Marilyn Monroe: The Hollywood mogul assaulted her, and the Kennedys killed her?

In May, a portrait of a woman sold at auction in New York for 195 million dollars, or about 191 million euros – a record for a work of art by an American artist and any artist of the 20th century. Also that month, in New York, there was an uproar when a reality TV star showed off a dress that a woman had once worn at a Metropolitan Museum of Art party. The dress is said to be the most expensive dress in the world; Its owner paid nearly $5 million for it. To ensure its safety, it is usually kept in special conditions in a dark cellar.

The woman in the photo, the woman who once wore the dress – singing Happy Birthday to President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden – was of course Marilyn Monroe. Its color screen imprint, the work of Andy Warhol, is his most famous pop art. Kim Kardashian, who wore a Monroe dress at the Met, responded to criticism for dressing a deceased woman by insisting, oddly, that she had “a lot of respect for her.”

In life, Monroe has made herself notable far beyond Hollywood and in very different ways from the vulgar sex bomb image that is the leitmotif of her modern icons. Twenty years before physical exercise became a fad I ran. I read avidly serious literature, especially Dostoevsky. As early as the 1950’s, studio executives thought it necessary to warn her against seeing her reading radical political books. Before the contract expired, Monroe was marrying Arthur Miller, at the same time the playwright was under investigation for flirting with communism. She supported the burgeoning American civil rights movement. She was a founding member of the Hollywood chapter of Sane, a sane nuclear policy committee.

Yet, 60 years after her death, Monroe’s vibrant presence in world culture – only Diana, Princess of Wales rivals her dominance over the public imagination – allows little nuance. The star’s massive street art can be seen from Istanbul to Penang and Kan to Vancouver. Monroe silk hairpiece celebrating her “authenticity, self-acceptance and confidence” retails for €50. The “Ultra Realistic Silicone Figurine Statue” is a snippet priced at just under €15,500.

Monroe remains a profitable asset – and advantageously volatile. The Montblanc Marilyn Monroe Special Edition fountain pen is yours for €775. The lamp showing Monroe with the wind blowing her skirt for only 180 euros. All over the world, Monroe features adorn everything from cookbooks to coffee mugs and handbags to neckties. Countless Facebook groups, Pinterest boards, Instagram accounts, and fan sites – Marilyn Remembered, Marilyn, Immortal Marilyn, Irish Marilyn Monroe Fan Club – are dedicated to her.

I wrote a biography of the star in 1985, seeking to penetrate the jungle of factual facts about her and come up with something close to the truth about her life and controversial death. Since its publication, Monroe’s appetite for all things—particularly the most dazzling aspect of her legacy—has grown even more insatiable. In recent months, millions have watched a Netflix documentary based on the interviews you have recorded for this book. In September, Netflix will premiere Blonde, a highly anticipated fantasy film starring Ana de Armas.

It has been described as autobiographical – and by its director, Andrew Dominic, as “a fairy tale of emotional nightmare”. It is adapted from the novel of the same name by American author Joyce Carol Oates, which was published in 2000. The novel, which Oates wrote in the preface, was the “radically distilled” life of Marilyn Monroe. She made it clear that she radically meant she was highly eclectic, and used facts and characters from real life – and I credit my autobiography as one of its main sources – but freely imagined other things.

In Oates’ 700-page novel, the main character is usually named Norma Jean, and the name Monroe was born and known until her film career took off. Later she is Marilyn Monroe. During World War II, novelist Norma Jeane works for Radio Plane, a company that does war business – and the future star worked for such a company. Later, when she found fame, she married first “the former athlete” and then “the playwright” – transparent references to Monroe’s husbands Joe Dimaggio and Arthur Miller.

Blonde is dominated by sexual experiences, mostly miserable – emphasizing the tyranny and betrayal of many of her men. Early in the book, Norma Jeane is raped by a Hollywood studio mogul who is assigned the name Mr. Z. The rape scene is graphically written, without providing any details. Mr. Z has been interpreted as a veiled reference to Twentieth Century Fox’s founder, Daryl Zanuck. Real-life Monroe recalled his “couch-casting” sexual encounters, but nothing indicates that any of them were with Zanuck. In interviews with nearly 700 people I found nothing to suggest that any Hollywood producer had raped Monroe.

In Oates’ novel, however, the most blatant historical slander targets Monroe’s 1962 involvement with “The President”. “The President,” from a very wealthy Irish-American family, is an obvious reference to Kennedy. In the novel, the boss emphatically demands to see Monroe, repeatedly has sex with her, then becomes unreachable until the “summon” comes again.

Monroe was transferred to the White House. There’s more sex, gossip about communist Cuba and Fidel Castro, and more sex. Returning to Los Angeles, she dreamed that the president had carried her. Then comes another summons, another journey east. She sings “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” at Madison Square Garden. Then, upon her return to Los Angeles, ruin and death.

Death comes in the novel “rushing towards her” in the form of a man “without passion and pity”, a murderer. The man doesn’t know if his job is to “protect the president from the president’s blonde whore” or if the real goal is to “hurt the president because of his association with the blonde whore”. Using a key given to him by someone identified as RF, the killer enters Monroe’s house at night when she is asleep. Next, he was fitted with a syringe loaded with a lethal dose of a hypnotic drug, and he sank the “six-inch needle into the farthest corner of her heart.”

Oates’ account makes it clear that the references to “the President” in the book go back to Kennedy. And no one would interpret her reference to the RF as a code for anyone other than the RFK, the president’s brother, and attorney general, Robert F. Kennedy.

Why do I call Oates’ “fairytale” tale of Kennedy’s foreplay a “historical libel”? Reliable information indicates that Kennedy flirted with Monroe. Research indicates that his brother Robert also had some kind of hidden connection to her. However, there is no evidence that they or anyone else killed her. Can the writing of this script and its publication in a novel be defensible, not least when the individuals involved are still fresh in memory? A scenario that could suggest aiding and abetting the president’s brother – an order? – Murder?

When Oates’ novel appeared, her defense was that, in a work of fiction, she “had no special obligation” to the facts. In my opinion that is not so. The people named in her novel were real people with real reputations – and historical legacies – and such a fictional fabrication is unjustifiably cruel. The fact that the individuals involved died is not a defense.

Is the next movie the same story? Dominic said that the film would criticize “holy American cows,” including Kennedy, and that “there is something about it that offends everyone.” It is clear that the film will cross the line. Netflix has reportedly insisted on hiring an editor to “reduce excesses” in production. However, it has a rating of NC-17, which is theoretically prohibited for viewing by anyone 17 or younger in the United States.

Dominic does not utter his words. He says the movie is what you want from “the NC-17 version of the Marilyn Monroe story.” He continues, “If the audience doesn’t like it, that’s the audience’s problem.” More soberly, he claims that the film would not have been made without the #MeToo movement; It tells us what it means to “be an unloved girl, to pass through a Hollywood meat grinder…how childhood trauma shapes an adult divided between the public and private self.”

After seeing a rough cut, Oates deemed the film “bright, deeply disturbing, and perhaps most surprisingly a wholly ‘feminist’ interpretation.” Since then, Dominic has ventured that “Blonde will be one of the 10 best films ever made”.

“It is impossible to measure the scale of the Monroe legend,” Professor Sarah Churchwell wrote. More books have been written about the star than any other artist. More than 20 films already present a fictional version of her life story. Will the upcoming movie be indulgent in her sexuality and in conspiratorial fantasies about her death, or will it offer something of value?

John Huston, who directed Monroe’s first major film, The Asphalt Jungle, from 1950, as well as her last completed film, The Misfits, from 1961, said: “People say Hollywood broke her heart, but that’s nonsense — she was observant and tough-minded. …she was very smart in certain ways.” He added, “She turned to her personal experience for everything, got to the bottom and extracted something unique from herself…She found things about the human race in herself.”

How do you write a life story? Monroe asked herself during an interview shortly before her death. “Because the real things are seldom traded. Usually these are the wrong things… It’s hard to know where to begin, you know, if you don’t start with the truth.” – guardian

Anthony Summers is the author of Goddess: The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe. An updated version has just been published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson

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