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Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Marilynn Monroe -- 50 years ago

In the following piece Ron Vazzano, a writer buddy, reflects upon morning of August 5, 1962, when Marilyn Monroe was found dead.  On the same day, thousands of miles away from Brentwood California, in Tehran,  my family and I were having breakfast in our kitchen when we heard the shocking news from the radio in our kitchen.

Here is Marilynn Monroe and Ron Vazzano (what Ron says is very close to my heart)

On August 5, 1962, Marilyn Monroe was found dead in the bedroom of her Brentwood home, due to an apparent overdose of barbiturates. Whether they were taken with intent or accidentally, was said to be uncertain. But certainly on that morning as I awakened from the couch of a Staten Island bungalow to the first words of the day, “Marilyn Monroe is dead,” no one was calling it murder

Since then, many have come to believe that she was in fact murdered. It’s a belief that has arisen periodically over the past half century, whenever something newly alleged regarding the circumstances surrounding her death, comes to the forefront. That we still care, is a further testament to the place she holds in that pantheon of tragic figures that have passed through our collective memory.

As a sixteen year old boy at the time, and especially one coming of age on the streets of the Lower East Side, I should not have mourned her passing. It certainly wasn’t a macho heterosexual male thing to do. Besides, Sophia Loren was the preferred sex symbol in that Italian-American neighborhood of my youth. And when Ursula Andress would later appear that year in the first James Bond film Dr. No, and then later in a Playboy spread, (Ursula “Undress” we punned) well, now we were really talking sex.

But Marilyn was not just about sex, beauty, and stardom. She was also about a sense of innocence and vulnerability. Though I was hardly sitting there that morning contemplating that mix, and how no other person I could think of had ever wrapped all that into one persona. I was upset. And trying not to show it. And of course, persona is the operative word here. The public never really gets to know the real person.

Marilyn was also a talented actress having honed her craft at the legendary Lee Strasburg Studio over the years. A favorite performance of mine, was her role in the “Seven Year Itch.” A piece from a Muse-Letter written several years ago on the 50th anniversary of that film, is reprised here as it originally appeared.

If Marilyn were alive today she would be eighty-six; an image impossible to fathom. And one might wonder what she would have made of all the MM wannabes that have passed through our midst these last five decades in movies, music and the pop culture in general.

Where they all fall short, is that they work so hard at it. All trying to be so bombastic. All screaming out: “Look at me! Aren’t I gorgeous! Aren’t I outrageous! Aren’t I something!” And that is ultimately what might be the real secret to the long lasting appeal of Marilyn Monroe. Norma Jean Baker never seemed to be working hard at being Marilyn Monroe. She just was. And as is the case with any great work of art, it all seems so inevitable. You look and you think, “Yes. Of course.” I sensed that at sixteen. I know it now.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Catherine - thanks for posting this write-up by Ron. I'd like to make a comment about his view of Marilyn. Yes - there is NO question as to how captivating she was and what she made herself to be as the natural sex symbol and innocence all rolled into one - always hungry and striving for the one who'd love her for who she was - not her symbol, but then that’s who she became. Marilyn was not as natural as Ron believes. She worked hard and spent hours end in perfecting her talk, her walk, her smile and even the way she'd swayed her hips. It is documented that her need to be wanted and accepted was so high, that she'd spend over 2 hrs on perfecting her makeup and her tone in voice. YES she had what not many possess nowadays, but natural? not even her hair color. So my dearest, as I and millions admired and feel the loss of an icon, we must also realize we all have the ID within us to capture what we wish. God Bless her soul and thank you for remembering a lovely, sexy, girly-girl bombshell that amazed not only men, but women.
    Lovingly, Liza