- I think Julia Roberts at her peak. Or probably nobody before or since. She was likable even to hardline Christers. Maybe because she died early or whatever but everyone who was around acts like they were always a big fan.
- I'm just wondering if she was at the point in her career where she was in a string of 'flops', she was one year away from a sitcom or game show gig.
- Wasn't she about to get fired by Fox? I thought they were kind of over her shenanigans and she was suspended from SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE. I think she was at a point where she was going to have to re-invent herself though because the up and comers were not playing 'sex' the way she did and I imagine that her routine seemed a bit dated. Watching her now on TCM. It's a day of MM.
- Avery Schreiber
- She had reached her peak as a star and sex symbol in the late 50s, with things like Bus Stop and Some Like It Hot, but The Misfits had been a flop at the box office (she wasn't sexy, and too serious - people wanted the comic sex symbol). Something's Gotta Give was a return for her to the successful formula of films that had worked for her in the 50s.
Yes, she was difficult to deal with, missing calls and calling in sick. And eventually she was suspended and the picture cancelled (it was actually later made as "Lover Come Back" with Doris Day in the Marilyn role, but a totally different screenplay and cast). But at 36 Marilyn was at the end of her sex symbol days, and knew it, and didn't know what would happen to her career, so she was nervous and scared about this film, which others interpreted as her being difficult.
Also by the early 60s, censorship had begun to relax, so her coy sexuality was being replaced by the more obvious charms of (usually foreign) actresses like Brigitte Bardot.
Marilyn herself recognized that she needed to up her game and keep up with the younger rivals - in her last (unfinished) film, Something's Gotta Give, she was photographed swimming seemingly nude (those clips and stills still exist), which is something she had never done onscreen before and wasn't really possible before due to censorship.
If the film had been completed, it would have updated her comic sex symbol image, but given her age and the upcoming socio-sexual whirlwind that was the 1960s, it's hard to say what would have happened to her career - she was 36 when she died, and younger, hotter, sexier girls were already at her heels. She really couldn't have continued to compete with them as she aged - look at what happened to the "minor Marilyns" who did stick around, like Jayne Mansfield and Mamie Van Doren. They aged into caricatures of themselves (and they were already caricatures of Marilyn).
And the 60s brought in newer ideals of the female sex symbol - Jane Fonda as Barbarella, Raquel Welch - a raunchier, harder kind of sex symbol than Marilyn had been.
It's hard to speculate what would have happened to her, but in retrospect her death happened at the right time - she is forever enshrined as the ultimate sex symbol.
- I was just a kid back then but remember thinking she was sadly kind of passe by 1962.
Her last big hit was Some Like It Hot in 1959 (and I was in love with her because of it!)but that was three long years past. She seemed almost more famous for being famous by 1962 and her publicized nude film scenes in Something's Gotta Give appeared tacky and desperate to a lot of America.
The summer she died was also when the 20th Century Fox Cleopatra/Liz/Dick scandal was at its height. So compared to their misbehavior, her purported misbehavior on Something's Gotta resulting in her firing seemed like the studio was fed up and felt Marilyn was no longer worth the trouble.
I can't think of a star today or even since then who could be compared to Marilyn or her various degrees of fame.
- Great assessment r5 but Something's Gotta Give was remade into Move Over, Darling with Doris, Jim Garner, Chuck Connors and Polly Bergen, not Lover Come Back which came later.
- That's not the first mistake I've ever made in print, R7...
- Her singing of the title song (with Frankie Vaughn) of LET'S MAKE LOVE sounds like a Monroe drag queen, it's so breathless and coy.
"Don't turn the TV.....on. Just turn.....me...on. I light up like....NEE-on!"
- Marilyn was highly promoted, but rarely scene. She was exposed rather sparingly by todays standards. She was at her peak of attractiveness when she died. She was always pretty, but in her 30's she became truly beautiful. Marilyn was comprised of a bit of every living person. That was her true gift. The mere sight of her gave all who saw her goose bumps.
- I'm loving this thread and it's only 9 posts in!
- Marilyn was kind of passe by the time she died, it's true. The Misfits and Let's Make Love were flops and by 1962 her persona was becoming rather dated. And back then 36 years old was MUCH older than it is now. You were already quite over the hill at that age, if you can imagine.
There's been endless speculation about what would have happened to Marilyn if she had lived and of course nobody can really know, but she would not have become the legend - the biggest movie star of all time - if she hadn't died when she did. One thing that's for certain is that Marilyn would have had to continued to work; she didn't have the fortune to retire like her contemporary Liz Taylor did once she hit her late 30's. But when you look at the films that were made for the remainder of the 60s, it's hard to imagine a place for Marilyn in Hollywood because things changed so fast and the kind of films that Marilyn was known for were no longer in fashion as the 60s progressed.
- At her time of death, Marilyn was more popular and famous than most stars are currently, but she wasn't necessarily as successful. If I had to choose a comparable celebrity from current day, maybe Angelina Jolie.
- Just before she died, Monroe was on the downward slope of her career, sort of in the same career spot that Julia Roberts is in now.
- [quote]Marilyn was highly promoted, but rarely scene.
Take 2 for that scene, Mary.
- When she died it was generally known that Marilyn was on the skids. Her hospital stays and alcohol abuse (pills were alluded to) made her look damaged, and the divorces and getting fired at Fox added to the sense of drift. But no one expected what happened. It was huge - HUGE - and that was without the mob, FBI, and Kennedy rumors that have come up since then.
As with women in general, she was considered responsible for her decline and demise. I didn't hear much sympathy behind the tsks.
- Why was she never paid what she was worth? I don't completely understand the studio system. I watched a documentary on YT and a person who worked with Marilyn on a film said that everyone behind the scenes saw her as a joke. It's like they only tolerated her and lived to make fun of her.
- [quote]She was at her peak of attractiveness when she died. She was always pretty, but in her 30's she became truly beautiful.
I totally agree. Her photo sessions with George Barris captured her at her best.
- Monroe could have pulled a Liz Taylor and turned into a more dramatic actress. She had the chops. She gave some legendary performances at the Actor's Studio that were never recorded for posterity, but those who were there say they were very impressed.
- She was on top as far as I know. I was a kid but I thought she was probably the most well known woman in the world, above Liz Taylor and Jackie Kennedy.
- I can not believe some of you said she was passe? You guys aren't very bright.
As far as I know, there is no one today whom you could compare to her.
- You could surmise that part of her problem in 1962 was that she was in so few films from the late 50s to her death. There just wasn't that much of her around except for the yearly LIFE Magazine articles (LIFE really loved her!) and papparazzi appearances.
So a lot of what the public saw of her was not as an actress but as a seeming pubicity whore who was not attached to any art or craftsmanship.
At the time, her lurid appearance at the JFK birthday party was considered prety horrific!
- I was going into my second year of college when Marilyn Monroe died exactly fifty years ago tonight. It was a major shock. Yes, people knew about her problems getting to work on time, etc. But, no one expected her to die.
The average person knew less about the lives of Hollywood stars back then (unless
there was a high profile marriage scandal, like Taylor & Fisher or Taylor & Burton).
"The Misfits" was unsuccessful, but "Some Like It Hot" had been released just three years before.
OP raised the question of MM's level of stardom when she died. I agree with R1 who posted: "I think Julia Roberts at her peak. Or probably nobody before or since."
I should also say that I was not a huge Marilyn Monroe fan to put my strong response into some context.
- I was watching some of The Prince and the Showgirl and she is so gorgeous in the film. Almost unreal.
The story is that she agreed to swim nude for SGTG for one reason. Elizabeth Taylor was on every cover of every magazine in the world because of the Richard Burton affair. Marilyn allegedly said that she wanted to knock her off the covers and get on them herself and it worked. The pic of her sitting on the edge of the pool with her bare back to the camera was an instant classic. Hefner went crazy and immediately planned a big spread for her and it turned into another best selling issue for Playboy. See some of the pics at the link.
Marilyn was still big when she died, maybe not as big as she had been, but I have a feeling she would have come back strong after Something's Got To Give was finally finished.
She always had Joe DiMaggio in her corner, willing to take her away from all of that stuff and it is possible she would have finally taken him up on the offer.
- DiMaggio was a pig. He beat her. He probably would have wound up killing her.
I do not remember people thinking her birthday greeting to JFK were horrific. I'm 68 years old.
To answer OP's question from the view of someone who was around in Aug. 1962 --- you have to be at least 60-70 years old now.
Otherwise, it's just speculation based on what you have read about Marilyn Monroe in books, newspapers and gossip. Too bad OP did not ask the question differently.
- Sorry, R26 .... how should I have asked the question ??
- You have to remember, though you can make comparisons in terms of scale, you can't really make similar comparisons in terms of perception because celebrity was so different back then. Nowadays, notions of celebrity are about as satisfying as Chinese food but back then, celebrity was something that was controlled, manicured, protected and much more revered. Some celebrities - Taylor, Garland, Monroe, Gable, etc. - were truly iconic (and not in the sense that his overused by today's 20-somethings who think everything is iconic). The impact of it lasted longer and was more substantial. Also, most movie stars remained on movie screens - which kept them larger than life. Whatever was happening with her film career, Monroe certainly maintained her star status.
She was the original. She set the template. She had a persona; even as she aged, she would've still been Marilyn. When you look at directions other aged stars went - Crawford and Davis into horror, Taylor to hard-hitting drama - or even roles for older characters like Bancroft in The Graduate, who's to say that somebody wouldn't have come up with a role for Monroe that would've reinvented her and propelled her into another decade of film stardom? The whole point of Monroe is that there was more there than boobs and blonde hair and if she hadn't succumbed to her loneliness and isolation there's always the possibility that other qualities would've emerged.
- Except, R28, we'd already seen her try to "stretch" herself in THE MISFITS and she clearly didn't have the skills to make it really successful. She may have been "brilliant" in the Actor's Studio classes, as noted above, but trying to bring that depth to a 50-foot movie screen was, at the time of her death, not a skill she possessed.
Whereas her contemporaries like Taylor and Audrey Hepburn and even Doris Day were able to cross over from light comedy to serious drama successfully, Monroe couldn't, and sadly, didn't. She might have ended up like another of her 50s contemporaries, Kim Novak, who traded in on her sex symbol image for a while in the early 60s ("Boys Night Out", "The Legend of Lylah Clare") and then retired before age made her unattractive to audiences. Same thing happened in the 60s with Tippi Hedren...
- I watched RIVER OF NO RETURN today which I'd never seen. Nothing special, just a program Western. Monroe is fine but the thing I noticed was how mannered she was. I guess I've always known this but for some reason it was glaringly obvious to me this morning. Anyway if Monroe had lived I think she would have to work with a director who was able to strip her of all of the artifice and mannerisms in order to transition to a new phase of her career.
- I thought she was great in The Misfits. It was the picture that stunk. And it was so depressing!!
Thelma Ritter, I was great in it, too.
- You aren't very bright, r21.
Several posters were making the observation that Monroe was a bit passe in 1962, not that Monroe is passe now.
- She was chubby in those late 50s films like The Prince & The Showgirl, Some Like It Hot and The Misfits, but had stunningly transformered herself into that sleek, slim new Marilyn for the 60s, almost a blonde Jackie O ! Well she was seeing the Kennedys ...
But Fox were going to re-start Somethings Gotta Give, there were several other projects in the pipeline. She could have continued if she had been mentally stable enough and not so reliant on pills.
She never earned that much in her lifetime, compared to what Liz Taylor earned - but she certainly earns now./
Liz though married a huckster producer, a fading crooner and that Welsh actor squandering his talent - MM got America's greatest sporting hero, one of the best writers and then intimate with THE political family - if not the president himself; and worked with the best directors like Wilder and Huston.
Cukor though wasn't right for her last 2 Fox films, he had no patience with her - he preferred tough dames like Hepburn and Crawford - and Fox wanted to keep her as the dumb blonde; her best later films were made away from Fox. They can re-package her again now though ... LETS MAKE LOVE is a crashing bore but SOMETHINGS GOTTA GIVE looked good in the fragments that remain.
- I imagine she may have turned out like Hedy Lamarr. Hedy was arguably the most beautiful woman who ever lived. And like Hedy, she would get lots of bad plastic surgery.
- THE MISFITS was a troubled shoot. Monroe was going through problems while making it. It's not the best example to use.
Many at Strasberg's studio have gone on record praising Monroe's talents and saying how impressed they were with how she threw herself into it. One could perhaps scoff at Lee's statement that she was as good as Brando, but others have said just as much. Eli Wallach was astounded at how she was able to turn "Marilyn" on at the drop of a hat and turn it off when necessary.
Let's also remember that Hepburn got her fair share of criticism too. Some reviewers felt she was truly incapable of letting the "Good girl" persona go. Doris Day herself hated most of her later work and found it to be garbage. Most of her comedies are hokey and outdated. Whereas a movie like SOME LIKE IT HOT is still inspiring people to this day.
- She is marvellous in River of No Return and her numbers in Theres No Business Like Showbusiness - I love those songs like "Gonna File My Claim", "Lazy", "After you get what you want you dont want it" and "Tropical Heatwave" - people forget she was a great vocal artist too.
I was 16 in 1962 and saw Bus Stop that saturday night 4 August in my small town in Ireland - while events were unfolding in California. Next day, sunday 5th we were sitting in deckchairs in the afternoon with the radio on, when the announcement came through.
She first impinged on me in How To Marry a Millionaire wearing that red swimsuit, and seeing her on the cover of all those movie magazines. 1953 and 1954 were her major years. But she was not just another studio star, she went off to New York, formed her own company with Milton Greene who also took some great pictures of her.
Those last photos at the beach by George Barris are still fresh now, the Eve Arnold photos are great too, but the Bert Stern ones reveal another more crazy looking Marilyn ... it would be impossible to imagine her getting older and blowsier like her pal Shelley Winters.
- Marilyn and Liz were the two big stars of the 50s - along with the more ladylike Audrey and Grace. They were the big 4. Then you had Doris and Debbie, Kim and Janet and new girls like Sandra Dee and Carol Lynley, while those new girls from the 40s like Deborah Kerr, Jean Simmons, Susan Hayward, Ava Gardner and Lauren Bacall had reached their pinnacle. the older gals like Lana and Rita were still busy, while the earlier quartet of Bette, Joan, Katharine and Barbara found it harded to get star roles. Hepburn was the only one who didnt have to do westerns or lesser films. Cyd Charisse was popular in musicals, and those new girls were making an impression: Lee Remick, Shirley McLaine, Eva Marie Saint, Joanne Woodward and grown up Natalie Wood. What a fascinating time ... do today's name compare? I hardly think so.
- In retrospect, the Bert Stern shoot is disturbing. He kept her soused so he could fuck her - he later admitted as much.
- Hell, she's even luminous in small early roles like All About Eve and Monkey Business. You can't keep your eyes off her, stealing scenes from no less than Bette Davis, Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers!!
- NPR or a PRI business show had a feature about Marilyn's will and bequests yesterday afternoon. Really fascinating. She could never have known what her legacy meant and how valuable it would become, but I can't help but think she'd be very displeased with how everything unfolded. I came in after the segment had started. They mentioned the people in the will and their meaning to Marilyn -- she felt most secure and loved around them and she could be as normal as someone like her could possibly be in their presence.
One bequest was left to her female therapist under whom she felt she made a lot of progress. (Sorry, can't remember her name). In turn, when the therapist died she left it to an Ann Freud foundation in London that helps at risk kids. (can't remember more details). The commentator mentioned that Marilyn would have been thrilled see her legacy being used this way.
In contrast, Strasberg's second wife sold his share to a company that manages, markets and promotes iconic Hollywood imagery to be used for whatever purposes. She's a huge money maker and the money is lining private pockets rather than being used to promote greater good.
She would not have been very pleased.
- What a cool thread. I would think she'd be the equivalent of Angelina Jolie. Well, not the equivalent. But known the world over, ad infinitum, as a sex symbol (I know tons of people hate AJ, but that is what she's known for) just barely past her prime, controversial, water cooler material.
For some reason putting MM and Julia Roberts in the same sentence feels off. But AJ and MM feels more on par.
- I think MM was more attractive in the mid/late 50s when she was a little plump.
- Marilyn, for all of her problems, was good-hearted, too good-hearted and [italic]vulnerable[/italic], to be an Angelia or Julia. I'm trying to think of someone contemporary, but can't. Hollywood's just too fake these days.
- Earlier posters are correct - Fox was putting SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE back into production. And Marilyn was the first choice for WHAT A WAY TO GO! that ended up starring Shirley MacLaine. Imagine Marilyn in top form in that movie opposite all of those leading men, including Robert Mitchum, Paul Newman, Dick VanDyke, and Gene Kelly.
I think those two light comedies would have put her back in the running at the box office
It would have been a much better movie. I'm not sure if SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE was her last picture under her old Fox contract, but once that was finished, she would have been independent and could have her choice of projects and directors.
To see the extent of the crippling effect that Lee & Paula Strasberg had on Monroe's performances, you can see Marilyn's film footage compared to Doris Day's on the MOVE OVER, DARLING dvd. And the movie was sort of put together on a DVD in a Marilyn Box Set a few years ago.
Another thing to remember is that Marilyn was two years YOUNGER than Doris Day - who had a career into the mid-60's - albeit mostly in junk.
She was still a top movie star when she died - and she could have had a career as long as she wanted....and maybe after the "beauty" faded, she could have had more of the career she wanted - as a limited but interesting actress.
- MM in Niagara
- Seven year itch
- Do you think Marilyn would have eventually done a tv series? Once the 80s came along she would have been way too old to be a leading lady in films, so do you think she would have done something like Falcon Crest or Dynasty? The mind boggles.
I also wonder how she would have aged. It's impossible for me to imagine Marilyn as an older woman.
- and Some Like It Hot.
- R47 - Hard to say. In those days, there was a clear division between movie and TV actors. It's possible that MM could have gone into (semi) retirement.
- She should have been Holly Golightly. Period. Her career would have changed.
She was fucked by the times. And her lack of grounding socially, with family, and with education. She wasn't a fucker. She was fucked (let herself be used over and over and over), and then would take passive control, at the expense of her work and her peace of mind.
She wanted to be taken seriously, and people laughed. She wanted career control, and she was smacked down or - with her own company - couldn't keep it together. And the envy - when coworkers such as Ann Baxter bitched, you could smell the sense that they thought Marilyn got by on no talent and her lack of self-control and her unprofessionalism were evidence of her being a sham. And they never got it, because they were stupid. For all her issues, Jane Russell got it - she called her "dreamy."
Her death was a horror, and people loved the "found nude in bed" angle. She had overplayed herself, showing so much, that no one expected her to have any dignity shown in death.
- [quote]Marilyn, for all of her problems, was good-hearted, too good-hearted and vulnerable, to be an Angelia or Julia. I'm trying to think of someone contemporary, but can't. Hollywood's just too fake these days.
I think the poster who suggested she was the equivalent of Jolie today meant in terms of popularity and worldwide fame, not their personality and such.
- Marilyn was Billy Wilder's first choice for "Irma la Douce." She would have been magnificent in the role.
- She had a serious stutter problem. If she got the first words of her lines without stuttering, she could sail right on with no difficulty. If she stuttered on the first words, they had to cut and do it over. That's thought to be why you see her mouth used in an odd way when starting her lines. She's working hard at getting the beginning words correct so that the rest will come easy.
- She was a movie star. There aren't any anymore. Glam, sex appeal, seemingly natural (I know, she was a haunted soul) but AJ isn't like here.
Roberts is a dog.
and most people are not aware of her generosity with the poor in Mexico--she loved the country and its people.
An earlier poster mentioned Cyd Charisse--I was in line with her at Ralph's a few months before she died. She was still a very striking woman--very small in stature, but stood with such poise. Wouldn't talk to anyone though.
- PBS is showing STILL LIFE, a doc about different photographers who worked with her. I believe it airs at 8pm on Sunday.
I am not sure if this is the same doc that came out in 2006 and had an accompanying exhibition at Staley-Wise in Soho, but if so, I highly recommend it.
- She was unique. No star today comes close to her in terms of screen charisma. I remember watching her films on tv. Even on that small screen she was wonderful.
- "Please use a more modern day example"
It's ridiculous to compare her to any "modern day example." She can't be compared to any actress today, especially skanks like Julia Roberts and Angelina Jolie. There was no one like her, before or since. She was a real STAR, very unique due to her vunerable persona, incredible sexual allure and tragic life.
At the end of her life she was as famous as ever. But her career was essentially fading out. Look at the movies she made towards the end. "Let's Make Love"; a flop. In addition she got a lot of bad publicity due to her open affair with the married Yves Montand. "The Misfit'"; another flop. "Something's Got To Give": a mediocre remake. She was getting increasingly impossible to work with. She'd show up hours late, if at all, and when she did show she was unable to remember her lines. She was also getting rather long in the tooth for a breathy-voiced, child-like sex symbol.
She had dreams of becoming a "serious" actress but nobody wanted to see Marilyn Monroe being "serious"; her audience wanted her to be Sugar Kane or Lorelei forever. But sex symbol stardom never lasts forever.
She would never have done a tv series. By all accounts she HATED television.
Before her death, she was supposedly in talks about starring in various movies and plays, but nothing was written in stone and it seems unlikely that anything would have come to fruition, seeing as how she was unable to perform. She couldn't work, couldn't show up on time, couldn't remember lines...how could she have gone to to star in demanding movies and musicals when she so depressed and ill and addicted to pills?
I'd say at the time of her death she was still a famous star, but a star whose career was at a standstill and was probably coming to an end.
I think dying young was her destiny. People who knew her said she was terrified of growing old.
- [quote] I watched a documentary on YT and a person who worked with Marilyn on a film said that everyone behind the scenes saw her as a joke. It's like they only tolerated her and lived to make fun of her.
Well, first of all, she talked that way on the set as well as in front of the camera. And that's an idiotic way to talk--it was her shtick, but to keep talking that way on the set must have made her sound like a fool.
Second, she was highly unprofessional and was consistently late for her shootings, messed up lines constantly, etc. She hay have had her reasons for being that way (as her enormous number of defenders will insist), but it was a giant pain in the ass to work with her, from all reliable accounts.
Third, she was always playing up publicity angles wherever she could and went nuts with elation and posing whenever a camera was near her. That's why she was such a giant star, but it would have been incredibly annoying to be around if you wanted to get work done.
- [quote]I watched a documentary on YT and a person who worked with Marilyn on a film said that everyone behind the scenes saw her as a joke. It's like they only tolerated her and lived to make fun of her.
As my eight grade teacher said to me: it is not what is said about you, but who says it. I mean, who gives a shit what a bunch of nobodies working on movie sets have to say about MM. Their only claim to fame was that they were on the same set with her.
- What parts would she have played if she had lived? Would she have been Mrs. Robinson?
- Thanks for the spoiler, OP!!
- I can remember as a teen seeing Some Like It Hot when it was first shown on TV in the mid-60s and how astounded we all were then that Marilyn had gotten top billing over Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis who were both at the height of their movie star fame.
Marilyn's legendary status had quite clicked in just yet. I would say that didn't happen until the NYC and college campus film fstivals of the late 60s.
- [quote]As my eight grade teacher said to me: it is not what is said about you, but who says it. I mean, who gives a shit what a bunch of nobodies working on movie sets have to say about MM. Their only claim to fame was that they were on the same set with her.
Wow. You priorities really sound like they're in order.
- She specifically came late to the set for "The Prince and the Showgirl" to get even with Olivier. He treated her like she was an extra on the set, yet she was already a star and was a producer of the film.
- I don't think even Marilyn could have saved What a Way to Go! or Irma La Douce.
In fact, they would have been two more nails in her coffin.
- Fifty years ago this Sunday, Paula Strasberg was sitting in her apartment on Central Park West when she got a horrible phone call. Her friend and pupil Marilyn Monroe was dead.
Strasberg had been with Monroe just days before in Los Angeles, coaching her through her performance on what ended up being her final movie, "Something's Gotta Give." The coaching taxed Strasberg's strength, which was already ravaged by cancer that she refused to discuss with even close friends and that ended her life soon after, so she flew back to New York for a few days of rest. She knew Marilyn wasn't doing well -- but she had no idea just how badly.
Strasberg's son John, one of the few people alive who knew Monroe well, recalls that his mother was wracked by guilt in the days that followed the awful revelation.
"My mother was going, 'Oh, it's my fault, I should have been there with her'. One had the sense of taking care of Marilyn. She liked that -- and she also elicited it from people," he told The Huffington Post.
Paula was, of course, far from alone in her grief. Monroe's death from a drug overdose at the age of 36 was a personal tragedy -- the inevitable ending to a life that was wracked by depression, abuse and drug addiction. But it was an equally large tragedy for Hollywood. The movie industry lost years, if not decades, of work from one of its brightest stars.
Monroe was so tortured the last few years of life that she was in no shape to get her career together. Even if she had survived the night of Aug. 5, 1962, she might have ended up in a similar situation a few months later. And many of the factors that led her to abuse drugs were tied to her personal life, not her career. But assuming for a moment that she was able to find health and happiness -- what might have she done for the next 30 or 40 years of her career?
It's a question that has haunted John Strasberg, 71, for a half a century. He knew Monroe for about eight years, when he was a teenager and she worked with his parents, Paula and Lee Strasberg, who ran the famed Actors Studio in New York. The Strasbergs played as big a part as anyone in Monroe's career during its final phase.
Monroe went to the Strasbergs in search of respect. She was tired of being known as nothing more than a pretty face, and eager to be taken seriously as an actress. John Strasberg said his father would talk to Monroe for hours and hours, alone in their apartment. Despite Paula's best efforts to eavesdrop on their conversations, no one ever knew what they discussed. But John Strasberg said that those talks and Monroe's work at the Actors Studio convinced his father that she had it in her to become the kind of dramatic actress she hoped to be.
"My father, who adored her and thought she was potentially one of the great actresses of her generation, thought that she could play all the great parts -- Blanche, in '[A] Streetcar [Named Desire],' for example," he said.
Making better movies was certainly a central ambition in the last years of her life. She was emboldened by her work with the Strasbergs and by the good reviews she got for her roles in "Bus Stop" and "Some Like It Hot." Monroe and Lee Strasberg talked for years about collaborating on an adaptation of Somerset Maugham's "Rain," which would be directed by Strasberg and star Monroe as protagonist Sadie Thompson. They also discussed adapting Dostoevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov," with Monroe as Grushenka, a beautiful woman who inspires a character to murder his father. There also were rumors of a movie about Freud.
Yet Sarah Churchwell, author of 2004's "The Many Lives Of Marilyn Monroe," noted that Monroe's movie choices were severely limited by her contract with 20th Century Fox studios, headed by the dictatorial Darryl Zanuck.
"He was completely contemptuous of her," she explained. "People forget how much power the studio heads had in those days. He was giving her garbage all the time because he thought she was worthless."
It's also unclear whether Monroe had the skills to master the kinds of dramatic roles she yearned for.
John Strasberg, an actor and acting teacher himself, thinks Monroe was an indisputably "brilliant comedian," who created the "dumb blonde" archetype and played it better than anyone else. But he also said she relied too much on his mother's coaching when she tried to stretch beyond that. He thinks that in the best-case scenario, Monroe would have spent the rest of her career pursuing romantic comedies like "Some Like It Hot" -- and avoiding both dramas and bad comedies like "Something's Gotta Give."
But it seems likely that Monroe's movie career would have lasted only a few more years, even in the best of circumstances.
"Back in those days, women, after a certain age, just weren't cast in movies," Strasberg said. "Bette Davis was the first one to fight through the prejudice about how women should look in movies and playing leading roles; she had won Academy Awards, but she couldn't get a job, so she put out ads in 'Variety' and the such. Whether Marilyn could have done that, I don't know. Certainly there was the possibility of that."
Churchwell also noted that Monroe died just before Hollywood started to shift away from the studio system and toward the wild culture of the 1970s, which was hard on many actors of Monroe's generation.
"I'm struggling to come up with one contemporary of Marilyn's who made any movie in the 70s. There wouldn't have been those roles for her -- she would have had to go do something else," she said. "It's very difficult to imagine her suddenly making films with Warren Beatty."
Monroe might have elected to try acting on the stage in New York. Much of her training at the Actors Studio was geared toward theater, and Strasberg said Monroe always felt more comfortable in the bustling, relatively anonymous world of New York than celebrity-obsessed Los Angeles.
Joyce Carol Oates, who in 2001 wrote "Blonde," an novel about Monroe, believes the stage offered Monroe's best chance of salvation.
"My belief about Marilyn Monroe is that if she had only resisted returning to Hollywood, to make such an egregious movie as 'Let's Make Love,' but had remained in NYC in association with the Actors Studio, she might well have had a stage career as a serious mature actress; she might even be alive today," Oates wrote in an email to The Huffington Post.
Strasberg once performed a scene from "A Streetcar Named Desire" with Monroe and found her very charismatic. But he isn't sure Monroe would have been able to sustain a nightly job in theater.
"Could she have held herself together on that daily basis? Would she have had that kind of discipline -- which obviously would have come from having enough love for what she was doing … I just don't know, because I never saw her do it," he said.
Churchwell added that Monroe was plagued by debilitating stage fright, even on movie sets, so she would have had to address that with a qualified therapist before tackling the theater in a serious way. If Monroe had been able to do that, Churchwell noted, she might have also started a one-woman act in Las Vegas, as her contemporary Debbie Reynolds did.
Then again, Monroe also might have decided to leave acting altogether. In her last interview, she said, "It might be a kind of relief to be finished."
Churchwell pointed out that Monroe was not, in 1962, in a financial position to retire -- the actress had been "vastly underpaid by contemporary standards of her peers" for most of her career. (Especially unjust considering how much money others make from her image to this day.) It was only in her last contract with Fox, signed less than a month before her death, that she received $500,000 per movie.
And if she had survived the night of Aug. 5, finished "Something's Gotta Give," then made enough movies to build a good-sized nest egg -- what then?
"She had seen women like Betty Grable bow out gracefully, say, 'I've had my time, and now it's time for something else'," Churchwell said. "So I don't think it was difficult for Marilyn to imagine that."
If she had lived, Monroe would have been 86 this year.
- [quote]Wow. You priorities really sound like they're in order.
Maybe you misunderstood my point. Why should we believe some anonymous people's ideas of MM? Maybe those opinions were founded or some knowledge or perception, maybe not. Not all opinions floating around are worth or valid.
There are people in every person's life whose opinions count, because the person knows where those opinions come from. Don't tell me that you listen and believe what everyone has to say about you...
- [quote]What parts would she have played if she had lived? Would she have been Mrs. Robinson?
She would have been relegated ultimately first to guest appearances on episodes of Barnaby Jones and Mannix, and then on Love Boat and Fantasy Island episodes. Her final appearance would have been on Falcon Crest.
- I was twelve at the time. It was huge, huge news when she died. Newspapers had giant headlines. Everyone was talking about it. I don't think she was passe at all. And I don't think you can blame The Misfits on her. Gable stank in that movie.
She was then, and has always been, in a class by herself.
A lot of people didn't take her seriously as an actress, but the public loved her. She was what every woman wanted to be and what every man wanted a woman to be.
- Sybil Thorndike, the actress who played the Dowager Queen in "The Prince and the Showgirl" urged Olivier and the other actors to be patient with Monroe. "We need her desperately," Thorndike said. "She's really the only one of us who knows how to act in front of a camera!"
- [quote]She was what every woman wanted to be and what every man wanted a woman to be.
"Every woman" did not want to be Marilyn Monroe in 1962. Lots of women wanted to be appreciated for their minds and their idea rather than for their tits and ass.
Why do you even post such bullshit when its also so incredibly clichéd?
- [quote]And back then 36 years old was MUCH older than it is now. You were already quite over the hill at that age, if you can imagine.
No you weren't. Doris Day is two years older then Marilyn and was still a top box office draw in 1962. Of the 1962 Best Actress nominees, Bancroft was 31, K. Hepburn 55, Davis 54, and Page 38.
- r74, you really can't compare those actresses with Monroe. In spite of being the leads in their films, they were all character actresses, even the young Anne Bancroft.
As you well know, Marilyn would never have played ANY of the roles those actreses were nominated for in 1962 or even in her future had she lived.
- Marilyn as Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate would really have been something. She would've been exactly the right age for the role, and you could totally understand why a 22 year-old would want to fuck her despite the age difference.
- "To see the extent of the crippling effect that Lee & Paula Strasberg had on Monroe's performances"
Can you explain? What impact did they have on her performance? I don't know the history and am curious!
- "The Seven Year Itch" was her peak. Then she went to New York to study acting and demand better roles- with mixed results. "Some Like It Hot" (which she didn't want to do) was a hit but the rest weren't. Fox didn't expect "Something's Got To Give" to make any money, just riding her contract out.
She went on a media blitz during the last year- interviews and appearances- to salvage her career. The public knew about her troubles and back then, losing your sexual desirability probably seemed a reasonable reason for a woman to 'end it all' (or so the Kennedys hoped).
I would compare her to Whitney, circa the 2001 Dianne Sawyer interview period.
- As I recall, Patricia Neal turned down The Graduate because she was still getting over her stroke, and that Anne B was a second or third choice.
I could see MM in her early 40s as Mrs. Robinson.
- Watching Bus Stop on TCM now.
Wow, SO MUCH YELLING!!!
Well, Don Murray is awfully cute and Josh Logan makes sure you see a lot of his hairy near naked body, but SO MUCH CONSTANT YELLING!!!
- Think back to the magical year 1962! All women dreamed then of being Marilyn Monroe, and her specific example would inspire Betty Friedan to write THE FEMININE MYSTIQUE the next year and Margaret Chase Smith to perform a strip tease on the Senate Floor to the tune of "I Wanna Be Loved By You"! Meanwhile, everyone was just crazy about the new hit song "Johnny Angel" by Shelley Fabares, which everyone could be heard singing, from Odetta to the Queen of England! And John F. Kennedy was the most beloved president ever, and enjoyed 100% approval ratings!
- [quote]while those new girls from the 40s like Deborah Kerr, Jean Simmons, Susan Hayward, Ava Gardner and Lauren Bacall had reached their pinnacle.
Your "new girls from the 40s" were still top stars in the 50s, r37. "The King and I" wasn't a 40s film. "Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison" wasn't a 40s film. "With A Song In My Heart" wasn't a 40s film. Etc., etc., and so forth!!!!
- I am afraid Marilyn Monroe's life would have been very much like Judy Garland's, if she had lived longer. It's been repeated often that Garland feared she would die in the same way that Monroe did (losing track of the number of pills she had taken).
I had never thought about Monroe marrying men of more substance than Elizabeth Taylor, but looking back it is true.
- R81, people have complex feelings that don't always fit logically together. It might be true that Kennedy did not have high approval ratings, but his presidency caught the imagination of the nation, of a new younger generation, and his death was a defining moment for everyone who was alive at the time. And while Marilyn Monroe's death was not at that level, it was a pretty significant moment for many, many people. Compare for example, Jayne Mansfield, who also died tragically around the same time.
- I agree with one of the assessments, that she was highly promoted but not seen much. The "promotion" had to do with the publicity she got from getting fired and her various problems with the studio.
Monroe did do some decent dramatic work, Don't Bother to Knock and Bus Stop being two examples, but in spite of her ambition, her true niche, in my opinion, was comedy. She was a natural. Frankly I always found her diction too precise and mannered to make her dramatic work believable.
It's hard today to see it all in perspective, but I sort of remember Marilyn as being a joke at different times. Or, let's say, not taken seriously. All the legend and icon stuff came after her death. "What must I do to become a legend?" Elizabeth Taylor asked after Marilyn died. "Die by my own hand?" There was another part of the quote, I can't remember.
I too think her career was in a very precarious position when she died.
Watching her today, she was beautiful, a natural comedienne, and very likeable on screen. There was a sweetness about her.
It's always interesting to think about what would have happened to our entertainment icons whose lives ended early. When you see how some people ended up, perhaps they were spared something.
- Judy died young too (at 47).
- She was good in Don't Bother to Knock. R85
- I don't think SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE would have helped Marilyn's career much, though it would have been a thoroughly contemporary film, with Dean Martin as her costar - much fresher than the very stale LET'S MAKE LOVE. If her next film had been IRMA LA DOUCE, that might have given her a boost. But other upcoming films she was announced for - WHAT A WAY TO GO and GOODBYE CHARLIE were huge flops for Shirley MacLaine and Debbie Reynolds and not done Marilyn any favors.
- With maybe the exception of Geraldine Page NONE of those women were character actresses R75.
Thelma Ritter and Teri Garr are character actresses, Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis weren't. The point is that being 36 years old in 1962 wasn't a death knell for a career.
- [quote]Frankly I always found her diction too precise and mannered to make her dramatic work believable.
A result of her stutter problem.
- The stutter does not excuse it as a problem.
- Drew Barrymore might be a good contemporary example. She's around the same age as MM at her death and has made a similar number of movies.
- [quote]Monroe could have pulled a Liz Taylor and turned into a more dramatic actress.
Elizabeth Taylor didn't do a "turn" to become a dramatic actress. She had been one since a child.
- Bitch please @ R92!
Drew hasn't been a movie star, let alone have the cultural impact MM did in her lifetime. Nobody's running to see Drew movies or emulating her look and style. MM was really big in her lifetime. If Drew were to die now, there's now ay she'd be remembered in 10 years, let alone 50.
- R94 In terms of impact on style, there's no contemporary example to MM.
In terms of their movie careers, Drew's and Marilyn's are similar. Drew starred in Never Been Kissed, The Wedding Singer, Boys on the Side, and many other films (yes, mostly rom coms). She was also the drawing feature for the first Scream.
- As a stutterer myself, I can totally tell MM stutters. And yes, when you stutter, you do all sorts of linguistic "tics" to curb the stutter. Speaking. Very. Slowly or sort of sing songy are two ways. Marilyn adopted them both. Kudos to her for being able to overcome it. Or to overcome enough to make a career where talking is, well, crucial.
It's the single most frustrating affliction that doesn't really harm you in any physical way. Other stutterers: Bruce Willis, James Earl Jones, Winston Churchill.
- I'm sorry, I just don't see it, R95. Yes, they may have done a lot of similar light movies, but Drew's fame has never been on part with Marilyn, and a lot of her hits are also carried by a male co-lead. Apart from "E.T." (which wasn't even her movie) I can't think of another Drew film that would be considered a classic or be remembered years from now.
- "The Prince and the Showgirl" was the first movie made by Marilyn Monroe Productions, the independent company she formed with Milton Greene. She'd made the deal with Terence Rattigan herself, meeting him for drinks in a downtown New York bar. It had been a stage hit in London as "The Sleeping Prince."
Prior to release of the film, Warner Bros. changed the name to play up the presence of Monroe, the movie's chief box office draw.
- [quote]The stutter does not excuse it as a problem.
Her stutter was a problem and clearly explains her speech mannerisms, r91. It takes a modicum of intelligence to comprehend, so that explains your problem.
- When Wilder was working with Marilyn, he noticed that as he was directing her, Paula Strasberg was giving Marilyn hand signals. He pretended not to see it.
However, Paula kept coaching Marilyn from the side. After they had filmed a scene, Wilder said, I thought that was good. He then turned to Paula and yelled: AND HOW ABOUT YOU, PAULA? WAS IT GOOD FOR YOU?
- You can't argue with the Marilyn crazies--there as ferocious and as nutty as the Barbra fans.
- When Marilyn was given the script for Harlow, she read it, handed it back and said, "I hope they don't do that to me when I die." Poor thing.
- All that I see that, in 1962, MM was radiant in the surviving footage of SGTG. Beautiful, stunning, and vulnerable. And she had, as a poster pointed out, redefined her "look" for the '60's. If she lived, pulled it together and shook off all the leeches (I'm looking at YOU Paula Strasburg), who knows. The possibilities are mind boggling.
- The screen test for SGTG is other worldly. As others have noted, she had slimmed down and was just breathtakingly gorgeous. THIS is the definition of a movie star. They don't exist any more.
- She could've been Blanche on The Golden Girls!
- Marilyn's film career had slipped. Let's Make LOve and The Misfits had not been successful and she was viewed as being middle aged. At a press conference for Some Like it Hot she was asked about the new, younger actors and their style as if she was a dinosaur from the silent era. So, her style was already passe and the the days of her type of sex symbol were dying. She was aware of this and philisophical. "Fame will go by...I've always known fame was fickle.." She told Life Magazine.
However, public interest had not waned and major magazines wanted to do stories on her. In her last months of life she was interviewed by Vogue, Life, Redbook, Paris Match. In some ways her career was poised for an upswing as she was about to sign a new, more favourable contract and was set to complete Something's Got to Give. Her singing happy birthday to JFK sparked off renewed interest to the point that extra security guards had to be sent for the next day when she arrived at Idlewild to fly back to LA.
"Don't be so quick to write off Marilyn as finished" said Dorothy Kilgallen in her column.
- You can't compare Marilyn's stardom to anyone today. I think that with Marilyn's inate dignity she would have been able to walk away from her film career once her contractual obligations were fulfilled. After a few years the money from Some Like It Hot came in and until then I'm sure Di Maggio would have helped out.
Marilyn created the persona of marilyn Monroe and would not subject that creation to game shows, walk ons or third rate parts in B movies. She would have become another Mae West or Garbo living quietly and causing great excitement whenever there was a sighting.
- Currently reading Joyce Carol Oates' Blonde. Quite interesting but god Joyce overdoes the fairytale metaphors and "I want my name up in lights" Gypsy-schtick.
- What a Way to Go! was a flop, but Irma La Douce was a big hit. Don't know if Monroe could still have done it had she lived - Irma started filming in Oct 1962, about the time she was scheduled to be working on
the revived Something's Got to Give.
And I would imagine MacLaine was signed for Irma sometime before shooting - ie, Monroe was out of the picture for Irma well before her death.
She probably would have done Kiss Me, Stupid, though - which was a bomb and would have directly followed "Something's Got to Give" (which probably would have been a hit, as it was in the 1930s with Irene Dunne and subsequently with Doris Day).
She was also on tap for the Harlow movie that Carroll Baker later did (and flopped in) - and supposedly for a film version of the musical A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Monroe as Cissy would have been a real departure for her, so maybe that's why she wanted to do it.
- Both Billy Wilder and MacLaine have written that after the success of "The Apartment', Wilder came to Lemmon and MacLaine and said he wanted to re-team them immediately in "Irma La Douce" - the joke was he was going to give Shirley top billing, but "you'll be playing a hooker".
Wilder and Tony Curtis also have both written that working with Marilyn on "Some Like It Hot" was difficult, at best. Curtis, when asked what it was like to play opposite her, famously said it was "like kissing Hitler." Mean, but everyone was very upset with her quirky, unprofessional behavior on the set.
Cyd Charisse and George Cukor both wrote about how Marilyn's behavior became "impossible" on the set of SGTG. And when, without permission or any advance warning, she disappeared for a week to go to NY and sing for JFK's birthday, the studio fined her and told her after the picture wrapped she was suspended.
None of this sounds like the behavior of someone who had any grasp of the realities of show business, but more like the behavior of a spoiled scared little girl.
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn with Marilyn as Cissy would never have worked. Cissy is a supporting role (in spite of the fact that Shirley Booth was top billed as Cissy in the Broadway musical).
Marilyn would have been far too distracting to the main story of a pre-teen girl and her drunken father scraping a living together in the Brooklyn slums.
While I do think Something's Gotta Give with Marilyn had the potential to be a hit, I don't think it would have put Marilyn back on top. The times were changing too rapidly and she would have been as out of place as a movie star as Doris Day was by 1968 or so.
- RIP Marilyn...
Had she lived I think Marilyn would have devoted her time to different causes--animal rights, child abuse, homlessness, etc.
Her era did not promote charitable works amongst stars, and yet she did help many without the public's knowledge.
Marilyn was a humanitarian who would have expressed that more freely had she lived through the sixties. Like an earlier poster said, she was a victim of her times, when women were not taken seriously. Marilyn would have felt strongerin her own voice had she not been murdered.
it was murder, don't forget that
That's because the Barbra and Marilyn fans know a good thing when they see it.
- Like R107, I think she would have found a life away from film, maybe marry someone rich who would have taken care of her. But, who the hell knows.
I really can't think of anyone now whose fame is comparative to hers. If Angelina Jolie died today I believe the memory of her would disappear from public consciousness in five years. Surely, Pitt would remarry and that would be it.
I am curious if Heath Ledger will be talked about in 20 years.
- What's with the theory that she was murdered? Where is the evidence to support this theory, who would have done it, and what would their motivation been?
- She would have made a great Holly Golightly. Not with the screenplay for the Blake Edwards film, but one sticking more to the novella. Could have been like The Seven Year Itch. Except good.
What a Way to Go and Let's Make Love are probably two of the worst films I've seen from that era. Where did this idea of barely stitched together storylines based on celebrity cameos and setpieces come from?
Also, did anyone see Let's Make Love before putting Montand in "On a Clear Day"? He kills both movies.
- Marilyn and Elizabeth were the most beautiful women of that time. MM had that special something that nobody could ever have, just look at the "Something's Got To Give" footage.
- Marilyn was infamous for the scandal over her mother (she said she was dead, then had to say she was really in an asylum), the nude calendar and Playboy cover, marrying and divorcing DiMaggio, entertaining the troops, running away from Hollywood, marrying and divorcing "communist" Arthur Miller, miscarriages, hospitalizations, dating Sinatra and befriending his Rat Pack, back to Joe, then into the arms of the Kennedys, getting fired and re-hired by Fox. All this in addition to making films. Quite an exhausting 10 years.
- Actually, r119, it is rather extraordinary to think that all those events happened to Marilyn in just 10 years. It's amazing she had time to make ANY movies.
- Definitely murdered. I know an associate of a costar of her last film she was making when she died, and he said the costar told her she was murdered. Darwin Porter's new book gives a very good account of it.
- I just finished watching all the films TCM was showing yesterday. I had seen a few before and had always been a sort if off-to-the-sides kind of fan. So, for the die-yards, which Marilyn biographies are good? I read.one back in the 80's which had a photo of her from the morgue and have avoided all books about her since. Are there any legitimate biographies on her it are they all salacious and trashy? Thank you for your recommendations!
Im not always this polite while at DL. So recommened something, bitches.
- r121, could you BE any more obtuse? "Associate of a co-star?" Honey, the ONLY co-stars were Wally Cox, Dean Martin and Cyd Charisse and they are all dead. So just more hearsay from dead people. And Darwin Porter is as reliable as a weatherman.
- R123, bitch, it was Cyd. I used the past tense.
- R78 Marilyn's death in 1962 did remind me of Whitney's death in 2012 -- two beautiful women who had seen better days but were gone too soon. And both deaths reminded me of Elvis' death in 1977 -- a handsome man who had seen better days but was gone too soon. So much talent, so much loss.
- I contacted Wally Cox via OUIJA and was told that Marilyn ran off to Mexico with her pool boy after faking her own death!!!!
- R123 = unable to read dry humor in posts unless they're punctuated with a ;-) or LOL.
- R122, Anthony Summers' biography of Marilyn, called Goddess, is meant to be quite good. There was one written in the 80's that David Lynch wanted to adapt as well. He ended up not doing it but apparently it inspired him in some way to make Twin Peaks.
- There really is no comparison between Marilyn Monroe and any contemporary female star. Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie and Drew Barrymore? Please! Marilyn was in a class by herself, and movie stars in her era were bigger than life in a way that doesn't exist anymore. She makes actresses like Julia Roberts and the rest of her ilk look common and trashy.
Marilyn Monroe was also the most photogenic human being who ever lived. She looked absolutely radiant no matter what the circumstances. Even when she was getting out of the nuthouse or when she was totally fucked on pills and booze she still looked fabulous. It was pretty amazing.
Take a couple of percodan, drink two bottles of champagne, and then take a picture of yourself. See what I mean? Marilyn never looked like shit. Ever.
- That huge queen Donald Spoto also wrote a good bio of Marilyn some years back. I can't remember the title.
- Marilyn inerited her mother's mental illness and would probably have ended up more like Frances Farmer than Mae West. Her mental state near the end was precarious (paranoia through the roof), she was drugged and boozed to the gills and she seemed to have no one close to her. She was a house of cards (though who dealt the final blow we'll probably never know).
- Just googled Donald Spoto. The term MARY! was invented for him, yes?
In the age of TMZ the creation of a star like Marilyn is almost impossible. The only celebrity whose death would make waves now is Gaga, and even then plenty of people really don't get her at all. No actress has that aura now. And though MM had her share of flops, compared to the Golden Age there's absolutely no such thing as a guaranteed box office draw type of star anymore.
- The Sunday NY Times Book Review just gave a fairly rave review to a new Marilyn bio that was privy to her recently uncovered private journals.
It's called MARILYN: The Passion and the Paradox
It's by Lois Banner.
- [quote]There really is no comparison between Marilyn Monroe and any contemporary female star. Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie and Drew Barrymore?
No one is comparing Monroe to any of the modern actresses; we are comparing her career down-slope to those modern actresses.
- But how can you compare the career down-slope when none have had the career high....or anything near it?
You must be very young r134.
- Had Marilyn lived, she certainly would have played many of the great leading dramatic parts for actresses of her age in the late 60s, 70s and 80s: not just Mrs. Robinson, but also Martha in WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF; the title role in RACHEL, RACHEL; Mary, Queen of Scots in MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS; Alice Hyatt in ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE; Lillian Hellman in JULIA; Beth Jarrett in ORDINARY PEOPLE; Carrie in THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL; and the title role in DRIVING MISS DAISY.
Think how much we lost!
- Marilyn as Martha in VIRGINIA WOOLF:
(whispered breathily and seductively) "He's in the MATH department!"
- Di Maggio excluded everyone in Hollywood from the private funeral. Monroe's relatives attended as well as people who worked for her.
Sinatra and Peter Lawford were turned away as was JFK'sister,Pat. Even Ella Fitzgerald was not welcome.
- She'd probably have turned up in Airport '75 or some horror film with Karen Black. Maybe she would've been Chris MacNeil in The Exorcist. O
- But why SHOULD Ella Fitzgerald have attended? or Peter and Pat Kennedy Lawford, or Frank Sinatra, for that matter?
The funeral was for family and for the people who worked closely with her. That's pretty standard. DiMaggio did not want it to be a bizarre spectacle like Valentino's funeral with fans freaking out in the streets.
- She was fantastic and the thought of what might have been just boggles the mind. Mrs. Robinson would have been perfect for her.
- Would she have starred in any of Hitchcock's 60s or 70s films?
She might have been wonderful in the Barbara Harris role in Family Plot.
And she could have certainly filled Janet Leigh's bullet bra in Psycho.
- [quote]And she could have certainly filled Janet Leigh's bullet bra in Psycho.
Psycho was made BEFORE she died.
- Well then, she could have played the Mom in Psycho.
- Is it known whether or not Hitchcock ever wanted to work with her? She seems like too much of a personality for his movies.
She would have looked marvellous with those birds being thrown at her hair.
- [quote]MARILYN: The Passion and the Paradox by Lois Banner.
I heard Lois Banner interviewed on NPR on Friday. This is the Marilyn book I want to read.
- Ella Fitzgerald wanted to attend because Marilyn helped Ella's career and they became friendly. In the mid 50s Marilyn got a big nightclub to book Ella with the promise that she (Marilyn) would attend the show each night which would draw the crowds and be great publicity for the club (Was it the Mogambo?)
Ella credited this gesture of Marilyn's with helping her start booking the big venues.
- Norman wasn't the only one willing to stand up for Ella. She received support from numerous celebrity fans, including a zealous Marilyn Monroe.
"I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt," Ella later said. "It was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the '50s. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him - and it was true, due to Marilyn's superstar status - that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman - a little ahead of her times. And she didn't know it."
- I think the fact that Hitchcock never considered her for one of his blondes tells you how she was perceived in Hollywood: as a fading bubbleheaded bleach blonde.
She'd have been interesting as the troubled Marnie.
- Good point r149 but your linky is stinky.
- Marilyn fans!
Watch tonight's American Masters on PBS (8 PM EST):
Marilyn Monroe- Still Life
It's supposed to be amazing!!!
- Marilyn would definitely have played Blanche on Golden Girls.
- R153 - More like Rose.
- Fuck off ^^ asshole
- R153 - I'm actually serious. MM could have made a wonderful Rose. She had the comic timing,
- Marilyn as Rose would have been "How to Marry a Millionaire" all over again.
She would have been more interested in Blanche.
- You're right, R129. No one else ever pulled off looking good while being fucked up out of their mind.
- What about me and my bod for sin?
- Except for that horrific morgue shot, I don't recall ever seeing a photo where she looked like shit.
- From the National Enquirer:
- I still think it's Angie. She has an allure, while not equal to Marilyn's, that has fascinated people, almost from the get go of her career. Her talent is suspect (like MM), but her star power is not. Again, I know MM is the biggest star ever, no doubt. But Angie is the only star I can think of where her "star power" isn't because of definitive talent or box office draw, but because of that special something that no one can explain. And again, (and again) I'm not saying she's equal to MM. She's not. But she's the closest thing we have right now.
And I bet that if the studio system was still in tact, Angie's, er, eccentricities would be kept under lock and key. And, conversely, If Marilyn was alive today, and still a major movie star in her prime, you know she'd be all over TMZ getting drunk and belligerent. I wonder how much glamor, mystery, etc. even MM would be able to retain?
- The new Banner biography makes a great point stating that between Robert Mitchum in River of No Return and Clark Gable in The MIsfits, she never played opposite leading men who came close to her level of sexuality.
They were either boyish twits like Don Murray in Bus Stop, Tommy Noonan in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and David Wayne in How to Marry a Millionaire or total washouts like Tome Ewell in 7 Year Itch and the very stiff Olivier in Prince and the Showgirl.
It was if Hollywood didn't believe a real man could stand up to Marilyn.
- I've read a few of her bios over the years but the one that sticks with me is Marilyn Monroe Confidential by Lena Pepitone, her maid and seamstress for her last six years. It seemed heartfelt and true and gave me a look at Monroe that others didn't.
I also just requested that new one by Lois Banner from the library.
- r122, which films did you like and which ones didn't you like? Any surprises or standouts?
- It's surprising that no one has mentioned 20th Century Fox involvement here. Marilyn had a 4 picture contract with Fox and they didn't do much to help her with terrible projects. Her star wasn't diminishing. She only had made Bus Stop for Fox and still had 3 films to complete. Misfits and Some Like It Hot were United Artists productions. Had Marilyn left Fox for good and made films with other studios she'd probably would have lived differently. Fox neglected her.
"Monroe received the 1961 Golden Globe Award as "World Film Favorite" in March 1962, five months before her death."
She was still popular enough to receive such an award.
- Let's Make Love was the 2nd Fox project in her 4 picture contract
- I don't understand why Fox/Zanuck weren't more protective of her. She was certainly one of their biggest stars and it's been said she made them a lot of money.
Why wouldn't they do everything they could to make her happy and get her the best scripts, directors, co-stars etc.?
Wasn't that part of the job and functions of the studios? To make sure their best stars were taken care of?
I guess they really didn't give a rip. Bette Davis was frequently frustrated with the scripts she was given too.
- I see Marilyn as Dorothy Zbornak.
- [quote]I don't understand why Fox/Zanuck weren't more protective of her. She was certainly one of their biggest stars and it's been said she made them a lot of money.
She hadn't made much money for anyone in a while, and they were sick of her constant unprofessionalism. At the point she died they probably wanted her contract to end.
It's not like they had promised to be her fairy godmothers for life. She made a lot of money for them in the mid-50s, but it had been a while since she had been much of a moneymaker.
[quote]Why wouldn't they do everything they could to make her happy and get her the best scripts, directors, co-stars etc.?
Why would they? They didn't see their job as to make her happy (!!!) or see her fulfilled as an [italic]artiste[/italic] and a human being; they saw her purely as a commodity who could make money for them in sexy comedies.
[quote]Wasn't that part of the job and functions of the studios? To make sure their best stars were taken care of?
Only up to a point, and only when their stars were actually making them money.
You seem to have an unrealistic idea of what the role of the Hollywood studios was.
- MM had more talent than she was ever given credit for.She had a horrible childhood with a mother who was mentally ill.There has been no one to compare to her,including Sharon Stone.Would have loved to see her in a movie with Alain Delon,who regretted not having met her.I grew up with a girl who could have been her identical twin sister,most beautiful girl I ever saw.The legend will never die,nor should it.
- I think Stone matches her in terms of beauty, but not in terms of that It quality. Stone was more like the Madonna of the acting world: gritty, relentless, pushy.
Marilyn seemed destined to become who she became. Though we all know she had ambition, it seems as though everything happened for just the way it had to.
Hell, if we were really going to compare her to anyone, it's Brad Pitt, NOT Angelina. They both beat considerable odds, had charisma for galaxies, and rocketed to fame without nepotism, great talent (I realize this is debatable) and against great odds. If Pitt had died after he did Jesse James, he becomes the biggest dead movie star since MM.
(I just came up with this theory. Please don't shoot me)
- Brad Pitt? Maybe but I'm thinking Keanu Reeves, when he was young, he was only respected for his good looks, not his acting ability.
Both seemed damaged and drug addicted. Both gorgeous to look at.
- Had Pitt or Reeves died early he'd have been more James Dean than Marilyn...and revered FOR his "acting" and charisma rather than just his looks, no?
- "You seem to have an unrealistic idea of what the role of the Hollywood studios was."
I'm not R167 but studios in those days controlled everything. Just look at how Rita Hayworth was treated at Columbia pictures. Rita hated CP but couldn't do anything and CP got the best years of her life making forgettable crap.
By the 1960s, the studios were losing control and signing a star in a contract was gradually dismissed. In the case of MM it's well known that Fox neglected her but on the same hand they didn't want to lose her. I'm sure that if MM went to another studio at that time, she would have had great projects. Fox always cast MM in middling projects.
BTW, Hitchcock didn't cast MM in one of his films is because he didn't work for Fox but also Hitch hated sexy blonds. He preferred beautiful ice cool blonds. He said this in the Truffaut interviews.
- Hitchcock didn't "work for" any studio. He made most of his 1950s films for Paramount but he wasn't under any sort of exclusive contract to the studio.
Irene Mayer Selznick
- And his later films at Universal, but only as distributor, I believe.
- yes, R175 but Hitchcock never had to go to a studio in order to work with an actor, it was usually the other way around. Hitchcock constantly bemoaned the fact that several roles in his films were miscast because he couldn't get such and such actor since they were bound to a different studio than the one he was working with at the time. Hitch couldn't work with Marilyn because in the 1950s she was exclusively Fox property and he wouldn't move to Fox just to work with one of their stars.
- "The point is that being 36 years old in 1962 wasn't a death knell for a career."
Not for some actresses. But Monroe was a sex goddess and 36 was considered an age where sex symbol stardom begins to wind down, if it hadn't ended already.
- With The Birds, Hitch moved permanently at Universal. Universal even purchased the distribution rights of all of Hitch Paramount films (except for To Catch A Thief) he made prior to The Birds, including Psycho and Rear Windows.
- According to a documentary on Hollywood, Fox was notorious for having starlets as constantly available sex slaves. They called them 3:00 o'clock girls because they would be called in for a "private meeting" to service Fox executives. Marilyn was one of these girls in the beginning of her career.
Darryl Zanuck didn't think she had much talent and that she basically created herself. He didn't believe in her talent or star quality. Fox was in its way an abusive lover to Marilyn the same way Harry Cohn at Columbia was an abusive lover to Rita Hayworth.
Sheilah Graham on the B/W Philco TV set
- Marilyn Monroe was at star level orange.
Brought to you by the Bush Admin. & the color "orange"
- @148, I love it. Only Marilyn Monroe understood that sitting in a nightclub every night could be a political act.
- Do any of you know that Sophia Loren was probably the biggest female movie star in 1962? Marilyn was "of the" last decade in '62. Even though Sophia, Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn were around before the early sixties, they were considered more contemporary than Marilyn when she died.
- "It was if Hollywood didn't believe a real man could stand up to Marilyn."
Actually, Monroe preferred to star opposite mediocre or unprepossessing actors. She was so insecure that she didn't want even her male co-stars to be her equal in looks or sex appeal.
- r183, eh no!
Elizabeth Taylor was a child actor and grew up on screen.
Audrey won an Oscar® for Roman Holiday (1953), the year Marilyn got her first lead role.
And Sophia was over by 1962: by then she starred mostly in European films and in the humongous flops Fall of Roman Empire and A Countess from Hong Kong.
- R165, R167, Marilyn walked out on her Fox contract in 1954, because she wasn't getting paid what she was worth and Fox kept saddling her with decorative parts in mediocre productions. She fled to New York to study with Strasberg, and sat it out for a whole year while her lawyers negotiated a new Fox contract. And when it was all over, she came out a big winner.
A news clip from that period:
[quote]December, 1955 – Marilyn Monroe's latest picture, [italic]The Seven Year Itch[/italic], has proven to be one of the year's biggest hits. The film's success has resulted in 20th Century Fox offering Monroe a lucrative new contract... The beautiful star's unprecedented new contract states that she will now be paid $100,000 per picture and a percentage of the profits. In addition, Monroe will have approval rights regarding the script, the director, her choice of subjects, and realizing the importance of her physical appearance, the cinematographer... Monroe will also be free to make pictures with other studios and with independent producers. Fox, understanding that Marilyn Monroe is their greatest asset, has ended what was a period of contractual difficulties with the star... Monroe's popularity had, for two years, generated the most box-office revenue for 20th Century Fox and her new contract which allows her a great deal of creative control will set a new standard for the film industry.
So, Monroe was given all that unprecedented power, and yet her health problems, marital problems, addictions, insecurities, etc., continued to derail her professional career. It's understandable why Fox would be pissed off at her after this. They handed her the keys to the kingdom, and she couldn't even make it to the front door.
- R163...Pepitone later recanted and admitted the book had been fabricated. It was a particularly disloyal book given that Pepitone was the one who administered the sedative enema that helped kill MM. Though of course it was an accident and entirely MM's fault since she was taking pills prescribed by another doctor. The combination killed her.
I always wondered if the media stoked the conspiracy theories because the real story...that a sedative enema had killed her...was distasteful.
Pepitone's English wasn't that good when she worked for MM, and conversations that she recounted struck many as questionable and dubious. Pepitone had been encouraged to write the book by another former employer, some guy who'd created paper plates that were sold exclusively in Hallmark. His wife was a complete bitch, as I recall.
Everyone close to MM knew it was an accident. Lawford was a drunk who made up that bullshit about MM calling him the night of her death. She didn't kill herself. It was a bizarre accident.
- R186, that's more PR than anything else. Marilyn was given a golden opportunity but behind the scenes Fox didn't help her. It is well known that Marilyn complained about the lacklustre projects that were drummed up by Fox.
I mean, even with all her personal problems, Marilyn still had her biggest b.o. hit during that period but outside of Fox, with Some Like It Hot, made for United Artists. The possibilities were there it's just that the relationship between MM and Fox wasn't good.
- r183 is correct. Loren was 28 and Elizabeth Taylor was 30 when Marilyn died. They were both bigger and more "contemporary" stars in 1962.
Audrey Hepburn was never a sex symbol.
- I thought Pepitone was in New York when Monroe died, r187.
That must've been a transcontinental enema tube
- Pepitone was the one that administered it. That's all I know. It was MM's maid, that's what I was told. Which was Pepitone.
- R190...and please don't bother. My family knew these folks. My grandmother was 'friends' with Monroe. I don't care what the official story was. Most of the stories told about Mm's death are total nonsense. I was told that MM's maid gave her the enema. It had become one of her duties, poor thing.
- "behind the scenes Fox didn't help her"
The price of unprofessionalism. She didn't play the game, she barely showed up for work, and cost the studio big bucks by refusing to do her job properly. Of course the studio didn't give her everything she wanted!
You still see this in Hollywood today. Actors that are professional, easy to work with, and well-liked have much longer careers than those who won't come out of their trailers. Marilyn was a horror to work with, and didn't compensate for it by being a consistent box-office draw. It was a miracle she was still employed when she died.
- Eunice Murray was Marilyn's California housekeeper. Murray was with Marilyn when she died, not Pepitone.
- Eunice Murray's Wiki page.
- Norma Jean was an original, just like the rest of us are.
Difference, she was extraordinarily exceptional. And she accomplished the Herculean task by transforming herself higher-up, in the shortest amount of time in history. That's why the light lumination and brightness of her star is incomparable to anyone.
Her light is inextinguishable. That's why we love & admire her.
The energy of her was an Angel.
Godbless her essence.
- R189, age has nothing to do with it.
Consider Doris Day, who starred in her first film, Romance on the High Seas in 1948, years before MM, Audrey, Taylor or Sophia headlined a film. By the mid 1960s, Doris was still a box-office draw playing the same wholesome roles at the age of 40.
Marilyn's ditzy blonde act was emulated by several other actresses, including Jayne Mansfield, and by the time she died the novelty of the ditzy blonde was tired so that might created the impression that she wasn't in anymore but that's not MM's fault if everyone copied her.
- Though it's true that Marilyn balked at the roles she was being offered by Fox in the mid-50s, wouldn't you agree that the studio did know best how to sell her?
Her biggest hits and most iconic roles were in all those films, from Niagra and River of No Return to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire and 7 Year Itch.
When she was given more freedom, the results were the far less successful and interesting Bus Stop and Prince and the Showgirl.
I would maintain that only Some Like It Hot was as good her Fox films from 1953-1955.
So maybe Zanuck and Fox knew what they were doing.
- I had read that the maid was instructed by the doctor.
- As another elder gay who was around at the time, I would also agree that Taylor, Loren and Hepburn were far more popular and hotter stars in 1962.
For one thing, most of the female audience did not like MM and found her phony, artificial and even a little ridiculous. She was not taken seriously or genuinely appreciated as an actress by anyone while she was alive.
The legendary status only came about a few years after she died, once her films started being seen on TV (NBC's Saturday Night at the Movies was all Fox films) and on college campuses and film festivals.
- I was 8 years old when she died. In my household she was considered a bit of a piece of trash and never mentioned in polite conversation, sort of like Jenna Jameson today. My mother and father wouldn't have been caught dead watching one of her movies.
She was an untamed monster, to quote Mr. Capote.
Every generation has its blonde, from Mae West, who invented the genre, to Jean Harlow, Marilyn, up through Madonna and Lady Gaga. Some survive the ordeal; some don't.
- Vat about me!!!! Vere do I fit in?
- The Julia Roberts at her peak (remember that?) it was before people figured out she was a narcissistic horse faced cunt and 90% of the population loved her. I'm not saying Julia is a Marilyn, I'm saying for a time Julia was the it girl.
- LIFE Magazine adored Marilyn and did many photos essays on her over the years, always presenting her beautifully and sympathetically.
There was a gorgeous set of photos she did for a LIFE anniversary issue (c.1958?), made up and costumed as former sex symbols, that was incredibly shot: as Lillian Russell, Theda Bara, Clara Bow, Jean Harlow and Marlene Dietrich. And if IIRC, she was barely recognizable as MM in any of them.
I should be crediting the amazing photographer but can't remember who it was....Philippe Halsman, maybe?
Can someone clever find them and post them, please?
- R188, but here's the thing. She was given creative control -- she had her pick of directors, pick of cinematographers, choice of leading man, script approval, etc. It was her responsibility to get up on her own two feet and, in the words of Tim Gunn, make it work. But even when working with the other studios, she couldn't even arrive on time (if at all), didn't know her lines, and let her personal problems interfere with her work. How was Fox supposed to help her when she couldn't even help herself? Now, I'm not blaming her entirely, because I know how debilitating mental illness can be, but I think Fox tried their best and didn't know what more they could do for her.
R198, Yes they definitely knew how to market her. But even if Fox and Marilyn stayed on good terms, they probably would've run into trouble trying to sell that dumb sexy blonde persona into the '60s.
- R194, thanks for clearing that up. All I knew was that it was her maid. I hadn't realized she had two of them, though that's logical of course.
Pepitone did recant her book, though.
- Marilyn : Fox
Judy : MGM
- R203, I don't think the Marilyn/Julia comparisons are too far off the mark. Julia Roberts at her peak was the IT girl of 1990s. She was the most bankable female actress of the era, her light comedies were hugely popular and highly profitable, she was on the cover of every magazine, and her romantic exploits (Jason, Dylan, Keifer, Liam, and Lyle) were constant tabloid fodder. And like Marilyn, Julia's attempt to break out of the rom-com mold and tackle more serious fare, were met with lukewarm results. Also, like Marilyn, troubles on the set ("Hook") led to rumors of drug abuse and a nervous breakdown.
Ten years after "Pretty Woman," Julia was still hugely popular but she had the Sandras, the Megs, the Drews, and the Camerons nipping at her heels. I think it would be safe to say that Julia Roberts' stardom during this time would be comparable to Marilyn's stardom in 1962.
- "Pepitone later recanted and admitted the book had been fabricated. It was a particularly disloyal book given that Pepitone was the one who administered the sedative enema that helped kill MM. Though of course it was an accident and entirely MM's fault since she was taking pills prescribed by another doctor. The combination killed her"
Boy, are YOU mixed up. Pepitone was nowhere near Monroe when she died.
If you believe that big ol' Marilyn queen Donald Spoto, Marilyn was dispatched with a killer enema administered by her witch-like housekeep Mrs. Edith Murray. Supposedly Marilyn's evil, possessive psychiatrist Ralph Greenson ordered the chloral hydrate enema in order to settle Monroe's nerves, not knowing that she'd taken a bunch of sleeping pills beforehand, and the combination killed her. At least that's Donald Spoto's theory. But as one skeptic asked, why would Monroe need to have an enema "administrated" by the sinister Mrs. Murray? If she wanted an enema, why couldn't she have given herself one? She'd done so many times; enemas were used as a weight-loss fad back then. In Spoto's view, poor Marilyn was completely under the control of the evil Dr. Greenson, so if Greenson wanted Mrs. Murray to give her an enema then poor submissive Marilyn would have laid there and let Mrs. Murray give her the damn enema. It's a far-fetched theory, and completely unproven, but it's just one of the scenarios that various Monroe biographers have come up with.
As for Pepitone, I think her book was probably mostly true. She WAS Monroe's maid for a time and she did see Monroe during the course of her daily life. She was witness to a lot of unpleasant things. Monroe's fans probably don't like hearing that their idol liked to lay around naked in bed all day and neglected her hygiene, but that's typical behavior for someone who is depressed and has emotional problems. I don't think Pepitone's book is entirely true, but I believe a lot of it is.
- Yep. The old maid and the enema trick what's done her in. Been there. Done that.
- R203 Julia had a peak of about 4 years. She wasn't a star until Pretty Woman (1990) and she was declining by 1994/5.
- Helen Lawson posts are always hysterically funny. People who post them are truly clever and original. I wish we had Helen Lawson here 24/7. I would even pay the $18 to join again.
- Helen Lawson posts are the worst thing about DL. Inane, unoriginal and not funny in the least. I skip right over them.
- Would Marilyn have been in Valley of the Dolls had she lived? Judy Garland wants to know!
- Marilyn was a lonely, depressed as fuck individual with no one to turn to.
- this old fart crowd will certainly have your answer, op...
- One of the Marilyn books claimed that Marilyn was being rushed to the hospital by ambulance about midnight the night she died. She supposedly died enroute to the hospital and it was decided to take her back to the house and put her back in bed.
One of Marilyn's people was at the Hollywood Bowl with his wife when he got a phone call telling him there was trouble at Marilyn's house. His wife was sure it was about midnight that he was paged to the phone for the call and she said that she didn't see her husband again until about three days later. She claimed that her husband told her that there was a lot of 'cleaning up' to be done and that a lot of the details were being 'fudged' to the press.
Some witnesses swore that they saw Bobby Kennedy visiting the house that afternoon and there was some evidence that Bobby had helicoptered in from northern California for several hours and then went back to where his family was staying in the same chopper.
Somebody knows the truth and it will probably come out at some point, but I don't think most of us will live long enough to hear it.
- Perhaps she may have been on Hollywood Squares,Guest-starred on 'The Love Boat' or perhaps on The Golden Girls ,I love thinking of the possibilities of what might have been!
- [quote]went back to where his family was staying in the same chopper
That must have been one roomy chopper.
- Had she lived, Marilyn would have done "The Queen" instead of Helen Mirren, and "The Devil Wears Prada" and that Margaret Thatcher movie instead of Meryl.
- lol, R202
- Contrary to many have mentioned here Sophia Loren wasn't a box office draw. Studios had difficulty selling her films. Few of her films in the 1950s were hits. The numbers don't lie.
Boy in a Dolphin (1957) cost $2.8 million to make and made $3.3 million
Legend of the Lost (1957) starring John Wayne, barely recouped its $1.7 million budget
Pride and the Passion was ranked # 19th at b.o. in 1957.
Houseboat was ranked #18th at b.o. in 1958
Attila, which was made for $900, 000 in 1954 and only released in 1958 in the USA with Sophia's voice dubbed by another actress, was her first official breakhout hit.
Most of her Paramount films were flops, including Heller in Pink Tights, A Breath of Scandal and That Kind of Woman. One of Sophia's last film with Paramount, It Started in Naples, was, ironically one of her biggest hits but Paramount *didn't* renew her contract.
In 1959 Marilyn was in Some Like It Hot, which cost $2.5 million to make and b.o. was at $25 million!
In 1960, Sophia appeared in 5 films while Marilyn only appeared in one, Let's Make Love. Sophia had modest success in the US with The Millionairess and Two Women.
In 1961 she did El Cid which cost $7 million to make with a b.o. of $25 million. This is Sophia's first major blockbuster.
But then her following films were barely released in the US, including Boccaccio '70, Madame Sans-Gêne and Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow and in 1964, she appeared in Fall of the Roman Empire, which cost $15 million to make and b.o. was only $4 million, which is one of the biggest flops of all time.
So between 1955 and 1962, Marilyn only made 6 films. During the same period, Sophia made around 18 films. Much greater output and visibility but as I mentioned in the list, most of Sophia's films were not hits.
- for the Marilyn fans
- R209...forget to take your meds today, bitchy?
I already thanks a previous poster for correcting me that Pepitone was not the maid in residence where she died. Calm down, Shirley, you're overwrought.
As for the rest of your peculiar rant,it's not Spoto's theory. It's probably the correct one. She was having the sedative enemas on a nightly basis. But she didn't tell her doctor that she was also getting sedatives (taken orally) from another doctor. She'd taken a lot of pills that day, and it's likely that the sedative enema was too much for her and killed her.
Pepitone did recant her book. She did. That's just a fact. Again, a lot of people thought it was fishy to begin with.
Now go take your pill, hon, and wash it down with a sedative enema. Hopefully magic will happen!
- This is a really good and informative thread.
** BUMP **
- "But as one skeptic asked, why would Monroe need to have an enema "administrated" by the sinister Mrs. Murray?"
Well, she WAS in the habit of taking so many pills she couldn't find her ass with both hands.
- I was 9 years old when she died and yes it was huge- all over the print press, TV etc. So I would say she was a pretty big star. She and Elizabeth Taylor where the biggest celebrity movie stars at the time with a number of others like Audrey Hepburn, Bardot, Loren close behind. Judy Garland was also a pretty big all round celeb in the press for farting or making a movie or giving a concert.
She was not yet the legend or myth she became (neither was Garland). But both were pretty much considered to be very special if not troubled- Judy more so. She was also not as big a mess as say we knew Whitney Huston to be at the time of her death. She had just sung Happy Birthday to the President in a sensational star turn- hardly a woman out of control by appearances. But her problems were well known if not as obvious as Judy's.
Whether she would have started to be a more serious and successful actress I doubt, had she lived. She really was awfully troubled and unstable. It was hard for her to work.
But yes, she was a very very big star and celebrity at the time of her death. Her death, her funeral etc were covered in the nightly news right up there with the important news of the day. Remember, in 1962 news came on at 7 and then 11 pm, except for news flashes which were very very rare (on TV).
She really was remarkable. Even in her mediocre films, never mind he good ones, she glows on screen and you cannot take your eyes off her. Talk about a scene steeler. She also was pretty good at song and dance- one of the best really- decent singer, great timing, terrific mover- sort of a natural entertainer never mind the way she looked.
- "Now go take your pill, hon, and wash it down with a sedative enema. Hopefully magic will happen!"
Actually, you seem like the one in need of some good anti-psychotic meds, dear. You're downright delusional (Marilyn Monroe done in by a "killer enema?" Oh my God.). And in addition, you are quite the cunty queen.
I've read a lot of Monroe biographies and almost none of them buy the "killer enema" theory, mainly because there is no evidence to support the claim that Monroe died from an enema. Anthony Summers (a sleazebag tabloid reporter) and Donald Spoto (a queen who idolizes Monroe) seem to think it was possible but they'll say anything to sell their questionable biographies.
So Lena Pepitone "recanted" her book? When did she do that? If it's a "fact" provide a link to where she admitted her book was a fake. You CAN do that, can't you? At any rate, I tend to think that her book was fact mixed with fiction, as most memoirs are. I think the critics of Pepitone's book simply don't want to know that their idol belched, farted, had periods, rarely took baths and ate in bed. It ruins their image of her as the luscious sex goddess on the screen. They don't want their idol to be HUMAN.
- It doesn't matter how many of Sophia's films were hits, she was a STAR. Same with Elizabeth.
- I think Monroe was the first big Hollywood star "suicide" since Carole Landis in 1948.
Even though Landis wasn't a quarter as famous as Monroe, the public was mesmerized by the thought that a glamorous movie star would kill themselves.
- R228...oh, the irony of YOU calling someone else a "cunty queen." you seem to excel at that, dear. There was absolutely no reason for the tone of your first post to me. Except for the fact that you're just a bit over-the-top and highly theatrical. Again, you'd better calm down. Might I suggest a sedative enema? You desperately need some sort of enema.
You've read lots of books? I find that to be a dubious claim. But you seem a bit obsessed with MM, so that might explain your hysteria. It is known that she was having sedatives administered in the way, darling. I'm sorry that this so upsets you but you'll live. Pity.
You want a link, teddy bear, you find one. Not everything is on the internet, Shirley. She did recant it. Many questioned the book because Pepitone's English was horrible, yet she recounted perfectly remembered conversations which took place between herself and MM in perfect English. It had nothing to do with belching and farting, doll, something you seem able to do simultaneously. MM was a human being. You're the one who's aghast at the suggestion that she used sedative enemas to go to sleep. Given that you've read all these MM books, I suspect that you're the one who 'can't get over it'.
You're simply wrong. And a bit hysterical. Calm down, Mary. You'll live longer. Pity.
- While my use of the word "horrfic" in my earlier post describing Marilyn's JFK birthday performance may have been misjudged, I would still claim that many, if not most Americans were just a bit horrified by her rather brazen and lewd (for the times!) surprise appearance at the event.
Everyone wondered "where was Jackie?" during the show and what must Jackie be thinking?
I know in this day and age her performance is relatively tame, but I can assure you that back then in 1962, we weren't all saying "Awww, isn't Marilyn adorable! How sweet and thoughtful of her!"
It was actually a clear sign that Marilyn was quite troubled and out of control.
- There aren't female movie stars today at the level of those before 1970. A modern day comparison just doesn't work.
Regarding Marilyn, she's a wonderful example of death being the best career move. By 1962, she was extremely troubled emotionally and could barely work. Moreover, her sex goddess persona was going to be out of style by 1968.
All her contemparies sort of ended around that time, even if they continued making films - Doris Day, Audrey Hepburn, Liz Taylor, Sophia Loren, even Natalie Wood. The style of movies just changed, the type of leading lady changed, no more women's pictures. So I don't think her career would have continued much longer.
She was also getting on in years; 36 is not young, even today, for an actress. Add her growing substance abuse issues ... it was only a matter of time before something happened.
And, yes, it was an accidental death - kinda prosaic - no conspiracy, no suicide, no late night calls, no visit from RFK.
- "Judy Garland was also a pretty big all round celeb in the press for farting or making a movie or giving a concert"
Um, no. Garland was primarily famous in the 1960s for not showing up or being fired or being sued, at least in the US.
what some Garland queens won't do to inject her name where she does belong
- r233: You said it best.
- What about Darwin Porter's book, the most authoritative of all?
- Was Sophia a star in the early 60s. I thought her fame grew with time as people discovered her.
- "You're simply wrong. And a bit hysterical. Calm down, Mary. You'll live longer. Pity."
Sweetie pie, you're the one with your frilly pink panties in a knot. And it's obvious that YOU are the one with the MM "obsession"; your particular fixation appears to be the enemas you insist she took as a means of sedation (actually, her preferred method of oblivion was pills).
You have nothing to back up anything you say and yet you try to pass yourself off as some kind of MM know-it-all. Your original assumption that Lena Pepitone killed MM with a fatal enema is proof of your profound ignorance. I guess you're just one of those poor souls who believe that nobody knows Marilyn like you do. Such a sad queen you are.
And yes indeed, you are very, VERY cunty.
- Sophia was a star for sure. If you have 5 films released in one year and win an Oscar. But she wasn't a box office draw. Sorta like Angelina Jolie is a star even if Angelina never had a box office hit.
Sophia's biggest hits in the 1960s were El Cid and Arabesque.
- Sophia's Two Women wasn't a "modest hit" - it was huge internationally in both the original Italian and a dubbed version - and of course won her the best actress award in that very competitive year 1961 with all 5 terrific nominees, but it was that time when international and european cinema was taking off, so Loren won. Maybe American are more parochial in that respect but here in Europe (England actually) Sophia remained a huge star, the equal of Liz Taylor at the time.
The original advertising for El Cid had to be withdrawn as it featured Heston only, but Sophia's contract guaranteed equal billing so the ads had to be re-done - Heston never liked her after that. El Cid remains one of the best epics. Her De Sica films with Mastroianni were big hits, as were 60s films like Arabesque with Greg Peck. The Chaplin one Countess From Hong Kong was a hopelessly old fashioned dud in that swinging 60s era but that was not her or Brando's fault.
Granted she made a lot more films that Monroe, we liked some more than others. Fall Of The Roman Empire was on here again last weekend, it was the last of the great real epics (no CGI then) but its a fascinating flawed movie that stands up with that great cast - Guinness, Mason, Plummer etc.
Loren was still a great star in 1979 when she packed out the big Selfridges superstore here in London when promoting her book - she was one star people turned out to see, and still would now at 77.
- "Sophia's Two Women wasn't a "modest hit" - it was huge internationally in both the original Italian and a dubbed version"
R240, I wrote a modest hit in the US. I didn't say it was a modest hit internationally.
- "But even if Fox and Marilyn stayed on good terms, they probably would've run into trouble trying to sell that dumb sexy blonde persona into the '60s."
There were a lot of "dumb blonde" roles available in sixties films - just not in the good ones. Remember, that was the era when Dean Martin and Tony Curtis kept turning out bad comedies full of inflatable starlets, if Marilyn had lived she might have ended up in that kind of horror. Or in domestic comedies that Doris Day turned down.
I think it's true that death was a great career move.
- ...or she would have made one of those dreadful Harlow movies and really sunk her career.
- I agree with the poster who wrote that she'd have done the movies Kim Novak did in the 1960s.
- Are we done?
- Kim Novak never played the dizty blonde. Her characters were always smouldering, mysterious slightly naive but never vacant and bubbly like Marilyn. Jayne Mansfield, Mamie Van Doren and a few other starlets imitated Marilyn's dumb blonde but not Kim Novak.
- Everyone says Monroe was 36, but it was commonplace for actresses to officially lie about how old they were. Wasn't it standard practice in Hollywood to subract 3-5 years from your actual age? Monroe was probably pushing 40 when she passed away.
- R247, Norma Jean's birth certificate, which is available to the public, lists her birth date as 6/1/1926, and her marriage license to her first husband at 16 is listed as 6/19/1942. She was also a ward of the state for much of her childhood, so there are records there, too.
- Marliyn Monroe was waaay too famous to lie about her age. Every detail of her life has been examined in detail, and if she even claimed she was one month younger than she was it would have been found out.
- Though I agree that Kim Novak and Marilyn were very different blondes, I could easily imagine films like Boys' Night Out, The Great Train Robbery and even The Legend of Lylah Clare and maybe Moll Flanders being tailored to Marilyn's abilities.
However, they still would have been the clunkers they were with Kim.
Now....can you imagine the older Marilyn up against Elizabeth Taylor in The Mirror Crack'd? The mind boggles!
- Marlyn suffered from colitis, so she would not have been an habitual enema user.
why would she?
- Colitis can alternate diarrhea/constipation. Plus some of the drugs for colitis can cause constipation.
Why is it that so many claim that so many of these stars had colitis? Marilyn, Judy, even JFK. It's not a common disease. In some of these cases it was probably drug-induced symptoms of colitis.
- I just read the Spoto book and I find it the most believable of the biographies I've read. The Anthony Summers book was a joke; never questioning anything, written like a tabloid piece and just plain bad. The Spoto book is actually pretty chilling (or at least, to me it was) in that you know she's going to rid herself of her doctor and her housekeeper (who acted as her controlling doctpr's lackey) but that she won't do it in time. Maybe he meant it that way but I never picked up on any overt attempt to chill; it's just a tragedy that none of her concerned friends ever stepped in to handle her affairs and do what needed to be done. If she went the way Spoto says she did. . .what an awful way to go.
- [quote]If she went the way Spoto says she did. . .what an awful way to go.
How did she go, according to him?
- Was it the colitis that led to her weight loss in '62?
- She was on the same level as Lady Diana, another celebrity whom initial inquiries were about whether or not she was found in the nude.
- It seems that Spoto is saying not just that the doctor told the housekeeper-slash-nurse (who had no medical training whatsoever) to give her the sedative-laced enema that killed her, after she allegedly made a move to dismiss him, but that he had also drugged her that day and previously beaten her when she tried to end their professional relationship. The housekeeper, who Marilyn had fired, was to finish her work for Monroe that day. Instead, she spent the night at the house--which she supposedly never had done before--making her available to be a "witness" to the doctor finding Monroe's dead body. (Yet several of her claims made no sense: She claimed she could see light under the bedroom door but, apparently no light could be seen under Monroe's door due to the height of the carpet. She claimed she tried at one point to enter Monroe's bedroom and foun the door locked but Monroe supposedly feared locked doors so her bedroom door could not have been locked--and there was apparently no lock on the door anyway. She also claimed that she went outside and, using a fireplace poker, parted her bedroom drapes so she could see if Marilyn was asleep. No one could have parted any drapes to view her lying in bed because Monroe did not have drapes in her bedroom--she had a large roll of black material nailed across the windows and walls so she could sleep in daylight, as opposed to drapes with their "break" in between" which would let in sun.) If the two involved did indeed make all the verbal contradictions he alleges they did, it's far more believable than that the President and/or Bobby Kennedy shared confidential secrets with her and had her killed because he/they feared she'd go tell the world, as Summers and a few others claim.
- One of the reasons Spoto's biography is questionable is that he portrays Marilyn Monroe as being, for the most part, well-adjusted! Her drinking and drug-taking? Her promiscuity? Her mental detertioration? All mean-spirited exaggeration! Monroe's unprofessionalism was legendary, and he even defends her on that score. He says that yes she had a tendency to be late (a colossal understatement) but she was very apologetic about it (not really) and that she had been unduly picked on in that regard, considering that other Hollywood stars sometimes held up filming too, but nobody get on THEIR case about it. Spoto frequently sounds like a petulant fangurl; he obvious idolizes Monroe, which weakens his credibility quite a bit.
The only good thing about Spoto's biography is that it discredits Robert Slatzer and Jeanne Carmen, two weird characters who claimed to be very close to Marilyn Monroe, but have no proof whatsoever to back up their claims. These two were frequently on talk shows like Geraldo. Slatzer claimed to have been Monroe's second husband and lifelong friend; Carmen said she was Marilyn's roommate. Slatzer would always put forth his opinion that Marilyn was murdered by the Kennedys. Carmen would tell lurid tales of Monroe's supposed hot love affair with Bobby Kennedy; she also said that on the last night of her life Marilyn called her several times, begging her to come over, but that she declined. These two made careers out of their unsubtantiated claims. At least in Spoto's biography they're revealed to be liars.
- The Marilyn of today is Britney Spears. Not necessarily in looks, but persona.
- Shut the fuck up. Britney could do nothing close to anything but change Marilyn's tampons.
- Had she lived, she would have been Jerry Herman's first choice to play Dolly and then Mame.
- r260 - you've got issues. The Marilyn/Britney comparison is not only apt, it's striking. Britney gets a lot of the same flack Marilyn endured from the elitists in her lifetime.
- I was struck by a Britney/Marilyn resemblance in this pictures. Here's the one of MM:
- This is the one of MM (the one above is Britney, sorry for the typo):
- I am really shocked to see the ignorance of people about Marilyn's true character and personality. While 1000s books and articles about her are available in the market there is none which give 100% accurate account. Even Donald Spoto who is considered most accurate suffers from the lack of accuracy while explaining the mysterious circumstances of Marilyn's murder. May be, who knows, he knowingly tries to hide the truth to save on his own life. There are many people who still think Marilyn committed suicide or over dozed on drugs when apparently she was murdered.
And after reading her stories on internet I came to know that Internet is full of rubbish, false stories and fake pictures and there are enough of fools and idiots in this world who will believe in them. I also realized people who are irresponsible and liars can rule the world through internet. When I read Marilyn's character assassination on internet I came to know the essence of living a wretched life in this world. Read her authentic bio and I am sure you cannot but only salute Marilyn for her fight against all sorts of huge adversities she faced while reaching the zenith of her career from the wretched world of eleven foster homes. Most of us would have lost the race.
In my 65 years of life I have not seen any other woman who can match Marilyn's beauty and charm. I was in a high school in small town of 30000 population in India in 1960 when a very beautiful girl joined the school and some students nicknamed her "Marilyn Monroe". Show me one another person who could command more popularity than this.
While people looked at her beauty and charm only, they did not bother about her human values. The sight of hungry workers sitting around studio system and the vision of killing an animal for food were painful to Marilyn. She was most decent woman who never made a derogatory statement against her ex-husbands. And here there are people who believe in an utter lie that she was going to declare her love affairs with Kennedys in Press conference. Show me one media which confirmed the plan to hold press conference for Marilyn.
And what doubts about her professional abilities when people could not turn away their sight from her character on the screen forgetting the existence of all other characters. She was one of the only two actresses who started their own Production Company before such giants as Fox and 20th. Marilyn was sincere and hardworking woman and there cannot be any doubt about her future career had she lived longer. Read about her ambitions and plans at the fag end of her life and you cannot have any doubt that she would have done something meaningful and creative and would not have wasted her remainder of life in only serving Joe D.
Marilyn was never paid poorly but major share of her earnings went to mafias who ruled Hollywood. Her career was never on wane but it was her choice only because of her personal and health problems. Marilyn believed in equal rights and she admired (and not loved) Kennedys for their stand on equal rights. However she was devastated because of the insult she suffered at the hands of Kennedys who were concerned more about their image than Marilyn’s life. Both Marilyn and Kennedys were aware of impending dangers to Marilyn’s life after the failure of mafia setup at Cal Neva. Knowledge of political secrets proved fatal for Marilyn. She was devastated by dirty political games and deceits and not her so called waning career. She did Misfits because Arthur insisted it on financial grounds otherwise she did not want to do it. Let Us Make Love was also forced on MM to complete the contract.
MM achieved much more in her short 36 years’ life than any one of majority who can achieve in 2/3 lives. She goes on living in the hearts of millions of her fans even today after 50 years of her death. There are misguided people who call her a whore, a prostitute or a communist spy also. But an Icon has to always face such mud-slinging. However it also shows people’s ignorance and culture. I may admire those Americans who understand their idol but I would not like to dislike or hate those who are ignorant. I read a story about Marilyn visiting a friend in hospital who had attempted suicide. While parting, Marilyn whispered something in his ears. After wards her friend cried lot because he was touched by the generosity shown by his friend. You find out what Marilyn had whispered!
- "Story of my life. I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop."