Norma Jeane and the Drone Wars

Marilyn makes a surprise appearance in today’s edition of the left-wing newspaper, the Morning Star, as Miles Ellingham traces the history of drone warfare. It is illustrated with David Conover’s 1945 photo of the 19 year-old Norma Jeane at work in a munitions plant, which led her to pursue a modelling career as World War II came to an end. (Although Marilyn remained deeply patriotic and supported US troops during the Korean War, in later years she would join the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy and told a journalist, ‘My nightmare is the H-Bomb. What’s yours?’)

“The idea of a drone, or telechiric machine, was initially floated as a way of exploring inhospitable zones, and it wasn’t until the second world war that a militarised drone was considered, with the aim of minimising human involvement in warfare.

First came ‘target drones,’ small remote-controlled planes for US artillery target practice. But it wasn’t long before the military-industrial complex thought to weaponise the concept and set thousands of factory workers to construct them. One of these workers was a girl by the name of Norma Jeane Dougherty, who had her first break in a photo for the Radioplane Company, launching an acting career as Marilyn Monroe.”

UPDATE: My response to the article is published in The Morning Star today.

Marilyn Statue Proposed in Van Nuys

Norma Jeane Dougherty photographed by David Conover, who discovered her in Van Nuys, 1945

The Van Nuys Neighborhood Council has proposed that a statue of hometown girl Marilyn be installed at Van Nuys City Hall, as Olga Grigoryants reports for Los Angeles’ Daily News. If these plans come to pass, it would be a fitting tribute to create a likeness of the young Marilyn, perhaps from her early modelling days.

“The news comes four years after Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Panorama City, proposed a bill to name the Van Nuys Post Office after the Hollywood icon, who attended Van Nuys High School — as Norma Jeane Baker — for a short time in the early 1940s.

The plan was first proposed by the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council in 2012. Its president, George Thomas, said the actress had personal ties to the community … She attended Van Nuys High, which was near her house. She lived there with her aunt [Ana Lower] after years in foster homes.

The future movie icon was discovered at the Van Nuys Airport, where she worked on the assembly line at Radioplane Co., which manufactured drones for the U.S. Army during World War II.”

Snapshot of War: Norma Jeane and the Drone

Over at Paleofuture, Matt Novak takes another look at David Conover’s 1944 photo of 18 year-old Norma Jeane Dougherty working at the Radioplane munitions plant – the picture that launched her modelling career – and asks, what was she making?

“Though her main job at the factory was spraying down the planes with fire retardant, here she’s seen assembling the OQ-2 radioplane, (sometimes called the RP-5A, TDD-l or the “Dennymite” for its designer Reginald Denny), which was the first mass produced unmanned aerial vehicle in the world. Drones have been in the news so much recently that we often think of them as a new concept in war.”