Every tabloid at the supermarket this week featured a picture of Marilyn Monroe on the cover.
It’s the fiftieth anniversary of her death. 1962: The year the blond bombshell’s suicide somehow caused a huge exaggeration of her talent.
I don’t think she was a good actress. She was Hollywood. Her bottle-blond beauty and big breasts made her a star.
Lois Banner’s new biography, Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox, is one of the big books of the summer. I have a copy of it–a gift. But I realize I’ll never read it. I just don’t like celebrity biographies.
Fortunately every newspaper in the world has reviewed it, so whether I do so or not is negligible.
John Banville, who won the Booker Prize for The Sea, reviewed Banner’s book for the Guardian. He says he fell in love with Marilyn when he was 10 and saw her in River of No Return.
“Oh, that blouse. For a little boy not long weaned himself, breasts were the great desiderata…”
I skimmed a few chapter of Banner’s book. She says Marilyn slept with photographers, film executives, and producers to advance her career. And she slept her way to chaos. Such people are sex addicts, but they use and hurt people. In the workplace, people learn to keep out of their way.
Years ago a friend gave me a copy of a magazine with a cover story about Marilyn. The writer of the article had a conspiracy theory about Marilyn’s death. It could be true that it was not suicide but murder.
Marilyn Monroe had a lot of problems and a lot of high-powered, dangerous connections. Her beauty intoxicated her, and that’s why she used it, but she was unhappy. Her mother was diagnosed schizophrenic, so Marilyn lived in 11 foster homes, apparently some with relatives, was abused, did poorly in school, and all the rest of that common story. She dramatized her troubles and lied. Apparently she had post-traumatic stress disorder and dissociative disorder.
It’s very sad, but I have no interest in her work, and can think of many other blonde beauties of the era who were better actresses and get less attention. Grace Kelly, Carol Lynley, and Judy Holliday come to mind.
I can only think that it’s Marilyn’s stereotypical bimbo pin-up passivity that excites her fans. She’s dead, pinned-up like a butterfly, so she’s no threat.