New Diaries Offer Intimate Glimpse Into the Private Life of Marilyn Monroe
By John Mitchell Posted Oct 7th 2010 04:00PM
But with the publication of never-before-seen diaries, letters and poems, a whole new Marilyn is about to be revealed, and she is far removed from the bubbly-but-troubled dumb blonde we thought we knew. Instead, a surprisingly intelligent, cultured woman consumed by both profound sadness and optimism steps into the spotlight in 'Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe.'
The diaries and letters were discovered among Monroe's personal effects, which she left to her acting teacher, Lee Strasberg. Strasberg was something of a father figure to Monroe, who grew up in a series of foster homes. He took her under his wing, provided her with private acting training and encouraged her to undergo psychoanalysis to deal with the many personal issues -- from abuse and abandonment to failed relationships and substance abuse problems -- that plagued her.
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Monroe's diaries and letters become particularly revealing when she discusses her marriages to James Dougherty, Joe DiMaggio and famed playwright Arthur Miller ('Death of a Salesman,' 'The Crucible').
Her early writings about her marriage to Dougherty reveal the crippling insecurity that tormented her for the whole of her brief life. "Finding myself offhandedly stood up, snubbed my first feeling was not of anger -- but the numb pain of rejection & hurt at the destruction of some sort of idealistic image of true love," Monroe wrote (via Vanity Fair).
Throughout the diaries, she makes reference to being unworthy of affection and reveals what may have been her greatest fear -- disappointing the people she loved.
After two failed marriages, Marilyn fell head over heels for Miller, who, according to Vanity Fair, was a man who had what she'd always been looking for: "intellectual and artistic achievement, high seriousness." At first, it was bliss. Long concerned that people believed her to be of inferior intelligence, Monroe -- an avid reader -- found herself surrounded by writers and artists she'd long admired. And they enjoyed her company as well; she became fast friends with Truman Capote and novelist Saul Bellow, who was "bowled over" by the actress.
During the early days of her marriage to Miller, Monroe wrote (in poetic form), "My love sleeps besides me / in the faint light / I see his manly jaw give way / and the mouth of his boyhood returns with a softness softer / its sensitiveness trembling in stillness."
Later, while in England filming 'The Prince and the Showgirl' with Laurence Olivier, Monroe discovered a journal of Miller's in which he expressed doubts about their marriage and revealed he was sometimes embarrassed by her in front of his friends. This destroyed the fragile actress. She felt she'd been working as hard as she could to improve herself as an actress and scholar (in one diary entry, she appears to have written a reminder to herself to sign up for a literature class). She was, after all, in England to film a movie directed and starring Olivier, who was, even then, among the most respected actors in the world.
Her angst and sadness over the discovered journal led her to abuse barbiturates to sleep.
She returned to Los Angeles in 1958, after many years spent living in New York, to film 'Some Like It Hot.' It was there that she wrote one of the most cryptic messages revealed in her diaries. Under the headline "After One Year in Analysis," Monroe wrote, "Help help / Help / I feel life coming closer / when all I want / Is to die."
It was two years later, on the set of John Houston's 'The Misfits,' which was written by Miller, that the actress truly came undone. During production, Miller fell in love with the film's photographic archivist, and he and Monroe announced their separation on November 11, 1960.
Emotionally devastated, Monroe returned to New York and was soon after committed to a psychiatric facility -- something that had been one of Marilyn's greatest fears in life, as her mother had spent time in similar facilities for treatment for schizophrenia -- where she wrote, "I felt I was in some kind of prison for a crime I hadn't committed. The inhumanity there I found archaic ... The doors have windows so patients can be visible all the time, also, the violence and markings still remain on the walls from former patients."
She wanted out, but the staff refused, so she threatened to cut herself until they relented. Needless to say, it was an exercise in futility, though in a lengthy letter to her psychiatrist, she revealed the entire act was really an "idea from a movie I made once called 'Don't Bother to Knock,'" one of her earliest films, in which she played a troubled teenage babysitter. She was also quick to note, "I'm an actress and would never intentionally mark or mar myself."
When her attempts to leave the facility on her own failed and neither her analysts nor Strasberg came to visit her as promised, she contacted DiMaggio -- with whom, despite her other romances, she was said to have had the strongest connection. (He had a half-dozen red roses delivered three times a week to her crypt for 20 years.) He arrived quickly to remove her from the facility against the recommendation of her doctors and nurses.
Monroe's final writings, however, do not concern a renewed love for DiMaggio but rather detail her fear of actor Peter Lawford, brother-in-law to President John F. Kennedy. Monroe met Kennedy at Lawford's home in November 1961.
Noting the "strange look in his eyes," the actress wrote that she was "afraid of Peter" and that "he might harm me, poison me, etc." Later in the same entry, Monroe details why she felt Lawford had something against her: "I felt very uneasy at different times with him. The real reason I was afraid of him is because I believe him to be homosexual -- not in the way I love & respect and admire (Jack) [Note: Likely a reference to Jack Cole, a personal friend of Monroe's who coached and choreographed her dancing in 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes'], who I feel have talent and wouldn't be jealous of me because I wouldn't really want to be me. Whereas Peter wants to be a woman -- and would like to be me -- I think."
To read more, visit Vanity Fair's website or pick up the November issue, on newsstands now.
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