For years people have requested that Marilyn be profiled on
Findadeath. I've always refused because she is so well documented; just a quick online search will give you
any information you could possibly want or need on this unfortunate woman. Since
this week (August 2010) is the 48th anniversary of her death, with the help of Mark Langlois
and friends, I've dug up a lot of the information, photographs and facts that
I've collected over the years. So is Findadeath's attempt to give Marilyn some recognition in our pages.
"I've never liked the name Marilyn. I've often wished that I had held out that day for Jean Monroe. But I guess it's too late to do anything about it now."
Almost 5 decades have passed since the death of this beloved sex symbol, and she
has morphed into an almost beyond the realm of comprehension - icon. Her life and death fall into myth perpetuated by a cottage industry of licensing, conspiracy books, and attention seekers with tall-tales. She becomes the
"little girl lost" to new generations who believe that if somehow they had been her friend
- she could have been saved.
Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortensen on June 1, 1926
and baptized Norma Jean Baker at the Angeles Temple (possibly by Sister Aimee Semple McPherson herself) a year before talking films became all the rage.
A child of Hollywood, her divorced mother Gladys Monroe Baker Mortensen worked as a film cutter at RKO Pictures.
Aunt Grace visited on weekends and took Norma Jeane to the movies. When their day trip was over, Norma Jeane returned to the drudgery of the orphanage.
"No one ever told
me I was pretty when I was a little girl. All little girls should be told
they're pretty, even if they aren't."
At nights when all the kids were asleep, I'd perch on the dormitory window sill and look across at the RKO water tank (Now Paramount), with RKO in big letters, and light shining like a Hollywood premier. "My mother used to work there," I'd whisper. "Someday I'd like to be a star there."
Aunt Grace always told her she was going to be in the pictures.
Within a year, Jim was shipped out to the Pacific with the Merchant Marines and his bride was working in a war-time defense plant. A stable family life eluded her once again.
Sylvia Barnhart was her hairdresser.
Marilyn didn't attend the premiere of the latter film which was held at Grauman's Egyptian Theater. If she had she would have seen her 1st husband Jim Dougherty (now on the LAPD) assigned to crowd control. (Awkward!!)
Other residents of that "rest home" over the years included: Billie Burke, Flo Zeigfield and Frances Farmer.
This was also the year that Marilyn first went out with retired superstar baseball player Joe DiMaggio - on a blind date at the Villa Nova Restaurant (Now The Rainbow) on the Sunset Strip.
With a new contract with 20th Century Fox, Marilyn was ready for her big breakout year. That year was 1953, when she starred in 3 Technicolor hits: Niagara, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry A Millionaire.
While Marilyn was enjoying her first taste of superstardom, she received the news that her surrogate mother Aunt Grace Goddard had committed suicide with an overdose of barbiturates. Marilyn planned the funeral services and Grace's remains were buried near Aunt Ana Lower in Westwood Memorial Park - where Marilyn would join them 9 years later.
That December, Playboy Magazine debuted with a centerfold of nude Marilyn on red velvet - photos from a 1949 shoot for $50 cash needed for rent. The nude calendar photo shoot happened at Tom Kelley's Studio with his wife acting as assistant.
Marilyn never denied she had modeled nude - in fact she even made jokes about it. Her unapologetic tongue-in-cheek sexuality coupled with her publicized rise to stardom from a sad childhood in foster care just made Marilyn more popular with audiences.
"If you're gonna be two-faced at least make one of them pretty."
Despite some bitchery from hypocritical prudes like Joan Crawford, Marilyn had many celebrity well wishers including co-star and former Fox Studio queen Betty Grable who said that Marilyn was a shot in the arm (boost) for Hollywood. There certainly was nobody more famous than MM that year.
It lasted 9 months. Marilyn wasn't about to give up the spotlight that she had waited for her whole
life, and for as famous and successful as Joe was then, he was always going to
be "Mr. Marilyn." "It's no fun being married to an
electric light." During her time with DiMaggio, she had to endure the jealousy and resentment of her lesbian acting coach Natasha Lytess (whom MM had placed on the Fox payroll). Marilyn just wanted
an acting mentor not another possessive lover. She told Natasha, "Don't love me. Teach
Instead they raided the wrong apartment (Marilyn was visiting friend Sheila Stewart in another unit) and a horrified tenant named Florence Kotz pressed charges. Flo eventually settled for $7500 in damages.
"Dogs never bite me. Just humans."
The next year, MM left Hollywood to study acting in Manhattan with Lee Strasberg who became a parental figure (along with his yenta wife Paula).
MM was enamored with the womanizing JFK to say the least. ("I think I make his back feel better," she told pals.) MM sang "Happy Birthday" to the President at his 1962 Madison Square Garden birthday gala (staged and directed by William Asher). To attend the JFK event, MM had defied the studio and skipped town and her film production of Something's Got to Give.
Fox was hemorrhaging money that year with Liz Taylor's Cleopatra and they were also fed up with Marilyn's tardiness. Something had to give, and it was Marilyn (not Liz). Fox informed Marilyn that she was fired and they shut down the production.
Summer 1962, found the unemployed MM living in her newly purchased, sparsely furnished Brentwood home (phone number 476-1890) that she was in the process of remodeling. Her closest companions were all on her payroll: publicist Pat Newcomb; business manager: Inez Melson; physician Dr. Hyman Engleberg; psychiatrist: Dr Ralph Greenson and his brother in law, MM's attorney Milton Rudin; and Dr Greenson's patient babysitter Mrs. Eunice Murray as MM's new housekeeper.
On June 2, the day after her 36th birthday, Marilyn had an emotional breakdown. Dr. Greenson's son and daughter were summoned to cheer her. Marilyn said she felt old, unwanted and used by people. She declared that her life wasn't worth living.
"What do I wear in bed? Why, Chanel No. 5, of course."
Marilyn Monroe retired by 7 p.m. to her locked bedroom with her record player and her phone. She called Dr. Greenson around
7:30 p.m. to assure him that she was "feeling better." Marilyn's
Pierce Brothers Westwood
She was placed in (WARNING, DEAD PIC) drawer 33. Yes, that is her toe tag. An autopsy was performed. This is an actual post autopsy photograph of Marilyn Monroe. (WARNING) It's pretty gruesome. This is the real deal. No mistaking it. This is Marilyn Monroe, dead.
The coroner ruled it a "probable suicide" (as opposed to "accidental overdose" or "homicide").
Autopsy notes: Dr. Noguchi went over every inch of Marilyn's body
with a magnifying glass, and found no injection marks. Had one been
administered within 24 hours, it would have shown up. Had she been
poisoned by injection, her death would have been rapid, therefore they wouldn't
have found the toxicology evidence that they had.
A 1982 re-investigation by LA Coroner's Dept and a 2003 independent study by Dr. John Chamberlain (for Discovery Channel special
"The Death of Marilyn Monroe") come to the same conclusions that Marilyn ingested the fatal overdose which was consistent with the amounts available to her. The condition of her stomach and drug levels in the blood and liver are consistent with the idea she took the drugs through her GI tract and was alive for some period afterwards. There was no physical evidence of lung or heart trauma or inflammation of the colon to suggest the overdose was administered by direct injection or by suppository/enema.
A few years ago, I had the amazingly good fortune to be able to interview Allan Abbott, one of the mortuary employees at the time of Marilyn's service. Thank you, David, for making that happen. Rest in Peace. Allan opened the doors of his home to me, and spent several hours recounting this story, which no doubt he has done dozens of times. He could not have been more friendly or kind.
"When the family brought in the clothing for her, they didn't bring any panties for her to wear, since she never wore them in life. Fortunately someone at the coroner's office had the dignity to tear a sheet and make sort of diaper for her. It was the only body I've ever seen come out of the coroner's office that was not totally nude. Somebody was very respectful and did that for her. They also brought these funny little falsies.
[At the Coroner] they made a Y incision they cut the rib cage,
and everything kind of caves in. I was helping the embalmer. The
first thing the embalmer had me do was to get rid of a horrible swelling in her
neck. She died face down so there was lividity.
When we got her dressed in this chartreuse Pucci gown, (she still looked terrible, her face was still a mess), Mrs. Hamrock who owned half of the mortuary, just had to come out to the mortuary to see Marilyn. We had just finished dressing Marilyn, Mrs. Hamrock walked into the embalming room and looked at the body and said, "That doesn't look like Marilyn to me! Where are her breasts?" The embalmer said that an autopsy was performed on her, and that's why she was flat. We even used the falsies that the family brought in, but they were way too small. Mrs. Hamrock reached in and grabbed the falsies and threw them in the trash can. We'd put a bra on her because they brought in a bra, not panties. Mrs. Hamrock walked over to the cotton dispenser (most mortuaries have them) and she began stuffing the bra so it was all filled up like it should be. She backed up and took a look, she said, "That looks like Marilyn Monroe," and she turned around and walked out the door.
The embalmer didn't feel qualified to do her hair and makeup (standard in mortuaries that the embalmer would/could do this) so FOX sent over a wig box with the wig from the last movie Marilyn was working on. Whitey Snyder did her makeup.
Alan continues, "I was in my early 20's and I really wanted to get a souvenir, but I would have been mortified if the embalmer saw me do something like that. As the embalmer was washing his hands, I never took my eyes off of him, but I walked over to the trash, reached down and grabbed the falsies and put them in my pocket. When I got outside, I took the falsies out, some of the hair that had been thrown out earlier was squeezed between them. That's how I ended up with a lock of her hair." He still has it. I nearly cacked myself when he brought it out.
SIDE STORY: People might wonder why Marilyn wore falsies at all. Alan Abbott told me that he asked Whitey Snyder himself. Whitey explained that Marilyn was 36 and her breasts were starting to sag a little, so she would put on a bra, then put on a sweater. She would then put the falsies between the sweater and the bra, and it gave the illusion that she wasn't wearing a bra at all, because you would see the bumps of her nipples.
Mr. Abbott sold her falsies and the original funeral program, but kept this copy. He still has the boutonniere he wore on the day, and a lot of affection for Marilyn. "This is the business card that the night manager gave me and said, "When you get here, the security won't let you in unless you show them this card."
DiMaggio made the decisions and the invite list. He paid the bill. All of the funeral home had a strict 9 p.m. closing time. My wife asked me to take her to Westwood to see Marilyn. I called Pat and told her that I'd like to bring my wife up to see her, and Pat said 'sure' and we went down to the mortuary. We got there at 9 p.m. and Joe was still there with his entourage. He stood at the casket and cried, then walked outside for a few moments. Then he returned and stood at the casket and cried again. Finally, it was about 11 p.m. and I said to Pat, "what about this 9 p.m. curfew?" Pat replied with, "I'm not about to go and tell Joe DiMaggio that he has to leave." Finally they did leave.
Allan recommended getting security to stay overnight, because press were staking the place out for that picture. He went to Pinkerton and hired 6 armed uniformed guards to patrol the grounds, and they stayed around the clock, for the duration. Pat Spinelli took a rollaway bed and spent the night next to Marilyn, to protect her from the paparazzi. Word was out that there was a $30,000.00 offer for a photograph of Marilyn in the casket.
Alan Abbott was working the funeral. He was positioned at the door to check invitations for the funeral service. 30 guests attended the private service, which was one of the first to be held in the newly completed chapel.
In fact it was so new, it had no drapery, so FOX sent set dressers over to make it look nice.
Inside the chapel,
Marilyn's open bronze casket with the champagne satin lining,
was placed on a platform in front of the group.
She dressed in one of her favorite dresses by the designer Pucci, in fact, the very dress you see her in below. Also, she had on a green chiffon scarf. Interesting to note, Marilyn owned several versions of this dress, which came with a matching belt.
Whomever brought the dress to the mortuary, failed to bring the matching belt which was recently on display here in Hollywood.
Lee Strasberg delivered the eulogy. Afterwards, the casket was carried to the hearse waiting outside the door, and driven the hundred yards or so, to Marilyn's wall crypt. Alan Abbott added that when the hearse stopped near Marilyn's crypt, the silence was deafening. They opened the hearse, and the second Marilyn's casket became exposed, the press erupted into an ocean of clicks and flashes. It was so out of control, you couldn't even hear Reverend A. J. Soldan read the 23rd psalm at the crypt.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death,
Abbot was a pallbearer as was his business partner Robert Hast, "hairdresser to the stars" Sidney Guilaroff and Marilyn's makeup man and good friend "Whitey" Snyder. Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow" was played as Marilyn was placed in the wall, head first.
DiMaggio had a standing order - six red roses with babies breath, 3 times a week for 20 years. He was billed monthly. He gave the florist a cool baseball autographed to "The Flower Man."
Visit them. They couldn't be nicer.
As well, Marilyn had not paid numerous people on her staff for months. Whitey Snyder, her make-up man, had not been paid for his services for over one year.
Marilyn's little "Maf" went to Sinatra's secretary.
Marilyn's Social Security number was 563-32-0764
What Marilyn might look like, if she were still alive. Well, 20 years ago anyway.
You can still visit Marilyn's footprints at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood,
and see the only theater that Marilyn actually pays for.
Profile by Mark Langlois with summary info supplied from James Hunter (of the DD Group -- fans who investigated her death from a logical, well researched, point of view ) and myself.
A little about Dr. Greenson.
Over the years several people have stepped up to help with Marilyn's story. Unfortunately with various computer crashes I've lost these documents and the hard work that went into them. I do want to thank Eric Woodard author of Marilyn Monroe - Hometown Girl, Emma Breacain, Mark from Denmark, and a woman who just went by the name Marilyn Monroe. Thank you also, Craig.
Marilyn had a vulnerability to her. Someone said that guys wanted to have sex with her, and girls wanted to be her friend. Everyone wanted to take care of her, some wanted to be her. Even 48 years on, Marilyn fans can get downright psychotic. I KNOW EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD ABOUT MARILYN AND YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY CARE ABOUT HER MORE THAN I DO fans. I have a huge interest in her, and I know other humans that are Marilyn experts that are completely sane and don't need to make everything about Marilyn, about them.
In 2010 her Brentwood home went on the market for $3.6 million. This is up from the $900,00 price tag 15 years ago. Crazy. Marilyn's bedroom looks much more cheerier these days, but the bed is still in the same place.
Speaking of, did you know Anna Nicole Smith lived in Marilyn's house for awhile? True story. Anna slept in the same bedroom
that Marilyn died in,
and they were both Playboy models.
The thing they really had in common was
being used, taken advantage of, shat on and spat out.
I understand the cemetery keeps a spare nameplate handy for this very type of activity. Hugh Hefner bought the grave next to Marilyn. The guy above her was flipped over in his casket so he'd be forever on top of Marilyn, facing her.
True story. His widow tried auctioning off the grave recently. In fact, there has been a lot of movement on that wall as of late. Marilyn was the first "big" name to be buried in Westwood Memorial Park, and has set a precedent in LA cemetery real estate. You can't get near her for less than $750,000. A grave which costs more than Marilyn was worth when she died. Everyone wants a piece of poor Marilyn.
"Ever notice how 'What the hell' is always the right answer?"
Rest in Peace, Marilyn.
Marilyn's autopsy, Will and divorce documents from her first marriage are available