There’s been a bit of a Marilyn Monroe theme to my blog this week – which wasn’t planned, it just sort of snowballed. Anyway, it’s turned into an unplanned celebration of Marilyn which is appropriate as today is the 50th anniversary of her death on August 5th 1962.
I’m not sure that’s really something to celebrate, but it is certainly a milestone in history. In a way she’s never really left us – her impact on culture and fashion have remained a constant over the last half-century.
Its one of those questions everybody gets asked at one time or another: if you could have a dinner party and invite anyone from history, who would you invite? Well one person I would immediately say would be Marilyn Monroe. I’d also want Elizabeth Taylor there though, and it sounds like they didn’t get on too well, so there would definitely have been fireworks!
Marilyn would just be a dream person to get to meet, so this is my fantasy interview with her. All the answers are taken from carefully researched interviews with her over her lifetime and I’ve just added my own questions. I haven’t done anything sneaky, like change the meaning of anything, I’ve just gathered together some interesting things she said in real interviews and I think it gives you a great insight into the girl behind Marilyn…
If you could have asked Marilyn anything, what would it have been? The photos are taken from the photoshoot by Lawrence Schiller only a few days before she died.
It’s been said that you’re either a very complicated person or a very simple person, Which do you think it right?”
I think I’m a mixture of simplicity and complexes… But I’m beginning to understand myself now. I can face myself more, you might say. I’ve spent most of my life running away from myself.
What do you think of Brigitte Bardot?
I find her charming
Why did you decide to do a nude photos in 1949?
What had happened was I was behind in my rent at the Hollywood Studio Club, where girls stay who hope to crash the movies. You’re only supposed to get one week behind in your rent at the club, but they must have felt sorry for me because they’d given me three warnings. A lot of photographers had asked me to pose in the nude, but I’d always said, ‘No.’ I was getting five dollars an hour for plain modeling, but the price for nude modeling was fifty for an hour. So I called Tom Kelley, a photographer I knew, and said, ‘They’re kicking me out of here. How soon can we do it?’ He said, ‘We can do it tomorrow.’
See Marilyn’s 1949 calendar photos here
How come you don’t like to suntan?
I do not suntan because I like to feel blonde all over.
How do you feel about being a sex symbol?
I never quite understood it, this sex symbol. I always thought symbols were those things you clash together! That’s the trouble, a sex symbol becomes a thing. I just hate to be a thing. But if I’m going to be a symbol of something I’d rather have it sex than some other things they’ve got symbols of!
These girls who try to be me, I guess the studios put them up to it, or they get the ideas themselves. But gee, they haven’t got it. You can make a lot of gags about it like they haven’t got the foreground or else they haven’t the background. But I mean the middle, where you live.
Are you Marilyn or is she a character you play?
I never wanted to be Marilyn – it just happened. Marilyn’s like a veil I wear over Norma Jeane… I always have a full-length mirror next to the camera when I’m doing publicity stills. That way, I know how I look.
So, do you pose for the photographer or for the mirror?
The mirror, I can always find Marilyn in the mirror.
How did you feel when you set your footprints in cement on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?
I used to go to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and try to fit my foot in the prints in the cement there. And I’d say, “Oh, oh, my foot’s too big! I guess that’s out.”
I did have a funny feeling later when I finally put my foot down into that wet cement. I sure knew what it really meant to me. Anything’s possible, almost.
How do you feel about being famous?
I think that when you are famous every weakness is exaggerated.
This industry should behave like a mother whose child has just run out in front of a car. But instead of clasping the child to them, they start punishing the child.
Like you don’t dare get a cold. How dare you get a cold! I mean, the executives can get colds and stay home forever and phone it in, but how dare you, the actor, get a cold or a virus. You know, no one feels worse than the one who’s sick. I sometimes wish, gee, I wish they had to act a comedy with a temperature and a virus infection.
I am not an actress who appears at a studio just for the purpose of discipline. This doesn’t have anything at all to do with art. I myself would like to become more disciplined within my work. But I’m there to give a performance and not to be disciplined by a studio! After all, I’m not in a military school.
This is supposed to be an art form, not just a manufacturing establishment.
When you choose what to wear do you dress for women or for men?
I wonder why most women dress for women? I think that’s a mistake; for myself it would be, anyway. I happen to like men, so I usually like the same things they like. Therefore it’s a matter of simple logic that, of course, I dress for men!
Also, I am aware, that I am a woman, and I enjoy being a woman. I don’t think I could dress like the illustrations in the high – fashion magazines. For that you require what is thought as a figure , and is, I believe, a boyish type figure and I don’t have a boyish figure.
To begin with, I believe your body should make your clothes look good – instead of using clothes to make the body conform to what is considered fashionable at the moment, distorted or not. That’s why I don’t care for ” unorganic” clothes- clothes that have no relation to the body. Clothes, it seems to me, should have a relationship to the body, not be something distinct from it.
What are your views on underwear?
I have no prejudice against it!
You’ve come out with some great one liners, were they all your own lines or did you get fed the quips by the studio?
“They are mine… Take that Chanel Number Five one. Somebody was always asking me, ‘What do you sleep in, Marilyn? Do you sleep in PJs? Do you sleep in a nightie? Do you sleep raw, Marilyn?’ It’s one of those questions which make you wonder how to answer them. Then I remembered that the truth is the easiest way out, so I said, ‘I sleep in Chanel Number Five,’ because I do.
Or you take the columnist, Earl Wilson, when he asked me if I have a bedroom voice. I said, ‘I don’t talk in the bedroom, Earl.’ Then, thinking back over that remark, I thought maybe I ought to say something else to clarify it, so I added, ‘because I live alone.’”
“The other one – the calendar crack – I made when I was up in Canada. A woman came up to me asked, ‘You mean to say you didn’t have anything on when you had that calendar picture taken?’ I drew myself up and told her, ‘I did, too, have something on. I had the radio on.’”
Is it true that Hugh Hefner paid a record-breaking $25,000 for your Playboy photos?
That’s how I got my house and swimming pool… There isn’t anybody that looks like me without clothes on.
Did you have any conditions about the Playboy shoot?[I said] I want your guarantee that when your pictures appear on the covers of magazines Elizabeth Taylor is not anywhere in the same issue. Fox [Studios] should start paying as much attention to me as they are paying to Elizabeth Taylor.
Do you want children?
I’ve always wanted a baby … Having a child, that’s always been my biggest fear. I want a child and I fear a child. Whenever it came close, my body said no and I lost the baby.
nice job, i always loved the quote about Marilyn being the veil she wears over Norma Jean. 50 years later it’s her humanity that carries her on. I read she earned $27 million last year.
Mary, We Heart Vintage
Wow, that’s incredible -I wonder where the money goes?
Near as I can tell some intellectual property mgmt company, CMG Worldwide, manages everything. She had no real heirs and left her personal property to Lee Strasberg. Dead artists (think Elvis, Bob Marley etc make lots of money)
Fun entry– 2 quick notes doll- another, more accepted, reason she posed nude was that she needed $ for a car repair. Even today, one still needs a car to get from one audition to another. As for her demand to knock Liz Taylor off the cover of the mags, that may be true, but demanding she not appear anywhere in the pages- even by today standards- would be unrealistic. Liz Smith pointed this out after Schiller claimed she made this demand. Have you read Capote’s essay “A Beautiful Child” in Music for Chameleons? If not, check it out- it’s probably the closest I’ve ever felt to Marilyn.
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