I was on a Greyhound Bus with my mother traveling from Sacramento, California to our home in Marin County and we were listening to my portable transistor radio. Remember those? The bus was rather full, the weather outside was quite hot it being the first days of August, and I was glad to be going back to my bed, my stereo, and my movie theaters. Things familiar and comforting, nourishing. A news flash interrupted the music on the radio: a man's voice reported, "Marilyn Monroe found dead in her Brentwood home at the age of 36."
He could have reported that the world had come to an end--I would have not been more stunned.
It was one of those moments that has never left me.
I was and am a Marilyn Monroe fan. Her death and all the mystery that has surrounded it for the last 50 years have made an imprint on my heart.
The first movie I remember seeing her in was There's No Business Like Show Business in one of the big movie houses in San Francisco, California when I was seven years old. Ethel Merman certainly was a commanding figure to watch in that film, but what I remember after more than half a century is how Marilyn lit up the screen in her every scene. She didn't come into the story until somewhere near midway through, but when she did, that was it. She stole the show.
From a zillion showings of her films that I have watched since, I have come to appreciate what she was and is still able to convey to me from the Silver Screen. And what is that? It is her warmth, her innocence, her great humor, her sassiness, her humanity, and her raw vulnerability. Those combined with her physical beauty in an age where a size 14, which I have read she measured often, enveloped the most desirable woman on the planet: curvaceous, luxurious, sexually attractive without so much as batting an eye. All these and more combined to present on the big screen, and even the smaller one, that ultimately indefinable quality: CHARISMA! I write that in capital letters because it is a capital item. When someone has it, we all recognize it. We are drawn to it. We are enlivened by it. We bask in The Light.
MARILYN MONROE, CHARISMA--SAME THING.
Fifty years ago tomorrow, August 5th, is the anniversary of her death.
Marilyn Monroe Memorabilia is still the biggest selling memorabilia in the world.
I must add that I loved the recent film, "My Week With Marilyn," and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves Marilyn, who wants to know the woman behind the star image more intimately, and who would like to see her portrayed at the moment in time just before she made her most successful movie: Some Like It Hot, which was voted by the American Film Institute as the Best Comedy Film of All Time. Marilyn had the good sense to take a percentage of the gross of that film as part of her salary, and that alone for the rest of her years made Ms. Monroe a very wealthy woman. Definitely no dumb blonde was she.
On Sunday, August 5th at 10:30 pm PDT, PBS is re-broadcasting an American Masters Special entitled,
"Marilyn Monroe: Still Life." I saw this when it first aired a few years ago thinking I had seen it all regarding Marilyn. Well, not quite! These are still images shot of her over her lifetime, several of which I had never seen, and they are riveting! As is the whole production. If you love Marilyn, or even have a passing interest in her, I highly recommend you include this experience in your repertoire.
I have to admit that Marilyn Monroe's entire legacy is so tremendous that as I write this, I realize she has never really left us at all. Yay!
Also for appreciating Marilyn, follow this link to a newly published article in the LA Times that I enjoyed and which inspired my writing this blog posting.
For more rare photos of Marilyn follow this link to Time, where I found the photos used in this posting: