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Marilyn Monroe (1926- 1962)

Marilyn Monroe

One day, Gladys (Norma’s mother) visited and demanded that the Bolenders (Norma’s foster parents) return Norma Jeane to her. Ida (Bolender) refused, as she knew Gladys was unstable and the situation would not benefit her young daughter. Gladys pulled Ida into the yard, then quickly ran back to the house and locked herself in. several minutes later, she walked out with one of Albert Bolender`s military duffel bags. To Ida horror, Gladys had stuffed a screaming Norma Jeane into the bag, zipped it up, and was carrying it right out with her. Ida charged toward her, and their struggle split the bag apart, dumping out Norma Jeane, who wept loudly as Ida grabbed her and pulled her back inside the house, away from Gladys (J. Randy Taraborreli, 2009, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe).

This screaming little girl named Norma Jeane later became famous Marilyn Monroe, a glamorous super star who was one of the only three professional actress and actors, along with Charlie Chaplin and Marlon Brando, named by Time magazine as one of its 100 persons of the century in 1999.

Lee Strasberg, director of Actors Studio, and acting teacher commented, “I have worked with hundreds and hundreds of actors and actresses, and there are only two that stand out way above the rest. Number one is Marlon Brando, and the second is Marilyn Monroe.

Joshua Logan, the director of movie Bus Stop wrote, “I found Marilyn to be one of the great talents of all time… she struck me as being a much brighter person than I had ever imagined, and I think that was the first time I learned that intelligence and, yes brilliance have nothing to do with education (Movie Stars, Real People and Me, 1978).

Norma Jeane Mortenson was born on June 1, in the charity ward at a Los Angeles Hospital. About one year after her birth, her parents divorced. She never saw her father, Martin Edward Mortenson. Her mother Gladys Pearl Baker (Monroe) was mentally and financially incapable to care for her little girl Norma, so she placed her with the Bolenders. When Norma was seven years old, Gladys bought a house and took Norma to stay with her. Few months later Gladys became sick again, a series of psychotic episodes kept her unable again to care for Norma. Gladys was admitted in a mental institution and Norma declared a ward of the state. After that Norma spent much of her childhood and adolescence times in foster homes and orphanages. When staying there she was on several occasions sexually assaulted. To avoid another orphanage stay, a marriage was arranged with her 21 years old boyfriend, James Dougherty. At that time Norma was 16 years old; she had been dropped out of high school a year before, and had worked as a housekeeper. In 1943 Dougherty joined the US Merchant Marine. A year later, during WWII he was sent overseas. Norma Jeane began working in a munitions plant in Burbank, California. There she was discovered by photographer David Conover who sent by Yank, the Army Weekly, to take a series of moral-boosting photographs from young women helping the war efforts. At the time of her husbands return from the East Pacific in 1946, they divorced due to disagreements. Norma Jeane became a successful model, and changed her name to Marilyn Monroe in preparation for acting career. She appeared in dozens of magazine covers and secured a screen test with 20th Century Fox. Directors, producers, cameramen immediately recognized her talent to capture and hold the attention of anyone behind the scenes. Monroe registered at University of California, Los Angeles in 1951, where she studied literature and art appreciation.

She became a superstar, but never forgot her miserable childhood, her deplorable society, and appalling working conditions especially for women in the United States. Her marriage with playwright, essayist, humanitarian and a communist sympathizer Arthur Miller in 1956 helped her to become interested in socialism. When Miller was subpoenaed by the House of Un-American Activities Committee in 1956, Monroe risking her own career accompanied her husband in the hearing. Marriage with Arthur Miller lasted for about 5 years and they divorced in 1961; that was her third marriage. Her second marriage was with baseball great Joe DiMaggio in 1954, which ended after nine months.

Marilyn Monroe was not a dumb blonde or crazy sex symbol as mainstream media always attempted to portrait. Of course Monroe was very beautiful and the envy of every man with a big pocket, but she was not a purchasable doll. Monroe was very independent and very proud woman, her commitment to peace and social justice was profound. Patricia Newcomb who was Monroe’s friend and secretary has said that Monroe pleaded unsuccessfully with the reporter of her final interview to end his article with her saying, “What I really want to say: that what the world really needs is a real feeling of kinship. Everybody: stars, labourers, blacks, Jews, Arabs, we are all brothers. Please don’t make me a joke. End the interview with what I believe.”

In February 1962 Monroe had a publicized visit to Mexico, where she met with some self-exiled American communists; among them were famous Frederick Vanderbilt Field and his wife. Field in his autobiography “From Right to Left” devotes one entire chapter to Monroe’s Mexico trip. Field wrote, “She told us about her strong feelings for civil rights, for black equality, as well as her admiration for what was being done in China, her anger at red-baiting and McCarthyism and her hatred of (FBI director) J. Edgar Hoover.” Monroe recounted her discussions about policy towards Cuba with both Robert Kennedy and President Kennedy at a luncheon with their brother-in-law actor, Peter Lawford. She had asked the President a lot of socially significant questions concerning the morality of atomic bomb testing.

Monroe supported the committee for SANE Nuclear Policy founded in 1957. Other Hollywood members of the SANE were Marlon Brando, Henry Fonda, Arthur Miller, Ossie Davies, and Harry Belafonte.

On May 19, 1962 Monroe sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” at J. F. Kennedy’s birthday celebration, and on August 5th, of the same year was pronounced dead in her Brentwood, California bungalow.

A beautiful and creative woman with a working-class background ascends swiftly to a high level of society, discussing social justice, and peace with the President of the United States, it is not acceptable and is embarrassing to the ruling oligarchy. She had crossed the Rubicon.

On December 2012, new information was released from FBI files on Monroe. The report does show the extent the agency was monitoring the actress, her activities, and her contacts, for ties to communism. A July 1962 entry from Monroe’s FBI file showed that, “Subject views are very positively and concisely leftist; if she is actively used by the Communist Party, it is not general knowledge among those working with the movement in Los Angeles.” The report does not contain any new information about Monroe’s death 50 years ago. Letters and news clipping included in the files showed that the bureau was aware of certain theories that the actress had been killed, but they do not show that any attempt was carried out to investigate the claims.

After Monroe’s death many films, documentaries, operas, and songs were made in her honour and about her life and death. The most famous of all is the song “Candle in the Wind” by Elton John with lyrics by Bernie Taupin.

Most famous film appearances:

  • Ladies of the Chorus, 1948

  • A Ticket to Tomahawk, 1950

  • The Asphalt Jungle, 1950

  • Home Town Story, 1951

  • Love Nest, 1951

  • As Young as You Feel, 1951

  • Let’s Make It Legal, 1951

  • Clash by Night, 1952

  • We’re Not Married, 1952

  • Don’t Bother to Knock, 1952

  • Monkey Business, 1952

  • O. Henry’s Full House, 1952

  • Niagara, 1953

  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, 1953,
    Golden Globe nomination

  • How to Marry a Millionaire, 1953

  • River of No Return, 1954

  • There is No Business like Show Business, 1954

  • The Seven Year Itch, 1955

  • Bus Stop, 1956,
    Golden Globe nomination

  • The Prince and the Showgirl, 1957,
    produced by Marilyn Monroe

  • Some like It Hot, 1959,
    Golden Globe Award

  • Let’s Make Love, 1960

  • The Misfits, 1961

  • Something’s Got to Give, 1962,

  • More

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