“YOU KNOW, MOST PEOPLE REALLY DON’T KNOW ME.”
As many of you know Marilyn Monroe has been a huge part of me for a long time. But I still get the same questions and the same ideologies about this woman who people really know very little about. I have previously done a post about Marilyn and her life, what she went through and debunked some of the questions I often get asked… But there’s still so much to talk about.
SHE STUDIED HARD AT HER ART – Marilyn always wanted to be an actress and she worked her butt off to be the best she could be. Starting in small roles she would take several classes in acting, singing, dancing and more to better herself and stand out from the other starlets. It took over 5 years for her to get a leading role. Even years into her fame she went to the Actor’s Studio where she studied method acting (the same as Marlon Brando, James Dean and Al Pacino). This would be where she became very critical of her ability to be a good actress, which she of course was.
NOTE: I recommend you watching Don’t Bother to Knock, Niagara, Bus Stop, The Misfits, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and The Seven Year Itch to show Marilyn in a variety of roles.
SHE WAS AN AVID READER – Marilyn Monroe dumb you say? Marilyn’s book collection which sold at auction included 430 titles. The books in question contained the topics of Russian Literature, art, history, science and more. No dumb blonde would have interest in these topics, surely?
SHE WAS ONE OF THE FIRST WOMEN TO START A PRODUCTION COMPANY – After years of agreeing to taking on the sexy bombshell roles Marilyn felt she was being typecast and not at all taken seriously. With the lack of salary she was receiving in comparison to what was brought in from her movies Marilyn felt she deserved better. And she was right considering she starred in some of the 1950s highest grossing movies (search by year and you will see Marilyn’s name pop up a few times).
With this in mind her and photographer Milton Greene teamed up for form Marilyn Monroe Productions (December 1954) making her one of the first women to set up a production company.
SHE WAS A CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST – Marilyn had no fear of being photographed with people of colour at a time where it was still a subject of taboo or speaking out about it. Marilyn Monroe had actually help launch Ella Fitzgerald’s career due to convincing the owner of Mocambo to have her perform, although she was originally refused. The rumour is that Ella was originally rejected was because she was black, however there had been plenty of African Americans who performed there before her.
“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt…it was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the ’50s. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him – and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status – that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman – a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.”
Nonetheless, Marilyn never shied away for her desire of an equal America, stating in her last ever interview in 1962: “What I really want to say: That what the world really needs is a real feeling of kinship. Everybody: stars, laborers, Negroes, Jews, Arabs. We are all brothers. Please don’t make me a joke. End this interview with what I believe.”
SHE BELIEVED IN GAY RIGHTS – “No sex is wrong if love is in it.” Marilyn said this 55 years before gay marriage was legalised in the US. She knew several gay men including friend and co-star Montgomery Clift who was rumoured as being bi-sexual. On his sexual orientation Marilyn said, “People who aren’t fit to open the door for him sneer at his homosexuality. What do they know about it? Labels – people love putting labels on each other. Then they feel safe. People tried to make me into a lesbian. I laughed.”
HER PEERS WERE INTELLECTUALS – Marilyn loved surrounding herself with intelligent people. Poet Carl Sandburg, acting coach Lee Strasberg, husband and playwright Arthur Miller,Truman Capote and more were among those who felt a great love for Marilyn… and not just because she was a pretty face but because she was interested in what they had to say.
Overall, Marilyn Monroe wasn’t a woman who couldn’t think for herself or hid away from her beliefs. She loved reading, spending time with poets and intellectuals, discussing art and history and wanted to be more than a dumb blonde that she is often portrayed as being today. She is an inspiration for more than just her image but she what she believed in and how hard she worked. Sadly, she wasn’t taken seriously enough so was constantly anxious and suffered depression and insomnia resulting in her being given medication to function without these things.