“It is the lies that are known. True things rarely come to light. When she says it, Marilyn Monroe’s voice sounds like a delicate, fragile note. She says it in an interview, shortly before her death, that death that even today, almost 60 years later, remains a mystery, or something that no one has fully revealed.
Marilyn died sometime during the night, between August 4 and 5, 1962, at the age of 36. They found her in her bed, face down, her hair messed up, soaked in barbiturates, with the phone in her hand. She is the most desired and famous woman in the world. The loneliest death.
But there is Marilyn, replicated, all the time. Only in the last few days, the influencer Kim Kardashian chose the famous dress that Marilyn wore six weeks before she died (that time she whispered happy birthday to John F. Kennedy, in Madison Square Garden, before 15,000 guests), to go to the Met gala. Also in recent days, she was sold at an exorbitant price for “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn”, the painting by Andy Warhol.
There’s more to this Marilyn anniversary year. Netflix premiered the documentary “The mystery of Marilyn Monroe: the unpublished tapes” and “Blonde” will soon hit theaters, with the Spanish actress Ana de Armas in the role of the most famous blonde. Marilyn shreds everywhere.
The tone of the documentary that Netflix released last month is bleak. The unpublished tapes, which are the 580 cassettes with interviews made by the English journalist Anthony Summers to write his book “Goddess”, are the B side of the brilliance that Hollywood showed of Marilyn Monroe. They are the dull, sad version.
Summers, who arduously researched the star’s life to write the book, was later hired to cover Marilyn’s death trial which was reopened in 1982. Excited, he thought he would finally understand what had happened during those hours that led to the end of Marilyn. He didn’t find much.
Nobody wanted to talk about it. Many of the powerful he consulted gave evasions. They assured me that they knew the truth, but that they were not going to tell it. And then, warns the journalist: “I did what is done when you can’t move forward: I went to the beginning.”
Marilyn’s principle is helplessness in its purest form: an absent father, a mother in a hospice, foster homes (not one, but many, four at least), abuse, rape. When she was able to escape, the woman who was not yet named Marilyn and was not platinum blonde, went to Hollywood. She wanted to be an actress.
Harvey Weinstein, the sexual predator denounced thanks to the MeetToo movement is hopefully the end of an old Hollywood practice. It is told by a famous producer who assures that in the film industry in the years in which Marilyn made her way there were “black notebooks where they wrote down the beautiful aspiring actresses. The price of being in front of cameras was sex. Marilyn was one of those who had to pay.
The real interviews that are heard in the documentary (and that are recreated by actors) show the rawness of those “brilliant” years of Marilyn. Her marriage to athlete Joe Di Maggio, for example, a relationship that ended soon and with blows.
It is the voice of Billy Wilder, the man who directed it in “The Seventh Year Itch” and in its most famous scene (the one with the white dress that rises in the street, on a subway grate) recounts the sick jealousy of Di Maggio seeing the display of five thousand fans who wanted to see that scene, filmed on September 15, 1954, on the corner of Lexington Avenue and 52nd Street. And her hairdresser admits that last night, Di Maggio hit her so badly that she had to do her makeup the next day.
Then came, for Marilyn, the marriage to the writer Arthur Miller. The unpublished tapes demonstrate the psychological abuse suffered by the actress.
Summers combines testimony from the family of Marilyn’s psychiatrist, Monroe’s friend and photographer Milton Greene, and film director John Huston to establish that the crisis with the writer and the loss of a pregnancy during the filming of Una Eva y dos Adanes (1959) were decisive for the deterioration of the mental health of the actress.
The rest is even darker and oscillates between the many conspiracy theories that spiced up his short life and the abuse of psychotropic drugs.
The documentary then advances towards the end, trying without luck to clarify the last hours.
The camera, as the commonplace says, loved her. There is not a single shot, even the ones where she seems taken by surprise, where Marilyn looks bad. Desired, pulled, mistreated, she was always seen on camera smiling, hiding what seemed like infinite sadness.. “Happiness,” she says, wondering in that voice that sounds like pure innocence, “Did we ever get to know her?”
The testimonies of those who knew her say that no, she did not know happiness. That her past as an abandoned and abused girl was a brutal mark. That all she wanted was to be a good actress, that she was serious about her work; that she rehearsed late; that she was careful.
Both the documentary and the movie “Blonde” which will be released this year, are not blinded by the glitter of the industry, nor are they fooled by the friendliness that Marilyn showed on camera. They put the focus precisely where she guessed her fragility, and in the dark alleys that she walked.
Who knows if all those shreds -the dresses, the paintings, the movies, the documentaries, the theories, the conspiracies-, will ever be enough to understand and explain Marilyn Monroe.
Marilyn’s painting that was shot and today is a trophy
Andy Warhol’s 1964 portrait of Marilyn Monroe was sold last Monday for $195 million at a Christie’s auction, smashing the record for a 20th-century work held by “Les Femmes D’Alger (version 0), by the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso.
The iconic painting, titled “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn,” was made from a photo of an advertising poster for the Henry Hathaway movie “Niagara” (1953).
The sold painting belongs to the series of four reproductions of a meter by a meter that became known as “Shot” (Shot), after a visitor to “The Factory”, Warhol’s studio in Manhattan, opened fire on them, piercing them.
According to the anecdote, the bullet went through four canvases, which Warhol later repaired.
“There is something special about these Marilyn paintings. She is magical, she has charisma,” says Warhol specialist Richard Polsky. The new owner will not only “have a great work, but he will also have a trophy. It’s like “buying immortality,” he added.
A dress… a tribute?
The dress that Kim Kardashian wore at the gala at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, which this year honored the Golden Age of the United States, is the dress that Marilyn wore to sing Happy Birthday to John Kennedy in front of 15,000 people. Kardashian said that she had to lose seven kilos to fit into that Jean Louis design. It was not very well understood what tribute the influencer wanted to pay: in truth, that garment represents one of the most sordid moments in Marilyn’s life. She used it just six weeks before she died, to sing her happy birthday to the man who, according to the film to be seen shortly, was her lover and abused her.
Blonde, a non-concessive version
It’s been filming, adjusting, and editing for a long time. “Blonde”, Andrew Dominik’s film, with actress Ana de Armas in the role of Marilyn, has already received the rating for over 17 years and will be seen on Netflix sometime this year (possibly by August, when they turn 60). years after his death). The film is based on the book by Joyce Carol Oates, which, without being a biography, is the most starkly real account of the nightmare that was Marilyn’s life.
In a column he writes for ElDiario de España, director Pedro Almodóvar confessed that he had already seen “Blonde” and that he thought it was magnificent. “I have recorded a sequence (if it does not disappear from the final cut) of the harassment, something else, I would say, that he suffered from President JFK. The sequence is explicit enough to feel Marilyn’s own revulsion at such a moment”, says Almodóvar and gives an account of the tone that the film will have.
“The film closely follows the novel by the great writer Joyce Carol Oates, where there is more talk of Norma Jean Baker than her work, that is, Marilyn Monroe. Norma Jean fought all her life so that men around the world understood that Marilyn was the result of her extraordinary work as an actress”, describes the filmmaker.
“Shortly after, when Norma Jean was already a zombie, she was invited to sing the famously whispered Happy Birthday, Mr. President. I can imagine how poor Marilyn could have felt in the face of the patriotic duty of singing happy birthday to the same man who had abused her (I always refer to what I saw in the film) dressed in a suit/second skin that from that very moment became He became a legend”, he concludes.
The author of the book, Joyce Carol Oates, also saw the film. And she tweeted her opinion: “It’s amazing, brilliant, very disturbing and (perhaps most surprisingly) a completely ‘feminist’ performance.”
In addition to Guns, Blonde also stars Adrien Brody as Monroe’s third husband, playwright Arthur Miller. Her second husband, famous baseball player Joe DiMaggio, will be played by Bobby Cannavale.