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Marilyn was always frightened that she would be betrayed by the people she loved. Her insecurities made her complex and difficult for people around to understand her.
Trigger Warning: This deals with gender based violation and exploitation of women, depression, and suicide, and may be triggering for survivors.
The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes, released recently on 27th April 2022, exposes how emotional vulnerability of Monroe was used by the patriarchal milieu to crush her.
Marilyn Monroe, a name eternally engraved in our hearts and soul because of the aura exuded by her timeless beauty, still serves as an inspiration for many aspiring actresses hailing from different parts of the world. An actress who was equated with ‘goddess’ or an ‘angel’ left us just at the age of thirty six.
An icon of pop culture who was considered to be a sex symbol of the world, Monroe’s outer world might seem glossy and the glory she received might be desired by many, but delving deep into her inner world engulfed by her insecurities and traumatic childhood we feel sorry for her. This documentary film directed by Emma Cooper unfurls the mysteries surrounding Monroe’s death and also unveils the actual circumstances that lead to her death.
Anthony Summers, the author of the book on Marilyn Monroe, Goddess, while writing the book, got the information that the District Attorney of Los Angeles County was reopening the case of her death. Summers took this opportunity to research on her and her death, but was left utterly bewildered because he couldn’t fathom what actually made her die of suicide. Questions like was it a suicide or a murder made him decide to start from the beginning, from Monroe’s entry into Hollywood.
Anthony interviewed 650 people who were close to Monroe; either her acquaintances or close friends, and the Netflix film expounds through those voice recordings, an entirely different world of Monroe which is unknown to the whole world.
Monroe was a victim of a broken childhood raised in more than ten foster homes and among guardians. She was an orphan who never wanted to admit that she was an orphan. Marilyn, to escape the bitter truths of her past probably chose to pursue her career as an actress in the glittering tinsel city of Hollywood underneath which lurked darkness.
When Anthony interviewed Al Rosen, a Hollywood agent of Monroe’s times, we learn that every casting director of Hollywood in those days had a black book in which they noted down the names of the “girls who could be laid and that’s how they were selected”. This suggests that maybe Monroe was also sexually exploited before she was launched as a actress by famous agents like Johnny Hyde who shaped her career.
As the film progresses and we witness more interviews of Marilyn’s associates especially the interviews of the family members and of her psychiatrist Ralph Greenson, we find that she was often driven to paranoid actions consequential of her broken childhood. Marilyn always desired for a father-figure, a guardian who will guide her which made her involve in relationships with men like Dimaggio and Arthur Miller who were twice her age. Marilyn was always frightened that she would be betrayed by the people she loved. Her insecurities made her complex and difficult for people around to understand her. None of the people she was engaged with could ever understand what she really wanted, and who she was.
Monroe was one of the most famous woman in the world yet she wasn’t happy- “Happiness. Does one ever know that?” she once said. She had all the fame one couldn’t possibly imagine to have achieved in a lifetime, still that couldn’t ensure her peace as she said,”Fame is flickering”.
Due to her failed marriages and frequent miscarriages, Marilyn was emotionally vulnerable and therefore yearned for a shoulder to lean on, and that’s when the Kennedy brothers came into her life, taking advantage of this situation of hers, in order to share an intimacy which was only physical not emotional.
However Marilyn fell in love with both of them and considered them to be her confidantes, but being former wife of a leftist like Miller, her company was considered to be detrimental for the reputation of both the President and the Attorney General, John and Robert Kennedy, by the FBI, since Monroe was also labelled as a leftist by them.
The main aim of both the brothers as taught by their father Ol’ Joe Kennedy was to, “Get laid as often as you can with as many women as you want”, thus when she was told directly by them not to call or contact them as narrated by her friend Arthur James, it devastated her terribly. After a month she was dead. For them she was just a medium to quench their lust, but for her it was agonizing as she felt used by both of them-“She felt like a piece of meat”.
“The true things rarely get into circulation. It’s usually the false things.”
The whole world knew Monroe died of suicide or died due to overdose of drugs, but nobody knew what lead her to this, until Summers decided to dig up the truth from the abyss.
After interviews with various people like private investigator Fred Otash, photographer and journalist Bill Woodfield, the surveillance expert who worked under Otash Reed Wilson, senior FBI agent Jim Doyle, and Monroe’s housekeeper Eunice Murray, Summers concluded that on the night of her death, she had a heated conversation with Robert Kennedy who came to town and was staying in his brother-in law Peter Lawford’s beach house at Malibu, where they met her for the first time.
Monroe was enraged and didn’t want to engage in a conversation with him. Being in the emotionally distressed phase, this added fuel to her vulnerability, which led to her suicide. She collapsed at around 11pm, and was carried to the hospital in an ambulance accompanied by her psychiatrist Dr Greenson. However, she died midway and her body was returned to her house, where she was placed in her bed and was discovered in the early morning hours. Her interaction with Robert Kennedy was deliberately wiped out from the evidence, and her death was not investigated properly as Harry Hall, the law enforcement informant said,”….there was a hush-hush. Because the man that really was involved was the boss. He was the attorney-general of United States.”
Ever since childhood Monroe wanted to be an actress. “When I was a kid sitting in the front row…at the movies on Saturday afternoon and I’d think how wonderful it would be to be an actress…I would like to be a good actress”.
Marilyn made her debut in Hollywood at a very tender age, and became a victim of the eminent men who wielded their power over her, crushing her and satiating their sexual desires at the cost of her. She was taken advantage of and abused, by almost all the men with whom she emotionally attached herself. The documentary confirms the reasons that have been rumoured for long, and highlights the tragedy of Monroe that was overshadowed by her beauty and stardom.
A full time overthinker and a part time writer. Words are my antidote on bad days. I prefer to bask in fictional world of cinema than reality. Food and music are my refuge on gloomy read more...
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