Since her death in 1962, much has been said and written about screen icon Marilyn Monroe. This week Liz Garbus’ moving documentary, Love, Marilyn opens in UK cinemas. The film features dramatic readings of Monroe’s writings by actors, film critics, journalists and authors – promising to throw fresh light on the woman behind the myth. To mark the release, FilmJuice’s Features Editor Paula Hammond, shares Ten Facts about the star that you probably didn’t know …
1. When Marilyn died, two men came forward claiming to be her father. The first was C Stanley Gifford, who both Marilyn and her mother believed was her father. Ironically Gifford had refused to meet Marilyn when she was alive. The second was Edward Mortensen, who was married to her mother at the time of Marilyn’s birth. It’s his miss spelt surname that appears on Marilyn’s birth certificate.
2. Despite rumours about the actress’s numerous affairs with high profile men – and women – Marilyn seemed to have only one real love: baseball star Joe DiMaggio. The pair were married in 1954 but divorced nine months later. The two remained friends and DiMaggio claimed that they would have remarried had Marilyn not died. DiMaggio sent six red roses to Marilyn’s crypt, three times a week for the next 20 years.
3. It seems conspiracy theorists may be at least – partially – right. Although there’s never been any proof of an affair between Marilyn and US President John F Kennedy, she was certainly under surveillance for some unknown reason. During renovation work on Marilyn’s home in 1972, the new owner discovered a phone tapping system that covered every room in the house.
4. Although she was one of the most recognized stars of the 50s, Marilyn was rarely paid as much as other females stars of the era. For her role in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, she was paid just $18,000. Her co-star Jane Russell was paid $200,000. It was only for her last, unfinished film – Something’s Got To Give – that she finally became a million dollar contract star.
5. Marilyn converted to Judaism when she married her third husband, playwright Arthur Miller. However, she was much more interested in psychoanalysis than religion. When filming Gentlemen Prefer Blonds she said of Jane Russell, who was a born-again Christian, that: “Jane tried to convert me and I tried to introduce her to Freud.” She left 25 percent of her estate to Sigmund Freud’s daughter, Anna.
6. Monroe was actually author Truman Capote’s first choice to play Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The role eventually went to Audrey Hepburn.
7. Although it’s often claimed that Monroe was a large lady – a US dress size 16 – she was actually quite slender in an age in which women came big and brassy. She was just 5 feet 5 1/2 inches tall and wore a US dress Size 12. That translates into a petite UK Size 8.
8. As a child Marilyn had liked to imagine that Clarke Gable was her father. She later got to work with him on The Misfits. When he died she was inconsolable for days.
9. Marilyn was a shrewd businesswoman – and a pioneer in the then male dominated world of Hollywood movie making. She owned her own production company – the only other woman to have that distinction was silent film star Mary Pickford.
10. On screen Marilyn may have played the ditzy blond but in real life, she was an intelligent and liberal-minded woman. She favoured left-wing politics, black rights and was an active peace campaigner. In the last interview before her death, she asked the reporter to end the article with the following quote: “What I really want to say: That what the world really needs is a real feeling of kinship. Everybody: stars, laborers, Negroes, Jews, Arabs. We are all brothers. Please don’t make me a joke. End the interview with what I believe.”
Love, Marilyn opens on 18th October.