While Marilyn Monroe was known for her bombshell looks and ditzy blonde persona, she was actually a woman with more depth and intelligence than she was credited for. Behind the scenes, she also had plenty of private struggles – ones that, it seems, ultimately led to her tragic death at the age of just 36. So, precisely what secrets did the icon keep during her lifetime? And are any of the rumors about her actually true?
40. Two men claimed that they were her father
Sadly, Monroe never knew for certain who her father was. Her mother, Gladys, said, for example, that a man called Charles Stanley Gifford was the future actress’ dad. And, unfortunately, while Monroe tried to contact Gifford as she grew up, she was always turned away. What’s more, Gifford’s name wasn’t even on Monroe’s birth certificate; instead, her father was listed as Martin Edward Mortensen, who had married Gladys back in 1924. Both men ultimately claimed paternity, and yet nobody knows the real truth of the matter – even now.
39. She saw “Marilyn Monroe” as a different person
According to people who knew her, the woman born Norma Jeane Mortenson considered “Marilyn Monroe” a separate personality. One story even claims that the star was walking unnoticed through New York with a friend when she said, “Do you want me to be her?” So, Monroe opened her coat and started sashaying – only to be quickly surrounded by photographers.
38. She was rumored to have had an affair with a woman
Monroe may have been married three times, but gossip nevertheless spread about a liaison with drama teacher Natasha Lytess –particularly when Lytess moved in with the actress. That said, in 1954 Monroe wrote in her autobiography My Story “A man who had kissed me once had said it was very possible that I was a lesbian because apparently I had no response to males… Now, having fallen in love, I knew what I was. It wasn’t a lesbian.”
37. Her mother had a mental breakdown
Monroe’s mother, Gladys, was a fragile woman, and her life was often hard. After she divorced her first husband, for instance, the two children she had were taken away from her. Then, in 1933, tragedy struck when Gladys’ son Robert – and Monroe’s half-brother – died of an infection. This devastating event occurred just months after Gladys’ grandfather Tilford Hogan had taken his own life, and sadly it appears that the double-whammy of grief led Monroe’s mom to a breakdown.
36. People found her difficult to work with
In 2012 Monroe’s The Prince and the Showgirl co-star Jean Kent told the Daily Mail that Monroe was an unpopular “grubby, disheveled little thing” who “never arrived on time, never said a line the same way twice [and] seemed completely unable to hit her marks on the set.” Tony Curtis was famously even more damning, once claiming that kissing Monroe was like “kissing Hitler” – although he later said that he had been joking around with the harsh remark.
35. She hated being in front of a camera
While Monroe was frequently filmed – often in skimpy outfits – she apparently hated the experience. In 2012 her Bus Stop co-star Don Murray told the Los Angeles Times, “For somebody who the camera loved, [Monroe] was still terrified of going before the camera and broke out in a rash all over her body.”
34. She used a lot of names
Norma Jeane didn’t officially change her name to Marilyn Monroe until 1956. Before that, she’d used both “Jean Norman” and “Mona Monroe” for her modeling work and had suggested “Jean Adair” for screen credits. A psychiatric clinic also admitted her under the moniker “Faye Miller.” And when the actress needed to check into a hotel incognito, she did so with the magnificent “Zelda Zonk.”
33. She had plastic surgery
Even someone as naturally beautiful as Monroe couldn’t resist the lure of plastic surgery. Yes, in 1950 she had two procedures, a tip rhinoplasty and a chin implant, paid for by her agent Johnny Hyde. And many years later in 2013, her doctor’s notes about this work were put up for auction, disappointing those fans who thought that she’d never gone under the knife.
32. She married as a teenager
Monroe’s second and third husbands – Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, respectively – were, of course, both famous men. Her first spouse, on the other hand, was normal 21-year-old James Dougherty. In order to avoid being sent back to an orphanage, Monroe had tied the knot with Dougherty at the age of 16 in 1942. She didn’t enjoy being tied down, however, and so the couple ultimately parted ways just four years after they had wed.
31. Her second wedding was ruined by the paparazzi
In 1954 Monroe tied the knot with baseball player DiMaggio in what was said to be the wedding of the year. Yet the bride didn’t actually want any attention at all. Indeed, she had attempted to keep her relationship with DiMaggio quiet, and that was similarly the case for the marriage ceremony. But, sadly, someone at her studio leaked the wedding plans, meaning fans and photographers ultimately descended upon the couple on their big day.
30. She strove to be a good cook
Monroe started out as a disaster in the kitchen. Apparently, on one occasion, a friend asked her to wash some lettuce for dinner – only to find the star scrubbing at the leaves with a Brillo pad. But as Monroe got older, she learned more and more; she even created her own dishes. In 2010 The New York Times tried the actress’ Thanksgiving stuffing recipe, in fact, and praised her for “cooking confidently and with flair.”
29. Nude photos of her circulated
Before Monroe was famous, she agreed to pose nude for $50 as she badly needed the money. Then, in later years, she hoped desperately that the snaps wouldn’t leak. When the images finally became public, though, Monroe stood up for herself. Yes, while 20th Century Fox tried to deny that it was the actress in the photos, the star conversely confirmed the news – and said she wasn’t ashamed, either.
28. DiMaggio was angry about an iconic scene
Arguably the most famous image of Monroe is that of her standing over a grate while her skirt blows up in the 1955 movie The Seven Year Itch. When that scene was filmed, however, Monroe’s then-husband DiMaggio is said to have taken issue. Apparently, he didn’t want other people looking at his wife that way; he was allegedly so angry, in fact, that he eventually got physical with his spouse. Shortly afterwards, then, Monroe divorced the baseball star.
27. Her notebooks contain dark insights into her personality
Monroe’s notebook entries were uncovered in 2010, and they showed the world the depths of despair she often felt. One passage reads, “I can’t really stand human beings sometimes – I know they all have their problems as I have mine – but I’m really too tired for it. Trying to understand, making allowances, seeing certain things that just weary me.”
26. She may or may not have had an affair with John F. Kennedy
For years, people have speculated that Monroe had an affair with President Kennedy. And while the actress’ sultry performance at JFK’s 1962 birthday celebration was enough proof for some, there’s no actual evidence that the two had a sexual relationship. Indeed, while people who knew Monroe have said it’s possible that the pair slept together once, the icon never talked about it.
25. Her corpse was covertly photographed
After Monroe died, there was a flurry of press interest – some of it downright ghoulish. For instance – and according to his own son Devik – famous photographer Leigh Wiener bribed morgue officials to gain access to Monroe’s body so that he could take snaps of the late star. Weiner died in 1993, however, and most of these secret photos have thankfully never been found.
24. She liked intellectual men
After divorcing DiMaggio, Monroe rather unexpectedly wed playwright Miller. This bewildered many people, who thought that the blonde bombshell and the Pulitzer Prize winner couldn’t possibly have anything in common. But Monroe was by all accounts attracted to intellectuals; she even kept a framed photograph of Albert Einstein.
23. DiMaggio spied on her
After Monroe divorced DiMaggio, the wounded ex-husband is said to have not taken the split well. Reportedly, he would turn up at her residence disguised with a fake beard and watch his former wife from afar. DiMaggio even supposedly hired a private investigator to inform him when Monroe started to see other men – which, of course, she eventually did.
22. Some people think the Kennedys had her killed
As fans know, Monroe was romantically linked to Bobby Kennedy as well as JFK. Some conspiracy theorists are convinced, then, that the icon was killed by the Kennedys to hide these affairs. And an FBI file published in 2007 may lend credence to the theory, as this states that on the day Monroe passed away, Bobby made a phone call “to find out if Marilyn was dead yet.”
21. She eventually met her half-sister
While Monroe’s half-brother, Robert, died before she could meet him, she did get to know her half-sister, Berniece. In 1938 Berniece received a letter from her mother, Gladys – whom she had previously thought dead – and it was through this that she learned of Monroe’s existence. And, in fact, the sisters remained friends for the rest of Monroe’s life, with the star sometimes sending parcels of clothes to Berniece and her daughter, Mona.
20. She wanted to be an actress right from childhood
Monroe’s childhood was a rough one often spent in foster homes, yet the young girl still dreamed of a future career in show business. In 1962 she told Life magazine, “When I was five, I think, that’s when I started wanting to be an actress… I didn’t like the world around me because it was kind of grim, but I loved to play house… When I heard that this was acting, I said, ‘That’s what I want to be.’”
19. There was an open casket at her funeral
In 2012 actress Mitzi Gaynor told the Los Angeles Times that Monroe wanted to look beautiful even in death. She added, “The paparazzi would at least see a pretty picture of her when they took her out on the gurney.” And Monroe had her wish granted at her funeral. There, she was seen in a wig, as her head had been shaved for the preceding autopsy.
18. Miller was disappointed in her
Famously, the Miller-Monroe marriage didn’t last. And the final nail in the coffin may have come when Monroe discovered notes written by Miller expressing disappointment in the relationship. Miller subsequently claimed that the draft was for a play, but Monroe knew better. At the time, she wrote in her diary, “I guess I have always been deeply terrified to really be someone’s wife since I know from life one cannot love another, ever.”
17. She was sewn into one of her most famous gowns
When Monroe sang “Happy Birthday” to John F. Kennedy, she notably wore a beautiful sequinned dress. However, the garment was very tight on her – so tight, in fact, that she ultimately had to be sewn into it. In 2016 the famous gown was sold for $4.8 million to Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
16. A stranger is buried on top of her
Even in death, Monroe couldn’t escape being a sex symbol. And this enduring allure could be why, in 1986, a man named Richard Poncher demanded that his body be placed upside down in the crypt above the actress’ plot. So, although his widow once tried to sell the burial space, Poncher is still there to this day. Some people may well consider this an indignity, too, as, of course, Monroe had no say in the matter.
15. She planned to remarry DiMaggio before she died
During a 2012 interview with British newspaper the Daily Mirror, Monroe’s niece Mona let slip something interesting. She said, “I know [Monroe] was planning on remarrying Joe [DiMaggio]. He was really the love of her life. They knew what they wanted out of life at that point, and they could have made it work.” But, sadly, this was ultimately not to be.
14. Her mother was institutionalized
At one point, Gladys was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, but unfortunately mental health treatment was far from sophisticated back in 1934. That was the year Gladys was institutionalized – and not for the last time. So, when Monroe began to rise to fame, she was duly advised to tell the world that both her parents were dead. And as records show, Monroe herself would suffer mental health problems throughout her life.
13. She was monitored by the FBI
Monroe’s left-wing views – she was pro-civil rights and a member of the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy – made the FBI suspicious of both her and Miller. In fact, for a while, the bureau apparently monitored her to see if she was a communist, eventually concluding that she was not. So, what became of those original files? Well, they’re lost now – according to the FBI, at least.
12. Miller didn’t go to her funeral
Yes, Miller didn’t attend Monroe’s funeral, although this wasn’t out of malice. On the day of the ceremony, the playwright penned an essay by way of explanation, writing, “Instead of jetting to the funeral to get my picture taken, I decided to stay home and let the public mourners finish the mockery. Not that everyone there will be false, but enough. Most of them there destroyed [Marilyn], ladies and gentlemen.”
11. Her niece thinks her death was accidental
While the official cause of Monroe’s death is suicide, her niece, Mona, isn’t so sure. In 2012 she told the Daily Mirror, “I do not subscribe to any of these murder or suicide theories or [Monroe’s] supposed affair with President Kennedy. None of it is true. It was an accident. She had so many appointments booked. The day after she died, she was going to see producers and then a lawyer to change her will.”
10. She left a great deal of money to her psychoanalyst
Monroe bequeathed most of her fortune to her acting coach Lee Strasberg and her half-sister, along with a substantial sum for her mother’s care. Intriguingly, though, the actress also left 25 percent of her assets to her psychoanalyst Dr. Marianne Kris. This was despite the fact that the trust between the pair had been broken in 1961 – the year when Kris sent Monroe to a mental health institution. Perhaps, then, the star had actually envisioned changing her will before she passed away.
9. Hugh Hefner is buried next to Monroe – despite never having met her
Back in 1992 Playboy founder Hugh Hefner bought the crypt next to Monroe’s, and it was there that he was buried after his death in 2017. But many people thought the move disrespectful. You see, aside from the fact that Hefner never actually met Monroe, he also printed her nude pictures in Playboy without telling or compensating her.
8. There’s a box of her files sealed until 2039
Some Monroe fans must eagerly await the year 2039, as that’s when a box of her private files is set to be opened. “Box 39” currently sits in a special section of the UCLA library, and it’s speculated that the documents within may finally answer the question of whether the icon intended to take her own life or not.
7. DiMaggio had roses delivered to her grave for years
By many accounts, DiMaggio never stopped loving Monroe – even despite their turbulent relationship. He was apparently devastated at her funeral, for one, and for 20 years after her death he had roses delivered to her grave twice a week. Furthermore, according to DiMaggio’s lawyer, the last words of Monroe’s ex-husband were “I’ll finally get to see Marilyn” – although this story has since been disputed by others.
6. She resented being a sex symbol
Some of Monroe’s best-known quotes reflect rather unfavorably on her life as a screen goddess. At one point, she said, for example, “Being a sex symbol is a heavy load to carry, especially when one is tired, hurt and bewildered.” Her 1957 diary entries also talk of “tension, sadness, disappointment” and her own “dead eyes.” Combining that with her fear of the camera and her general anxiety makes for a sad story.
5. She wanted to be a mother
According to those who knew Monroe, the star’s biggest dream was to have a child. Indeed, in the 2018 documentary Marilyn Monroe For Sale, fellow actress Marion Collyer said, “All that Marilyn ever wanted in her life was to have a baby.” Tragically, though, the screen legend had endometriosis, and this condition may have played a part in the several miscarriages that she experienced.
4. She loved reading
Though Monroe often played the ditzy blonde, she was anything but. She loved to read, in fact, and her California home held over 400 books. Her interests were diverse, too, with everything from classics to gardening manuals and several first editions stacked up on the shelves. And, apparently, Monroe was reading both Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Leo Rosten’s Captain Newman, M.D. just before she died.
3. She did a photoshoot in a potato sack
Supposedly, a critic once slammed Monroe by declaring that she would look better in a potato sack than a low-cut dress. Another story, on the other hand, claims someone told either the star or her producers that the actress would be beautiful even in a potato sack. But regardless of the truth of the matter, Monroe actually did do a photoshoot dressed in the makeshift garment – and remained stunning in the resulting shots, too.
2. The coroner couldn’t be sure that she took her own life
In 2009 Dr. Thomas Noguchi, the coroner who had performed Monroe’s autopsy, spoke to British newspaper The Daily Telegraph. And in the process, the medic revealed that while he had performed toxicology tests on the actress, he had not analyzed her internal organs. Noguchi added, “I am sure that this could have cleared up a lot of the subsequent controversy, but I didn’t follow through as I should have. I think that was a great shame.”
1. She wasn’t a natural blonde
Both during her life and since her death, Monroe has remained the quintessential blonde. But, interestingly, that wasn’t her natural hair color at all. Instead, she started life as a brunette, dying her hair with peroxide when she started getting into the acting business. No matter her hair color, though, she was still beautiful.
Still, while Monroe may now be regarded as a screen icon, the tributes paid to her upon her passing weren’t completely glowing. Yes, as unusual as it may seem, contemporary obituaries show that some writers in the ’60s took a rather dim view of the actress’ life and talents.
When Monroe died aged just 36, she was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. You’d think, then, that her obituaries would reflect her beloved celebrity status. But whereas some of America’s biggest publications wrote heartbreaking eulogies that celebrated the icon, others released statements that were, shall we say, less than flattering. In fact, some were just downright rude – and the Los Angeles Times went further than most.
Monroe – an award-winning actress, model and somewhat controversial figure – died in August 1962. She was found in her Los Angeles home by her housekeeper, and the screen star seemed to be the victim of an apparent suicide. Understandably, her sudden and unexpected passing sent shockwaves throughout the world. And the salacious details surrounding her demise only fueled the media storm that followed.
You see, it was initially reported that Monroe had passed away as a result of an overdose from barbiturates, as drugs were found at the scene. And the authorities later confirmed the cause of her death: the star, it appeared, had committed suicide. Toxicology results – alongside empty pill containers by her bedside – appeared to back up that declaration, too. With no suspicions of foul play, then, Monroe’s final journey could be made.
Yes, four days after Monroe’s death, she was interred at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery’s Corridor of Memories. And while the funeral itself was private, hundreds of fans packed the surrounding streets to say goodbye to the star. But the press weren’t done with Monroe just yet, it seems, as through their obituaries they had one last opportunity to tell the world how they really felt about her.
Yet when Monroe first came into the world, it’s highly unlikely that those around her would have predicted the stardom that she would one day enjoy. In fact, even her name had been different; after her birth on June 1, 1926, she was given the decidedly less glamorous moniker of Norma Jeane Mortenson. Monroe’s mom, Gladys, wasn’t aware who her little girl’s father was, either, so the future actress never knew him. But tragically, her history of family heartbreak didn’t end there.
For the first few years of Monroe’s life, you see, she lived with foster parents. And as Gladys had to work, she stayed in the city and only went to see her daughter at the weekends. Happily, though, when Monroe was seven, the pair moved into a house in Hollywood and resided there – along with some lodgers. But that situation wouldn’t last a year.
At the beginning of 1934, a breakdown led Gladys to discover that she had paranoid schizophrenia, and she was consequently admitted to a local mental health facility. At this point, with no parent to care for her, Monroe continued to live at her mother’s house with the lodgers. And during this period, the future star was reportedly sexually assaulted.
From there, Monroe went to an LA orphanage before finally moving in with Grace Goddard – a friend of her mother’s. After more accusations of sexual abuse, however, she was sent to Sawtelle to live with a relative of Goddard’s. Then, a few years later, Monroe was forced back to the Goddard household – although not for long. Soon, the family decided to up sticks, leaving the future star to make a stark choice.
As Monroe was a teenager at the time, her foster family could not take her out of California. As a result, then, she would have to go back to the orphanage – unless she opted for a different path, that is. Yet while Monroe couldn’t legally live on her own, she could, it seems, marry a legal adult. So, she tied the knot with 21-year-old James Dougherty. The marriage, however, didn’t last.
It would be Monroe’s short-lived union with Dougherty, though, that set her on a path to stardom. After Dougherty enlisted in the Merchant Marines, you see, his young wife took work in a local munitions plant. There, a chance encounter with an Army photographer led to her signing with the Blue Book Agency in 1945 as a model. So, within just a year, Monroe managed to grace the covers of some 33 magazines. And from there, the bright lights of Hollywood beckoned.
In 1946 Monroe signed with 20th Century Fox, chose her now-famous stage name and divorced her husband. The upcoming star then made her movie debut in 1947’s Dangerous Years, yet her contract with the studio soon ended. A brief stint at Columbia Pictures followed, but in time she was once again on her own. Off the back of the actress’ successful supporting roles in The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve, though, she found herself in demand, and a seven-year deal with Fox was quickly brokered.
Yet despite Monroe’s multi-year contract, she didn’t become a global star overnight. She initially honed her craft in small-budget fare such as 1951’s Home Town Story. That same year, Monroe also appeared in As Young as You Feel and Let’s Make It Legal. And in 1952 she was being heralded as the year’s “it girl.”
That same year, Monroe gave three of her most iconic performances. The first was as Rose Loomis in Niagara, which ultimately cemented her reputation as the blonde bombshell. And while women’s groups in America protested the movie’s allegedly overtly sexual tone, audiences lapped it up. They adored Monroe, too, prompting one critic from The New York Times to note, “She can be seductive – even when she walks.”
Monroe’s next big movie was Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which added the next familiar layer to her persona: the “dumb blonde.” The star played a gorgeous showgirl looking for a rich husband in the classic film, which turned out to be a smash hit. And as well as displaying Monroe’s bombshell looks, the picture also showcased her vocal and physical talents – a combination that viewers couldn’t resist.
Hot on the heels of that success came How to Marry a Millionaire. Monroe once again played a gorgeous woman out to find a wealthy husband, and the film became the star’s biggest commercial success so far. That same year, she appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine’s first-ever issue. As such, Monroe’s reputation as a sex symbol was assured.
Then, the following year, Monroe married a sporting legend. Yes, she tied the knot with baseball hero Joe DiMaggio in January 1954. The pair split just nine months later, however. And after the actress starred in 1955’s The Seven Year Itch, she declared herself bored with what she saw as repetitive roles. So, she started her own production company called MMP.
And Monroe’s next project – 1956’s Bus Stop – earned her a Golden Globe nomination. While portraying a saloon entertainer with big dreams, Monroe prompted one critic to note that the movie “effectively dispels once and for all the notion that she is a mere glamour presence.” As if to underline that point, the star married playwright Arthur Miller that year, converting to Judaism for the wedding.
But although life might have seemed rosy for Monroe from an outsider’s perspective, the reality was about to be very different. You see, while the star was filming her next picture, The Prince And The Showgirl, in 1956, she experienced some professional problems; apparently, she and her co-star Laurence Olivier didn’t see eye to eye at all. More tragically, Monroe supposedly suffered a miscarriage during the shoot. Nor did her personal issues end there.
The next year, Monroe spent a brief time in hospital after overdosing on barbiturates, after which she chose to take some time off from Hollywood. When she returned in 1958, though, it was to make yet another iconic movie: Some Like It Hot. And the picture – which was a smash hit upon its release in 1959 – ultimately earned Monroe a Golden Globe, too. But, sadly, this success wasn’t to last.
During the shoot for Monroe’s next picture – 1960’s Let’s Make Love – she often didn’t show up for work, causing production delays. To make matters worse, the star effectively ended her marriage to Miller by having an affair with co-star Yves Montand. And to top it all off, the movie bombed.
That same year, meanwhile, Monroe made what would ultimately be her final movie. But The Misfits – which had been written by her estranged husband – proved to be even more difficult to shoot than Let’s Make Love had been. There was the strain of working with Miller, for one, and it certainly didn’t help that the star was addicted to barbiturates during this time. Monroe’s substance abuse was so persistent, in fact, that her make-up often had to be applied while she was asleep. And as if that wasn’t enough, she also suffered from gallstones during the production.
Monroe and Miller ultimately divorced in January 1961, following which the star spent the next six months dealing with health issues. Her gallbladder was removed during this period, for instance; she also underwent an operation for endometriosis and spent a month in the hospital with depression. But by the beginning of the next year, Monroe had moved into her own home in LA – and she was even dating DiMaggio again.
Then, not long after moving house, Monroe went back to work. But while starring in Something’s Gotta Give, she was once again plagued by ill-health – this time with sinusitis. Against medical opinion, Monroe continued the shoot, only ultimately taking time off when the condition worsened. And there was further bad luck to come. Even though Monroe had invited the press to snap pictures of her during a nude scene, her studio decided to drop her.
Yet while Fox soon realized its mistake and later negotiated reinstating Monroe, those plans never came to fruition. On August 5, 1962, the star was found dead in her home from what we now know to have been a barbiturate overdose. She had passed away the day before at just 36 years of age. And once word spread of her untimely passing, the media went into a frenzy.
Many well-respected publications ran obituaries for Monroe – but a number of them weren’t the kind that served as glowing reports of her achievements. Some, in fact – such as the piece that ran in Time magazine – chose to focus on the negatives. More specifically, the publication commented on the star’s perceived lack of professionalism. “She was always late for everything,” the obituary reads. “Her tardiness was measured in weeks instead of hours.”
But Time magazine’s strong opinions didn’t end there. For instance, despite Monroe’s success, the obituary decries her offering “a photographer exclusive rights to nearly nude shots of her.” Then, just to reiterate the point, it says, “Last week, she negotiated still another sale of a nude photograph to a picture magazine.” And Time was far from the only news outlet to criticize the late star.
The New York Times chose, for instance, to focus on Monroe’s personal possessions – or lack thereof. The obituary in the newspaper of record points out that her bedroom “was neat but sparsely furnished.” And just to labor the point, the article adds, “Her one-story stucco house… was far different from the lavish Beverly Hills Hotel suites more typical of her.” But the American media weren’t the only ones to castigate Monroe in their tributes.
British newspaper The Guardian also took several swings at the late Hollywood star. In its obituary, she is described as a “pretty woman whose beauty crumbled overnight.” Monroe was also apparently “charming, shrewd and pathetic,” as well as someone who, “in the end, sought ultimate oblivion.” But perhaps the most damning critique of the actress came from her hometown paper.
The Los Angeles Times – or LA Times – had seemingly taken a dislike to Monroe. Whether it was because of the culture of the time, Monroe’s part in a changing of attitudes or something completely different, the paper was brutal towards her. And lazily describing the star’s death as “due to an overdose of some drug” was just the start of it.
From such cold beginnings, the obituary goes on to decry the physical state of Monroe’s dead body. It reads, “She was unkempt and in need of a manicure and pedicure.” This supposed nail-care situation, the publication says, indicated “listlessness and a lack of interest in maintaining her usually glamorous appearance.”
The LA Times obituary also describes Monroe as “a troubled beauty who failed to find happiness as Hollywood’s brightest star.” And as was the case with many other reports, the paper made note of the fact that the star had been nude when she died. The piece adds that Monroe had passed away while “lying face down on her bed and clutching a telephone receiver in her hand.”
And in an echo of The New York Times’ obituary, the LA Times then describes the late star’s possessions – specifically the linen on her bed. The unflattering tribute reveals that Monroe had been lying “under a sheet and champagne-colored blanket” that had been “tucked up around her shoulders.”
The piece then goes on to very matter-of-factly describe the moment when Monroe’s doctor Ralph Greenson and her housekeeper Eunice Murray had discovered her body, stating, “Dr. Greenson took the receiver from her hand and told Mrs. Murray, ‘She appears to be dead.’” And as if all that wasn’t insulting enough, the news outlet then gave a scathing critique of the actress’ working life.
The paper cites Monroe’s career as being “on the skids after two straight movie flops.” This, it posits, had been the cause of her depression. The obituary also takes time to point out that the drugs that had been responsible for her death were in “12 to 15 medicine bottles on Miss Monroe’s bedside stand.”
In addition, the LA Times alleged that Monroe’s 50-pill Nembutal prescription had been “issued only two or three days” before her death. Given that the bottle was now empty, then, the paper seemingly implied that the star had ingested far more than the recommended daily dose. And from there, the piece goes on to describe in detail the final time that Monroe had left her house.
“Miss Monroe’s body was wrapped in a pale blue blanket,” the obituary reads, “and strapped to a stretcher as it was removed from the home.” The article then recounts the authorities’ next steps, saying, “Miss Monroe’s body was loaded into the back of a station wagon and transported to the Westwood Village Mortuary.” But the grim, unfeeling coverage didn’t end there.
Yes, the obituary even goes on to describe what happened to Monroe’s remains in rather disturbing detail. “The body was later transferred to the county morgue, where the nation’s number one glamour girl became Coroner’s Case number 81128 and the body was placed in Crypt 33,” the piece reads.
Yet despite the slew of negative press coverage, many of Monroe’s friends refuted the idea that she’d deliberately ended her life. “This must have been an accident,” Pat Newcomb, the star’s press agent, told the LA Times. “Marilyn was in perfect physical condition and was feeling great. We had made plans for today.”
Monroe’s colleagues raced to defend the star, too. Joshua Logan, director of Bus Stop, described the star as “one of the most unappreciated people in the world.” And even Laurence Olivier – with whom the late star had apparently clashed during the making of The Prince and The Showgirl – was angry on her behalf. He reportedly thought her “the complete victim of ballyhoo and sensation.”
Now we’re in the 21st century, though, we’re generally far more aware of the pressures that global fame can exert on stars. As such, obituaries for celebrities tend to be far more sympathetic than the ones that were published following Monroe’s death. But despite the crass way in which the icon was depicted by the press, she continues to have millions of fans to this day – many of whom no doubt remember her in a much more flattering light.