Saturday, May 19, 2012

Legends: Marilyn Monroe

Beauty is officially listed in the Webster’s Dictionary as, any girl who looks like, and/or resembles Marilyn Monroe.

 Okay, I am just kidding of course. But tell me, who on this planet never heard of Marilyn Monroe? One of the most beautiful (and complicated) people in superstardom history. There have been songs written about her, most notably, “Candle In The Wind”, by Elton John. (A legend in his own right)


After spending much of her childhood in foster homes, Monroe began a career as a model, which led to a film contract in 1946 with Twentieth Century Fox. Her early film appearances were minor, but her performances in “The Asphalt Jungle” and “All About Eve” (both 1950) drew attention to her. By 1953, Monroe had progressed to a leading role in “Niagara” (1953), a melodramatic film noir that dwelt on her seductiveness. Her "dumb blonde" persona was used to comic effect in subsequent films such as “Gentleman Prefer Blondes” (1953), “How To Marry A Millionaire” (1953) and “The Seven Year Itch” (1955). Limited by typecasting, Monroe studied at the Actors Studio to broaden her range. Her dramatic performance in “Bus Stop” (1956) was hailed by critics and garnered a Golden Globe nomination. Her production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions, released “The Prince And The Showgirl” (1957), for which she received a BAFTA Award nomination and won a David di Donatello award. She received a Golden Globe Award for her performance in “Some Like It Hot” (1959). Monroe's last completed film was “The Misfits“, co-starring Clark Gable with screenplay by her then-husband, Arthur Miller.
Norman Jeane Mortensen Baker, born June 1st, 1926, and died August 5, 1962. (On my birthday) She is professionally recognized as Marilyn Monroe, an American actress, model, and singer, who became a major sex symbol, starring in a number of commercially successful motion pictures during the 1950s and early 1960s.



The final years of Monroe's life were marked by illness, personal problems, and a reputation for unreliability and difficulty to work with. The circumstances of her death, from an overdose of barbiturates, have been the subject of conjecture. Though officially classified as a "probable suicide", the possibility of an accidental overdose, as well as of homicide, have not been ruled out. In 1999, Monroe was ranked as the sixth greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute. In the decades following her death, she has often been cited as both a pop and a cultural icon as well as the quintessential American sex symbol.

Born as Norma Jeane Mortensen (soon after changed to Baker), the third child born to Gladys Pearl Baker (née Monroe) (May 27, 1902 – March 11, 1984). Monroe's birth certificate names the father as Martin Edward Mortensen with his residence stated as "unknown". The name Mortensen is listed as her surname on the birth certificate, although Gladys immediately had it changed to Baker, the surname of her first husband and which she still used. Martin's surname was misspelled on the birth certificate leading to more confusion on who her actual father was. Gladys Baker had married a Martin E. Mortensen in 1924, but they had separated before Gladys' pregnancy. Several of Monroe's biographers suggest that Gladys Baker used his name to avoid the stigma of illegitimacy. Mortensen died at the age of 85, and Monroe's birth certificate, together with her parents' marriage and divorce documents, were discovered. The documents showed that Mortensen filed for divorce from Gladys on March 5, 1927, and it was finalized on October 15, 1928. Throughout her life, Marilyn Monroe denied that Mortensen was her father. She said that, when she was a child, she had been shown a photograph of a man that Gladys identified as her father, Charles Stanley Gifford. She remembered that he had a thin mustache and somewhat resembled Clark Gable, and that she had amused herself by pretending that Gable was her father.




Gladys was mentally unstable and financially unable to care for the young Norma Jeane, so she placed her with foster parents Albert and Ida Bolender of Hawthorne, California, where she lived until she was seven. One day, Gladys visited and demanded that the Bolenders return Norma Jeane to her. Ida refused, she knew Gladys was unstable and the situation would not benefit her young daughter. Gladys pulled Ida into the yard, then quickly ran back to the house and locked herself in. Several minutes later, she walked out with one of Albert Bolender's military duffel bags. To Ida's horror, Gladys had stuffed a screaming Norma Jeane into the bag, zipped it up, and was carrying it right out with her. Ida charged toward her, and their struggle split the bag apart, dumping out Norma Jeane, who wept loudly as Ida grabbed her and pulled her back inside the house, away from Gladys. In 1933, Gladys bought a house and brought Norma Jeane to live with her. A few months later, Gladys began a series of mental episodes that would plague her for the rest of her life. In “My Story”, Monroe recalls her mother "screaming and laughing" as she was forcibly removed to the State Hospital in Norwalk.


Norma Jeane was declared a ward of the state. Gladys's best friend, Grace McKee, became her guardian. It was Grace who told Monroe that someday she would become a movie star. Grace was captivated by Jean Harlow, and would let Norma Jeane wear makeup and take her out to get her hair curled. They would go to the movies together, forming the basis for Norma Jeane's fascination with the cinema and the stars on screen. When Norma Jeane was 9, McKee married Ervin Silliman "Doc" Goddard in 1935, and subsequently sent Monroe to the Los Angeles Orphans Home (later renamed Hollygrove), followed by a succession of foster homes. While at Hollygrove, several families were interested in adopting her; however, reluctance on Gladys' part to sign adoption papers thwarted those attempts. In 1937, Monroe moved back into Grace and Doc Goddard's house, joining Doc's daughter from a previous marriage. Due to Doc's frequent attempts to sexually assault Norma Jeane, this arrangement did not last long.


 



Grace sent Monroe to live with her great-aunt, Olive Brunings in Compton, California; this was also a brief stint ended by an assault (some reports say it was sexual) that one of Olive's sons had attacked the now middle-school-aged girl. Biographers and psychologists have questioned whether at least some of Norma Jeane's later behavior (i.e., hyper-sexuality, sleep disturbances, substance abuse, disturbed interpersonal relationships), was a manifestation of the effects of childhood sexual abuse in the context of her already problematic relationships with her psychiatrically ill mother and subsequent caregivers.



In early 1938, Grace sent her to live with yet another one of her aunts, Ana Lower, who lived in Van Nuys, another city in Los Angeles County. Years later, she would reflect fondly about the time that she spent with Lower, whom she affectionately called "Aunt Ana". She would explain that it was one of the only times in her life when she felt truly stable. As she aged, however, Lower developed serious health problems.

In 1942, Monroe moved back to Grace and Doc Goddard's house. While attending Van Nuys High School, she met a neighbor's son, James Dougherty (more commonly referred to as simply "Jim"), and began a relationship with him. Several months later, Grace and Doc Goddard decided to relocate to Virginia, where Doc had received a lucrative job offer. Although it was never explained why, they decided not to take Monroe with them. An offer from a neighborhood family to adopt her was proposed, but Gladys rejected the offer. With few options left, Grace approached Dougherty's mother and suggested that Jim marry her so that she would not have to return to an orphanage or foster care, as she was two years below the California legal age. Jim was initially reluctant, but he finally relented and married her in a ceremony arranged by Ana Lower. During this period, Monroe briefly supported her family as a homemaker.



In 1943, during World war II, Dougherty enlisted in the Merchant Marine. He was initially stationed on Santa Catalina Island off California's west coast, and Monroe lived with him there in the town of Avalon for several months before he was shipped out to the Pacific. Frightened that he might not come back alive, Monroe begged him to try and get her pregnant before he left. Dougherty disagreed, feeling that she was too young to have a baby, but he promised that they would revisit the subject when he returned home. Subsequently, Monroe moved in with Dougherty's mother.

While Dougherty served in the Merchant Marine, his wife began working in the Radio-plane Munitions Factory, mainly spraying airplane parts with fire retardant and inspecting parachutes. During that time, David Conover of the US Army's 1st Motion Picture Unit noticed her and snapped a series of photographs, none of which appeared in Yank magazine, although some still claim this to be the case. He encouraged her to apply to The Blue Book Modeling Agency. She signed with the agency and began researching the work of Jean Harlow and Lana Turner. She was told that they were looking for models with lighter hair, so Norma Jeane bleached her brunette hair a golden blonde.



Norma Jeane became one of Blue Book's most successful models; she appeared on dozens of magazine covers. Her successful modeling career brought her to the attention of Ben Lyon, a 20th Century Fox executive, who arranged a screen test for her. Lyon was impressed and commented, "It's Jean Harlow all over again." She was offered a standard six-month contract with a starting salary of $125 per week. Lyon did not like the name Norma Jeane and chose "Carole Lind" as a stage name, after Carole Lombard and Jenny Lind, but he soon decided it was not an appropriate choice. Monroe was invited to spend the weekend with Lyon and his wife Bebe Daniels at their home. It was there that they decided to find her a new name. Following her idol Jean Harlow, she decided to choose her mother's maiden name of Monroe. Several variations such as Norma Jeane Monroe and Norma Monroe were tried and initially "Jeane Monroe" was chosen. Eventually, Lyon decided Jeane and variants were too common, and he decided on a more alliterative sounding name. He suggested "Marilyn", commenting that she reminded him of Marilyn Miller. Monroe was initially hesitant because Marilyn was the contraction of the name Mary Lynn, a name she did not like. Lyon, however, felt that the name "Marilyn Monroe" was sexy, had a "nice flow", and would be "lucky" due to the double "M" and thus Norma Jeane Baker took the name Marilyn Monroe.


 



In 1948, Monroe signed a six-month contract with Columbia Pictures and was introduced to the studio's head drama coach Natasha Lytess, who became her acting coach for several years. She starred in the low-budget musical “Ladies Of The Chorus” (1948). Monroe was capitalized as one of the film's bright spots, and the film enjoyed only moderate success. During her short stint at Columbia, studio head Harry Cohn softened her appearance somewhat by correcting a slight overbite she had.


 



After the release of the poorly reviewed Ladies Of The Chorus and being dropped by Columbia, Monroe had to struggle to find work. She particularly wanted film work, and when the offers didn't come, she returned to modeling. In 1949, she caught the eye of photographer Tom Kelley, who convinced her to pose nude. Monroe was laid out on a large fabric of red silk and posed for countless shots. She was paid $50 and signed the model release form as "Mona Monroe". This was the only time that Monroe was paid for her nude posing.



Soon thereafter she had a small role in the Marx Brothers film “Love Happy” (1949). Monroe impressed the producers, who sent her to New York to feature in the film's promotional campaign. Love Happy brought Monroe to the attention of the talent agent, Johnny Hyde, who agreed to represent her. After signing on with Hyde, Monroe had brief roles in three films: “A Ticket To Tomahawk“, “Right Cross“, and “The Fireball” all in which were released in 1950 and brought no attention to Monroe's career. Hyde soon thereafter arranged for her to audition for John Huston, who cast her in the MGM drama “The Asphalt Jungle” as the young mistress of an aging criminal. Her performance brought strong reviews, and was seen by the writer and director, Joseph Mankiewicz. He accepted Hyde's suggestion to cast Monroe in a small comedic role in “All About Eve” as Miss Caswell, an aspiring actress, described by another character as a student of "The Copacabana School of Dramatic Art". Mankiewicz later commented that he had seen an innocence in her that he found appealing, and that this had confirmed his belief in her suitability for the role. Following Monroe's success in these roles, Hyde negotiated a seven-year contract for her with 20th Century Fox, shortly before his death in December 1950. It was at some time during this 1949–1950 period that Hyde arranged for her to have a slight bump of cartilage removed from her somewhat bulbous nose which further softened her appearance and accounts for the slight variation in look she had in films after 1950.

 



In 1951, Monroe enrolled at University of California, Los Angeles, where she studied literature and art appreciation. Afterward Monroe had minor parts in four films: the low-budget drama “Home Town Story”, and three comedies: “As Young As You Feel”, “Love Nest”, and “Let’s Make It Legal”, all of which were filmed on a moderate budget and only became mildly successful. In March 1951, she appeared as a presenter at the 23rd Academy Awards ceremony. In 1952, Monroe appeared on the cover of Look magazine wearing a Georgia Tech sweater as part of an article celebrating female enrollment to the school's main campus. In the early 1950s, Monroe unsuccessfully auditioned for the role of Daisy Mae in a proposed Li’l Abner television series based on the Al Capp comic strip, but the effort never materialized.

In March 1952, Monroe faced a possible scandal when one of her nude photos from her 1949 session with photographer Tom Kelley was featured in a calendar. The press speculated about the identity of the anonymous model and commented that she closely resembled Monroe. As the studio discussed how to deal with the problem, Monroe suggested that she should simply admit that she had posed for the photograph but emphasize that she had done so only because she had no money to pay her rent. She gave an interview in which she discussed the circumstances that led to her posing for the photographs, and the resulting publicity elicited a degree of sympathy for her plight as a struggling actress.

She made her first appearance on the cover of Life magazine in April 1952, where she was described as "The Talk of Hollywood". The following year, she was photographed by noted Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, considered "The father of photojournalism." He photographed Monroe on the patio of her Hollywood home. Many of the images from that sitting have been reproduced in numerous subsequent publications and by Life magazine. Monroe was pleased with his images of her, later telling him, "You made a palace out of my patio."



Stories of her childhood and upbringing portrayed her in a sympathetic light: a cover story for the May 1952 edition of True Experiences magazine showed a smiling and wholesome Monroe beside a caption that read, "Do I look happy? I should - for I was a child nobody wanted. A lonely girl with a dream who awakened to find that dreams come true. I am Marilyn Monroe. Read my Cinderella story." It was also during this time that she began dating baseball player Joe DiMaggio. A photograph of DiMaggio visiting Monroe at the 20th Century Fox studio was printed in newspapers throughout the United States, and reports of a developing romance between them generated further interest in Monroe.

Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were married in San Francisco on January 14, 1954. They traveled to Japan soon after, combining a honeymoon with a business trip previously arranged by DiMaggio. For two weeks she took a secondary role to DiMaggio as he conducted his business, having told a reporter, "Marriage is my main career from now on." Monroe then traveled alone to Korea where she performed for 13,000 American Marines over a three-day period. She later commented that the experience had helped her overcome a fear of performing in front of large crowds.



 


One of Monroe's most notable film roles was shot in September 1954, a skirt-blowing key scene for “The Seven Year Itch” on Lexington Avenue at 52nd Street in New York City. In it, she stands with her co-star, Tom Ewell, while the air from a subway grating blows her skirt up. A large crowd watched as director Billy Wilder ordered the scene to be refilmed many times. Joe DiMaggio was reported to have been present and infuriated by the spectacle. After a quarrel, witnessed by journalist Walter Winchell, the couple returned to California where they avoided the press for two weeks, until Monroe announced that they had separated. Their divorce was granted in November 1954.

On May 19, 1962, she attended the early birthday celebration of President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden, at the suggestion of Kennedy's brother-in-law, actor Peter Lawford. Monroe performed "Happy Birthday" along with a specially written verse based on Bob Hope's "Thanks For The memory‘s". Kennedy responded to her performance with the remark, "Thank you. I can now retire from politics after having had 'Happy Birthday' sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way."


On August 5, 1962, LAPD police sergeant Jack Clemmons received a call at 4:25 am from Dr. Ralph Greenson, Monroe's psychiatrist, proclaiming that Monroe was found dead at her home in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California. She was 36 years old. At the subsequent autopsy, eight milligram percent of Chloral-hydrate and 4.5 milligram percent of Nembutal were found in her system, and Dr. ThomasNoguchi of the Los Angeles County Coroners office recorded cause of death as "acute barbiturate poisoning", resulting from a "probable suicide". Many theories, including murder, circulated about the circumstances of her death and the timeline after the body was found. Some conspiracy theories involved John and Robert Kennedy, while other theories suggested CIA or Mafia complicity. It was reported that the last person Monroe called was the President.

On August 8, 1962, Monroe was interred in a crypt at Corridor of Memories #24, at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. Lee Strasberg delivered the eulogy. Joe DiMaggio took control of the funeral arrangements which consisted of only 31 close family and friends. Police were also present to keep the press away. Her casket was solid bronze and was lined with champagne colored silk. Allan “Whitey” Snyder did her make-up which was supposedly a promise made in earlier years if she were to die before him. She was wearing her favorite green Emilio Pucci dress. In her hands was a small bouquet of pink teacup roses. For the next 20 years, red roses were placed in a vase attached to the crypt, courtesy of DiMaggio.



In August 2009, the crypt space directly above that of Monroe was placed for auction on ebay. Elsie Poncher plans to exhume her husband and move him to an adjacent plot. She advertised the crypt, hoping "to make enough money to pay off the $1.6 million mortgage" on her Beverly Hills mansion. The winning bid was placed by an anonymous Japanese man for $4.6 million, but the winning bidder later backed out "because of the paying problem". In 1992, Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner, who never met Monroe, bought the crypt immediately to the left of hers at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery. He affirmed that the initial success of his magazine directly correlated with Monroe.


 


“It seems to me, you lived your life like a candle in the wind. Never knowing who to cling to when the rain set in. I’d really like to have known you, but I was just a kid. Your candle burned out long before … the legend never did.”

Goodbye, Norma Jeane.

video


Source: Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marilyn_Monroe

This work is released under CC 3.0 BY-SA - http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

3 comments:

  1. That photo with the white dress is Susan Griffiths, not Marilyn Monroe.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The woman in the white dress is not Marilyn Monroe(pretty obvious). That's Susan Griffiths.

    ReplyDelete