Continuing with my incredibly lengthy but informative breakdown of The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe the movie (or mini-series). This week we take a look at Marilyn's marriage to Arthur and the end of it, as well as Marilyn's pill usage and failed pregnancies. Before continuing, please check out the previous parts of my review so that you’re all caught up! Trigger warnings: mental illness, miscarriage.
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THE MOVIE(1): Marilyn strolls into the living room, where an open journal sitting on Arthur’s desk catches her eye. She approaches it, observing what he has written. She reads, “This marriage is a mistake – I’m trapped.”
REAL LIFE(1):The open diary is a story that gets endlessly tossed around and recycled and edited among Marilyn fans. It is one of the first things fans bring up in an attempt to bash Arthur. What was written in that diary? We don’t know. We don’t have it. We can’t say. Whatever was in it, Marilyn was hurt by it. Arthur was obviously expressing his doubts and worries about their relationship. But this discovery was early on in their marriage. They managed to stay married another 4 years. So it was certainly nothing that caused any huge problem within the marriage and it was something they both got over. Marilyn wasn’t delusional over this. Sure, some level of trust was damaged, but overall, the diary incident was not fatal to their marriage, and today it certainly gets blown out of proportion.
|From The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe|
THE MOVIE(2):Marilyn awakens to severe abdominal pain late in the night. She limps outside to where Arthur is. She is covered in blood, and Arthur immediately runs to her aid. Marilyn realizes she has had a miscarriage.
REAL LIFE(2): In the summer of 1957, Marilyn and Arthur were vacationing in Amagansett, Long Island, when Marilyn began suffering from severe stomach pain. She was immediately rushed to the nearest hospital in New York, where her pregnancy was terminated. For ten days afterwards, Marilyn rested in the hospital in attempt to regain her strength both physically and mentally. She, of course, was absolutely devastated. In her adult life, Marilyn had wanted nothing more than to become a mother, and have children of her own. Her endometriosis condition made it difficult for her to carry a baby to term. Marilyn, unfortunately, had two confirmed miscarriages. She was farthest along in 1958, about 3 months, when her pregnancy ended in a miscarriage that December while shooting the film Some Like It Hot.
|A pregnant Marilyn in 1958|
THE MOVIE(3): Marilyn is delusional after the loss of her child. She has fired the maid after accusing her of kidnapping her unborn daughter. She is completely out of her mind, saying things like, “Shhh, you’ll wake the baby,” even though there is no baby. Marilyn even has a vision of her mother, Gladys, coming to her and saying, “You have no one to blame but yourself.” A confused and distraught Marilyn makes her way into the living room, where Arthur finally accuses Marilyn of killing their child, and that it’s Marilyn’s fault that she miscarried.
REAL LIFE(3): Here’s where things really start to get pretty drastic and inaccurate in the movie. As we’ve determined, Marilyn wanted nothing more than a child she could care for and love, since she herself was robbed of that kind of affection in her own childhood. She was understandably distraught and devastated over her two failed pregnancies. However, by no account was she hallucinating or breaking into psychotic episodes over it, such as searching for her missing child. At this point in the movie and for someone who didn’t know better, the viewer would think Marilyn was slowly inheriting her mother’s illness, which she, in real life, did not. Gladys was the one who suffered schizophrenia, not Marilyn. Arthur, too, is hurt by this loss, but there is no account of him mentally abusing her with insinuations that she killed his child.
|From The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe|
THE MOVIE(4): Marilyn is out at lunch with a new character we are introduced to: Pat Kennedy Lawford, played by Tamara Hickey. They have a discussion about Pat’s brother, president John Kennedy, where Marilyn mentions the first time she met him, and soon Marilyn notices that her ex-husband Joe DiMaggio has entered the restaurant. He walks over and compliments Marilyn, striking up a conversation. Joe then goes home with her.
REAL LIFE(4): First, Pat Lawford. Marilyn was introduced to Pat through actor Peter Lawford, her husband. She was introduced to Peter through mutual friend Frank Sinatra, who Marilyn had dated briefly in 1961. Marilyn and Pat became quick friends, which was uncommon for Marilyn. Marilyn didn’t have many close female friends. Her male friends (yes, male friends, that she had no romantic relationship with) greatly outweighed her female friends. Pat really cared for Marilyn. Marilyn was beginning to sort of surround herself with a new social circle following her divorce from Arthur Miller. Christopher Lawford, Peter and Pat’s son, wrote in 2005: “My mother told me Marilyn was like ‘her little sister.’ It surprised her that Marilyn was so open with her. Marilyn Monroe trusted my mother’s love for her.” In August of 1962, Pat flew out to Los Angeles with the intention of attending Marilyn’s funeral. However, she was refused entrance by Joe DiMaggio, who did the same to most of Marilyn’s Hollywood friends and acquaintances. Pat was incredibly hurt by this. As far as Joe DiMaggio re-entering Marilyn’s life, he did this soon after Marilyn and Arthur’s divorce. He demanded Marianne Kris have Marilyn released from Payne Whitney, he took care of her and frequently visited her when she was hospitalized, and he took her on a relaxing vacation to Florida. Joe lived the rest of his life in regret for how he treated Marilyn, and he really stepped up and became a real friend to her in the last year of her life. However. Marilyn was adamant that they were just friends. Although we can never know what happened behind closed doors, it is commonly accepted that they were just that: friends. Marilyn greatly appreciated his coming back into her life. They even spent her last Christmas together. And forget what you hear about their planning to remarry the year she died, because there is nothing to prove that.
|From The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe|
THE MOVIE(5): Marilyn is hanging out in her room with Pat Lawford. After excusing herself to use the restroom, Pat comes back and expresses her concern at the amount of pills Marilyn has in her medicine cabinet. Marilyn says, “They keep me going in the morning, they put me out at night.”
REAL LIFE(5): Let me start off with the disclaimer that I am no medical expert whatsoever. Marilyn didn’t take nor need pills to make it through the day. She needed them to make it through the night. She wasn’t regularly taking stimulants; she was regularly taking sedatives before bed to help her sleep. If you look at her numerous prescriptions, they’re all prescriptions for medications such as valmid, Librium, chloral hydrate, tuinal, seconal, Nembutal, and several other types of sedatives. If that sounds like an unnecessary amount, it’s because it is. Her doctors were providing this medication for her rather than trying to wean her off of it. The only time she was prescribed a stimulant was on July 1, 1962, in the form of 12 dexedrine tablets.
That concludes part 8 of this ongoing review. Thank you so much for keeping up with it and if you have any questions or comments, leave them here or message me on my Instagram which can be found at the top of this blog. Thank you!
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