The Five Acts of Marilyn Monroe

Her old drama coach hoped Marilyn Monroe would live long enough to ‘free the talent that was wandering through her like a jailed spirit’. It wasn’t to be. So what can we take from Norma Jeane’s life?
Marilyn Monroe wearing a red brocade evening gown and long black gloves, lying on a carpet and using a white fur stole as a pillow.

Marilyn Monroe may have died 61 years ago, but, like many old- school goddesses — Venus, say, or perhaps Voluptas — she remains omniscient. She’s one of the American Film Institute’s top 10 screen legends. She’s also a meme, a gif, a screensaver, a T-shirt, a tattoo, a myth, and an icon — literally so, in the case of Andy Warhol’s venerated screen prints. She’s rarely out of the news. Recently it was reported that a get-well note from her estranged father — “Dear Marylyn (sic)... lots of thoughts and wishes are with you every day” — sold for $31,000 at a Beverly Hills auction. Prior to that, the release of Andrew Dominik’s film Blonde, based on Joyce Carol Oates’ doorstop of a bio-novel, rehashed her suffering and anguish at the hands of everyone from her unstable mother to venal studio heads and a sociopathic J.F.K., “canonising her into a feminist saint who died for our scopophilic sins”, according to The Guardian.


Stuart Husband


February 2023


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