Joe and Marilyn: Legends in Love

Joe and Marilyn: Legends in Love is the final book by celebrity biographer C. David Heymann, whose previous subjects included Elizabeth Taylor and the Kennedy family.

Born in Manhattan in 1945, Heymann was a literary scholar whose first books, about Ezra Pound and Robert and Amy Lowell, were published in the 1970s. “I learned from this,” he told the New York Observer in 1999, “never write a book about a poet if you want to sell books.”

In 1983, Poor Little Rich Girl – his biography of heiress Barbara Hutton – was withdrawn by its publisher because of factual errors, as Heymann’s New York Times obituary explains:

 “That December the book’s original publisher, Random House, recalled and destroyed 58,000 copies of the book because of factual errors. Chief among them was Mr. Heymann’s assertion that Edward A. Kantor, a Beverly Hills doctor, had prescribed excessive drugs for Ms. Hutton in 1943.

Dr. Kantor, who became Ms. Hutton’s physician in the late 1960s, graduated from medical school in 1954. In 1943, as the news media reported after the error came to light, he would have been 14.

Mr. Heymann, who did not dispute this and other errors ascribed to the book, attributed them to researchers he had engaged to conduct interviews on his behalf.

After the book was withdrawn, Mr. Heymann later said, he attempted suicide. He moved to Israel for a time; there, he told interviewers afterward, he worked for Mossad, the Israeli spy agency.

On Thursday, Mr. Heymann’s wife said that while he had sometimes spoken to her of having worked for Mossad, she could not confirm that assertion.

In 1984 Mr. Heymann’s biography of Ms. Hutton was republished, in what was described as a revised and corrected version, by Lyle Stuart, an independent publishing house known for renegade titles.

The flap over Mr. Heymann’s Hutton book put his earlier work under scrutiny. After that book was withdrawn, news organizations reported on a charge by the Pound scholar Hugh Kenner that had received comparatively little attention at the time:

In 1977, writing in the magazine The Alternative: An American Spectator (a forerunner of The American Spectator), Mr. Kenner accused Mr. Heymann of having taken an interview with Pound by an Italian interviewer, published in Venice, and presented it in his book as if it he had conducted it himself.

Mr. Heymann denied the accusation, calling it retribution for a negative review he had written of one of Mr. Kenner’s books.”

Heymann went on to write A Woman Named Jackie, a bestselling biography of Jacqueline Kennedy; and Liz: An Intimate Biography of Elizabeth Taylor (1995), both of which were made into TV movies.

He first became known to MM fans in 1999, when RFK: A Candid Biography of Robert F. Kennedy was published. In this book, he claimed that Peter Lawford told him that he and Kennedy had visited Marilyn on the day she died, and that she had threatened Kennedy with a knife.

This interview is often cited by those authors who believe Marilyn was murdered by order of the Kennedys, though others doubt that Kennedy visited Marilyn that day (he was photographed on a friend’s ranch near San Francisco with his family on the same weekend.)

The controversy surrounding Heymann deepened in 2009, with the publication of Bobby and Jackie: A Love Story. Many Kennedy scholars disputed his claim of an affair between Robert Kennedy and his brother’s wife. “It’s a new low, and you just wonder how far people are willing to go,” Laurence Leamer, author of three books about the Kennedys, told the New York Daily News.

Heymann died in May 2012. Joe and Marilyn was originally due to be published in April 2013, but the release date was repeatedly pushed back. It has now been published, and was heralded by a rather scurrilous article in the New York Post:

“In one of the book’s more outrageous claims, DiMaggio spent $10,000 on a life-size sex doll made in Monroe’s image. One year after Monroe filed for divorce, he showed it to a stewardess he was seeing.

‘She’s Marilyn the Magnificent,’ DiMaggio said. ‘She can do anything Marilyn can do, except talk.'”

Joe and Marilyn contains numerous factual errors. For example, Heymann claims that Ana Lower took Norma Jeane to visit her mother in a mental hospital. In fact, it was Grace Goddard; Ana did not meet Gladys until much later. Heymann also writes that Marlon Brando sent Marilyn a fake signed photo of Einstein as a joke. In fact, the prankster was Eli Wallach. He later claims that John Huston first directed Marilyn in Ladies of the Chorus (actually, it was The Asphalt Jungle.)

Among the book’s more bizarre claims are that Marilyn smoked dope with Arthur Miller; that Miller’s young son was a cross-dresser; that she ran naked through the Mapes hotel and casino; and had sex in public with Jose Bolanos.

Heymann claimed to have interviewed many people close to Joe and Marilyn, including press agent Rupert Allan; make-up artist Alan ‘Whitey’ Snyder; George Solotaire’s son, Robert; Dom DiMaggio; Joe DiMaggio junior; Marilyn’s mime teacher, Lotte Goslar; and her masseur, Ralph Roberts.

However, many of the quotes attributed to them seem paraphrased from previously published material. And most of these people were known for their discretion, which makes much of what is said therein hard to believe.

In the case of Lotte Goslar, there is no evidence that she was a longterm confidante of Marilyn’s. Doris Lilly, author of the 1951 novel, How to Marry a Millionaire, is also named as a close friend, without corroborating evidence. Other alleged sources, such as psychiatrist Rose Fromm and journalist Kurt Lamprecht, also seem to have appeared from nowhere.

While Heymann acknowledges that Robert Slatzer’s story of a secret marriage to Marilyn has been debunked, he nonetheless asserts that Slatzer’s story of a clash with Joe DiMaggio is true. He also claims to have interviewed Jeanne Carmen, Marilyn’s self-styled ‘best friend’, whose stories have also been widely discredited.

As Margalit Fox noted in her New York Times obituary: “Though some critics admired Mr. Heymann’s biographies for their comprehensiveness, others were far more caustic. Their concerns included his use of single rather than multiple sources in reconstructing historical events, and his reliance on hearsay accounts by people not directly involved in incidents he was describing.”

With all this in mind, I cannot recommend Joe and Marilyn: Legends in Love as a reliable biography. It is so utterly riddled with mistakes, exaggerations and distortions that it soon becomes impossible to tell whether any of it is real. I suspect that what little grains of truth this book may contain are largely thanks to the earlier work of other, more rigorous authors.

Rumoured Kennedy Sex Tape For Sale

Over the years, many ‘sex tapes‘ have been touted as featuring Marilyn. None, however, have been authenticated – with some being proved as fraudulent, and others hastily withdrawn. The latest – and perhaps most implausible yet – is an alleged 8mm film of a supposed ‘oval office orgy’, featuring MM with President John F. Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, reports gossip blog Radar Online.

I find this hard to believe, not least because it was near-impossible to secretly film people using camera equipment available during the early 1960s. And why on earth would the president and his brother have consented to be filmed in such a compromising situation?

“The steamy, never-before-seen reel — said to have been shot on 8 mm film — will be auctioned by the Tulare County Sheriff in California which has seized the property as part of a lawsuit involving the man, William Castleberry.

Castleberry exclusively told RadarOnline.com: ‘It’s real. I had it for years and I never released it out of respect for Joe DiMaggio… I’m just sick about it and I’m desperately trying to raise money to get it back.’

Castleberry, a 56-year-old memorabilia collector, would not detail how he obtained the alleged recording or what it depicts.

He had been making payments to satisfy the debt, but according to Castleberry, lawyers demanded a balloon payment that he simply couldn’t afford to pay.

‘They demanded a $90,000 payment I couldn’t afford and that is when the sheriff came in and seized the sex tape and all of my other memorabilia I have been collecting my entire life,’ he said.

‘I was told several years ago that Mr. Castleberry had a sex tape of Marilyn Monroe, JFK & RFK,’ said attorney Ryan Sullivan, who is representing the plaintiffs in the case against Castleberry.

But, cautioned the lawyer: ‘I have no idea what is on the tape, it could be what Mr. Castleberry says, or it could be a Disney cartoon. The only way anyone will ever know is if they buy it and view it. The entire lot will go up for auction on Tuesday and the minimum bid will be $200,000.’

‘Mr. Castleberry has until Tuesday morning before the lot goes up for auction to get his stuff back,’ Sullivan said. ‘He would have to pay over $200,000 to satisfy the judgement. If he fails to do so, the auction will proceed.’

If he does secure the apparent prized possession, Castleberry said he plans on ‘releasing it all to the world.’

He told Radar, ‘I had hoped to give it all to a museum, or even open one myself. If I don’t get it back, well, okay. It’s just stuff and I can start over. My wife is extremely sick and when I go to heaven someday, I’m not taking a U-haul full of stuff with me.’”

UPDATE: The auction has been cancelled after Mr Castleberry settled his $200,000 debt, reports TMZ. Publicity stunt, anyone?

 

Shirley MacLaine: The Understudy

Actress Shirley MacLaine was honoured by the Kennedy Center this week for her ‘exemplary lifetime achievement in the performing arts.’ She began her career on Broadway as understudy to Carol Haney in The Pajama Game, and made her screen debut in Hitchock’s The Trouble With Harry (1955.)

Among MacLaine’s most famous films are Some Came Running, The Apartment, Sweet Charity and Terms of Endearment. Recently she reached a new audience with her role in TV’s Downton Abbey.

In They Knew Marilyn Monroe, Les Harding notes that ‘after Marilyn’s death, MacLaine took over several projects which had been earmarked for her.’ And in recent years, MacLaine has shared some surprising (to say the least) anecdotes about MM.

In 2011, MacLaine claimed that Marilyn attended a preview of The Apartment nude under her fur coat, although photos from the event appear to show her wearing a dress. MacLaine has also claimed to have ‘shared’ Yves Montand – Marilyn’s Let’s Make Love co-star who accompanied her to the screening – with Monroe, implying that she also had an affair with him.

In her 2012 book, I’m Over All That, MacLaine added fuel to the fire of the MM-JFK rumour mill:

“I never had any proof that the Kennedy brothers had intimate relations with Marilyn Monroe, but it wouldn’t be beyond the realm of probability. Once at Arthur and Mathilde Krim’s house in New York, I joined an impressive gathering of movie stars and politicians. Marilyn was there. I saw her go into a private room with Jack. They stayed awhile, until he came out another door. Immediately, Bobby entered the room and stayed until the song that Jimmy Durante was singing was over. I have a picture of that night on my Wall of Life. Of course, the Kennedy brothers and Marilyn could have been talking about world affairs and comparing notes, but most of us thought it was the other kind of affairs they were interested in.”

This appears to be a reference to the party held after Kennedy’s birthday gala on May 18, 1962, which Shirley also attended. In a recent interview – broadcast on CNN – she talks about the gala itself, claiming that Marilyn refused to go onstage and Shirley was asked to stand in for her.

Of course, Marilyn was prone to stage fright – and given her unreliable reputation, it wouldn’t be surprising if a last-minute replacement was considered. However, Marilyn had already defied orders from Twentieth Century-Fox to perform at the gala. In fact, her later dismissal from Something’s Got to Give was partly related to this matter.

Also, Marilyn’s appearance at the very end of the gala was pre-planned. Peter Lawford introduced her as ‘the late Marilyn Monroe’ as a pun on her reputation for unpunctuality. Throughout the evening, her appearance was announced, only for her not to appear. In fact, she performed on schedule.

Interestingly, the sole occasion when Monroe and MacLaine were allegedly photographed together – on Dean Martin’s yacht in 1961 – has been disputed by Shirley herself. Upon writing to MacLaine, a member of Everlasting Star was told that she was not in the photo. It has also been suggested that the mystery woman is French cabaret star Zizi Jeanmaire.

Photo by Bernie Abramson

 

Fred Otash: The Marilyn Tapes

Yesterday’s Hollywood Reporter contained allegations – not new, but still sensational – regarding the notorious ‘private eye’ Fred Otash’s alleged tapes of Marilyn and John F. Kennedy.

“Now unveiled for the first time to The Hollywood Reporter by the detective’s daughter, Colleen, and her business partner Manfred Westphal (a veteran publicist with APA, whose parents were Otash’s neighbors), the records fill 11 overflowing boxes that for two decades have been hidden inside a storage unit in the San Fernando Valley.”

In his 1985 book, Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe, biographer Anthony Summers claimed that Otash began surveillance on her in 1961. And crime novelist James Ellroy is currently adapting his novella, Shakedown, for an HBO series about Otash’s exploits in 1950s Los Angeles.

Otash wrote a manuscript, Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedys, before his death in 1992. It has never been published.

Stephen Galloway, author of the article, doesn’t mention whether he actually listened to the tapes, or read Otash’s notes on the case. Without confirmation that the recordings exist – and hard evidence that they are, indeed, of Marilyn – I remain unconvinced.

I also think that her personal life should remain private – but as we all know, sex sells.

Here is an excerpt from yesterday’s article:

“TAPING MARILYN MONROE

‘Marilyn wanted a mini-phone listening device,’ Otash claims in the notes, adding that he spied on her even while she was paying him to install recording equipment so that she could tape her own phone calls. ‘You could hide it in your bra. The microphone was a wristwatch. You could also put a suction cup on the phone. Later on, she wanted a sophisticated system put in her house. We wired up her phone because it started looking stupid with a suction cup.’

Otash listened in on Marilyn having sex with Kennedy when he was watching Lawford’s house in Malibu, allegedly while working for Howard Hughes, who was seeking general information with which to discredit the Democrats. ‘When the original Lawford house was wired, Monroe was not part of the plan,’ Otash says in the files. ‘It was to find out what the Democrats were up to on behalf of Howard Hughes and Nixon. Monroe became a by-product.’

The files include notes that he left for Colleen, in which he says he was conducting surveillance of Marilyn Monroe on the day she died.

‘I listened to Marilyn Monroe die,’ he claims in the notes, without elaborating, adding that he had taped an angry confrontation among Bobby Kennedy, Lawford and Monroe just hours before her death: ‘She said she was passed around like a piece of meat. It was a violent argument about their relationship and the commitment and promises he made to her. She was really screaming and they were trying to quiet her down. She’s in the bedroom and Bobby gets the pillow and he muffles her on the bed to keep the neighbors from hearing. She finally quieted down and then he was looking to get out of there.’

Otash only learned that Monroe had died when Lawford called him in the early hours of the following day and asked him to remove any incriminating evidence from her house. There is no record of what was removed, and the alleged tapes have since disappeared.

Shortly before Otash’s death in 1992 at the age of 70, he told Vanity Fair: ‘I would have kept it quiet all my life. But all of a sudden, I’m looking at FBI files and CIA files with quotes from my investigators telling them about the work they did on my behalf. It’s stupid to sit here and deny that these things are true…'”

Schiller on Marilyn and Her Demons

In an interview with the Miami New Times, photographer Larry Schiller talked about working with Marilyn:

“On the set of Let’s Make Love, you were photographing her in her dressing room and she asked you, ‘How often do you lie?’ Why do you think she was an insecure person?
Compare Marilyn Monroe to a great comedian or a great actress like Ana Magnani or Bette Davis. I think everybody is insecure in some way; otherwise they wouldn’t be a great talent because they are trying to express themselves and prove themselves to themselves and to the world, and I think Marilyn had a lot of demons in her life. A lot of demons. One of the demons that haunted her tremendously was the insanity in her own family — her mother being in a mental institution, her father attempting suicide, and she herself in pain. I think that inside there were demons we never knew about and dealt with. That’s number one.

Number two, I have a theory — which is based not on speculation or rumor, but based on what I’ve observed — and that is Marilyn was very secure in front of the still camera because she didn’t have to walk and talk all the time. In front of the moving camera, I think that she became very insecure because she had to have two or three things going on simultaneously. But she went to one of the greatest acting schools in the world, The Actors Studio, and she had one of the greatest acting coaches in the world, Lee Strasberg. She was a fine actress, but the world didn’t accept her as that. They accepted her as the dumb blonde. But I believe that that was a role she was playing all the time. Laurence Olivier played roles, Walter Matthau, all actors. But she played the same role all the time, and they wouldn’t let her out of that role by giving her other screenplays. That made her more insecure.”

Schiller claims to have visited Marilyn at home on the day she died to discuss selling photos of her nude swim to Playboy. He has also said that Bobby Kennedy was in the house when he called.

“You witnessed things many people didn’t, like Robert Kennedy at her home shortly before she died. Do you believe there was a conspiracy to kill Marilyn?
You know you can’t prove a negative — you can’t prove there are no flying saucers. Personally, I spent a lot of time with Bobby Kennedy after that. I was a photographer and I photographed his campaigns. I don’t think the Kennedys were the type of people that would deal with a problem that way. I also don’t believe there was a conspiracy to kill Robert Kennedy, just as I don’t believe there was a conspiracy to kill John F. Kennedy.”

Secrets of the FBI

Marilyn photographed by Allan Grant in July 1962

Secrets of the FBI is a new book by the conservative author Ronald Kessler, and it includes material on Marilyn’s alleged meetings with Robert F. Kennedy.

I’m not clear whether this is based on known or unseen files, but FBI material on MM tends to be highly speculative.

Here’s an extract from an article by Kessler, writing for The Daily Beast:

“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.”

Mrs Hammond and the FBI

Marilyn and Frank Sinatra, 1960

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.

According to the Telegraph,

“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.”

May 19, 1962: Kennedy’s ‘Happy Birthday’

This photograph of Marilyn with the Kennedy brothers, after the president’s birthday gala at Madison Square Garden, attracted much media attention when collector Keya Morgan announced his intention to auction an original print, earlier this month.

Many news outlets have described the photo as ‘rare and unseen’, but in fact it was first published during the 1990s, and has even graced a book cover.

Furthermore, it is not the only photo of Marilyn and the Kennedys – two other photos from that night show both MM and JFK, one during the performance and another group shot from the party. Can you spot them?

However, MM devotees will be interested to note that the first picture was taken by White House photographer Cecil W. Stoughton, and that singer Harry Belafonte and his wife can be glimpsed in the background.

Kennedy’s aide, historian Arthur Schlesinger, is facing Marilyn to the right, and later wrote in his diary:

“I do not think I have seen anyone so beautiful; I was enchanted by her manner and her wit, at once so masked, so ingenuous and so penetrating.”

CNN

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