Marilyn at Julien’s: Home and Relationships

IMG_0124

In daily life, Marilyn often went unrecognised. This rare photo shows her wearing a black wig. When travelling ‘incognito‘, she sometimes used false names (including ‘Zelda Zonk’.)

E59DC85C-113B-42C9-8478-7990FA27D0FD-8035-0000058B0ACEF213_tmp

In the summer of 1953, Joe DiMaggio joined Marilyn in Canada, where she was filming River of No Return. She took these snapshots of Joe during his visit. Also pictured is Jean Negulesco, who had directed Marilyn in How to Marry a Millionaire. Although his work on River was uncredited, Negulesco may have helped to smooth the differences between Marilyn and the somewhat tyrannical Otto Preminger.

D47DFE90-6FCB-488D-8FB2-CB180F31C5BC-1016-000000CA7AD64E5B_tmpShortly before her third marriage to Arthur Miller, Marilyn converted to Judaism. This Jewish prayer book was probably a gift from Rabbi Robert E. Goldburg.

A2D51CC0-B4CE-4DE0-8040-B953134096E3-1016-000000CA8055F592_tmp

C34538D4-7C82-45D5-A931-D440FDCAEAB7-8035-0000058C192056E0_tmp

Some photos of Arthur Miller, including one taken with Marilyn in 1959.

20C2532C-8757-4062-ACEF-AB748AC3FD27-17970-00000A130A615DD5_tmp

Marilyn’s Minolta 16mm camera. This model was introduced in 1957.

F7A32E6E-167D-475B-B1C7-F88C2C966844-8035-0000059330C45492_tmp

These photos are of the farmhouse at Roxbury, Connecticut, bought by the Millers after their marriage. It is incorrectly identified in the Julien’s catalogue as Marilyn’s Los Angeles abode. The Millers’ country home required extensive renovations. After their marriage ended, Marilyn kept their city apartment while Arthur lived at Roxbury until his death in 2005.

A74C11AD-2F88-46D6-93B5-20906B33639A-8035-0000058AA6B0C83D_tmp

Marilyn with her friend, actor Eli Wallach, in 1957. They would later co-star in The Misfits (1961.)

Correspondence with Xenia Chekhov, widow of Marilyn’s acting teacher, Michael Chekhov.

“A single-page typed, unsigned file copy of a letter dated December 19, 1958, to ‘Mrs. Chekhov’ reading ‘My husband and I were so happy with the pictures you sent us of Mr. Chekhov. We will treasure them forever. I am not able to shop for Christmas, as you may already know I have lost the baby, so I would like you to use this check as my Christmas greetings with all my most affectionate good wishes. My husband sends you his warmest regards.’ The letter is accompanied by Xenia Chekhov’s response written on a notecard dated January 10, 1959, reading in part, ‘[Y]our personal sad news affected me very much and I could not find the courage to write you sooner. All my warmest feelings of sympathy go out to you and Mr. Miller.’ This is a deeply personal note with an acknowledgement of a miscarriage in Monroe’s own words.”

BE6A7BC1-E5D5-4152-B94F-FCE5B4BF1F4D-17970-00000A1850AB76C6_tmp

“An assortment of receipts from seven different bookstores: including: Doubleday Book Shop, Beekman Place Bookshop, and E. Weyhe Inc., all of New York City, and Wepplo’s Book Store, Lee Freeson, Martindale’s Book Stores and Hunter’s Books, all of Los Angeles. Titles include The Great Gatsby; Van Gogh’s Great Period; I , Rachel; An Encyclopedia of Gardening; Hi – Lo’s – Love Nest; a book listed simply as ‘Yves Montand’, among others. The receipts are dated 1958 and 1960.”

A Royal Quiet de Luxe model typewriter owned by Marilyn.

2AD1F9D7-C2A5-4348-9645-8412E53A7508-17970-00000A1B77516670_tmp

566A5A81-B318-42BF-9EFD-B7CB6BD167B7-8035-0000058ED74648D0_tmp
A letter from Marilyn, with photos of Jane Miller and Hugo, Marilyn’s basset hound.

Various letters from Marilyn to her stepdaughter, Jane Miller.

“A 1957 letter is written to Janie at summer camp and recounts a number of amusing stories about Hugo the Bassett Hound reading in part, ‘He got kicked by that donkey. Remember him? His nose swelled up with a big lump on top and it really wrecked his profile. I put an ice pack on it and it took several days for it to go down but the last time I saw him it was pretty well healed. Bernice is taking care of him and the house while I am at the hospital.We are going home tomorrow and then I will write you by hand. Listen, I had better stop now because I want to get off a note to Bobby today. Don’t worry about me in the hospital. I am feeling much better now and I have the funniest Scotch nurse.’ (Marilyn had recently been taken to hospital after suffering an ectopic pregnancy.)

The 1958 letter is typed on the back of a piece of stationery from the Hotel Bel-Air and is addressed, ‘Dear Janie-bean.’ The letter, written as Marilyn prepared for Some Like It Hot, reads in part, ‘Thanks for helping me into my white skirt. I almost didn’t make it -but now that I’m busier I’ll start losing weight – you know where. Along with ukulele lessons I have to take I’m learning three songs from the 1920 period. … I don’t know how my costumes in the picture will be yet. I’ll let you know.'”

64481105-76FE-46AA-837E-A1DB474DF88D-17970-00000A25F0B6566A_tmp

Three colour slides from the estate of Frieda Hull, showing the Millers leaving New York for Los Angeles in November 1959. Marilyn’s parakeet, Butch, travelled with them. He was a noisy passenger, constantly squawking, “I’m Marilyn’s bird!”

75B2208F-1E21-4D44-B98A-C6A51983F869-17970-00000A2C0EAF1C44_tmpAn electroplate ice bucket, made in England, and a receipt for 12 splits of Piper Heidsieck champagne, delivered to the Millers’ bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel during filming of Let’s Make Love in December 1959.

DE0487BB-FB02-41A6-958C-7E5739B4B7D6-17970-00000A2E272B8C4D_tmpAddress books from 1955 and 1962. The first includes a handwritten ‘to-do list’, with entries such as “as often as possible to observe Strassberg’s [sic.] other private classes”; “never miss my actors studio sessions”; “must make strong effort to work on current problems and phobias that out of my past has arisen.”

D82B0F67-16AE-4C8C-A97D-478C0526A775-196-000000103E208D8D_tmp

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the Julien’s sale is that Marilyn was planning to buy a home in New York, even commissioning a series of architectural drawings for a property on East 61st Street in November 1961. In addition to her rented Manhattan apartment, she bought a small bungalow in Los Angeles in 1962, but clearly hadn’t given up her dream of a permanent East Coast base.

“An original letter from John E. Holland of the Charles F. Noyes Real Estate Company dated October 18, 1961, addressed to Miss Marilyn Monroe, 444 East 57th Street, New York, “Attention: Miss Marjorie Stengel” (Monroe’s secretary). The letter reads in part, ‘L]ast summer Mr. Ballard of our office, and I showed you the house at the corner of 57th Street and Sutton Place and Mr. Arthur Krim’s house on Riverview Terrace. I spoke to Miss Stengel yesterday and told her of a house which we have just gotten listed for sale at 241 East 61st Street. She asked me to send you the particulars on this house as she thought you might be interested in it. I am enclosing our setup. … The garden duplex apartment is now occupied by the owner and would be available to a purchaser for occupancy. You may possibly have been in this apartment as Miss Kim Novak … just moved out in September. Before that it was occupied by Prince Aly Khan.’

An original letter from John E. Holland of the Charles F. Noyes Real Estate Company dated November 15, 1961, addressed to Miss Marjorie Stengel, stating, ‘I am enclosing herewith Photostats which I had made of the drawings adding a stairway which would include all or half of the third floor with the duplex garden apartments. These sketches may be somewhat confusing, but I could easily explain them if you would like to have me do so,’ together with six Photostat copies of original architectural drawings for the redesign of an apartment located at 241 East 61st Street in New York. The drawings go into great detail as to the redesign of the apartment, with space for an art studio and specific notes stating, ‘This could be another bedroom or boudoir, or health studio with massage table, chaise lounge, private living room…or…with numerous closets.'”

474A9358-C1DC-4AF3-BA14-38E9140F2B21-18182-00000A42DE2CDD2F_tmp

This grey pony handbag may have been bought by Marilyn during her February 1962 trip to Mexico. She was also a keen gardener, and a Horticulture magazine subscriber.

B80F0D9E-16B4-4DE6-B0B8-B9F321CE8272-18182-00000A4310614565_tmp

“An extraordinary, blue cloth over board, ‘project management‘ three-ring binder kept by one of Monroe’s assistants chronicling the purchase and ongoing renovation and decoration of her home located at 12305 Fifth Helena Drive in Brentwood, California. The notebook begins with an information sheet and lot diagram as well as a typed renovation and additions budget for the property totaling $34,877.36 against a purchase price of $57,609.95. The book also contains approximately 28 pages of notes on various renovation projects and to-do lists; a page with notes regarding terracing and planting the hillside; seven drawings of exterior floor plan for possible apartment above the garage for a cook; three renderings of options for a table and another decorative element for the home; and a listing of bills due as of August 16, 1962. The last page of the book lists ‘Moet – Champagne vintage 1952/ et Chandon a Epernay/ Cuvee Dom Perignon – 13.88.’ The book lists dates that furniture is due to be delivered from various suppliers, many after Monroe’s death, as well as dimensions of each room of the home for the purpose of ordering ‘white India’ carpet. It also has estimates to have the pool resurfaced, water heater moved, fountain built, and laundry room and shower expanded for people using the pool as well as notes about decoration of a ‘play room,’ fabrication of a new gate, bars for windows, and shelving to be built, among many other things.

A group of invoices dating to February 28, 1962, from various Mexican boutiques listing the purchase of a great number of pieces of furniture and home furnishings, purchased in Mexico for Monroe’s Fifth Helena Drive residence. Together with a two-page typed signed letter dated July 26, 1962, signed ‘Mura’, giving a full report to Monroe’s secretary Eunice Murray regarding her buying trip in Mexico. The letter demonstrates the fact that Monroe was still quite actively working on her home at the time of her death.”

Marilyn, Ralph Roberts and the Missing Coat

mm_bw_portrait_09
Marilyn arrives in London, 1956

Today, items from Marilyn’s wardrobe sell for thousands – millions, even. But as Hap Roberts – nephew of Marilyn’s masseur and close friend, Ralph – tells the Salisbury Post‘s Mark Wineka, the  Burberry trench-coat which she gave him is now lost.

It’s not clear exactly which coat this was – but Marilyn wore a trench-coat during her time in England, while filming The Prince and the Showgirl – and again for a scene in Let’s Make Love (1960.)

In one interview, Ralph claimed that Marilyn picked it up from Arthur Miller’s home in Roxbury, Connecticut after their divorce, but she decided to give it to Ralph when she found it smelled of another woman’s perfume. (This is odd, because in her own account of the same visit, Marilyn’s half-sister Bernice Baker Miracle said it was a fur coat, and that MM gave it to her dog, Maf, to sleep on.)

“Roberts became Monroe’s official masseur in 1959, and for the last three-plus years of her life, during her various romantic entanglements, Ralph would give her massages daily, becoming a close confidante and friend to Monroe.

Together, they ran errands, ate meals, attended parties and took plane trips across the country between New York and California.

Toward the end of his life, Ralph Roberts returned to Salisbury and lived in a little house off Parkview Circle, not far from Hap’s offices with Statewide Title. They would meet every afternoon around 4 p.m. to talk, and every Sunday at 5 p.m. Ralph would show up at Hap and his wife Annette’s house for martinis.

Ralph Roberts always brought his Sunday New York Times with him and would leave the newspaper with the couple so they could read it later. Once, Roberts carried with him an art deco martini set Monroe had given him.

Roberts also possessed a box of chandelier crystals Monroe had collected. The actress thought the crystals carried healing properties, and in the years after her death, Ralph sometimes would hand them out as gifts to friends.

Ralph Roberts died April 30, 1999, at age 82. About a month later, Hap and his cousin Claudette began the somber task of cleaning up and going through their uncle’s house. They noticed a woman’s Burberry trench coat in the closet and figured it was a friend’s coat, left at Ralph’s house in the past.

They placed it in the things going to Goodwill.

About a month later, Hap found a list of Marilyn Monroe items Ralph had inventoried. On the list was ‘Burberry trench coat.’

Hap could only ease the heartache of having given away the coat by thinking to himself  that ‘at least it’s keeping somebody dry and warm and Ralph would like that.'”

Marilyn: A Political Animal

11e004721a93f64f00644804235f8982

Marilyn had a lifelong affinity with the underdog and a passion for justice. Her hero was Abraham Lincoln. She was proud of her working-class origins, and defended husband Arthur Miller in his stand against red-baiting. She also supported the Civil Rights movement. In an article for Time, Lily Rothman interviews Marilyn’s biographer, Dr Lois Banner, on the subject of her ‘forgotten radical politics.’

“Those beliefs were a product of her time, Banner says: being born in 1926 meant that she was a child during the Great Depression … As a result of her own poverty and her close contact with people of other races, Monroe grew up with progressive views on race and what Banner calls a ‘populist vision of equality for all classes.’

Her background peeked through in her film roles, as she was often cast as a working girl … Even as Monroe stepped out in public in glamorous evening gowns, she favored blue jeans and flat shoes at home.

In 1956, when she married the playwright Arthur Miller, her working-class roots blossomed into full-on political fervor. In 1960, she became a founding member of the Hollywood branch of the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy; that same year, as she kept a home in Roxbury, Conn., she was elected as an alternate delegate to the state’s Democratic caucus. She did not hide her pro-Castro views on Cuba or her support for the then-burgeoning civil rights movement.

Broadway was not affected by McCarthyism and anti-Communist investigations to the same extent as the movie business, but Miller was called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee shortly before their marriage. Monroe was never called on, which Banner believes was because the anti-Communist Congressmen ‘thought she was just a dumb blonde.’ (In fact, some historians have theorized that Miller saw Monroe as a political shield.)

‘When you put it all together, [her political side] is pretty substantial. But in most of the biographies, including mine, it comes out as salt scattered on the biography, because one gets so fascinated by her psychological makeup,’ [Banner] says. ‘But the political involvements are no less real.'”

Carleton Varney on Marilyn’s Roxbury Style

The Millers inside their garage at Roxbury, 1957
The Millers inside their garage at Roxbury, 1957

Interior designer Carleton Varney was consulted by Marilyn and Arthur Miller in 1957, after they bought an 18th century farmhouse in Roxbury, Connecticut. The property was in need of renovation, and according to Architectural Digest, the couple ‘added sliding glass doors to its rear façade and created a one-room studio where the playwright could work.’

Roxb2Varney writes about Marilyn’s personal style in an article for Palm Beach Daily News. Her preference for simplicity is in marked contrast to her glamorous public image.

“I met Marilyn only once in my life, when she was married to Arthur Miller, the playwright. At that time, she divided her time between Connecticut and her New York City apartment on 57th Street.

Marilyn was not, shall we say, energetically enthusiastic about the ways and styles of interior design. Her tastes were simple. She expressed her personal style as more ‘cottage’ than ‘High Hollywood’ — a simple white clapboard house, say, or a California stucco-clad ranch home. A white picket fence was more Marilyn, I believe, than any fancy grill-work iron gate on a Beverly Hills mansion. I think her design preferences reflected her pre-Hollywood roots as Norma Jean Baker.

I have always said that taste develops in one’s earliest days, probably from the very first room one can recall … Like Marilyn, most of us have a comfort zone that makes us happy and content. And if the look of high glamour does not fit you, don’t go that way! Stick to a style of decorating that suits you and reflects the adventures you have enjoyed in life.”

Country Girl: Marilyn in Roxbury

roxbury1crop

The BBC World website has published an interesting article by Amanda Ruggeri about Marilyn’s time in Connecticut, and especially the farm in Roxbury where she lived with Arthur Miller.

Unfortunately – and in my opinion, rather absurdly – BBC World cannot be accessed within the UK, so I have transcribed part of the article here.

“When Monroe married Miller in June 1956, she’d already captivated audiences in movies like 1953’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and 1955’s The Seven-Year Itch. She was the world’s biggest star. She was also beginning to fray from it. ‘I hate Hollywood,’ she told Miller when they married. ‘I want to live quietly in the country and just be there when you need me.’

Miller, the playwright famous for Death of a Salesman – and among friends, also for his love of rural pleasures such as field clearing and gardening – had moved to Roxbury in 1947. And so, after wrapping the 1957 movie The Prince and the Showgirl with Laurence Olivier, Monroe returned with Miller to his four-bedroom farmhouse on Old Tophet Road.

‘Go to Stamford and drive down millionaire’s row, and you know you’re on millionaire’s row,’ said Peter Hurlbut, the town clerk and descendant of Roxbury’s founder. ‘Here, you never know you’re on millionaire’s row.’

He was absolutely right. Old Tophet Road was a 10-minute drive from the centre of town, though it felt like longer. Narrow and winding, driving the route on an October day felt like heading through a psychedelically coloured foliage tunnel. Dilapidated barns and colonial houses dotted the land on either side. If I hadn’t known it was where Miller and other literati lived, I never would have made note of the road at all. In this part of Connecticut, streets like these are unremarkably common.

As are houses like Miller’s – so much so that we drove past it before realising. A lovely white clapboard with baby-blue shutters, the abode looked like any of the other quietly graceful colonials in the area. Peeking through the trees up the drive – the home is pretty recognizable when driving by – I tried to imagine what it would have been like in the 1950s, when the home became a paparazzi playground. On 29 June 1956, the same day that Monroe and Miller signed their marriage license (itself given by Hurlbut’s grandfather, then the town clerk), one of the cars following them was driving too fast on the winding country roads and crashed, killing the French reporter inside. In the press conference that the newlyweds gave at the farm, talking about the crash, their nuptials and on Senator Joseph McCarthy’s naming of Arthur Miller as a communist in the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Monroe appeared visibly upset; it was a rare crack in her star façade.

Those who believe in such things could have seen the crash as an omen. The fantasies Monroe must have had about living in Connecticut, and the peace that it, and Miller, would bring her, soon wore thin. Even the house itself showed their clash of priorities: the two had first planned to tear down the old farmhouse and build another one on the property. But when Miller asked for a design from Frank Lloyd Wright, one that turned out to be far too grand for her notoriously frugal new husband, the over-the-top plans were dashed. The 18th-century farmhouse stayed.

Back in Roxbury, I stopped at the little Roxbury Market & Deli, where Monroe did her shopping. With a few aisles of locally made jams and everyday staples, it’s the closest thing the town has to a grocery store. One can imagine her attempting to play the role of housewife here. One can imagine, too, how bored the Hollywood star, so accustomed to cameras and adulation, quickly became.

Roxbury, after all, is a peaceful place. Aside from admiring the town’s colonial houses and steepled churches, its biggest draw may be its forests. The Roxbury Land Trust maintains 2,575 acres of trail-crossed nature preserves, much of its land given by the same icons who lived here: there is the 32-acre Matthau Preserve, the 22-acre Styron Preserve, the 27-acre Widmark Preserve and, yes, the 55-acre Arthur and Inge Morath Miller Preserve.

A peaceful town, yes. But for someone like Monroe, who thrived on public attention as much as she reviled it, it wasn’t the right fit. Nor, it seems, was Miller. The two divorced in 1961. Nineteen months later, Monroe died.

Miller lived out the rest of his days in Roxbury – playing tennis with Frank McCourt and Mia Farrow, who still lives in the next town over, tinkering with his plumbing, clearing fields and, of course, writing. He passed away there in 2005 at the age of 89.

But Miller hadn’t just died in Roxbury. He’d also asked to be buried here. In one of Hurlbut’s last conversations with the writer, Miller had called him up, especially curious about how to get a tombstone in the case of his death. Hurlbut explained that for his father, they’d opted to create a tombstone from an old stone they’d found. The frugal Miller liked that idea. And where do you find one, he wanted to know. In the land of stone walls, Hurlbut said, he was sure Miller could find a stone he liked. A few weeks later, Miller called him back up. ‘I found it! I found the stone!’ he said. It was from one of the walls on his property.

That’s how he was buried: with a stone, likely from a wall assembled decades, if not centuries, earlier, taken from his own property that he’d loved so much…

I just hoped that Monroe, if only for moments at a time, had found a little bit of solace here too.”