WEIRDLAND: 2018

Monday, September 17, 2018

Marilyn Monroe, Same-Sex Attraction

Many men prefer women who are occasionally attracted to other women, according to research that examined preferences for same-sex attraction across different cultures. “I am an evolutionary psychologist and same-sex attraction constitutes a major puzzle that remains to be solved by evolutionary-minded scholars,” said study author Menelaos Apostolou of the University of Nicosia. Specifically, about one in four heterosexual Chinese men and two in three heterosexual UK men preferred mates who were not exclusively attracted to the opposite-sex. Most of these men preferred women who were mostly attracted to men but occasionally to women, rather than women who were attracted both sexes equally or women who were more attracted to women than men. “Across different cultures there are many heterosexual men who find same-sex attractions in women desirable,” Apostolou said. However, men preferred same-sex attraction in a partner much more than women. The male participants were 6.49 times more likely than women to prefer a partner who was attracted to both sexes. “Men find same-sex attraction in women much more desirable than women find same-sex attraction in men,” Apostolou told PsyPost. “I believe that same-sex attraction in heterosexual women constitutes a normal variation in sexual attraction, and it is not something abnormal that women should feel shame for or worry about,” Apostolou added. Source: www.psypost.org

Marilyn Monroe had a secret lesbian affair with her domineering German acting teacher, newly unearthed documents reveal. They show that the actress lived as ‘man and wife’ with Columbia Pictures drama coach Natasha Lytess for two of the seven years they worked together from 1948 to 1955. When they first met in 1946 when Monroe was 20. Speaking in the 1962 interview, Lytess said: 'She couldn’t speak, she didn’t know how to open her mouth, and she feared everything.' She also claimed the actress was 'always naked' in the home they shared. But, she added, the actress was also crippled with insecurities. 'She was afraid of giving up all that had made her as Marilyn the sexiest girl: dresses, make-up, moves. Because she thought she had nothing to give except sex appeal. In fact it’s interesting because she really hated sex!' Natasha, who died from cancer in 1964, said she was with Marilyn for ten years and they were so close the actress would often insist that they held hands, even when they were filming a scene. 'On the set I was always very close to her,' she said in the interview. 'I had to be so close to her that she was always asking: "Can she be a little bit closer to me?" The director answered, "Yes but we see her in the camera."

'Very often, during close-ups I had to hold her hand. I had to support her every time. 'Thanks to the specificities of the close-up - which films only the head or the shoulders - I could hold her hand without being filmed by the camera. I had to do it to give her some courage.' The acting coach also claimed to have saved the famous actress from death after discovering her in bed with a bottle of sleeping pills. 'I saw Marilyn in her bed, her hair was uncombed, she was not really covered up and her face was awfully pale. Her cheeks were swelled and she had a vacant look. I said, “What have you done Marilyn?" In her recent book, Marilyn: The Passion And The Paradox, author Lois Banner wrote: 'Natasha and Marilyn lived together as husband and wife, although Marilyn often simply wanted to be held. 'She was like a child in her need for physical affection.' 'Miss Lytess made me free,' Monroe would say later. 'She gave me balance and made me understand life. I owe everything to her.' Source: www.iol.co.za

Some Kind of Mirror: Creating Marilyn Monroe (2019) by Amanda Konkle offers the first extended scholarly analysis of Marilyn Monroe's film performances, examining how they united the contradictory discourses about women's roles in 1950s America. Amanda Konkle suggests that Monroe's star persona resonated with audiences precisely because it engaged with the era's critical debates regarding femininity, sexuality, marriage, and political activism. Furthermore, she explores how Monroe drew from the techniques of Method acting and finely calibrated her performances to better mirror her audience's anxieties and desires. Drawing both from Monroe's filmography and from 1950s fan magazines, newspaper reports, and archived film studio reports, Some Kind of Mirror considers how her star persona was coauthored by the actress, the Hollywood publicity machine, and the fans who adored her. It is about why 1950s America made Monroe a star, but it is also about how Marilyn defined an era. Source: www.amazon.co.uk

Monday, September 10, 2018

A Non-Conspiracist’s View of Marilyn’s Death

Marilyn Monroe was afflicted with a “divided and confused mind bordering on an hysteria.” As a result of that division and confusion, her behavior was often conflicted and contradictory. The mythology has flourished in the unusually fertile firmament of distrust and paranoia; and it has been continuously fertilized by a voyeuristic media and opportunistic individuals adept at manipulating the confusion caused by misinterpretation and misunderstanding, invariably grinding confusion into a dollar, literary or otherwise. Dr. Greenson ended up spending most of that Saturday with her. While the actress and her therapist talked in private, Pat Newcomb lounged by her host’s swimming pool under the Southern California sun. Their session ended between 6:45 and 7:00 PM. Ralph Roberts telephoned a second time to discuss the menu for their planned Sunday evening BBQ. Perhaps the reluctance to accept a probable suicide edict has something to do with who Marilyn Monroe was and what she represented to the millions of fans who adored her, adored her movies and her talent, adored her charm and her humor, adored her beauty. To them, she was a person, a woman, a goddess who had it all. They loved her and they sensed that she loved them. Those feelings about Marilyn persist today. Slatzer essentially cobbled together a book that was then sold to Pinnacle, who was eager to publish a story about Marilyn merely to capitalize on the success and the publicity generated by Norman Mailer's factoidal biography. The problem is this: Slatzer was unknown to all of Marilyn’s friends. It is quite possible that all of Marilyn’s friends did not know all of Marilyn’s friends; however, for everyone who was actually close to Marilyn, especially Joe DiMaggio, who stated that he never met Slatzer, to have missed Slatzer’s presence stretches a fellow’s credulity.

In his 2014 update of Marilyn Monroe: A Life of the Actress, Revised and Updated, Carl Rollyson admitted the he “shied away from references to dubious sources such as Robert Slatzer, Ted Jordan, and Lena Pepitone. Reputable biographers like Lois Banner and Donald Spoto have exposed the unreliability of such books.” Slatzer claimed that he and Marilyn were together all day on the 3rd of October and they talked about marriage well into the small hours of the 4th. The problem with that assertion is this: on the 3rd of October in 1952, Marilyn attended a party in Hollywood thrown by Photoplay magazine during which she received an award, an event and an accolade not mentioned by Slatzer; and Slatzer’s alleged friend, former boxer, Noble Chissell, who testified that he witnessed the wedding in Tijuana, later recanted and admitted to both Donald Spoto and the photographer Joseph Jasgur that Slatzer paid him to lie. Additionally, Slatzer’s wife from 1954 until 1956, Kay Eicher, according to Donald Spoto, guffawed at the mention of a marriage between Marilyn Monroe and her former husband. Eicher confirmed for Spoto that Slatzer’s only encounter with the blonde movie star occurred at Niagara Falls while filming her Technicolor noir, when his photographs with her were taken, photographs that Slatzer used to deceive many people. But the final and definitive proof is what follows. Slatzer claimed that he and Marilyn arrived in Tijuana at approximately 11:30 AM on the 4th. Driving time from Los Angeles to Tijuana is approximately three hours, so to arrive at 11:30 AM, Slatzer and his soon to be bride had to leave Los Angeles by 8:30 AM, a time when probably most of the shops and clothing stores in Los Angeles had yet to open. 

While researching for his tome, Marilyn Monroe: The Biography, Donald Spoto uncovered proof of a shopping excursion by Marilyn and Natasha Lytess which occurred on the 4th of October in 1952. Marilyn wrote a check to JAX of Beverly Hills in the amount of $313. The check was dated October the 4th. Beneath her signature, she included her address at the time, 2393 Castilian Drive, the house in Hollywood Heights which she sub-leased along with Joe DiMaggio. Obviously Slatzer’s 'weekend wife' was not with him during that weekend. Slatzer parlayed a few photographs taken of him posing with her at the waterfalls into an amazing, fortuitously lucrative and virtually lifelong career. He was frequently accorded the status of expert and former spouse when he appeared as a guest on several television talk shows hosted by uninformed microphonists like Larry King, Geraldo Rivera and Phil Donahue. He invariably complained that Marilyn’s death was never properly investigated; he knew she did not commit suicide. Slatzer also contributed Marilyn’s Little Red Diary, her Red Book of Secrets, in which, according to him, she kept an accounting of the tiptop secrets revealed to her by John and Robert Kennedy. Slatzer’s memoir is demonstrably false, based on what is undeniably known about Marilyn’s real life. Those realities reduce Slatzer’s memoir generally, and his marriage claim specifically, to the level of a completely deceitful mendacity. During her tenure at UCLA, Marilyn's biographer Lois Banner worked with John Miner; and according to Banner, he admitted that he never interviewed Ralph Greenson, certainly a significant revelation. According to Banner, an unnamed source told Miner about the mysterious tapes. Were Miner's recollections a mere fabrication? Possibly. Also, Marilyn's sporadic journal entries (collected in the 2010 book, Fragments) contain no references to either Kennedy brother.  

Marilyn had become so famous and so powerful that omnipotent studio heads, Darryl Zanuck for instance, actually had feared her. But her worst adversary was always her mental illness. Marilyn had come to believe that Thorazine had been helpful in stabilizing her. It had begun to represent hope to her that she might be able to regain control of her often chaotic thought processes. However, Marilyn thought her magic was leaving her, but really it was just transitioning. Perhaps the only real question about her death is whether or not it was intentional. It’s been argued that Marilyn’s upcoming prospects were so promising, she couldn’t possibly have taken her own life. She supposedly had too much to live for. However, what was probably going on inside her mind might have had little correlation to those factors. When we consider her last moments on earth we need to focus on an unwell brain, not simply the enticing rewards of a movie star’s existence. Norma Jeane created and became a woman more fascinating than she believed possible. And in the face of her own failing mind, she battled to keep that creation alive—not for her, but for us. Indeed, Marilyn Monroe did exist. Even though the woman inside her was at times doubtful of that fact, we knew it better than she did. She spent so much of her energy, her own will, projecting an image of impossible beauty and ultimate joy. Yet, as the end neared, her experience of who she truly was drifted farther and farther from that ideal—until she found it impossible to pretend to be Marilyn anymore. —"A Non-Conspiracist’s View of Marilyn Monroe’s Death" (2018) by Donald R. McGovern

Friday, September 07, 2018

Marilyn's Last Sessions and Decline

An historic Italian atelier that helped make the dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in the iconic subway vent scene in The Seven Year Itch has appealed to the government for help to stave off closure. The family owned tailoring business, Sorelle Antonini or the Antonini Sisters, made the pleats for the ivory dress that blows up over Monroe’s thighs in the New York scene in the 1955 Billy Wilder romantic comedy. The dress – perhaps the best-known frock in cinematic history but once dismissed by its designer, William Travilla, as “that silly little dress” – was sold at auction in 2011 for $4.6 million. The difficulties facing Sorelle Antonini are part of a broader trend in Rome in which historic bookshops, frame-makers, furniture builders and other traditional businesses are being squeezed out by high rents and fewer customers. They are often replaced by ugly, garishly lit convenience stores and tourist trinket shops that are more profitable but much less picturesque. Convenience stores have dramatically increased in number in Rome’s cobbled centre in recent years. “In the last 10 years, the number of artisanal businesses in Rome’s historic centre has declined from 5,000 to less than 2,000,” said Giulio Anticoli, the president of the Association of Historic Shops. 

While it has gone down in history as one of cinema’s most iconic scenes, it was far from easy capturing the moment that the updraft lifted Monroe’s dress. Filming took place after midnight on the corner of Lexington Avenue and 52nd Street, but after 14 takes and three hours, the producers were still not happy. The scene had to be shot again on a film lot in California. To preserve her modesty, Monroe wore two pairs of white knickers. Source: www.telegraph.co.uk

Gainesville, Florida, Collins Court Old Age Home (5 August 1962):  Gladys Baker didn’t remember the time she worked in the film business, Marilyn, the daughter she had – she had no memories of anything. When a psychiatrist at Rockhaven Sanitarium, where she was hospitalised, told her that her daughter had died, she didn’t react. She doesn’t remember the girl called Norma Jeane; she doesn’t know who Marilyn Monroe is. It only registers a year later. On a dark night she escapes by making a rope out of her sheets. She arrives in the Los Angeles suburbs clutching a Christian Science textbook under her arm. A Baptist minister finds her in his church and talks to her before Rockhaven Sanitarium staff come to pick her up. ‘Marilyn is gone,’ she says. Not Norma Jeane, the minister is very clear about that. ‘They told me when it happened. People need to know that I never wanted her to become an actress. All her career did was hurt her.’ Marilyn had mirrored her mother’s search for sexual perfection, her knack of catching men, then jettisoning them when they’d served their purpose. 

Dr. Greenson had seen the parallels between her role of the disturbed Nell in Something’s Got to Give and the brutal echoes of Gladys Baker’s unhappy, unforgettable life. The return of the lost mother, one of the few scenes Marilyn had filmed after her analyst had gone to Europe, was a replay of the moment in her childhood when she had seen her mother, whom she thought was dead, emerge from the mental institution. Perhaps, Milton Wexler thought, becoming a mother had tipped Gladys Baker over into madness, and perhaps having to play a mother in the film had done the same to Marilyn Monroe. A mother whom her children did not recognise and who would not reveal herself to them. Dr. Greenson never stopped thinking of himself as a father to Marilyn. On 20 August 1962, he wrote to Marianne Kris: ‘I was her therapist, the good father who would not disappoint her and who would bring her insights, and if not insights, just kindness. I had become the most important person in her life. There was something very lovable about this girl and we all cared about her and she could be delightful.’ He probably never acknowledged that his approach took him into areas far removed from Freudian theory, where, instead of father, life and love, the signature themes were mother, homosexuality, and death. With the freedom allowed by psychoanalytic transference, Marilyn said dark, unthinkable things on her tapes in the voice of someone who can’t pretend to be a nice little girl in love with Daddy any more. —"Marilyn's Last Sessions" (2013) by Michel Schneider

Michel Schneider was inspired by a 2005 article in the Los Angeles Times, containing a transcript (from memory) by John Miner, a detective involved in the original investigation into Monroe’s death, of tapes that he claimed were made for her psychiatrist, Dr Ralph Greenson, shortly before she died in 1962. The tapes have never been found, but the publication of Miner’s transcripts proved controversial, which reflected the continuing public interest in Marilyn. Some experts on Monroe’s life pointed to factual anomalies in the text, outlined by Melinda Mason in her response, ‘Songs Marilyn Never Sang’. Schneider re-imagines in Last Sessions the relationship between Monroe and Greenson over the last two years of her life, and draws the intriguing conclusion that it was not her absent father that Monroe sought, but her lost, sick mother. While Schneider does offer some valuable insight into Monroe’s fatal liaison with Greenson, he – perhaps unwittingly – falls into the trap that so many authors do, of patronising Marilyn. Though Greenson acknowledges that ‘all their sessions had been like acts in a play,’ he seemed unsure of its meaning. ‘The curtain had fallen, and the enigma of Marilyn's self was intact.’ He realises that she ‘revealed herself only to mask herself again.’ Greenson is haunted by the memory of Marilyn and devastated by his failure to rescue her. Schneider also explores the popularity of psychoanalysis within the narcissistic atmosphere of Hollywood. ‘It’s not analysis that gets everywhere,’ Greenson believes, ‘it’s the movies.’ It was ‘a marriage of intellect and artifice’ that ‘came to an end when Hollywood itself did.’ Monroe’s decline coincided with the demise of the studio system which she had grown to distrust. Source: tarahanks.com

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Hell in Queens, The Last Hours of Lou Reed

Would you follow Lou Reed if he hadn't been in VU? As a lyricist Lou reached a new level post-1988. I think he's a better songwriter in this post-1988 period than he was in the sixties. Musically his 70's stuff somehow falters because he stopped playing lead guitar, and he suffered creatively by drinking too much. But once he gave up the booze and took up the guitar again everything was back on track for one of the greatest songwriters on the century. I say give 'How Do You Think It Feels?' a go in the Animal Serenade album and you'll know exactly what the VU would've sounded like had they stayed together through to the 2000's. —Post by Wick Pick » 28 Jan 2018


LOU REED: You know, when you say, “us and them mentality,” it was no joke, and it was every last centimeter with those people. DAVID FRICKE: You generally felt like you were outcasts. LOU REED: No that we were such outcasts. I'm just a songwriter but they were very stupid. I’ve always hated businesspeople. DAVID FRICKE: White Light/White Heat was considerated aggressive sound. LOU REED: It’s aggressive, yes. But it’s not aggressive-bad. —Interview to Lou Reed by David Fricke (December 8, 2009), New York Public Library

Rock icon Lou Reed was treated extensively with the drug Interferon before his death, a top American pathologist has revealed. However, contrary to music industry gossip, the rock star was not HIV-positive, according to Dr Michael Hunter. Instead, he was taking the drug to try to combat the liver disease Hepatitis C, which he contracted from dirty needles while injecting heroin early in his career. Dr Hunter is set to present his findings in a new episode of television documentary series Autopsy: The Last Hours of Lou Reed, which broadcasts in America, before being shown in the UK later this year, the Sunday Express reported. According to Dr Hunter, Reed had also hid a dark secret from his teenage years, he suffered a nervous breakdown and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, where he underwent controversial electroshock therapy. Reed was given electroshock therapy aged just 17 because of mental illness - at New York psychiatric hospital described as 'Hell in Queens'. Lou’s sister explained that their “blazing liberal” parents were simply acting on poor advice from a doctor, who’d told them extreme measures might improve his “depressed, weird, anxious, and avoidant” nature. There is also a picture from Reed’s high school yearbook, which ran with the caption “Tall, dark-haired Lou likes basketball, music, and naturally, girls.”

As well as injecting heroin, Reed drank alcohol, chain smoked and was hooked on amphetamines, a potent nerve stimulant. To bring himself down, he took the prescription drug Thorazine. Dr Hunter said: 'The combined effect of this cocktail of uppers and downers would have caused a build-up of toxicity in Lou's liver.' But most significant of all was Reed's Hepatitis C and Dr Hunter said: 'Lou's medical records show that as far back as the early 1960s he was treated for hepatitis. What we know now is that over time, hepatitis C destroys liver tissue, causing scarring and creating the right conditions for cancer.' Source: www.dailymail.co.uk


“All the books about me are bullshit,” Lou Reed once said, when asked about Victor Bockris' biography. In a breezy tone, Reed’s first wife Bettye Kronstad writes of the five-year period, 1968-1973, between the end of the Velvet Underground and Reed’s third solo album Berlin. Kronstad makes an effort in Perfect Day to contextualize what’s happening with their personal life with the goings-on of Reed’s career. But at its most interesting and tragic, this book serves to inject the well-worn myths of Lou Reed the legend with humanity, and offers an insider’s perspective to Reed’s losses of personal control, his fears and anxieties, particularly during the Transformer era. The Velvet Underground have influenced artists of every stripe including filmmakers and one in particular, Todd Haynes, who signed up to direct a documentary about the pivotal group. Much like David Bowie and Iggy Pop themselves, “Velvet Goldmine” is heavily indebted to The Velvet Underground and everything they spawned. Elements of Lou Reed’s upbringing are used in the Iggy Pop character played by Ewan McGregor, Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ Bowie/Marc Bolan composite has a lot of Eno in him and Meyers’ band in the movie is called Venus in Furs, named after a momentous Velvet Underground song. In short, everything that influenced “Velvet Goldmine,” was essentially influenced by everything the VU wrought beforehand.

The announcement of Haynes' documentary was made official and perhaps more importantly, the doc is being made with the participation of Polygram Entertainment and Verve Label Group, the record labels that control The Velvet Underground’s music. So, there should be no shortage of music, behind the scenes footage and perhaps rare gems that have barely been seen or discovered. Look, everything I really love in music is kind of a six degrees of VU separation; almost all roads always lead back to Reed and co’s group. According to Deadline, the doc will “trace multiple threads leading to the band’s formation and their impact on music and global culture” and so it’ll be interesting, at least for VU dead heads, to see how much Haynes’ doc starts before the formation of the group and the period that pre-dates Andy Warhol and their first record. Additionally, and very critically, the doc has received the support of the very-selective John Cale and Laurie Anderson, the artist and partner of the Velvet’s late Lou Reed. Source: theplaylist.net

Friday, August 31, 2018

Joe & Marilyn: Legends in Love, Hippocampus

Soon there were Marilyn's visits to Joe DiMaggio’s home on Beach Street in San Francisco, the house he had bought for $14,000 in the early days of his success and where his sister Marie played hostess. Sometimes the couple would go fishing, Marilyn bundled up in leather jacket, jeans, and scarf. They were rarely recognized, and the times when they were spotted DiMaggio angrily told reporters to ‘beat it.’ On his home turf, DiMaggio offered a tranquility rarely experienced by Marilyn. On the matter of his brief marriage to Marilyn, their divorce and moving reunion, Joe DiMaggio’s intact silence is well known and can only be respected. “I didn’t want to give up my career,” Marilyn had said to columnist Earl Wilson, “and that’s what Joe wanted me to do most of all. He wanted me to be the beautiful ex-actress, just like he was the great former ballplayer. We were to ride into some sunset together. But I wasn’t ready for that kind of journey yet. I wasn’t even thirty, for heaven’s sake!” On his deathbed, Joe DiMaggio said in 1999: “I don’t feel bad about dying. At least, I’ll be with Marilyn again.” It was not the first time DiMaggio had said that, according to Morris Engelberg. “We were sitting together in the patio one night, talking about his illness, and he said he wished to be with Marilyn again. 

Dinner With DiMaggio: Memories of an American Hero promises a rare glimpse into the private life of a frequently misunderstood man, and although occasionally prone to sensationalism, for the most part it delivers. Joe met his first wife, showgirl Dorothy Arnold, on a film set. Their son, Joe DiMaggio Jr., was born in 1941, but the couple were soon embroiled in a bitter divorce. “Dorothy was always trying to get between my little guy and me,” Joe told his friend Dr. Rock Positano. Although he was a lifelong movie fan, Joe’s brushes with Hollywood left him unimpressed. In the late 1940s, he was dining at the Stork Club with some of the biggest names in the movie industry, including Marlene Dietrich and the Bogarts. “I knew better than to pry,” Positano says, claiming that Joe gradually opened up. “He also spoke with [lawyer] Morris Engelberg about Marilyn,” he adds, “but I never knew what he told each of us, and Morris and I never compared notes.”

Joe thought Marilyn was both beautiful and “highly intelligent,” as Positano revealed in a recent interview for People magazine. “He had a tremendous amount of respect for Marilyn because she was a really great actress.” Nonetheless, her star was rising when she married Joe, and babies seem not to have been an immediate priority. His jealousy, and her ambition, were more likely causes of the split. When crowds gathered to watch her standing over a subway grate during filming of The Seven Year Itch, columnist Walter Winchell dragged a reluctant Joe along. The couple separated shortly afterward. “Doc, Marilyn told me that no man ever satisfied her like I did,” Joe said. Although respectful in public, Joe apparently took a dim view of her third husband, Arthur Miller. Sinatra told Joe that Marilyn kept a photo of him hidden in a closet, which “drove Miller crazy and right to the divorce court.” In the final years of her life, Marilyn grew close to Joe again. Talk of reconciliation was rife, but she insisted they were just good friends. Joe had probably been hurt by Marilyn’s relationship with Frank Sinatra, but by 1962, when her alleged involvement with John F. Kennedy occurred, the president had distanced himself from Sinatra. Positano repeats the tale of Joe snubbing Bobby Kennedy at Yankee Stadium in 1965. Marilyn had a long history of depression, and was addicted to sleeping pills. Joe told Positano that she would sometimes neglect her appearance. “Though Joe saw Marilyn’s behaviour become erratic, he was unsophisticated about mental illness,” Positano reflects. During his final trip to New York in 1999, a frail Joe was in a nostalgic mood. “I miss Marilyn more than ever,” he confided. One of his proudest achievements was the opening of the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Florida.

One of Lee Strasberg’s standard suggestions—practically a requirement—was that students enhance their reservoir of primal memories and emotions (what he called “sense memory”) by entering psychoanalysis. He and Paula were undergoing analysis, and both felt, among its other advantages, that it had strengthened their marriage. Turning to Milton Greene for advice on the subject, Marilyn was soon given a referral. Greene himself had been in therapy for several years with Dr. Margaret Herz Hohenberg, who, like Lee Strasberg, had come to the United States from Hungary. A follower of the Viennese school of psychoanalysis founded by Sigmund Freud, Hohenberg, at fifty-seven, was a tall, heavy woman with white hair that was often braided and wrapped around her head. On Milton Greene’s recommendation, Marilyn met with the analyst. By March 1955, she was seeing Margaret Hohenberg five times a week.

Monroe’s presence on the block did not go unnoticed; Hohenerg’s neighbors would frequently stop her on the street and inquire, “How is Miss Monroe doing today?” During their sessions, for which Marilyn invariably arrived late, they dealt with the traumas of Monroe’s chaotic childhood, her lack of self-esteem, her lust for approval, her dread of rejection, her obsessive search for a father figure. To facilitate the analytic process, the actress recorded her thoughts and dreams in a series of binders that, in 2010, were posthumously published as a single volume called Fragments, which seemed an appropriate title considering Hohenberg’s pronouncement, made soon after she met Marilyn, that the actress possessed “a fragmented mind.” Typical of Marilyn’s nightmarish notations in Fragments is one that reads: “For Dr. H—Tell her about that dream of the horrible, repulsive man—who is trying to lean too close to me in the elevator—and my panic and then my thought despising him—does that mean I’m attached to him? He even looks like he has a venereal disease.” After six months of treatment, Hohenberg diagnosed Monroe as suffering from borderline personality disorder, a psychological condition characterized by intense turmoil and instability in relationships and behavior.

Marilyn demonstrated two of the conditions commonly associated with Borderline Personality Disorder: dissociation and depersonalization. Under stress, her mind and body would literally shut down, which helped explain (at least to Hohenberg) why Marilyn was always late for appointments and had difficulty remembering her lines when appearing in films. Strangely enough, Hohenberg also determined that Marilyn had a hearing dysfunction in her right ear. She sent her to Dr. Eugen Grabscheid, an audiologist, who confirmed that she had a mild case of Ménière’s disease, a permanent buildup of fluids in the inner ear, a potentially dangerous, difficult-to-treat ailment that led to hearing loss and bouts of dizziness. —"Joe & Marilyn: Legends in Love" (2014) by C. David Heymann

A 2013 study published in the journal Hippocampus found that daily sexual activity was not only associated with generation of more new neurons, but also with enhanced cognitive function. Research on humans has yielded similar findings. It turned out that both men and women who had engaged in any kind of sex over the past year had higher scores on the word recall test. Furthermore, for men only, being sexually active was linked to better performance on the number sequencing task. The results revealed that women who engaged in more frequent sexual intercourse had better recall of abstract words on the test. A new study out this year (also in the Archives of Sexual Behavior) that involved 6,000 adults age 50 and over explored how sexual frequency was associated with performance on two episodic memory tasks administered two years apart. Participants who had sex more often had better performance on the memory test. It's worth noting that more emotional closeness during sex was linked to better memory performance, too. As always, more research is necessary, especially research that can help to establish cause-and-effect in humans and that explores what actually happens in the brain in response to frequent sex. That said, the overall pattern of findings to date is consistent with the idea that sex may very well be beneficial for our brains and our cognitive performance. Source: www.psychologytoday.com

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe as The Girl in "The Seven Year Itch" (1955).

A new Marilyn Monroe exhibit and auction will include outfits that belonged to the blonde bombshell including a replica of her iconic Seven Year Itch dress. Beginning August 18, The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills will display a collection of Marilyn Monroe's costumes and artifacts until September 30, which precedes an October auction of the items. Pieces displayed throughout "Essentially Marilyn: The Auction/The Exhibit" will be complemented by photographs taken by photographer Milton H. Greene, who was also Monroe's friend. The items on display include 15 costumes worn by Marilyn Monroe including the sequined showgirl leotard style from "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. At the end of October, Profiles in History will host an auction of the items, but a date has not yet been announced." Source: www.apparelnews.net

“The greatest thing about Monroe is not her chest,” Billy Wilder declared with sincerity. “It is her ear. She is a master of delivery. She can read comedy better than anyone else in the world.” For many, Marilyn Monroe will always be the girl on the sidewalk grating; her skirt blowing up around her waist. For others she is the woman breathily singing her way through Happy Birthday for President John F Kennedy. In reality, however, she was neither. In fact it could be said that Marilyn Monroe wasn’t even a real person; she was a fascinating character created by Norma Jeane Baker, the little girl who dreamed of becoming a movie star. Marilyn was an invention in which she herself didn't believe. By 1933 Gladys Baker decided to move Norma Jeane into a house she was sharing with Mr and Mrs Atkinson, an English couple who worked in the movies. Shortly after moving in together, news came through that Gladys’ grandfather Tilford Hogan had committed suicide, and her son Robert had died tragically at 14. Gladys had always been emotional and these two events were enough to push her over the edge. Shortly afterwards Gladys suffered a nervous breakdown and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. 

In 1942, when faced with yet another stint in an orphanage, Norma Jeane married Jim Dougherty, a neighbour of the Goddard family, where she was living at the time. For Jim, it was a chance to ‘save’ her; he could be a knight in shining armour and he embraced the challenge wholeheartedly, though Norma Jeane was conflicted. “It was like being retired to a zoo,” she later said. The marriage lasted four years, during which time Jim went to war and Norma Jeane moved in with her in-laws. She was bored and lonely, so took a job at a defence plant, where she was discovered by a photographer taking photos for the war effort. These photographs led to a modelling career and Jim went along with it, giving her all of his savings for her customes and fees, though assured his wife that when he returned from war, she’d have to give it all up and start a family. She responded by heading to Las Vegas and filing for divorce; much to the shock and despair of her husband. Johnny Hyde, a prominent Hollywood agent, put her forward for the small but important role of Angela in The Asphalt Jungle, directed by John Huston. Hyde asked her many times to marry him and she turned him down each and every time. After Johnny Hyde’s death, Marilyn channelled everything into her career, earning roles in films such as Love Nest, Clash By Night and Don’t Bother To Knock

Marilyn's star was on the rise, and yet it all threatened to come crashing down with the discovery not only that she had posed nude, but that her mother, whom she had been declaring dead for years, was actually alive and living in an institution. Many theories have been brought forward over the years as to why or how Marilyn died. Some say it was because of her involvement with the President of the United States, though this has never been proved and indeed any actual relationship remains to this day an unfounded rumour. All we really know is that she sang for him on his birthday, and was friends with his sister Pat – hardly the basis of an affair. The truth is that we will never know how Marilyn Monroe passed away. She took her secrets to the grave, and any stories of her death that have come and gone through the years can only be speculative at best. Each question invites further answers, on and on, like an endless hall of mirrors. But perhaps in the end it really doesn’t matter if we never find out, as the appeal of her life is so much more captivating. —"The Shocking Truth Behind Marilyn Monroe's Secret Life" (2015) by Michelle Morgan

Kelli Garner is the latest actress to tackle an impossible role — the screen legend Marilyn Monroe, whose dumb-blonde persona masked a dark personality haunted by mental illness. Sometimes Garner's performance doesn’t work at critical times because it lacks sufficient nuance. Vocally, Garner goes for mannered breathiness punctuated with a bubbly giggle. The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe is based on the biography of the same name by J. Randy Tarraborelli, although the book was written off by some critics as being little more than vapid gossip about the late actress. And that's one of the problems with creating yet another book, movie, or TV show about Monroe. Since Monroe's untimely death at the age of 36 on Aug. 5, 1962, she has taken on a larger-than-life, mythic quality that makes it difficult to know what is fact and what has just been repeated as part of her legend for years. The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe suggests that mental illness ran in Monroe's family. Just as her mother suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, Monroe also deals with bouts of paranoia, delusion, and depression. Hollywood, then, provides the perfect escape from a miserable reality. One screen test revealed what we all know now: the camera loved Marilyn Monroe and she loved the camera, giving herself to it as she never could to any husband or lover. In one scene the mother-daughter duo are on the same page: when Norma Jeane asks Gladys at what age she began to hear the voices, Gladys gives her a knowing look and says, “So you’re hearing them too?” At least Gladys realized she was better off under a doctor’s care. 

A printed epilogue notes that Gladys ended up outliving her daughter by 22 years. In the series, things got so bad that Monroe almost tried to kill herself by jumping out of a window, which eventually caused her therapist Dr. Kris to admit her to a psychiatric hospital. In the 2001 documentary Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days, Dr. Kris says Monroe got into the psychiatric ward at Payne Whitney in 1961, with a doctor forcing a physical exam on her and Monroe threatening to cut herself with glass if she wasn't released. “The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe” takes a compassionate look at a star whose beauty made her a legend, but whose private life was a torture chamber. Monroe was in many ways unknowable and you'll come to the sad realization that you'll never come to truly know her either, which is what Monroe wanted but also feared the most. Marilyn Monroe, as Joshua Logan said, is pure cinema. Source: www.sfgate.com

It takes more than a breathy voice and a golden dye job to play Marilyn Monroe, the most celebrated and troubled of Hollywood idols. Kelli Garner certainly throws herself into the title role of Lifetime’s two-night miniseries The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, adapted from the 2009 biography of the same name by J. Randy Taraborrelli. Yet she never seems to be doing anything more than celebrity karaoke, rarely digging deep beneath the long succession of hairstyles and form-fitting clothes. As for John F. Kennedy, that’s included too, but the senator-turned-President remains discretely off-screen, although there’s still an excuse to show Garner in the knockout gossamer dress Monroe famously wore when she sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.” Underlying it all, in the adapted screenplay by Stephen Kronish, directed by Laurie Collyer, is that Monroe inherited mental illness from her mother, a religious scold (she calls modeling “a sinful business”) who hears voices. Marilyn, as usual, is portrayed as an object mostly of pity, someone who tells her agent, “Everyone uses everyone,” having been on both sides of the equation. Source: variety.com

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Marilyn Monroe: The Misfits, The Last Sessions

A nude scene long believed lost featuring Marilyn Monroe in John Huston’s The Misfits has been re-discovered. The footage, cut from the film by Huston, was previously believed to have been destroyed. The whereabouts of the footage was uncovered by Charles Casillo, the author of Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon. Casillo discovered that the footage had not been destroyed during an interview with The Misfits producer's (Frank Taylor) son Curtice Taylor, who revealed that he had kept in a locked cabinet since his father's death nearly twenty years ago in 1999. Living up to her sex symbol status, Monroe reportedly went nude while filming without warning, much to the chagrin of director, John Huston. Her impromptu disrobing was not appreciated by Huston, however, who felt it was unnecessary for the scene. Source: deadline.com

While Something's Got to Give (1962) is listed as Marilyn Monroe’s last film, The Misfits was her last completed movie before her death from a drug overdose in 1962. Bored while waiting for Monroe to arrive on the set, Clark Gable volunteered to do a number of hazardous routines which included being dragged by a truck travelling at 30 mph. On the last day of filming, he allegedly said, "Christ, I'm glad this picture's finished. She [Monroe] damn near gave me a heart attack." The next day, he suffered a massive heart coronary which led to his death eleven days later. According to Arthur Miller, Clark Gable had already seen a rough cut of the movie by the last day of filming, and said: "This is the best picture I have made, and it's the only time I've been able to act."

In his study on Marilyn Monroe, Graham McCann describes the character of Roslyn as having “the abstraction, and the intimacy, of a figure in a dream” (1988, p.155). Undoubtedly the film acknowledges the oneiric qualities of Monroe/Roslyn. Indeed, the vision of the movie as a whole seems to gesture towards an understanding of Monroe and her character as the ultimate misfit, an individual unable to completely find her place in either the ideal or the real. As Montgomery Clift’s character remarks: “I can’t figure you floating around here like this”; to which Roslyn replies: “I don’t know where I belong”.  Clark Gable plays an aging cowboy whose life has lost purpose and who is reduced to capturing wild horses — the symbols of the free life he loved — for dog food. Marilyn/Roslyn is the only beautiful thing in the whole ugly desert, in the whole world, in this whole dump of toughness, atom bomb, death. Source: wcreynolds.com

Michelle Morgan, who has studied Marilyn Monroe’s life for 30 years, was able to track down some of the last living people associated with the screen legend to further investigate how the star helped pioneer an unlikely movement in Hollywood for other actresses yearning to make it without resorting to the casting couch. “She had said that she never fell for it,” Morgan told Fox News. In the mid-1950s, Monroe spoke out about being harassed by an executive whom she did not name. "She was very intelligent about that, to keep his name out of the article. But she certainly did speak about it," Morgan said. “She was never going to let herself be victimized. She spoke about it and as a result, inspired other people. She was one of the only actresses in Hollywood at that time who was speaking out about that.” Morgan added: “I think based on the things she said herself and the outspoken way she approached Hollywood, I personally don’t believe she was ever a victim of the casting couch. I think she was able to walk away."

Harassment in Hollywood wasn’t the only hot topic on Marilyn Monroe’s mind. Frustrated for constantly being cast in “dumb blonde” roles, Monroe wasn’t shy about letting the film studio know she was willing to risk her growing success just for the chance to play different characters. The scene in which Monroe’s white halter dress blows over her hips as she steps onto a New York subway grate made her an icon. And while some may believe the actress was exploiting herself, Morgan said she was proud of making a bold statement. “I think she enjoyed the fact that she was an attractive woman who had an effect on other people. Not just on men, but on people around her… I thinks she really used the skirt scene… to get out of these dumb blond roles and… as a way of getting power because she worked so hard to get it… And at the end of the day, it was just a scene for a film. A very successful one.” Source: www.foxnews.com

In the summer of 2002 a book of photographs was published called Becoming Marilyn, featuring pictures taken in 1949 by photographer André de Dienes of a young model who was preparing to make the leap into Hollywood stardom. In reviewing Becoming Marilyn, Newsweek magazine commented that the book’s “images catching Norma Jeane as she mutates to ‘Marilyn.’” This statement reflects the basic premise of the myth of Marilyn Monroe: a real girl (named Norma Jean) metamorphosed into something that was not a person, but a concept: “Marilyn.” And it is an ideal seen as being distinct from the woman’s reality. “Marilyn” was only a fantasy of femininity, an imaginary role the actress performed with immense success, but which eventually destroyed her. Norman Mailer shows this response par excellence in his notorious, ranting catalog of Marilyn’s contradictions. She was, as Mailer describes her: a lover of books who did not read, a proud inviolate artist who could haunch over to publicity; a female spurt of wit and sensitive energy who could hang like a sloth for days in a muddy-mooded coma; a child-girl, yet an actress to loose a riot by dropping her glove at a premiere; a fountain of charm and a dreary bore; an ambulating cyclone of beauty and a dank hunched-up drab at her worst; lover of life and a cowardly hyena of death who drenched herself in chemical stupors... Simone de Beauvoir wrote that Woman “is all that man desires and all that he does not attain.” That's Marilyn. —"The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe" (2005) by Sarah Churchwell 

Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon by Charles Casillo is a sympathetic biography with a substantial bibliography (500 book entries and multiple footnotes). While it contains no Earth-shaking new insights, it’s a serious, commendable study. This is not a Cinderella story. Not just because Monroe was insecure, terribly needy, but because very few men in her life were princes — and that’s what she so desperately wanted and needed. Certainly not Fox’s executives, who had little respect for her talent. Definitely not Arthur Miller, portrayed here as a weakling instead of savior. “She could say things that put a hook in my belly. Cruel, vicious insights,” Arthur Miller wrote. Joe DiMaggio, the great Yankee Clipper, was a lifelong prince of a guy. Although embarrassed by her promiscuous past and wary of her ambitions, when she needed someone after their divorce, DiMaggio regularly dropped everything to comfort her. In addition to the un-prince-like men, there were some "wicked stepsisters" as well. Her personal secretary Pat Newcomb most surely qualifies. Source: www.winnipegfreepress.com

Marilyn's Last Sessions (2013): A novel based on the records of Marilyn Monroe's analysis is grimly fascinating. The "last sessions" of the title are those that Marilyn had in the final two years of her life with the psychiatrist Ralph Greenson. In the 1950s Greenson, who had worked with Freud in pre-war Vienna, was at the top of his profession and highly regarded both by his psychoanalytical colleagues. In Michel Schneider's portrayal of Marilyn, she is deeply strange, part changeling, part demon, part lost soul. Marilyn's Last Sessions tells the story of a double tragedy. Marilyn was self-destructive, but also she was one of those people who damage anyone who comes too close. Jean-Paul Sartre said of her, "It's not just light that comes off her, it's heat. She burns through the screen." As the actress said herself, "I drag Marilyn Monroe around with me like an albatross". By late 1961, for Dr Greenson, Marilyn was both patient and ever-present family friend. Marilyn, he found, could not abide the notion of any imperfection in ‘certain ideal figures in her life.’ Greenson came up later with a more acute summation of her predicament: "she was an intellectual who shielded herself from the pain of thinking by talking in a little girl's voice and putting on a show of being dumb."

‘Marilyn could not rest until peace had been reestablished,’ Greenson wrote. But the psychiatrist thought her inability to handle anything she perceived as hurtfulness, along with her abnormal fear of homosexuality—Greenson was to write—‘were ultimately the decisive factors that led to her death.’ Marilyn herself told journalist W. J. Weatherby, ‘People tried to make me into a lesbian. I laughed. No sex is wrong if there’s love in it.’ Earlier, speaking of her life in 1948, she said the sexual side of relations with men had so far been a disappointment. ‘Then it dawned on me,’ she said, ‘that other people, other women, were different than me. They could feel things I couldn’t. And when I started reading books I ran into the words “frigid,” “rejected,” and “lesbian.” I wondered if I was all three of them. There was also the sinister fact that a well-made woman had always thrilled me to look at.’ Source: www.theguardian.com

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon

On March 15, 1956, principal photography on Bus Stop began on location in Phoenix. The work Marilyn had done the previous year at the Actors Studio with Strasberg did make her a better actress, as was revealed in this movie. Everything about her as Cherie comes across as genuine and touching, from the way her body slumps exhaustedly in a chair to the exasperation and anger she displays when Bo pushes her around. But this new depth in Marilyn’s acting came at a price. Now there were demons on the set—her own demons that she called up from her past to use in her acting. The past was with her constantly now—and the pressures she put herself under were worse than ever. “She was the most nervous actor I’d ever worked with,” Don Murray said. “She would break out into hives and her body would be covered with little red splotches, and they’d have to cover up with makeup.”

During the production of Bus Stop, a young publicist named Patricia “Pat” Newcomb was assigned to handle Marilyn’s press and would briefly enter Marilyn’s inner circle. A few years later Newcomb would become one of the major players in the last months of Marilyn’s life. Newcomb was young, smart, and fiercely loyal to her celebrity clients. She was also known to have a volatile temper—she would slam her office door so hard that a framed picture of Dean Martin would fall off the wall, shattering the glass “every other day.” Rupert Allan, who handled most of Marilyn’s press relations, told biographer Donald Spoto that Pat Newcomb would take phone messages for Marilyn—many from men wanting to meet her. “Pat intercepted Marilyn’s messages,” Allan said. Then, according to Allan, things went too far. Newcomb didn’t particularly look like Marilyn, but perhaps with the right lighting and makeup she could pass for some unfamiliar people. 

Fred Lawrence Guiles wrote in his biography, “Patricia Newcomb was a twenty-five-year-old Mills College graduate who resembled Marilyn physically. They were almost exactly the same height (almost five feet six); her thick hair was medium blond and hung loose to her shoulders.” Rupert Allan asserted that Newcomb went through “a lesbian phase” but also dated men. Marilyn protested about Pat, ‘She’s not Marilyn!’” It would be nearly five years before she and Marilyn would be in contact again. And at that time Newcomb would become one of the most important and controversial people in Marilyn’s life—known as the keeper of her secrets and one of the last people to see Marilyn on the day she died. The head of Marilyn’s public relations firm, Arthur Jacobs, recommended she give Newcomb another try.  Newcomb entered Marilyn’s life again, but this time the two would work well together and become close. Those who knew Marilyn well in her last years say that the two women would become extraordinarily close. Rupert Allan and Ralph Roberts (among others) would come to believe that Pat Newcomb became obsessed with Marilyn as she became more and more a part of her famous client’s life.

On November 16, 1960, Marilyn was awoken by the phone and, in her half-sleep state, was informed that Clark Gable had died. He died of a coronary thrombosis while recuperating in the hospital from a heart attack. In childhood she had fantasized that Gable was her father. He behaved tenderly and protectively toward her during the harrowing months they spent making The Misfits. Now she had lost another connection to a father figure. Marilyn was overwhelmed with despair. To make matters worse, she worried that perhaps her frustrating absences during the shooting had contributed to Gable’s death. His widow made statements to the press suggesting that the maddening delays in making The Misfits had contributed to his heart attack. Kay Gable never mentioned Marilyn by name, but the implication seemed clear: “That picture helped kill my husband. It wasn’t the physical exertion that did it; it was the horrible tension—that eternal waiting. He waited around forever, for everybody. He’d get so angry waiting.”

Marilyn spent Christmas Eve quietly in her apartment with her new public relations agent, Pat Newcomb. For a present, Marilyn gave Newcomb a mink coat. It was an extravagant gift for a recent employee—and someone she had clashed with and mistrusted in the past. Perhaps it was Marilyn’s way of saying she had been wrong about her initial impression. That evening, however, she received a “forest of poinsettias” from Joe DiMaggio. She invited him to visit her, and they did spend Christmas night alone together. They quietly began seeing each other again. Always very discreet, DiMaggio would visit her at her apartment. He would arrive late in the evening, use the service elevator, enter through the kitchen door, and leave by dawn. DiMaggio remained concerned not only at the apparent wasteland of Marilyn’s emotional life but her increasingly haggard appearance. The release of The Misfits also devastated her. Before its premiere she had tremendous hopes that this performance might be the start of a turning point in her career. So much effort had gone into it and had backfired. Bosley Crowther, in the all-important New York Times, said: “Miss Monroe—well, she is completely blank and unfathomable as a new divorcée. There is really not much about her that is very exciting or interesting.” Despite a few excellent reviews, the critics’ opinions leaned toward the negative. Now Marilyn’s dreams of being taken seriously as an actress seemed as far away as ever. She had let down the Strasbergs. She had let down her fans. She had let down herself.

Fox announced that they planned to cast her in the lead of Goodbye Charlie, by George Axelrod, which had been a Broadway flop starring Lauren Bacall. The plot revolved around a callous playboy, Charlie, who is killed by a lover’s jealous husband and instantly reincarnated in the body of a gorgeous woman—to be played by Marilyn. Although Charlie materializes in glorious female form, his/her mind and mannerisms remain those of a male. The studio was eager to collect the last picture Marilyn owed them on her contract and thought the novelty of Marilyn Monroe playing a man trapped inside her famous curves would be a box-office bonanza. Marilyn, however, was appalled at the idea of having to butch it up. She couldn’t bear the thought of her femininity being questioned. Obsessing over homosexuality during a psychiatric session with Greenson, Marilyn had expressed rage when he informed her that there was something feminine and masculine in both genders, and she became mortified that anything masculine might be perceived in her. Now she was being asked to act masculine on screen for laughs. “The studio people want me to do Goodbye Charlie,” she fumed to the press. “But I’m not going to do it. I don’t like the idea of playing a man in a woman’s body.” George Cukor claimed that she could not be directed: “You couldn’t reach her, she was like underwater.” Her clash with director Cukor during the filming of Something's Gotta Give could be attributed to her difficulties about connecting with a gay director. But Monroe had acted this way with other directors she deemed unsympathetic.

“It’s Pat Newcomb who knows more about Marilyn Monroe than anyone else,” Jeanne Martin (Dean Martin’s wife) commented once. In Monroe biographies, the shadowy Pat Newcomb often comes across as being a not very forthcoming person, mostly because of her silences and dodges when it comes to discussing Marilyn in her very few interviews. Newcomb and Marilyn had psychological traits in common. Jeanne, who socialized with both women, observed that Newcomb, like Marilyn, “had highs and lows.” Both of them used prescription drugs, especially sedatives. Both women relied heavily on their psychiatrists. Newcomb was at Marilyn’s side at almost every major event in 1961–62, hovering protectively on the sidelines. When not working, the two women socialized together, and it was through Newcomb that Marilyn reacquainted herself with Peter Lawford and his wife, Pat Kennedy Lawford, the sister of John and Bobby Kennedy. Newcomb would often stay at Marilyn’s apartment when she was in New York and—at times—at her home in Los Angeles. People who were around at the time go so far as to say that Newcomb became obsessed with Marilyn.

Because of Newcomb’s feverish dedication to Marilyn, her intentions began to confuse the star. Marilyn both craved this devotion and feared it. Some say Newcomb wanted more from Marilyn than she was prepared to give. But—at this stage in her life—without a husband or steady lover, Marilyn needed someone who extended complete dedication, unconditional love. This is what Newcomb offered. In return—as she did with anyone who was devoted to her—Marilyn made extreme demands. If Marilyn tried to call Newcomb at home and got a busy signal, she would become hysterical. When she finally got through she would scream and yell. Eventually Marilyn had a separate phone line installed in Newcomb’s apartment so she could reach her at all times. As always, Marilyn would do her best to repay Newcomb’s loyalty. After she complained that her car wasn’t working well, Marilyn gave Newcomb a new Thunderbird. And after wearing them a few times, Marilyn gave Pat a valuable pair of emerald earrings Frank Sinatra had given her. But after Marilyn’s death, Newcomb seemed to want to distance herself from their intensely personal and multilayered relationship. In spite of what Newcomb had to say, all the evidence shows that she and Marilyn were very close. When Newcomb suggested Rupert Allan he should go through her—instead of contacting Marilyn directly—Allan snapped back that he had been a friend of Marilyn’s for a long time. Michael Selsman, who also worked with Newcomb at the Arthur P. Jacobs agency, claims that there was a lot of talk about a possible lesbian relationship between Marilyn and Newcomb—and it wasn’t coming from the show-business community. The rumors spread among people in Marilyn’s circle “who knew her and worked with her.”

“Pat Newcomb was the closest confidante to Marilyn,” Milt Ebbins, Peter Lawford’s agent and friend, who was part of Marilyn’s social set, commented. “Was there something sexual between them? I have no proof of that, but they were very close. Constantly together. Marilyn loved her, she was very fond of her.” Susan Strasberg pointed out that “the adrenaline rush that came from Marilyn’s involvement with Pat Newcomb became somewhat sexualized.” Strasberg would say that Marilyn had nicknamed Newcomb “Sybil,” implying friendly “sibling rivalry.” But as their relationship intensified, Marilyn’s feelings grew more complicated, with paranoid undertones. For her there was a clear line of masculine and feminine behavior, and the confusing of genres terrified her. She was paranoid about finding anything masculine in herself. Marilyn began discussing Newcomb in her sessions with Dr. Greenson, with homosexuality a major concern. “She could not bear the slightest hint of anything homosexual,” Greenson wrote. “She had an outright phobia of homosexuality and yet unwittingly fell into situations which had homosexual coloring, which she then recognized and projected onto the other, who then became her enemy.”

“Marilyn’s mother was schizophrenic,” Susan Strasberg observed. “As a result Marilyn’s feelings toward women were complex and ambivalent.” In his correspondence Greenson gave an example of Marilyn’s relationship with a girlfriend named “Pat,” who had put a blond streak in her hair, close to Marilyn’s color. Marilyn interpreted Newcomb’s emulation as an attempt to “take possession of her,” feeling that identification meant “homosexual possessiveness.” Greenson wrote that Marilyn “burned with fury against this girl,” accusing her of trying to “rob her most valuable possession.” So much of Marilyn’s identity, her public persona, was being the sexual desire of men. Her whole projection of herself was based on that. Newcomb’s perceived passionate feelings threatened her. But—with everything in her life becoming more confusing and unclear—she pressed ahead with the relationship. “She could be very touching,” Newcomb recalled. “I always felt a kind of watching out for her. But deep down at the core she was really strong. And you’d forget it because she seemed so vulnerable.” Sometimes Marilyn’s suppressed angst surfaced, and she would say something “quite cruel,” Newcomb revealed. “She could be quite mean.” Newcomb declined all offers to publish a memoir of her time with Marilyn. This may seem an odd stance for a woman whose entire career has been devoted to maintaining the public image of Marilyn Monroe. She only gave interviews to Donald Spoto, Anthony Summers, Lois Banner and Gary Vitacco-Robles.

“Marilyn’s vocabulary included words I’d never ever heard of, and she wielded them like a sailor with no embarrassment,” Susan Strasberg once said. “She had quite a temper when she lost control.” As the months went on, Marilyn’s love-hate relationship with Newcomb would grow more extreme. It would crescendo on the last mysterious day of Marilyn’s life. In mid-June 1962, Marilyn entered a hypomanic phase of activity, socializing and publicizing herself. To combat the ongoing negative publicity of her dismissal from Something’s Got to Give, Marilyn had Newcomb set up in-depth interviews with Redbook and LIFE. Marilyn also agreed to a photo layout for Cosmopolitan. Marilyn was desperately trying to convince the public—and herself—that she was more than a sex symbol. The amount of medication Marilyn was taking cannot be overlooked. Greenson’s family said that he was trying to wean Marilyn from her dependency on Nembutal by prescribing chloral hydrate, a sedative he felt was not as addictive. Newcomb admitted that she and Marilyn shared pills at times. “One time I just wanted to relax, and there wasn’t valium and she gave me a pill and I was knocked out,” Newcomb said. “I was so detached. I was scared.”

On Friday afternoon, August 3, 1962, Marilyn filled two prescriptions at a pharmacy on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. One was for Phenergan, a drug used to treat allergies, and the other for Nembutal. Greenson and Engelberg had been weaning Marilyn off of Nembutal for weeks, substituting the milder drug chloral hydrate. Marilyn would take that with a glass of milk before bed. That evening Pat Newcomb had dinner with Marilyn in a Santa Monica French restaurant, whose name she can’t remember. When talking to Donald Spoto she said, “Afterwards we came back to the house. We just sat around—” Then Newcomb indicated the journalist’s tape recorder, stating, “I want to shut this off.” On Saturday, August 4, 1962, Mrs. Murray found Marilyn quiet and contemplative. She had tentative plans of going to Peter Lawford’s house for dinner in the evening. Some say that Robert Kennedy had planned to make a quick trip from San Francisco to attend the party, specifically to talk to Marilyn. Legend has come down through the years that Marilyn’s foul mood toward Newcomb was because she had been able to sleep for twelve hours straight while Marilyn slept very little. That’s probably partially true. However, there was something else going on that Pat Newcomb has been silent about for decades. Many years later Milt Ebbins evasively said that Newcomb was party to many secret things regarding Marilyn in her last months.

The reason for Marilyn’s fury the last days of her life is that she had come to believe that Pat Newcomb had become romantically involved with Bobby Kennedy—an involvement that would have overlapped with the time frame in which Marilyn had been seeing him. We can only imagine Marilyn’s rage and confusion. Bobby’s desire for her, his love for her, is what was going to make the thirty-six-year-old love goddess feel relevant again. Pat Newcomb was an attractive, sexy, intelligent woman who was four years younger than her. But she wasn’t Marilyn Monroe. If Bobby did have an intimate entanglement with Marilyn’s assistant/press agent while Marilyn was relying on his affection, she must have felt worthless. It was Newcomb, along with Peter Lawford, who had gotten Marilyn involved with the Kennedys in the first place. Now Marilyn felt betrayed by someone she considered a trustworthy friend. She had been demanding explanations and details about the affair from Newcomb all week. Newcomb did admit that she saw Bobby Kennedy shortly before Marilyn died. She could not remember the exact evening but revealed: “I had dinner with him, but it was just before that night.” When you’re fragile, empty, and lonely—as Marilyn was that summer—any slight or rejection becomes amplified. It can feel fatal. It can feel like The End. —"Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon" (2018) by Charles Casillo

In December 1961 Marilyn's psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenson labeled her a 'borderline paranoid schizophrenic' in a letter sent to Anna Freud. Rather than work in a vacuum, Dr. Greenson obtained a second opinion by consulting psychologist Dr. Milton Wexler. After taking a doctorate at Columbia University, studying under Theodor Reik, a disciple of Freud, he became one of the country’s first nonphysicians to set up in practice as a psychoanalyst. Also a member of the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Society, Dr. Wexler would go on to become a pioneer in the study and treatment of Huntington’s disease, forming the Hereditary Disease Foundation. Wexler also felt strongly that Marilyn Monroe suffered at least from borderline paranoid schizophrenia after sitting in on three sessions with her at Dr. Greenson’s home. “Yes, I treated her,” he said in 1999. “I will say that I agreed with Dr. Greenson that she presented borderline symptoms of the disease that had run in her family. I found her to be very proactive in wanting to treat those borderline symptoms, as well. One misconception about her treatment is that it was Dr. Greenson’s idea that she move in with his family. She never moved in with the Greensons. Instead, it was my suggestion that she spend as much time there as possible in order to create the environment that she lacked as a child. That was my theory at the time and Dr. Greenson agreed.” To ignore the findings of these two doctors makes no sense all of these many years later. However dominant, “Marilyn Monroe” was only one persona among many that emerged from and were created by the original Norma Jeane Baker. —"The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe" (2009)  by J. Randy Taraborrelli