Thursday, October 20, 2016

Breaking Down "Secret Life" Part 5/?

Episode 1 continued: Marilyn’s early acting career

For this post, we wrap up the first episode of The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe! Woah-oh we're halfway there ...

Special thanks to April for helping me a bit with the Gladys timeline

This is a continuation of my series of blog posts titled “Breaking Down ‘The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe’ the movie.” If you have not, please check out parts 1 & 2 of this review.

Links are here!
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This area in the movie is a bit confusing, chronologically, to any Marilyn historian. So rather than try to organize it, I’m just going to explain the events depicted in the film and contrast them with what happened in real life, no matter what order they’re in. To make it a little less hard to track! And I even thought of a new way of breaking things down that I’ll start doing. I’m going to begin listing film bits as “the movie” and real life as “real life,” so it’s easier to separate and a little more comprehensive. Let me know if you like the new format of if it's too confusing.

(1) THE MOVIE: Kelli as Marilyn is very tipsy by this point and after an award exchange with her psychiatrist, Dr. DeShields, Marilyn expresses her concern that she is afraid of “becoming her mother.”

  > (1) REAL LIFE: Marilyn lived her entire life in constant fear that she would end up like her mother. She was afraid she would inherit her mother’s mental illness and be locked up in an institution. Much speculation about Marilyn’s mental state has been presented by Marilyn fans and scholars. Some think she in fact had bipolar disorder, and some just think she suffered severe depressive episodes. While it’s important to consider certain aspects of her health, she cannot be diagnosed. You cannot diagnose a deceased person. Marilyn was not diagnosed as bipolar, split personality, or any type of mental imbalance while she was alive. What needs to be kept in mind is that she, for the most part, had a horrible childhood. She was constantly abandoned, shuffled back and forth between numerous foster homes and families, suffered an incident of sexual abuse, and lived her life in constant question of why she wasn’t wanted or loved. That’s more than enough to spark lifelong depression upon anyone.

From "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"

 (2) THE MOVIE: Gladys has another episode of being frightened that people are following her, and she starts closing the curtains and running about the house with worry. Grace attempts to restrain her on the sofa. Marilyn hurriedly shows Gladys a gift she got her to calm her down. Inside is a white nurse’s uniform and hat.  Gladys snatches it out of her hand and leaves the room to change into it, and Grace and Marilyn are relieved that Gladys is now preoccupied with the gift.

  > (2) REAL LIFE: This incident appears in the book The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, but lacks any substantiation. With the confusing chronology of the movie, it’s difficult to place the date the supposed event occurred, but if it is keeping time with being after Marilyn posed for Tom Kelley in 1949, then Gladys would be married to John Stewart Eley and living elsewhere in Los Angeles. Throughout June and July of that year, Marilyn was off in other states promoting her film Love Happy. In August through October, she was on location in Durango, Colorado filming A Ticket To Tomahawk.

(3) THE MOVIE: Kelli as Marilyn arrives at the home of Natasha Lytess, played by Embeth Davidtz, who was suggested to her by Joe Schenck. Lytess looks Marilyn over, evaluating her and asking her questions. Marilyn stats that she is afraid of loneliness and that she just wants to be loved.

 > (3) REAL LIFE: This is all, for the most part, true. Only Marilyn met Lytess through Columbia. In 1948, Marilyn’s 20th Century Fox screen test was sent to Columbia pictures for consideration for signing. One lady in the small group of people in the room viewing that test was Columbia’s drama coach at the time, Natasha Lytess. Lytess, herself, was unimpressed with Marilyn, but nevertheless agreed to work with her. Many people thought that by working with her, Lytess was wasting her time trying to teach this young starlet, but Marilyn paid for and attended her classes for several weeks, and improvements were quickly showing. She was signed to Colmbia Pictures in March of 1948 at $125 a week. She would work there for just six months, completing just one picture, before they dropped her.
From "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"
Marilyn with Natasha Lytess, 1952.

 (4) THE MOVIE: Marilyn is at another party with Joseph Schenck. This is an important one because this is the party where Schenck introduces Marilyn to who would soon become one of the most important figures in her life and career: Johnny Hyde.
> (4) REAL LIFE: Johnny Hyde was one of the biggest names in Hollywood at the time. He was the vice president of the William Morris Agency and  he represented notable names such as Rita Hayworth and Bob Hope. Marilyn and Johnny first met in 1949, Marilyn in her early 20’s and Johnny in his 50’s. The two were introduced at a party at the Racquet Club in Palm Springs. Marilyn was there on a modeling assignment. Johnny convinced Lester Cowan to view her rushes from Love Happy. Shortly after, she was signed to the William Morris Agency. For the rest of his life, Johnny would beg Marilyn to marry him, so that she could inherit all of his money after he died; he had a fatal heart condition. Marilyn loved and respected him, and stayed loyal to him, but she refused to marry him. She would not marry someone she was not in love with just to receive money as an incentive.

Marilyn with Johnny Hyde.

(5) THE MOVIE: Susan Sarandon as Gladys is getting ready to leave Marilyn’s home, shortly after Marilyn informed her that she has landed a role in the upcoming star-studded Fox production All About Eve. Gladys explains that she is going to stay with Aunt Dora in Oregon for the time being.

> (5) REAL LIFE: If Marilyn had just received word she was to have a role in Eve, this would place this point in Secret Life the film taking place in March of 1950, when Marilyn first signed her contract to appear in Eve. She would work on Eve from the end of March to May 1950. Gladys’s whereabouts in 1950 aren’t really known, she was for the most part off by herself. According to Berniece Miracle, she stayed in Oregon late in 1946.

(6) THE MOVIE: Kelli as Marilyn is seen at Natasha Lytess’s home rehearsing a part in All About Eve. She is visibly nervous and breathing heavy. She suddenly interrupts her reading in a panic. She is afraid that people are listening in on her. “They’re talking about me,” she yells. “You don’t hear that? I can’t do this while they’re out there!” Natasha pulls back the curtain and surveys the outside, trying to explain to Marilyn that there is no one out there. Marilyn then collapses into a ball of nerves in Natasha’s lap as Natasha tries to soothe her and comfort her.

(6 )REAL LIFE: Marilyn often stayed at Natasha’s home to rehearse lines and attend private coaching. As we determined earlier, Marilyn was terrified of inheriting her mother’s mental illness. Gladys was schizophrenic. Marilyn was not. By no accounts from anyone who knew her personally did she ever “hear voices” or think people were “listening in on her.” Marilyn never displayed this type of behavior, which is constantly being mentioned in Taraborrelli’s The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe and is simply not accurate. So it’s safe to say that all of the dramatic and psychotic episodes that are portrayed in this film never happened, so I will be avoiding further detailed discussion about them, assuming you get the point.
From "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"
(7) THE MOVIE: Kelli as Marilyn is in the midst of filming a scene for All About Eve. Johnny Hyde appears on set to hand her an urgent note. The note reads that Gladys, although gone for a few weeks, never made it to Oregon. This immediately stresses Marilyn out, who becomes worried for her mother’s whereabouts. Johnny Hyde is surprised to find out that Gladys is alive, as he and the entire Hollywood world were under the impression that her mother had died a long time ago, and that Marilyn had grown up an orphan. Hyde promises to find Gladys, and hands Marilyn some pills to calm her down, which she reluctantly accepts.

> (7) REAL LIFE: As a rising starlet, Marilyn had always informed the press that she had been orphaned at a young age. This was done to protect Gladys’s privacy, only the truth came out eventually. Fortunately, she received much sympathy for this, rather than criticism for lying. In addition, it’s no secret that Marilyn was addicted to sleeping medication for much of her life. Had she been provided proper help, she might still be alive today. Johnny passed away from his heart condition in December of 1950. He was like a father figure to Marilyn, and she was devastated when he died. Natasha recalls an event in which she returned home one day to find Marilyn unconscious in her bed, after an apparent suicide attempt from sleeping pills. She had to be rushed to a nearby hospital to have her stomach pumped.

From "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"
Marilyn with Johnny Hyde, 1949.

(8) THE MOVIE:  Johnny Hyde walks up to Marilyn during a promotional photo shoot, informing her that her mother’s new husband, John Stewart Eley, has a wife in Boise, Idaho, and that Gladys was not aware of it.

 (8) REAL LIFE: John Stewart Eley and Gladys Baker wed in April of 1949. Eley was an electritian from Boise, Idaho. There is nothing to substantiate the story about Eley being married to a woman in Idaho at the time he was married to Gladys. According to his obituary from 1953, he only left behind his sister and Gladys. The wife story may have come directly from Gladys, who would likely have created it and worried about it as a result of her mental illness.

From "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"

(9) THE MOVIE: Kelli as Marilyn is seen rehearsing her big musical number, Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend, for the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She soon receives a note from Zanuck stating that they have granted her request for a dressing room, but that they declined to increase her salary. “The picture’s called ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,’ and I’m the blonde! If this picture’s a hit, things are gonna change around here.”

 (9) REAL LIFE: For the production of Blondes, Jane Russell was loaned out to Fox for $200,000. This was a much smaller amount than Marilyn was getting paid for. Marilyn’s contract at 20th had her earning just $500 a week. She had equal star billing to Jane, so it’s understandable she would be upset and feeling like she deserved more money for an equally important performance. In her last interview from July 1962, she said: “She, by the way, was quite wonderful to me. The only thing was I couldn’t get a dressing room. I said, finally –I really got to this kind of level – I said ‘Look, after all, I am the blonde and it is Gentlemen Prefer Blondes!’ Because still they always kept saying, ‘Remember, you’re not a star.’ I said ‘Well, whatever I am, I am the blonde!’”

From "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"

(10) THE MOVIE: Marilyn is with her team getting ready to attend the Photoplay Awards. She is surprised when Gladys suddenly barges in the room and begins frantically closing the curtains.

(10) REAL LIFE: Gladys stayed at Rockhaven sanitarium from 1953 to 1967. Before this, she was staying with the Bolenders, the first foster family that took care of Norma Jeane. In October of 1952, Grace McKee wrote Marilyn suggesting that Gladys be transferred to Rockhaven, which ultimately wouldn’t happen until February of the following year. Gladys was admitted there on the same day as the night of the Photoplay Awards (February 9, 1953), although some evidence suggests that may have been the day before, on the 8th. Whatever the case, Marilyn did not see her. The whole fiasco with Gladys at Marilyn’s house depicted in the movie never happened.

From "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"

(11) THE MOVIE: Kelli as Marilyn arrives at the Photoplay Awards looking exquisite in a replica of one of the most famous dresses in Marilyn history: the gold one used in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and designed by William Travilla. I didn’t notice this little detail until watching the movie this time around, but you can see Marilyn walk right past Giacomo Gianniotti, who plays Jim Dougherty, Marilyn’s first husband. He is a cop holding back the screaming fans. Next, while being interviewed, Kelli as Marilyn says “With the right pair of shoes, a girl can conquer the world!”

 (11) REAL LIFE: Marilyn looked beautiful this night as she received the award for “Fastest Rising Star of 1952.” The part about Jimmy being a cop is true, but he was not there that night. The last time Jim Dougherty saw Marilyn, then Norma Jeane, was at the end of their marriage. Dougherty had joined the LAPD not long afterwards, and was in fact part of the security team controlling the crowds at the premiere of The Asphalt Jungle in 1950. That would have been the only opportunity for him to see her, only she did not attend. Lastly, the quote about giving a girl the right shoes is fake, a misquote. Didn’t come from Marilyn. It actually came from Bette Midler, and the original quote goes something like “Give a girl the correct footwear and she can conquer the world.” Didn’t know? Now you do!

Image result for marilyn monroe photoplay awards
Marilyn at the Photoplay Awards, 1953.
From "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"
Thank you for taking the time to read this post and learn more about Marilyn Monroe! In the next post, we will start episode 2 and being to delve into her marriages. Questions? Comments? Contact me at @marilynnation on Instagram.

© Kylie Pinzini and 2016 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kylie Pinzini and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Breaking down "Secret Life" Part 4/?

Episode 1 continued: Marilyn’s starlet years

Thanks for tuning in! This is a continuation of my series of blog posts titled “Breaking Down ‘The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe’ the movie.” If you have not, please check out parts 1 & 2 of this review.

Links are here!
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

In the last post, we ended on Marilyn’s marriage to her first husband Jim Dougherty, as well as the beginning of her decorated modeling career. Now we are moving on to her years as an ambitious starlet in Hollywood.

At this point in the movie,we see Jim and Norma Jeane visiting Gladys at a mental institution.

From "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"

 Marilyn is asking about her father, whom she had never met and didn’t know much about. She is referring to Charles Stanley Gifford. Gifford is widely accepted among reputable researchers as Marilyn’s biological father, although no definitive proof has ever been produced. She resembles him a lot more than Edward Mortenson, the man listed as her father on her birth certificate. This was done to avoid being looked at as an illegitimate child. Gifford was known around town at the time to be sort of a player. In July of 1919, he married Lillian Prester until she left him due to his promiscuity in 1923. He was Gladys’s supervisor at Consolidated, where they soon began seeing each other. Gladys was then separated from Mortenson and with Gifford by the time she became pregnant. Gifford left shortly after learning this news, and denied any responsibility to the child. Edward Mortenson denied being her father in 1934, although by the time he died in 1981, he had accumulated several newspaper and magazine clippings of Marilyn Monroe.

Side by side comparison of Marilyn with Stanley Gifford

I never called myself Mortenson at any time because Mr. Mortenson was not my father. He proved that to the satisfaction of the authorities, and for that reason, he had no financial responsibility for me.”  -Marilyn to Hedda Hopper in 1953

Kelli as Marilyn mentions that she “drove out to the desert to see him,” meaning her father. The only thing we really know about Marilyn’s contact with her father is that in February of 1943, she wrote to Grace McKee telling her of her plans to contact Gifford. Jim recalls a time when she attempted to call her father, but he hung up on her. Both Natasha Lytess and Sidney Skolsky claim that they did drive out to the desert to see him, and that he wouldn’t answer her. And finally, rumor has it that in 1960 he finally made the effort to get a hold of her over the phone, but she told him to talk to her attorney. We can’t be sure of very much, it’s possible she drove out there, it’s possible she attempted to phone him a few times in the early 40’s, but there is nothing to really substantiate all of this. It’s safe to say that in any event, Marilyn did not have any relationship with her father. There are also no accounts that suggest Gladys did not remember giving birth to her daughter. Gladys was very emotionally distant as a mother, she suffered the rest of her life with schizophrenia, but she always knew who her daughter was.

At this point in the movie, a shy but determined Kelli as Marilyn slowly walks into a makeup room where a man is working. She asks him if he can give her some tips. The man agrees to help her out, and gives her a full face of makeup, deciding which techniques would be best for her and educating her on the ways she can improve her makeup for film. This man is Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder, who will become a life-long friend and confidante until Marilyn’s death. He will even have the emotionally brutal task of applying her makeup for her funeral, as requested by Marilyn herself in conversation once. Whitey first did Marilyn’s makeup for her very first screen test at 20th Century Fox in 1945. He continued to work with her on Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the Jack Benny Show, How To Marry A Millionaire, Niagara, River of No Return, There’s No Business Like Show Business, The Seven Year Itch, Bus Stop, Some Like It Hot, Let’s Make Love, The Misfits, and Something’s Got To Give. He was even one of her casket pallbearers.

From "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"
Marilyn with Whitey Snyder, 1953.

Now we see Kelli as Marilyn phoning and old acquaintance: photographer Tom Kelley. Not long before, Marilyn had a small collision with another car on Sunset Boulevard. She was on her way to an audition and thought she would never be able to make it, and couldn’t afford a taxi. Tom Kelley rushed over and they talked for a moment. He gave her his card as well as money for a cab. Now, Marilyn was phoning him granting his offer to pose nude. She didn’t have any money at this point, and she needed it to pay her rent at the Studio Club. She decided that she may as well go ahead and earn some money by posing for him, although throughout her modeling career she was against posing nude (although Andre de Dienes had asked her to many times, she politely turned him down). After all, she was an unknown actress, so no one would recognize her, right? And so in May of 1949, something legendary happened. Tom Kelley, with his wife Natalie present, snapped some of the most well-known photos in pop culture history: the famous red velvet nudes. Kelli Garner provides an absolutely beautiful recreation of this moment in history, with her hair and makeup done exactly as Norma Jeane’s in real life. Once the session was over, Marilyn was paid $50, and was on her way. The Baumgarth calendar company then bought Kelley’s photos for $500, which were then purchased by Hugh Hefner, who used them as his centerfold in his first issue of Playboy in 1953.

From "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"
Marilyn Monroe, 1949.

At the end of this scene, Kelley recommends that Marilyn go to one of Joe Schenck’s parties. Joseph Schenck was one of the biggest names in Hollywood at the time. He was the head of production at 20th Century Fox studios. He often threw parties at his home for celebrities in which lesser known starlets would attend to do specific jobs like, serving food or just being on display for the male guests and watching them play poker. In 1948, John Carroll, husband of Lucille Ryman, introduced Marilyn to a man named Pat de Cicco who was friends with Schenck. (Marilyn had rented out one of the Carrolls’ apartments, and they were financially helping her for a time). Pat was the one who suggested Marilyn go to one of Schenck’s parties. As a side note, Marilyn also met future confidante there, Louella Parsons.

Schenck, 76 at the time, took a liking to Marilyn. However, the film depicts an event entirely opposite from the way it went down in real life. In the movie, Schenck immediately falls in lust with Kelli as Marilyn, and convinces her to go to bed with him. Afterwards, Schenck, played by Peter MacNeill, is seen making an important phone call in which he lands Marilyn a role in the film “Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay!” He offers Kelli as Marilyn cash for her services, but she politely declines, and is on her way. Here is what really happened: Taking de Cicco’s advice, Marilyn showed up at one of Schenck’s poker parties in 1948 as a young and unknown starlet. By this time, she had appeared in a few uncredited roles under her contract for 20th, but they had chosen not to renew it, so she was dropped. Marilyn meets Schenck at this party, and he takes an immediate liking to her. The two become friends and she often visits him at his home for dinner. It was Schenck’s influence that got Harry Cohn to consider her for “Ladies of the Chorus” at Columbia studios. And here’s the most important part: they did not have a sexual relationship. Both firmly denied being involved other than just being good friends. I don’t think the mixed up chronology in the film was that intentional, it was probably just done that way to progress the movie more smoothly. To conclude, meeting Schenck and attending his party happened before Marilyn posed for Tom Kelley.

Get this straight, Mr. Schenck and I were good friends. He gave me encouragement when I needed it. He didn’t do anything for me. He let Mr. Zanuck run the studio the way Mr. Zanuck wanted to run it. The only favor I ever asked him, Mr. Schenck, was later, when I was back at Twentieth I wanted a decent dressing room. I never asked him to help me get good parts at Twentieth, and he didn’t. He knew how I felt about it, that I wanted to succeed on my talent, not any other way, and he respected my feelings.  -Marilyn Monroe, Empire News June 1954

She used to come here quite often for dinner. I think she liked to eat. We have good food here. No, I never had any romantic thoughts about Marilyn and she never had any such thoughts about me.” –Joseph Schenck, Cavalier August 1961

Joe Schenck

Lastly, here in the film we see Kelli as Marilyn at the mental institution where her mother is being kept. This institution is supposed to represent Agnew, the place she was admitted to after an attempt to escape from Norwalk. In the scene, Marilyn is signing for her to be released, which is a little confusing since if they are corresponding it with the year Marilyn posed for Tom Kelly, it would be 1949, By this time in real life, Gladys had been released from Agnew a few years before and was living with her new husband, John Stewart Eley, in Los Angeles.

Right: Marilyn's mother Gladys

Thank you for taking the time to read all this, hope you learned something out of it! Stay tuned for the next post, which will be wrapping up the first episode of “Secret Life.”

© Kylie Pinzini and 2016 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kylie Pinzini and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Quick Review: Marilyn in Fashion

Marilyn in Fashion by Christopher Nickens and George Zeno

First of all, this book is highly recommended! This is not a biography, but you can learn a lot about Marilyn’s personality through her style preferences and chosen designers. “Marilyn in Fashion” is a very thoroughly researched book and provides a lot of bits of information on specific outfits and dresses you otherwise might not find in your standard biography. It focuses on each significant costume artist that worked with Marilyn on her various films, whether they provided 1 or 20 pieces of clothing. The book is separated by each designer alphabetically by last name. Each section provides a plethora of information about the person and uses fashion terms to describe each item. You can learn all sorts of interesting new facts. For example, it was surprising to find that Elois Jenssen, who designed Marilyn’s wardrobe in We’re Not Married (1952) also designed Lucille Ball’s outfits for two seasons of I Love Lucy, and received an academy award nomination for Tron (1982). I thought that was really cool! I Love Lucy and Tron are definitely very different  features.

However, my only complaint is that I noticed 3 glaring errors in this book. They might go unnoticed to the average person, but I noticed them immediately. In the first section of the book, “Marilyn in Fashion” briefly covers Marilyn’s timeline before she became Marilyn Monroe. They list her father as Edward Mortenson, which is not exactly true. Well, we can never really know for certain who her father was, as DNA tests were never performed. But it is widely accepted, and even by Marilyn herself, that her father is Charles Stanley Gifford. He and her mother Gladys were together when Gladys became pregnant, and he left, avoiding the responsibility. While there is no solid proof, I think we can all agree that she looks a lot like Gifford in her younger years.

The next error is that the author states that at Emmeline Snively’s request, Norma Jeane’s early modeling mentor, “Norma Jeane underwent electrolysis to clean up her hairline.” This is not true. That was actually Rita Hayworth that had that done, but it is often confused as Marilyn. There is no proof of Marilyn having this procedure done. Snively cared greatly for her, and documented her entire time at the Blue Book Modeling Agency, and if that had happened, there would be something to substantiate it. But there is nothing. Same goes for the third error in this book, which is that “she had the tip of her nose shortened, and later her nostrils narrowed.” Not true either! Again, no definitive proof. Only claims made by people who say they paid for it. And no, photo comparisons over a 10 year span are not proof.

Towards the end of the book, there are more shorter sections that detail her hair, hats, accessories, and unknown designers. All of which were very interesting to read about as well. Other than those errors mentioned, I very highly recommend this book. It’s different than what we usually see and you can really learn a great deal from it. The covers are beautiful and the photos featured throughout are absolutely gorgeous. So put it on your Marilyn book list! 

Image result for marilyn in fashion book cover

© Kylie Pinzini and 2016 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kylie Pinzini and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Breaking Down "Secret Life" Part 3/?

DISCLAIMER: I am not a Marilyn expert, but I’m studying to be!

Thanks for tuning in! This is a continuation of my series of blog posts titled “Breaking Down ‘The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe’ the movie.” If you have not, please check out parts 1 & 2 of this review.

Links are here!
Part 1
Part 2

As always, thank you to April, my go-to Marilyn expert who this time specifically helped me source Jim's memoir.

Episode 1 continued: Marilyn’s marriage to Jim Dougherty + the beginning of her modeling career

In the last post, we ended on a breakdown of Marilyn’s foster homes; dates in which she was bounced back and forth between different houses and families as a child. Now we get out of her childhood and move on to her teenage years.

“The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe” (the movie) paints a picture of the young Jim Dougherty, played by Giacomo Gianniotti, as a man who cared for then Norma Jeane, played by Kelli Garner, but who soon became frustrated with her lack of interest in sex and who quickly became unsupportive of her career.

On June 19, 1942, a sixteen year old Norma Jeane married 21 year old James Dougherty. James had been a neighbor of Marilyn and would often help drive her and Bebe Goddard (Doc Goddard’s daughter) back from school. However, Doc was preparing for a job transfer to West Virginia, and they could not afford to bring Marilyn along. She was still a minor at fifteen years old, so she would have been forced to go back to the orphanage, a place which she had previously lived for one year at age seven. Sixteen was the legal age in California, so this gave Grace and Ethel (Jimmy’s mother) an idea. Norma Jeane would soon turn sixteen, and if she wanted to avoid another boarding at Hollygrove, why not marry Jimmy? They had been out on a couple friendly dates together, so the two ladies felt this would be the perfect arrangement to give Marilyn a better living situation. And so, in June of 1942, Norma Jeane Baker dropped out of her sophomore year at University High School and became Norma Jeane Dougherty in an intimate ceremony at the home of the Howell family (friends of Grace) on South Bentley Avenue.

Marilyn and James on their wedding day

That same month, the newlyweds signed a 6 month lease for a small one room bungalow in Sherman Oaks. They spent their short honeymoon at Sherwood Lake for fishing and camping.

Norma Jeane fishing at Sherwood Lake

James Dougherty soon joined the United States Merchant Marine. Not long after, he was shipped off to boot camp on Catalina Island, which had been cut off from the public to become a training ground for the navy. The Doughertys moved into an apartment in Avalon, Catalina Island where the headquarters of the Merchant Marine Corps was located. The couple made a few friends there and Marilyn loved to keep in shape by taking the dog out for a run each day or lifting weights. Marilyn frequently wrote to Grace McKee, updating her on her life at Catalina and her marriage to Jim. Their marriage started out decently, they still didn’t know each other very well, but felt they could make it work and start a family. Marilyn, lacking a father figure in her life, sometimes subconsciously saw him as her father rather than her husband. After all, he was 5 years older than her, and the maturity level was a little different. Marilyn was a young girl looking for love and stability and clung to him for both. She loved Jimmy during their marriage, but for the most part, Marilyn later recalled it just became “boring.” Marilyn was too young at that point to become a mother, so the thought of starting a family was hardly more than a thought at all. Being a sixteen year old virgin thrust into marriage must have been a terrifying situation, and the film portrays this in the scene shortly after their marriage, where Jimmy is expecting Norma Jeane to sleep with him, but she suddenly begins panicking and begging him to stop. It would be these elements combined with Marilyn’s soon to be modeling career that would ultimately lead to their separation.

From "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"

At this point in the movie, we return to the “present” time where Marilyn briefly leaves the room in which she is conversing with the fictional Dr. DeShields. Frantically rushing to Eunice Murray, her housekeeper, she quickly swallows some unknown type of pills. Marilyn struggled much of her life with taking too many sleeping pills, this is a commonly known fact. However, Marilyn did not constantly require pills to make it through the day. The medication she used was consumed at night when she could not sleep. She was not high every minute of every day swallowing down pills. So that was pretty disappointing to see portrayed. However, Kelli Garner, as Marilyn, says during her conversation with the fictional Dr. DeShields that she would rather be a symbol for sex than “some other thing they’ve got symbols for” and that she wants to be an “artist,” not an “erotic freak.” These are real Marilyn quotes! In her ghost written book (ghostwritten but still her book) based off her working with Milton Greene and Ben Hecht to create an autobiography titled My Story, she says “I want to be an artist, not an erotic freak. I don’t want to be sold to the public as a celluloid aphrodisical.” In Marilyn’s very last interview in July of 1962, she says: “If I’m gonna be a symbol of something, I’d rather have it sex than some other thing they’ve got symbols of!”

From "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"

In the film it is now 1944. We see Kelli as Marilyn walk into another average day at the Radioplane Munitions Factory. Marilyn herself landed this job in March of 1944 with the help of Ethel Dougherty after Jimmy was shipped off to Australia. Her job was to spray varnish on the fuselages before being promoted to inspecting parachutes. On this particular day, shown in the movie, photographer David Conover was assigned to Radioplane to photograph women on the assembly that were to be used in military magazines. Young Norma Jeane turns out to be a natural in front of the camera, and Conover suggests she take up modeling. Norma is surprised and excited at this suggestion, and it boosts her mood and her confidence in the pictures. David Conover is known as the first person to professionally photograph the soon to be Marilyn Monroe. And the film shows a super cute recreation! Just another example of why I adore the sets and costumes replicated on screen.

From "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"

Marilyn Monroe, 1944

What I find surprising at this stage of the movie, however, is that Marilyn’s sister has not yet been mentioned. If you’re super new to the Marilyn world: yes, Marilyn had a sister! Berniece Baker was born to Gladys and Jasper Baker on July 30, 1919. She is still alive today, and is the half sister of Marilyn Monroe, they both share the same mother. Bernice married Paris Miracle in 1938 and they had a daughter together named Mona Rae Miracle in 1939. Norma Jeane had first learned of the existence of her older sister when she was twelve years old, but in the fall of 1944, at age eighteen, was when the two met for the first time in person after a trip to Detroit.

Marilyn with her sister Berniece and Berniece's daughter Mona Rae, 1944

Now we are at some point in what I would assume would be 1945. Norma Jeane has just lightened her hair, and returns home to find her mother Gladys sitting on her doorstep with some luggage. Gladys did in fact board with Marilyn at this time, but Jimmy was not a part of it, as is portrayed in the film. By 1945, Jimmy disapproved of Marilyn’s modeling career, he may have started out not thinking much of it, but he wanted her to stay at home and be a general housewife and have their children. Marilyn had quit her job at Radioplane and that August had signed with the Blue Book Modeling Agency. In the film, Jim angrily calls Marilyn and tells her he has been waiting for her to pick him up. Marilyn is caught up in trying to make her mother comfortable and has forgotten about her husband. He chooses to take the bus instead and meets them at the house. What really happened was this: Jim was on a short leave and called Marilyn. Gladys, at that time, was staying with her. Jim became angry and stayed with his own mother instead. And, unlike the movie, there was no crazy scene with a knife-wielding Gladys before the police were called and escorted her out of the house in handcuffs. Secret Life then follows up with a scene where Norma Jeane goes missing shortly after Gladys is taken away, then arrives several hours later, frantically scrambling back into bed claiming that a man was following her. According to Jimmy, this is true. In his memoir, he explains that he and Marilyn had a fight, she ran off, then returned later in the night panicking because she said a man had been stalking her. This all happened apparently after a fight, not as a result of her mother being taken away in handcuffs.

The meeting with Ben Lyon is, for the most part, entirely true. Marilyn began declaring that she was an orphan to protect the privacy of her mother, who had not been a healthy or present parental figure anyways. The name Marilyn Monroe was decided on when she signed her first contract with 20th Century Fox. Grace had to be her co-signer, because Marilyn was under 21 at the time. She used the name “Monroe”, after her mother’s maiden name, and “Marilyn” was decided by Lyon (casting director at Fox) after stage actress Marilyn Miller. Ironically, Marilyn Monroe would become Marilyn Miller in 1956 after her third marriage. This was the end for Marilyn and Jim. The two divorced in September of 1946 and Marilyn was free to pursue a dream career in acting.

From "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe." Kelli Garner wears what appears to be a replica of one of Marilyn's dresses from 1949 (shown below)

Marilyn in 1949

"I never knew Marilyn Monroe, and I don't claim to have any insights to her to this day. I knew and loved Norma Jeane." [- James Dougherty, United Press International, 1990]

Thank you for reading! I hope you learned something new. In the next post we’ll discuss Marilyn’s early acting career and how it is both similar and different to how it was portrayed in the film.

© Kylie Pinzini and 2016 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kylie Pinzini and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Quick Review! Marilyn: Her Life in Her Own Words

Hi everyone! I'm beginning a new thing: I'm going to do quick Marilyn book reviews. Not full-length, in-depth reviews but just quick ones that let you know my opinion, what to expect, and if I would recommend it. So without further ado, let's get started!

Marilyn: Her Life in Her Own Words by George Barris

George Barris met Marilyn in 1954 on the set of The Seven Year Itch where he photographed her during the subway shooting in New York. They hit it off immediately and became good friends soon after. The two decided to work together to create a truthful autobiography of Marilyn, she was fed up with all of the lies being sold to tabloids and to the press and wanted to set the record straight. However, they did not begin this project until 1962, shortly before Marilyn's untimely death. That summer, Barris interviewed Marilyn and took notes on what she said while he photographed her in Hollywood and on Santa Monica Beach. The result was a compilation of those discussions in the form of a book titled "Marilyn: Her Life in Her Own Words" published in 1995.

Book cover
George Barris knew Marilyn personally, and is a trustworthy source. These days it can get increasingly difficult to trust people involved with Marilyn. A large amount of them, whether they knew her in real life or not, seek personal and financial gain. Barris is not one of those people, and that is one of the reasons I would recommend this book. It features Marilyn's real words, none of that misquoted garbage. 

I also really love the format. It is broken up beautifully and includes several of Marilyn's gorgeous photos in high quality. The main text is italicized in Marilyn's words, but also includes footnotes and explanations by George Barris at the bottom of each page. Like My Story, it is a kind of book in which you can really hear Marilyn's voice lifting the words off the page, it feels as though you can really hear the story coming from her. I greatly appreciate that aspect of it.

However, and here is where I get a little thrown off, Barris briefly mentions twice that he believes that Marilyn was murdered. I can only assume that someone whose theory is that Marilyn was murdered doesn't know anything about her death. So I just think it's unfortunate that such an outlandish speculation is mentioned by such a valuable and trustworthy source. People who don't know any better are going to read that and think it's true, because that's what people do. It's in a book so it must be true, right!? The other thing I had a problem with was when he listed people in Marilyn's life and their connection with her. He lists both JFK and RFK as "heart breakers." Believe me, I let out the biggest sigh. I don't know how many times I've had to explain this, but, in a nutshell: The most that could have possibly happened between Marilyn and JFK is one night, and even then there's nothing to prove it. Marilyn and Bobby did not have any sort of romantic relationship whatsoever. Period. This is not a book about her death and I don;t want to draw too much attention to that, but I needed to get that out there.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and as I said, I would recommend it to someone wanting to delve more into Marilyn's personality and character. It is well-written and features so many beautiful photos taken of Marilyn in the last year of her life. George Barris photographed her magnificently. I love being able to see that playful side of her in the beach photos. It is relatively short, and only took me 2 or 3 days to read, but full of great information. Be sure to check it out and thank you for reading this quick review!

By George Barris, Santa Monica beach 1962

© Kylie Pinzini and 2016 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kylie Pinzini and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Breaking Down "Secret Life" Part 2/?

DISCLAIMER: I am not a Marilyn expert, but I’m working on it.

Thanks for tuning in! This is a continuation of my series of blog posts titled “Breaking Down ‘The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe’ the movie.” If you have not, please check out part 1 of this review.

This particular post would not have been possible without my go-to gal April VeVea, a Marilyn Monroe scholar who worked with me to create a comprehensive timeline of Marilyn’s childhood and who answered many of my questions late into the night.

Episode 1 continued: Gladys Baker + a look into Marilyn’s childhood

In the last breakdown, we left off with a brief discussion of Marilyn’s history with psychotherapy. At this point in the movie, Marilyn (played by Kelli Garner) begins opening up to the the fictional Dr. DeShields about her childhood. She starts with her mother Gladys’s meltdown, which began the course of her mother’s institutionalization for the rest of her life.
The first scene we see from her childhood is “the duffel bag story.” Gladys races up to the Bolenders’ home attempting to take Norma Jeane with her. The Bolenders were the first family that she lived with, they took Norma into their care when she was just 2 weeks old. Gladys paid them each month to take care of her. She stayed there until she was 7 years old. A screaming Gladys, played by Eva Amurri Martino, Susan Sarandon’s daughter in real life, rushes up to the house demanding Norma Jeane to come to her. The result is Gladys eventually making it into the house, then attempting an escape with a duffel bag over her shoulder. Ida Bolender and Gladys fight over the bag, which drops, and out crawls little Norma and into Ida’s arms.

About this duffel bag story: it didn’t happen. There’s just no evidence to even suggest something like this. In fact, I don’t recall hearing it before I read Secret Life the book, so I’m not sure where it originated, therefore I am not sure where Taraborrelli came up with it. There are no personal accounts by either the Bolenders or Gladys herself that she ever came by to kidnap her daughter. The sad but true part is though, at the end of this scene, Norma Jeane yells for “momma” directed at Ida Bolender. Ida then tells her that she’s not her mother, and to call her aunt instead. Here is what Marilyn had to say about this later in a recorded interview:

“The people I was staying with, I was about 3. And one morning I was having a bath and I referred to the woman as ‘momma.’ And she said ‘I’m not your mother. The one who comes here with the red hair, she’s your mother. Don’t call me mother anymore, call me aunt.’ But the one I was concerned was her husband I said ‘but he’s my daddy.’ And she said ‘No. You call him uncle.’ Although they weren’t my aunt and uncle.”

From "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe"

Gladys Baker, 1924
Later on, the movie presents a scene where a young Gladys is screaming and crying at the foot of a set of stairs in a small house. Seconds prior to this, we see Grace McKee (Gladys’s co-worker) and Norma Jeane at the table flipping through a magazine article which focuses on Jean Harlow, one of Marilyn’s real life movie idols. Startled by the sudden outburst, Grace races over to her friend while Norma Jeane tries to get a better view of what is happening to her mother.

Gladys with baby Marilyn

Get ready because a lot of dates are coming up! Let’s start with this house. The house shown in the movie represents the 3 bedroom home Gladys purchased in 1933 in Hollywood, California. After Gladys left her job as a film splicer at Consolidated Studios, she needed a source of income to pay the bills. Gladys rented out part of the house to an English couple called the Atkinsons. George and Maude Atkinson were both bit part actors, stand-ins trying to build a career in Los Angeles. They had a teenage daughter named Nell. Beginning in January of 1934, the Atkinson family moved into the house on Arbol Drive and paid rent to Gladys. They also helped take care of 8 year old Norma Jeane. It was during that month and in this house that Gladys had a psychotic meltdown. Gladys had been going through a lot of hardships in her life, she didn’t have a job and couldn’t afford to care for her child, her father had died in a mental hospital, in 1927 Gladys’s mother Della died of heart failure during a panic attack, and in 1933 Gladys learned that her grandfather, Tilfred Hogan, had committed suicide. These traumatizing events ultimately led to depression and realizing one of her worst fears that eventually became one of Marilyn’s own: that her family’s mental illnesses were hereditary and that she would inherit them. It was at that house on Arbol drive that Gladys broke into a mental panic. She was then admitted to a rest home in Santa Monica in January of 1934 and stayed there until an unknown date before being transferred to Los Angeles General Hospital in that same year. The following year, in January of 1935, Gladys was declared legally insane and transferred to Norwalk State hospital. Norma Jeane continued to live with the Atkinsons during this time and until May of 1935 while Grace McKee attempted to obtain legal guardianship and permission to be in charge of Gladys’s financial affairs.

Grace McKee

At some point that May, Grace had Norma removed from the Atkinsons’ care apparently after discovering that they had been neglectful. Later in life, Marilyn recalled them as being very busy with work and understandably not wanting to be “bothered with a child.” From then, she was placed in the care of the Giffen family, who didn’t live far from the Bakers. She stayed with them for only 2 months, leaving in July of 1935. Harvey Giffen worked as a sound engineer in Hollywood. Norma Jeane lived there with him, his wife Elsie, and their 3 young children. However, Harvey had plans on leaving his job and moving all the way to New Orleans, so he became interested in adopting Norma Jeane. He contacted Gladys regarding this, but Gladys refused, and Norma Jeane was sent to live with Grace.

At this point, Grace was still in the midst of working on receiving guardianship of Norma Jeane, but the courts allowed her to live with Grace temporarily. This began at some point in July of 1935. Grace would marry Doc Goddard that August. Doc had 3 children from a previous marriage: Eleanor (nicknamed Bebe, she was also born in 1926), John, and Nona. Norma Jeane was allowed to live with them until September of 1935, when she was required by law to board at an orphanage for at least one year before legally being allowed to live with Grace. From September 1935 to September 1936, Norma Jeane lived at Hollygrove Orphanage in Los Angeles, California before finally being able to move in with Grace.

Hollygrove Orphanage

Marilyn in 1933

So, that’s a ton of information and dates. If all of this is too confusing and you feel a little scrambled, I don’t blame you, it’s a lot of information! Here is the basic timeline:
·         January 1934: The Atkinsons move in with Marilyn and Gladys at Arbol Drive
·         January 1934: Gladys has a mental breakdown and is admitted to a rest home in Santa Monica where she is then transferred to Los Angeles General Hospital at an unknown date
·         January 1935: Gladys is transferred to Norwalk State Hospital
·         May 1935: Marilyn is removed from the Atkinsons’ care
·         May 1935: Marilyn moves in with the Giffen family
·         July 1935: Marilyn is removed from the care of the Giffens
·         July 1935: Marilyn is allowed to temporarily live with Grace and Doc
·         September 1935: Marilyn is moved to Hollygrove orphanage
·         September 1936: Marilyn leaves Hollygrove to live with Grace full time

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and I hope you learned more about Marilyn’s difficult childhood. Bouncing around to different homes is definitely not ideal, and led to Marilyn’s fear of abandonment and feeling of being unwanted and forgettable. Especially being that she was not in the foster care system, there was no social worker on her case inspecting the homes she lived in. The main focus of the next post will be her marriage to Jim Dougherty. Thank you for reading!

© Kylie Pinzini and 2016 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kylie Pinzini and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Gillian is my Marilyn

I had several outlines completed for this post. I wrote the basics, made some bullet points, but nothing was working. So I’m just going to start from scratch. An entirely blank page and just be real, say what’s on my mind and see how it goes. I hope you are able to take something away from this, thank you for taking the time to read it. So, without further ado, let’s go on a little journey into how exactly this all happened!

If you had asked me around two years ago who Gillian Anderson is, I would say I have absolutely no idea. Wouldn’t ring much of a bell. And now you’re probably thinking, based off the title of this post: how could I give someone who I didn’t even know about two years ago such a high title to say that she is my modern day Marilyn Monroe? Two years ago I wouldn’t even begin to consider such a thing. But today I’m here to tell you why Gillian fits the description for me. To me, Marilyn Monroe is the holy grail of acting, anyone who knows me knows this. All my followers know this, right!? So I was quite surprised when I realized there was someone else in the world I could compare her ability to, something I had initially thought impossible.

One of my goals in life is to become a voice actress. Or rather, one of my paths. I know it is destined to happen for me at some point. I simply cannot visualize myself with any other career. It has been like that for as long as I can remember. And for someone who is awkward and shy and insecure and embarrassing in real life, that is not an easy thing to do. And it really hit me how serious this life choice became when I attended my first set of acting classes several months ago. My nerves were through the roof when I walked into a small room with seven chairs set up in a wide half-circle around an open microphone that was towering over me, with the coach’s desk in the front corner. Yikes! Talk about reality check. I had to actually stand up in front of people and not speak, but act. I had so many mixed emotions through the whole thing. I kept thinking “Did I make the right decision??” But there was one thing that kept me going and that was thinking about how Marilyn must have felt in her first acting classes. She was always insecure, even after she became Marilyn Monroe, and her first drama coach, Natasha Lytess, recalls her mumbling and being too quiet and stuttering. Which was pretty much me in that class. But Marilyn didn’t let any of those obstacles stop her, or she wouldn’t be where she had been. She didn’t have family encouragement like I do, she didn’t have supportive best friends, like I do. Grace McKee was always pushing her to do what she loved, she was the one who became a key figure in contributing to Marilyn’s dreams of becoming an actress, and I think that’s a great thing. But at the end of the day, Marilyn did it all on her own, because it’s something she wanted to do. She set a goal for herself at a young age and she accomplished it, and worked her whole life for it, even after she reached it. And I did not allow my fears to overcome me during this class solely for that reason.

From "The Prince and the Showgirl" (1956)
I look to Marilyn for inspiration every single day. If I’m looking for encouragement, I read or listen to an interview she gave. In fact, one of my favorite of her quotes from an interview is: “I believe that you shouldn’t do anything in life until you’re ready. Half of life’s heartaches come from decisions that were made in a hurry.”  (The Gadsden Times, July 1960). These are definitely some words to live by if you ask me! And in my case especially.

So how am I fitting Gillian Anderson into all this? Marilyn is my celebrity role model, and if I have plans on becoming a voice actress, or any type of actress at all, it’s important for me to have a role model who is an actress. And not only that, Marilyn was an incredibly talented human being in a lot of aspects of her life. She was a brilliant performer, had an intelligent mind, and such a kind heart. Her face is on everything today, but I still think she’s underrated as an actress. As an artist. Therefore, I have the perfect example of who I should be modeling my attitude and decisions after. But every once in a while, this pursuit tends to stir up sad emotions. It is difficult to remember that she is no longer here on this earth. I study her so much, I often forget that she isn’t here. As a result, I was subconsciously longing for a suitable role model in today’s society. So without even realizing it, I set out looking for my modern day Marilyn Monroe.

Truthfully, I don’t know very much about Gillian Anderson, so I had an enjoyable time learning more about her in preparing for this post. I don’t know much, but what I do know is that when I watched her in The X-Files for the first time, one of the most popular science fiction dramas on TV, I finally understood what acting was. Something just clicked for me, just like a light switch, I suddenly got it. I’m pretty sure it happened when I was watching the season 4 episode “Memento Mori.” When I saw Gillian perform in that particular episode, I understood acting as an art. Because good actors, they can make you hate their character, love them, sad for them, happy for them. But this was different. This was genuine talent like I had never been exposed to on television before. And from what I understand, this woman had only trained two years prior to her audition for the show that became her big break.

From "The X-Files"
Gillian grew up in England, a place where acting is more commonly seen and appreciated as an art, before moving to the states. She got her first taste of acting when she was casted for a high school performance of “Romeo and Juliet.” She was a bit rebellious in her teenage years, and when she moved to the states to continue school, she worked on her American accent after getting teased by her classmates for sounding different. Once she graduated high school, she went on to study at DePaul University’s Goodman Theater, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts before enrolling in a workshop for the National Theatre of Great Britain at Cornell a year later. From there, she appeared in a couple off Broadway productions before auditioning for The X-Files, a touchstone of her career. (Ok if you’ve watched The X-Files you’ll see what I did there).

Gillian studied at some very prestigious places, which is what makes her so skilled and so brilliant at what she does. I don’t know why she instantly became separated from other actors for me, but she did. Upon watching her for the first time, I obviously knew nothing about her, I didn’t know where she went to school, how long she had been an actress. But something in her performance made me recognize that talent. I was so impressed with her ability to present an entirely made up person in such an authentic, memorable, and real way. And that feeling continued on for the rest of the show. Especially after my frightening first experience in acting class. Watching her I thought “Wow, she is really brave. I could never do that. I could never reach that level of artistic ability even if I tried.” I don’t plan on being the next Gillian Anderson, but as much as I loved Marilyn, I needed someone current to look up to. That is when I first began to develop the incredible amount of respect I have for Gillian today. Gillian is someone who I would do anything to sit down with for an hour and get some advice from about acting or just about life. I can’t do that with Marilyn. I wish to God I could, but for me, Gillian is the next best thing.

From Netflix's "The Fall"
But why compare her to Marilyn? Marilyn has always been very separate for me from any other actor or actress of both her time, and of the present. Sure, I admire and appreciate the work of others, there are still a few other old Hollywood actors that I am a huge fan of, but honestly at the end of the day, none of them hold a candle to what Marilyn means to me. Absolutely none. I have such an immense amount of respect for her. And that is exactly how I now feel about Gillian. No other current actress can even compare. When Marilyn appears on the screen, you pay attention to her, you are curious and intrigued as to what her character is going to do or say next. This applies to Gillian as well. When she walks on the screen, you pay attention, no matter who the character is. And that’s all Gillian. I’m not just talking about Dana Scully, undoubtedly her most popular character, but her other works as well. For example, I think she plays Stella Gibson flawlessly in “The Fall.” A Netflix show I highly recommend if you love crime dramas. You can really tell how passionate she is about her work and this shines through all of her roles. She gives her characters a certain depth and captivating effect that they otherwise may not have had. Gillian just emulates Marilyn for me. They don’t look alike, they don’t sound alike, they have different personalities, but for some reason Gillian has near the same effect for me as Marilyn does. Different, but the same.  I guess it’s because when I see Marilyn act in a film, I understand acting and the work that goes into it, it really clicks. For Gillian, it’s the same effect. I can see in her performance the hard work she puts in to developing these fictional characters. It’s incredible to watch, and as a result, these days the more I watch movies, the more I appreciate every little thing that happens in them. I don’t care if the acting is bad, if the graphics are cheesy, if the script is awful. Those first classes were enough to teach me that it takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there like that. And when I see Gillian do it especially, I have a completely new perspective on it.

Not to mention that Gillian fought against her studio for higher pay after her male co-star David Duchovny was contracted to earn twice her amount for the new season of The X-Files. Marilyn had the guts to fight her studio for better and more dramatic parts, other than just being typecast as the ditzy blonde. Gillian is a well known feminist with very strong views that she isn’t afraid to speak on. I would not consider myself a feminist but I would say I have feminist sort of … undertones if that’s even a thing. I greatly admire Gillian’s beliefs and it has really shaped a new way of thinking for me and it’s been so eye-opening to listen to her speak and read her interviews. Marilyn was not a feminist, but she was not afraid to show off her figure to eager photographers. She has never done anything vulgar, but her more provocative shoots show a woman who is genuinely comfortable with her body. In the 50’s, this was almost unheard of. It was uncommon for a woman to publicly embrace her sexuality, which is what made Marilyn so ahead of her time. These days it’s everywhere; there isn’t much of a censor in TV and film anymore. And that’s one of the reasons I admire Marilyn; for being comfortable in her own skin and not being afraid to push the boundaries. A year after Gillian gave birth to her first child, she worked on getting her body back, losing weight, and becoming more comfortable with herself and embraced the opportunity for more provocative photoshoots. I admire this quality in both of these ladies.

“People have curious attitudes about nudity, just as they have about sex. Nudity and sex are the most commonplace things in the world, yet people often act as if they were things that existed only on Mars.” –Marilyn Monroe, My Story

“Over the next short while we will start to contribute to removing the stigma from [feminism] because it’s become a dirty word and it shouldn’t be a dirty word. It’s basically … by adding to one community you’re not taking away from the other community, that’s not the intention.” Gillian Anderson, Fan Expo 2015

I wish this were easier to explain, but it’s incredibly hard to put thoughts into words. The bottom line is, Gillian Anderson is my current role model, I look to her for direction and inspiration the same as I do Marilyn. From what I’ve seen of Gillian in interviews and things of that nature, I see a sweet, genuine human being who has such a genuine love for her fans and for her work, much like Marilyn herself. “If I’m a star the people made me a star. It was no studio, and no person.” (Marilyn Monroe; Life magazine, 1962). And this quote from Gillian from a BBC interview strongly resonates with me at this point in my life: “But what’s funny, too, that happens, is when you’re young you end up being kind of thrust into and taken on this path that you don’t always feel like you have perspective in. Like if I chose now, I probably wouldn’t have done [that] because it didn’t represent how I felt about myself or how I wanted to necessarily be perceived in the world.”

What I hope that you take away from this post is the tools to help you find someone or something that gives you inspiration. I’m lucky to have found that throughout my life in Marilyn, and I’m lucky to get to see it now in Gillian. Find good influences in your life. Surround yourself with people who you can learn from, who can enlighten you and help you grow. Whether they are aware of it or not! And to the Marilyn fans, don’t criticize other people for saying some modern public figure is their Marilyn Monroe. We all know that there is only one Marilyn who will never, ever be replaced, but for some people like myself it is nice to have a role model who is more current that maybe you share that same respect for.

Follow me at @marilynnation on Instagram for more!

© Kylie Pinzini and 2016 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kylie Pinzini and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.