Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Marilyn Monroe - The Woman Who Never Got Out of Character
"I have too many fantasies to be a housewife. I guess I am a fantasy."
On the 50th anniversary of her tragic death questions still remain about Marilyn Monroe, but after reading many of her quotes and books about her, what struck me most was that she made me think of a character in a book or a movie: a lovely, otherworldly, and wise character, the kind of character every writer wants to create (I certainly do). And that led me to question: was Marilyn Monroe Norma Jean's creation? An artificial persona intended to excite and enchant others, to become their fantasy? A character she concocted and played for the rest of her life, onscreen and off?
I say, yes, without a doubt.
Norma Jean Baker played a character for most of her life, a character she called "her" who wiggled her hips and fluttered her eyelashes and spoke in a breathy voice. A beguiling character who was vulnerable and sexual at the same time - a rare thing in the fifties when vulnerability was tied up by the good girls and sexuality was considered "fast" and "tough" - and one that played to our hopes and dreams about the American woman.
Watch her in movies and then watch her in interviews: she is always playing the same character and no one ever played Marilyn Monroe, the star and legend, better (though many have tried). She lived to be a star and for her
fans, to the point of losing the love she desperately desired, driving away her husbands and lovers. One of her husbands, Arthur Miller, said, "She was a super-sensitive instrument, and that's exciting to be around...until it starts to self-destruct." Joe DiMaggio left her after they fought about her super-sexy skirt-lifting scene in The Seven Year Itch. They were attracted to her because she played Marilyn Monroe. They were driven away from her because she played Marilyn Monroe
Why did Norma Jean create Marilyn? How much of Marilyn the character was Norma Jean? And what did her life-long act do for and to her? We know it made her a star - but did it play a role in her death? Was being a character 24/7 enough to drive her to and then over the brink? Everyone knew she needed champagne to get through the day and sleeping pills to get through the night: that's a lethal combination. Most experts agree that an accidental overdose was the cause of death (though there are plenty of theories out there, this is the only proven one). It seems that, instead of the mafia or famous politicians, what killed Norma Jean was being Marilyn Monroe...