip to Mexico.
“For all the focus on Monroe’s closeness to suspected communists, the bureau never found any proof she was a member of the party.
‘Subject’s views are very positively and concisely leftist; however, if she is being actively used by the Communist Party, it is not general knowledge among those working with the movement in Los Angeles,’ a July 1962 entry in Monroe’s file states.”
The Associated Press has been investigating missing FBI files on Marilyn, as reported in the Washington Post.
“Like many of the stars of her era, Marilyn Monroe’s movements, relationships and comments weren’t just devoured by fans — they were followed closely by the FBI.
Records kept on Monroe, many of which were filed under “Foreign Counterintelligence,” have intrigued many who have sought to learn more about the film star, including those who investigated her death.
In connection with the 50th anniversary of Monroe’s death on Aug. 5, The Associated Press has attempted under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the most complete record of the bureau’s monitoring of Monroe.
Nearly nine months later — after several requests and an appeal — obtaining a more complete record of how the FBI investigated Monroe in the months before she died have been stymied by an effort to simply find the files.
The FBI says it no longer has the files it compiled on Monroe; the National Archives — the usual destination for such material — says it doesn’t have them either.
Finding out precisely when the records were moved — as the FBI says has happened — required the filing of yet another, still-pending Freedom of Information Act request.
The most recent version of the files, all heavily redacted, is publicly available on the bureau’s website, The Vault, which periodically posts FBI records on celebrities, government officials, spies and criminals.”
“Many of the confidential files were destroyed after Hoover’s death. One such item that never came out previously was a teletype sent to headquarters from William Simon, who headed the Los Angeles field office, just after the August 5, 1962, death of Marilyn Monroe at her Brentwood, California home. According to Cartha ‘Deke’ DeLoach, who saw the teletype, it said that then Attorney General Robert Kennedy had borrowed Simon’s personal car to see Monroe just before her death.
Confirming this, Simon’s son Greg says, “My father said Robert Kennedy would borrow his white Lincoln convertible. That’s why we didn’t have it on many weekends.” Simon’s daughter Stephanie Branon also confirmed that her father lent his car to Kennedy and remembered that the attorney general once left his Ray-Ban sunglasses in the glove compartment.
As attorney general, Kennedy was entitled to be driven by an FBI security detail. The fact that he chose to use Simon’s personal car is consistent with William Simon’s report to headquarters that he lent his car to Kennedy for the purpose of clandestine meetings with Monroe. Whether his last meeting with her, possibly to break up with her, may have contributed to her suicide is legitimate speculation.”
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…”
A 1965 FBI file, now released in uncensored form, concerns one Jacqueline Hammond, a then 40 year-old divorcee living at New York’s Carlyle Hotel, who alleged that Jack, Robert, and Edward Kennedy had participated in ‘sex parties’ at the hotel, alongside Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Lawford and his wife Pat (sister to the Kennedy brothers), and Marilyn Monroe.
“An FBI statement accompanying the released of the papers said: ‘[The file] contains a report of a rumour from an informant suggesting that elements of the Mafia wanted attack the character of Edward and Robert Kennedy and their brother-in-law Peter Lawford by working through associates of Frank Sinatra to compromise them at a New York party. Both Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe were to be involved.’
After looking into the claims, the FBI is said to have decided the information was not ‘solid’ enough and no other mention of it appears.”
What comes across most strongly when one peruses the Kennedy files is FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover‘s dislike of the Kennedys, and his almost obsessive crusade to discredit them.
However, it is possible that the Mafia might have planned a plot of this kind, as some writers have argued that mob bosses helped the Democratic Party to win Chicago in 1960’s election, and were deeply angered by Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s subsequent war against organised crime. The Mafia are also believed by some to have ordered the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.
But all of these theories are controversial, and rank among the many rumours surrounding the Kennedy family and the murders of both John and Robert.
What I find harder to believe is that Marilyn was really involved in these so-called orgies, and even less likely, that the Kennedys’ own sister would have wanted any part of it (as this would have verged on incest, after all.) Personally, I feel that the allegations are, at least partly, myth – but still the rumours persist.
As Marilyn Monroe’s most recent biographer, J. Randy Taraborrelli, has noted, FBI files are not always transparent:
“The less one relies on the FBI’s accounts of anything having to do with Marilyn Monroe, the better. Here’s the truth: None of it means a thing … any wacky ‘informant’ could say anything about a celebrity and it would end up in the FBI’s files as fact. This is one of the reasons why these files are so tantalizing to some historians … However, how much of it was just J. Edgar Hoover’s paranoia being passed down to his agents?”
Journalist Liz Smith, who has covered the entertainment industry for almost fifty years, makes this interesting observation in her column today…
“I’ll say this: Frank Sinatra really loved Marilyn. He was devastated by her death. He actually wanted to marry her in an effort to ‘save’ her. (Their mutual lawyer Milt Rudin advised against it—’what if she killed herself while you two were married? You’d be ruined!’) I once spoke with Nancy Sinatra about MM, and she said, ‘Oh, my father adored her.’
I honestly don’t believe Sinatra would have exposed the actress, especially in her fragile condition, to such scenarios. But, lots of people want to believe it, just as they want to ignore Marilyn’s mental problems, and make her a murder victim rather than the suicide she probably was.”