Sunday, 5 August 2012

Marilyn Monroe - 50 Years On

Not exactly the most cheerful post to start August off, I know, but I thought it was needed.
As most of you will know if you've been browsing the internet at all today or if you're actually a fan that fifty years ago today, Marilyn Monroe died in Los Angeles at the age of thirty six. 
Marilyn Monroe has been one of my biggest idols the past few years since I began watching her films. I actually did a post on my favourite films that she's been in so if you haven't seen any of them yet, or you're just curious, you can read that here.
Even with her troubled childhood, Marilyn still went on to be one of the most successful and most famous actresses of all time. Even with that title over her head, she was still as sweet as could be, if you liked a sweater she wore, you'd find it mailed to your doorstep the next day. She participated in many charities, was an early civil rights supporter and gave much of her own money to various orphanages, being brought up in one herself. She was more intelligent than people give her credit for - reading books by Emerson, Prouse, Joyce and Doestoevsky. She had problems with anxiety and self esteem which often got mistaken for narcissism and was the reason why she was often late to the set as she was paralysed with fear that she wouldn't give a good enough performance.  

Norma Jean Mortenson was born on July 1st, 1926 in Los Angeles, California, the third child to Gladys Pearl Baker. She soon had her name changed from Mortenson to Baker - the name of her mother's first husband who was not her biological father. Her mother was deemed mentally unstable and financially unable to take care of her daughter who was soon placed in foster care. She lived with ten more families until she got married to James Dougherty at age sixteen. She divorced him four years later after he went into the army.
In 1945, Norma Jean was photographed for 'Yank, the Army Weekly' by David Conover as one of the women helping the war effort. After that she signed with The Blue Book Modelling Agency and soon dyed her hair blonde. She appeared on dozens of magazine covers and then changed her name to Marilyn Monroe - Monroe being her mother's maiden name and Marilyn after Marilyn Miller who she was told she was like. She was also offered a six-month contract with 20th Century Fox and the rest was history...

Norma Jeane in 'Yank, the Army Weekly' - June 26th 1945
Her death was just about as pleasant as her childhood. On August 5th, 1962, Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her bedroom of her Brentwood by Ralph Greenson after he was called by her housekeeper Eunice Murray. She was just thirty six years old.
The actual cause of death has become one of the most debated conspiracy theories of all time. It was ruled to be "acute barbiturate poisoning" and listed as "probable suicide", which is what I believe. However, many people believe that she was murdered but no murder charges were ever filed. 
Her death is believed to have taken place between 9:30 and 11:30 on the night of August 4th but she was not found until the early hours of August 5th, which is why it's considered to be her anniversary. Even if it did happen on August 4th it would have technically been August 5th here in Ireland so it doesn't make much of a difference to me.

Now, fifty years after her death, Marilyn Monroe is one of the most idolised women of all time. Unfortunately, about half of the teenage girls who do idolise her know almost nothing about her and haven't seen any of her movies - some that I know didn't even know she was an actress until I mentioned it! Still, there are plenty of people out there who still admire her acting and still are a fan of her for the right reasons. 
Marilyn has seemed to inspire just about everything fashion and beauty after her appearances in films such as  The Seven Year Itch and How To Marry A Millionaire. In just about every magazine there is bound to be someone sporting those platinum locks or bright red lips. Magazine spreads have featured celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan, Rihanna, Nicole Kidman, Viola Davis and plenty others channelling Marilyn's past photoshoots. As well as Charlize Theron's Dior advert last year which featured the woman herself - which I personally found rather creepy. Not to mention the 2011 film 'My Week With Marilyn' starring Michelle Williams which depicts the filming of the 1957 film 'The Prince and the Showgirl'.

Charlize Theron and Marilyn Monroe in J'Adore Dior 2011 advert

For the most part Marilyn was usually seen as being a 'dumb blonde', which is completely not true as I've stated already. She enjoyed reading poetry as well as writing her own. Her favourite poets were Frost, Whitman and E. E. Cummings. Not many people are aware of that though as she only showed her poetry to a select few as she was always fearful of harsh judgement. I for one quite admire her poetry so I thought I'd through in some of my favourites.

Life -
I am of both your directions
Existing more with the cold frost
Strong as a cobweb in the wind
Hanging downward the most
Somehow remaining
those beaded rays have the colours
I've seen in paintings - ah life
they have cheated you
thinner than a cobweb's thread
sheerer than any -
but it did attach itself 
and held fast in strong winds
and singed by the leaping hot fires
life - of which at singular times 
I am both of your directions -
somehow I remain hanging downward
the most
as both of your directions pull me.
From time to time
I make it rhyme
but don't hold that kind
of thing
me -
Oh well, what the hell,
so it won't sell.
What I want to tell -
is what's on my mind:
'taint Dishes,
'taint Wishes,
 it's thoughts
flinging by
before I die - 
and to think
in ink
I've got a tear hanging over my beer that I can't let go
It's too bad
I feel sad 
When I got all my life behind me.
If I had a little relief
From this grief
I couldn't find a drowning straw to hold on to,
It's great to be alive.
They say I'm lucky to be alive 
It's hard to figure out - 
When everything I feel -

Marilyn also did a fair bit of painting. These are two self-portraits painted and titled by Marilyn - given to Susan Strasberg on Fire Island during the summer of 1955.

life is wonderful so what the hell

RIP Marilyn Monroe
(1926 - 1962)


  1. Er thanks for this post - I have a bit of lump in my throat after reading it. I am a fan of Marilyn, because not only was she breathtakingly beautiful but a very intelligent woman who was ahead of her time withing the film industry.

    I sometimes do posts that feature images of Marilyn and I try to work out what she might wear if she was alive today (as a young woman)

    Let me know if you want to see them and I will send you a link

    Thanks for a great post


  2. She's such an inspiration! Lovely post honey!

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