July 19th, 2006
Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe: Still Life and Essay By Gloria Steinem

The Woman Who Will Not Die

By Gloria Steinem, 1986

It has been nearly a quarter of a century since the death of a minor American actress named Marilyn Monroe. There is no reason for her to be a part of my consciousness as I walk down a midtown New York street frilled with color and action and life.

In a shop window display of white summer dresses, I see several huge photographs – a life-size cutout of Marilyn standing in a white halter dress, some close-ups of her vulnerable, please-love-me smile – but they don’t look dated. Oddly, Marilyn seems to be just as much a part of this street scene as the neighboring images of models who could now be her daughters – even her granddaughters. I walk another block and pass a record store featuring the hit albums of a rock star named Madonna. She has imitated Marilyn Monroe’s hair, style, and clothes, but subtracted her vulnerability. Instead of using seduction to offer men whatever they want, Madonna uses it to get what she wants – a 1980’s difference that has made her the idol of teenage girls. Nevertheless, her international symbols of femaleness are pure Marilyn.

A few doors away, a bookstore displays two volumes on Marilyn Monroe in its well-stocked window. The first is nothing but random photographs, one of many such collections that have been published over the years. The second is one of several recent exposes on the circumstances surrounding Monroe’s 1962 death from an accidental or purposeful overdose of sleeping pills. Could organized crime, Jimmy Hoffa in particular, have planned to use her friendship with the Kennedys and her suicide – could Hoffa and his friends even have caused that suicide – in order to embarrass or blackmail Robert Kennedy, who was definitely a mafia enemy and probably her lover? Only a few months ago, Marilyn Monroe’s name made international headlines again when a British television documentary on this conspiracy theory was shown and a network documentary made in the United States was suppressed, with potential pressure from crime-controlled unions or the late Robert Kennedy’s family as rumored reasons.

I knew I belonged to the public and to the world, not because I was talented or even beautiful but because I had never belonged to anything or anyone else.
From the Unfinished Biography of Marilyn Monroe

As I turn the corner into my neighborhood, I pass a newsstand where the face of one more young Marilyn Monroe look-alike stares up at me from a glossy magazine cover. She is Kate Mailer, Norman Mailer’s daughter, who was born the year that Marilyn Monroe died. Now she is starring in “Strawhead,” a “memory play” about Monroe written by Norman Mailer, who is so obsessed with this long-dead sex goddess that he had written one long biography and another work – half fact, half fiction – about her, even before casting his daughter in this part.

The next morning, I turn on the television and see a promotion for a show on film director Billy Wilder. The only clip chosen to attract viewers and represent Wilder’s entire career is one of Marilyn Monroe singing a few breathless bars in Some Like It Hot, one of two films they made together.

These are everyday signs of a unique longevity. If you add her years of movie stardom to the years since her death, Marilyn Monroe has been a part of our lives and imaginations for nearly four decades. That’s a very long time for one celebrity to survive in a throwaway culture.

In the 1930’s, when English critic Cyril Connolly proposed a definition of posterity to measure whether a writer’s work had stood the test of time, he suggested that posterity should be limited to 10 years. The form and content of popular culture were changing too fast, he explained, to make any artist accountable for more than a decade.

Since then, the pace of change has been accelerated even more. Everything from the communications revolution to multinational entertainment has altered the form of culture. Its content has been transformed by civil rights, feminism, an end to film censorship, and much more. Nonetheless, Monroe’s personal and intimate ability to inhabit our fantasies has gone right on. As I write this, she is still better known than most living movie stars, most world leaders, and most television personalities. The surprise is that she rarely has been taken seriously enough fur us to ask why that is so.

One simple reason for her life story’s endurance is the premature end of it. Personalities and narratives projected onto the screen of our imaginations are far more haunting – and far more likely to be the stuff of conspiracies and conjuncture – if they have not been allowed to play themselves out to their logical or illogical ends. James Dean’s brief life is the subject of a cult, but the completed lives of such “outsiders” as Gary Cooper or Henry Fonda are not. Each day in the brief Camelot of John Kennedy inspires as much speculation as each year in the long New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt. The few years of Charlie “Bird” Parker’s music inspire graffiti (”Bird Lives”), but the many musical years of Duke Ellington do not.

When the past dies there is mourning, but when the future dies, our imaginations are compelled to carry it on.

Would Marilyn Monroe have become the serious actress she aspired to be? Could she have survived the transition from sex goddess to mortal woman that aging would impose? Could she had stopped her disastrous marriages to men whose images she wanted to absorb (Beloved American DiMaggio, Serious Intellectual Miller), and found a partner who loved and understood her as she really was? Could she have kicked the life-wasting habits of addiction and procrastination? Would she have had or adopted children? Found support in the growing strength of women or been threatened by it? Entered the world of learning or continued to be ridiculed for trying? Survived and even enjoyed the age of 60 she now would be?

Most important, would she finally have escaped her lifetime combination of two parts talent, one part victim, and one part joke? Would she have been “taken seriously,” as she so badly wanted to be?

We will never know. Every question is as haunting as any of its possible answers.

But the poignancy of this incompleteness is not enough to explain Marilyn Monroe’s enduring power. Even among brief public lives, few become parables. Those that endure seem to hook into our deepest emotions of hope or fear, dream or nightmare, of what our own fates might be. Successful leaders also fall into one group or the other: those who invoke a threatening future and promise disaster unless we obey, and those who conjure up a hopeful future and promise reward if we will follow. It’s this power of either fear or hope that makes a personal legend survive, from the fearsome extreme of Adolph Hitler (Did he really escape? Might he have lived on in the jungles of South America?) to the hopeful myth of Zapata waiting in the hills of Mexico to rescue his people. The same is true for the enduring fictions of popular culture, from the frightening villain to the hopeful hero, each of whom is reincarnated again and again.

In an intimate way during her brief life, Marilyn Monroe hooked into both those extremes of emotion. She personified many of the secret hopes of men and many secret fears of women.

To men, wrote Norman Mailer, her image was “gorgeous, forgiving, humorous, compliant and tender… she would ask no price.” She was the child-woman who offered pleasure without adult challenge; a lover who neither judged nor asked anything in return. Both the roles she played and her own public image embodied a masculine hope for a woman who is innocent and sensuously experienced at the same time. “In fact,” as Marilyn said toward the end of her career, “my popularity seems almost entirely a masculine phenomenon.”

Since most men have experienced female power only in their childhoods, they associate it with a time when they themselves were powerless. This will continue as long as children are raised almost totally by women, and rarely see women in authority outside the home. That’s why male adults, and some females too, experience the presence of a strong woman as a dangerous regression to a time of their own vulnerability and dependence. For men, especially, who are trained to measure manhood and maturity by their distance from the world of women, being forced back to that world for female companionship may be very threatening indeed. A compliant child-woman like Monroe solves this dilemma by offering sex WITHOUT the power of an adult woman, much less of an equal. As a child herself, she allows men to feel both conquering and protective; to be both dominating and admirable at the same time.

For women, Monroe embodies kinds of fear that were just as basic as the hope she offered men: the fear of a sexual competitor who could take away men on whom women’s identities and even livelihoods might depend; the fear of having to meet her impossible standard of always giving – and asking nothing in return; the nagging fear that we might share her feminine fate of being vulnerable, unserious, constantly in danger of becoming a victim.

Aside from her beautiful face, which women envied, she was nothing like the female stars that women moviegoers have made popular. Those stars offered at the least the illusion of being in control of their fates – and perhaps having an effect on the world. Stars of the classic “women’s movies” were actresses like Bette Davis, who made her impact by sheer force of emotion; or Katherine Hepburn, who was always intelligent and never victimized for long; or even Doris Day, who charmed the world into conforming to her own virginal standards. Their figures were admirable and neat, but without the vulnerability of the big-breasted woman in a society that regresses men and keeps them obsessed with the maternal symbols of breasts and hips. Watching Monroe was quite different: women were forced to worry for her vulnerability – and thus their own. They might feel like a black moviegoer watching a black actor play a role that was too passive, too obedient, or a Jew watching a Jewish character who was selfish and avaricious. In spite of some extra magic, some face-saving sincerity and humor, Marilyn Monroe was still close to the humiliating stereotype of a dumb blonde: depersonalized, sexual, even a joke. Yet few women yet had the self-respect to object on behalf of their sex, as one would object on behalf of a race or religion, they still might be left feeling a little humiliated – or threatened – without knowing why.

“I have always had a talent for irritating women since I was fourteen,” Marilyn wrote in her unfinished auto-biography. “Sometimes I’ve been to a party where no one spoke to me for a whole evening. The men, frightened by their wives or sweeties, would give me a wide berth. And the ladies would gang up in a corner to discuss my dangerous character.”

But all that was before her death and the revelations surrounding it. The moment she was gone, Monroe’s vulnerability was no longer just a turn-on for many men and an embarrassment for many women. It was a tragedy. Whether that final overdose was suicide or not, both men and women were forced to recognize the insecurity and private terrors that had caused her to attempt suicide several times before.

Men who had never known her wondered if their love and protection might have saved her. Women who had never known her wondered if their empathy and friendship might have done the same. For both women and men, the ghost of Marilyn came to embody a particularly powerful form of hope: the rescue fantasy. Not only did we imagine a happier ending for the parable of Marilyn Monroe’s life, but we also fantasized ourselves as saviors who could have brought it about.

Still, women didn’t seem quite as comfortable about going public with their rescue fantasies as men did. It meant admitting an identity with a woman who always had been a little embarrassing, and who had now turned out to be doomed as well. Nearly all of the journalistic eulogies that followed Monroe’s death were written by men. So are almost all of the nearly 40 books that have been published about Monroe.

Bias in the minds of editors played a role, too. Consciously or not, they seemed to assume that only male journalists should write about a sex goddess. Margaret Parton, a reporter from the Ladies’ Home Journal and one of the few women assigned to profile Marilyn during her lifetime, wrote an article that was rejected because it was too favorable. She had reported Marilyn’s ambitious hope of playing Sadie Thompson, under the guidance of Lee Strasberg, in a television version of RAIN, based on a short story by Somerset Maugham. (Sadie Thompson was “a girl who knew how to be gay, even when she was sad,” a fragile Marilyn had explained, “and that’s important – you know?”) Parton also reported her own “sense of having met a sick little canary instead of a peacock. Only when you pick it up in your hand to comfort it … beneath the sickness, the weakness and the innocence, you find a strong bone structure, and a heart beating. You RECOGNIZE sickness, and you FIND strength.”

Bruce and Beatrice Gould, editors of the Ladies’ Home Journal, told Parton she must have been “mesmerized” to write something so uncritical. “If you were a man,” Mr. Gould told her, “I’d wonder what went on that afternoon in Marilyn’s apartment.” Fred Guiles, one of Marilyn Monroe’s more fair-minded biographers, counted the suppression of this sensitive article as one proof that many editors were interested in portraying Monroe, at least in those later years, as “crazy, a home wrecker.”

Just after Monroe’s death, one of the few women to write with empathy was Diana Trilling, an author confident enough not to worry about being trivialized by association – and respected enough to get published. Trilling regretted the public’s “mockery of [Marilyn's] wish to be educated,” and her dependence on sexual artifice that must have left “a great emptiness where a true sexuality would have supplied her with a sense of herself as a person.” She mourned Marilyn’s lack of friends, “especially women, to whose protectiveness her extreme vulnerability spoke so directly.”

“But we were the friends,” as Trilling said sadly, “of whom she knew nothing.”

In fact, the contagion of feminism that followed Monroe’s death by less than a decade may be the newest and most powerful reason for the continuing strength of her legend. As women began to be honest in public, and to discover that many of our experiences were more societal than individual, we also realized that we could benefit more by acting together than by deserting each other. We were less likely to blame or be the victim, whether Marilyn or ourselves, and more likely to rescue ourselves and each other.

In 1972, the tenth anniversary of her death and the birth year of MS., the first magazine to be published by and for women, Harriet Lyons, one of its early editors, suggested that MS. do a cover story on Marilyn called “the woman who died too soon.” As the writer of this brief essay about women’s new hope of reclaiming Marilyn, I was astounded by the response to the article. It was like tapping an underground river of interest. For instance:

Marilyn had talked about being sexually assaulted as a child, though many of her biographers had not believed her. Women wrote in to tell their similar stories. It was my first intimation of what since has become a documented statistic: one in six adult women has been sexually assaulted in childhood by a family member. The long-lasting effects – for instance, feeling one has no value except a sexual one – seemed shared by these women and Marilyn. Yet most were made to feel guilty and alone, and many were as disbelieved by the grown-ups around them as Marilyn had been.

Physicians had been more likely to prescribe sleeping pills and tranquilizers than to look for the cause of Monroe’s sleeplessness and anxiety. They had continued to do so even after she attempted suicide several times. Women responded with their own stories of being over-medicated, and of doctors who assumed women’s physical symptoms were all in their “minds.” It was my first understanding that women are more likely to be given chemical and other arm’s-length treatment, and to suffer from the assumption that they can be chemically calmed or sedated with less penalty because they are doing only “women’s work.” Then, ads in medical journals blatantly recommended tranquilizers for depressed housewives, and even now the majority of all tranquilizer prescriptions are written for women. Acting, modeling, making a living more from external appearance than from internal identity – these had been Marilyn’s lifelines out of poverty and obscurity. Other women who had suppressed their internal selves to become interchangeable “pretty girls” – and as a result were struggling with both lack of identity and terror of aging – wrote to tell their stories.

To gain the seriousness and respect that was largely denied her, and to gain the fatherly protection she had been completely denied, Marilyn married a beloved American folk hero and then a respected intellectual. Other women who had tried to marry for protection or for identity, as women are often encouraged to do, wrote to say how impossible and childlike this had been for them, and how impossible for their husbands who were expected to provide their wives’ identities. But Marilyn did not live long enough to see a time in which women sought their own identities, not just derived ones.

During her marriage to Arthur Miller, Marilyn had tried to have a child – but suffered an ectopic pregnancy, a miscarriage – and could not. Letters poured in from women who also suffered from this inability and from a definition of womanhood so tied to the accident of the physical ability to bear a child – preferably a son, as Marilyn often said, though later she also talked of a daughter – that their whole sense of self had been undermined. “Manhood means many things,” as one reader explained, “but womanhood means only one.” And where is the self-respect of a woman who wants to give birth only to a male child, someone different from herself?

Most of all, women readers mourned that Marilyn had lived in an era when there were so few ways for her to know that these experiences were shared with other women, that she was not alone.

Now women and men bring the last quarter century of change and understanding to these poignant photographs taken in the days just before her death. It makes them all the more haunting. [Editor's Note: this chapter originally appeared with photographs, which are not present here.]

I still see the self-consciousness with which she posed for a camera. It makes me remember my own teenage discomfort at seeing her on the screen, mincing and whispering and simply hoping her way into love and approval. By holding a mirror to the exaggerated ways in which female human beings are trained to act, she could be as embarrassing – and as sad and revealing – as a female impersonator. Yet now I also see the why of it, and the woman behind the mask that her self-consciousness creates.

I still feel worried about her, just as I did then. There is something especially vulnerable about big-breasted women in this world concerned with such bodies, but unconcerned with the real person within. We may envy these women a little, yet we feel protective of them, too.

But in these photographs, the body emphasis seems more the habit of some former self. It’s her face we look at. Now that we know the end of the story, it’s the real woman we hope to find – looking out of the eyes of Marilyn.

In the last interview before her death, close to the time of these photographs, Patricia Newcomb, her friend and press secretary, remembers that Marilyn pleaded unsuccessfully with the reporter to end his article like this:

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.

  • catie

    dang i cant believe it she died at the age of 36!!!!!

  • nasiii

    wow marilyn is so my roll model these past few months I’ve been reading and studying Marilyn’s life and nobody had it that good i mean come on she was voted most sexist woman in 2000 century wow thats huge i love you Marilyn monroe hope i can meet you one day in heaven love your biggest fan <3<3

  • serina

    i h8 how she died so young she wouldn’t have wnated that

  • kathleen

    the broad had it made she just did not know how to keep her mouth shut when you play with certain people play quietly or pay i say she needed mental help.

  • kathleen

    dang i can’t believe she lived to be 36!!!!!!!!! she was a air head!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Rachal

    i think marilyn monroe a.k.a norma jean was one of the strongest women to have ever lived. anyone and everyone who says differently is a small minded idiot.
    i love you marilyn. rest in peace! x.o.x.o

  • anais

    marilyn is so my role model, she achieved so much in such a little time, and is still remembered as a stunning, lovable women. she’s all over my walls, and i would have loved to know her. -ox

  • jessica

    Marilyn monroe was a strong woman. She had to deal with alot of stuff in her childhood. people who talk down on her, probably dont understand what she went through. R.I.P MM <3

  • lozza

    i cant believe she died at such a young age. She was a gorgoeus women. She had to go thruogh so much as a child and she still achived much as a young women.. she is so beatuiful. i look up to her i didnt know much about her until i studied marilyn for school now i cant stop reading about her.
    i wish i lived in your era. xx big fan!!!!.. #####

  • Christian Lombard

    Marilyn Monroe was unique, truly one of a kind, she was dazzeling on screen and utterly gorgogeous in the cameras eye. She struggled agains tremendous odds to acheive more than she herself realized.Marilyns iconic status is overwhelming. SHE HAD DEMONS JUST AS WE ALL DO.The unintelligent off the cuff remarks by some are sad indeed, to judge without knowing anything about which you know nothing shows where these people are comming from, i pitty such people!
    MARILYN LEFT ME AND IM SHURE MANY MILLIONS WITH SWEET MEMORIES OF WONDERFUL WOMAN .

    Christian

  • Vickyyy “)

    I hated marilyn monroe but my sister has a lot of her stuff nearly all her dvd’s. I didn’t know that she went through so much a a child. i found this website when i was doing a home-ec report and i was doing it on america and her so i was looking through all the books about her and how she died but this website shows you it all in a shorter version. She is nearly my role model Jade, Britney, Cheryl and marilyn are all mine i want to be all of them in one. R.I.P MM GBNF. Loveeeeeeee yuu babee

  • Roslyn Karpel

    I grew up during the same time. Marilyn was charming, talented, beautiful and smart. However, she was taken advantage of, unstable emotionally thus; vulnerable. She expected the world to give her the stability she needed to give herself. She sadly died before her time, but will never die in the hearts of those who appreciated her. Thanks, Roslyn

  • Izzi

    M.M. was really the most beautifull woman that has walked this earth. So beautiful and yet so troubled. Anyone who emulated her is bring her back to us. She will always be my favorite!!! R.I.P. love ya!!!!!

  • A. Holly

    wasn’t she married to a communist

  • jake r.

    wow i wish i could be like her!!

  • baby jacob.

    i wish i could be like her.

  • AL

    After being married for 42 years now, with 3 married sons and two granddaughters…I still love Marilyn Monroe since I first saw her in her film “Nigara” back in 1953.
    There will never be another actress like her.And the world will be in love with her forever.
    God bless you dear girl.
    AL

  • Anonymous

    First off, she was an extraordinary person. Second, for those who think she was a “air head”; She was a college graduate of UCLA and a business owner. She was very smart.Third, She was an excellent and caring mother during the time she was here.

    Her personal life was not on display, and the persona that folks knew is what she put out for you to know in the first place.

    She was a very private, kind and sincere person, who’s emotions ran deeper than any ocean this earth could contain.

    Please refrain from vulgarity, or ill comments… I’d appreciate that, thanks.

  • Whitney

    I don’t understand why some people feel the need to degrade other people; especially ones who are no longer here to defend themselves. Yes she probably had many problems (as I’m sure you do), but she was a person, with feelings and hopes and dreams; all of which she lost way too young.

  • brijoux

    she was a revolutionary thinker….her past pains led her to question society’s status-quo, and that is why she is so unique. her tragic legacy will immortalize her. rest in peace, norma. the love & respect you lacked & deserved in your physical life will be compensated with future generations of adulation. we love you, norma.

  • cameron

    i never had the privelidge to meet marilyn butt she is my honey and i care deeply about her. in heaven we well meet and chat and i will ask her then

  • Stephanie

    I was sexually abused as a young girl. I always trusted people and had a cheerful outlook; told I was a beauty, but when you are violated (on more than one occassion you feel worthless and hideous. So you always appear well groomed on the outside and disheveled on the inside. I am college educated black female who always felt a connection to Marilyn. I wanted children, etc. it never happened; instead I mothered nieces and nephews as well as friends’ children. When I finally found out about Marilyn’s offscreen life; it was then that I knew her pain was my pain. Also she was ahead of her time in her condemnation of racism and bigotry (my belief as well). Rest in peace my sister in spirit.

  • soso

    i heard and saw so many documantries about her yes she had her troubles like most of us but i truley admire her beside her amazing beauty she was very smart i wonder why some people called her a dumb alot of her frinds and coleages said she was very smart and talented also she was very strong woman it is to shame that she died tragically so young she was also a very kind woman.

  • Francis

    Marilyn was certainly NOT an airhead or the dumb blonde she often portrays. Considering everything she had going against her(illegitimate,poor, orphaned,mollestation) She couldn’t have achieved everything she did if she was not smart. She was mentally troubled thats a fact. We can get help for it now. But back then there was very little she could do. Im surprised she got to lived as long as she did. That took alot of guts. You see all these young stars today falling so quickly under the pressure. They couldn’t last a day in her shoes.

  • paige

    is marilyn monroe a tragic hero?

  • Joseph J Clancy

    I’m 54 and I still love her movies.

  • nona dog

    I was in LA nearby on the day she died and will always feel simpatico with Marilyn because our backgrounds are similiar. Agree with what Francis said: Marilyn must have been tough to have lasted as long as she did and still have some love left in her.She was of course used by many including the media and the entire Hollywood system. To me the title of Arthur Miller’s play about her “After the Fall”, says it all. If you truly love someone, you accept them..illness,imperfections, and all. I had the opportunity of visiting her crypt,and am very grateful for that. To me she will never die. Her beauty, talent and grace will always be fresh and new.

  • laura coury

    Marilyn Monroe was the most beutifull women that ever lived and she had a incredible sex apeal , women like her dont came around very often. She is my idol.

  • bailee;;

    (:

  • Lorin!!!!!!!!!!

    i love marilyn monroe!!!!!!

  • James Gammage

    Ms. Steinam is a killjoy who uses Marilyn as a “symbol” to propagate her anti-beauty, anti-sex rants. Marilyn was a complex woman who, sadly, succumbed to her demons- by accident or by intention- we may never know. But, I can say Steinam’s rants are boring and so victim-centered they attempt to drain the life and joy out of Marilyn’s photographs and movie performances- her art which Marilyn worked so hard for. I believe Marilyn would dismiss Ms. Steinam’s ideology all together as shallow and all together down right foolish.

  • Brittany

    Such A Great Documentary !
    I Still Love To Watch Her Movies !
    Love Her Fashions As Well!!

  • http://tower200review.org tower 200

    Am I able to use paypal to pay for this?

  • priyanka jena

    Marilyn Monroe was one of the best things God ever made… She was a true style icon & wud always remain as long as life on earth goes on… Long Live MONROE : )

  • CeCi

    @ Stephanie

    I can relate so much to you when I read your comment. I’m a black female who could also connect to Marilyn Monroe because of what she went through in her personal life. I too was molested as a child, people are always telling me that I’m beautiful. I had people in my life who I trusted that ended up hurting me. I don’t have any children either. And what you said is so true, you can be so good-looking on the outside but feel so messed-up on the inside. When I watched a document on Marilyn Monroe, I felt her pain also when I found out what she had been through in her personal life. I now admire her even more.

  • CeCi

    I meant to say that I watched a documentary on Marilyn Monroe, not document. Sorry about that.

  • sara da silva

    In the book,The Handbag,by Caroline Cox,page 84 is a beautiful black and white picture of Marilyn sitting on the sidewalk curb applying lipstick with a lipstick brush. She has on checkered pants rolled up below her knee with sandals,flats that I have similar pairs of. She is looking at the camera. She looks so me in this picture. Her hair is a lil messy she looks like another American woman on a hot,late evening in NYC,waiting for someone,who must be late. In this picture I love her the most.Her eyes are bright and so loving and hopeful.I love that she is casual,but still amazingly beautiful.Because of this picture It inspires me to follow my dreams and goals.It makes me see that even with all the movies and music,even with all the furs and jewels she was just another American woman who followed her heart even though people mocked and abandoned her.MM you are missed.

  • rita moret

    I heard about Marilyn Monroe’s daughter awhile ago. Nancy Miracle, I then met with her a few years ago. She told me and I believe her that she had contacted Ms. Steinem many years ago in her fight to reveal the true story of her mother Manilyn Monroe, aka Nancy Cusumano, which Nancy has proved in a courtroom, Ms, Steinem disregarded Nancy, and just went ahead and wrote a book about Marilyn and made money, and acted still acts like Nancy Miracle doesn’t exist. She is another, under the guise of feminism which is worse, who has contributed to Nancy’s story. I have recently heard that Nancy is doing a documentary telling the real story in europe and I hope it happens and that she can expose yet another phoney like Steinem.

  • stop-procrastinating.org

    I do believe that even MM has immense problems in her life; she did pretty well in her movies as well being one of the best actress in Hollywood. In times, that I can see one of her pictures in the TV, I am still asking why she lived miserably and undoubtedly a person who seek attention and love. She has secrets that keep her haunting and that made her so vulnerable. This post is remembering a woman who was talent, smart and beautiful. But in all those best aspects she has, she was still looking for something. I think woman should not be judge through her body or I might say the physical aspect of a person. We should look deeper to that—-the inner part of a human being.

  • PJ..

    i WISH SHE had lived longer. I would like to see her start painting. and paint what she thought of herself and how she came across. I would have liked to see her grow old and do some serious acting or possibly exceed in a TV series ie Golden Girls. I would have liked to see her grow old and live accepting herself more at peace in simpler things in life and take from life more than what she was seeing. I would like to have her had children and focus on them and enjoy life as a child through them and with maturity and peace of mind… She was a gift as we All are…… but she was like “A Candle in teh Wind” out too soon. Many wonderful people die too soon, .. Sigh. She used herself as a paint brush. Did she use teh photographers or did they use her. She prob had the immediate gratication but they got the copyrights and $. I wish I could have taken her to some place fun and thoughfful.. walk in teh olympic peninsula and let her take the pictures……

  • angelo

    marilyn monroe….a goddess!!! the most beautiful actress!!!

  • Lauren

    I’m doing a giant report/ project and report on marilyns impact and this really helped. It is truly amazing I wish i could just talk to marilyn. I hope someday I can meet her in heaven. It’s to bad 36 is so young she had so much more impacting years to live. She is truly a good role model for all girls. She shows you you can do anything. Love you marilyn<3

  • Suet Feeders

    amazing stuff thanx:)

  • Amy

    I love Marilyn l’ve been collecting her things since l was 10 l wish PBS would release A Still Life on dvd:)

  • ib42

    She had what all women wanted to have..and men wanted to possess. Some of the world’s most powerful men used her as a trophy conquest, including the Kennedy brothers. I’m sure she felt used and degraded by the men who surrounded her, those who focused on her beauty and sexuality, ignoring the sweet, hurting human being under the glamorous exterior. At least one of the men she married adored her, but her fame and popularity, and the pressures of her life were too much for it to last.
    Like Elvis, and others who pass on too young, she was too beautiful for this world……..

  • William

    I did not have sex with that woman.!

  • dgd

    I was interested to see that people are still sharing their thoughts on Marilyn in connection with this great program on American Masters. Maybe if all of Marilyn’s fans continue to email and leave messages at this site, THIRTEEN will find a way to re-issue this excellent program on DVD again. For me, the program introduced me to photographers that I had never heard of before and their exquisite photographs that I had never seen before. And I have been a lifelong fan of Miss Monroe, from the height of her fame to the memorials to her life. How unfortunate it would be to let this program become just a memory, like so many other well produced cultural artifacts of our lives.

  • http://leatherbedframe.org.uk Leather Sleep

    This movie depicts a very small slice of Marilyn’s life. Unfortunately, it’s not the most interesting slice by any means. Apparently Marilyn briefly befriended a crew member while working on the Prince & the Showgirl in England. He wrote a book about it on which this movie was based. While undoubtedly the most exciting thing that ever happened to him, it’s more of an anecdote than a feature film. It’s like we are examining the footprint of a Goddess for an hour and a half.

  • Michelle

    Marilyn was such an amazing woman. I never knew much about her until recently when I decided to write a paper on her. She is my idol and I wish that I had the chance to meet her. She did so many extrodanairy things in her life and she was very beautiful! I love you Marilyn:)

  • Linda

    I just adore her. For those of us who have suffered the injustices of early life experiences like her; parents who don’t claim you and those that have them and it is as if we had none; same difference. When we are suffering, we look to her and say, ’she had it much worse than us; come on now, keep your head up. What would she think of us for being that weak. She gave us the power to be better, to carry on. If I ever felt hopeless, I would watch one of her movies and instantly be comforted. She teaches you to never give up on finding your own identity, even though you have gone through the perils of the near demise of your battered character. She is hope and happiness personified. Her image and what she so dearly sought, herself; are those things that have to be sought, if thought to be missing, and come to achieve a conclusive and acceptable term. She had it all; but she needed confirmation. She needed to be believed as she was. I believe in her genuiness, kindness, intelligence and bravery. Forever, Norma Jeane, aka Marilyn…

  • Kate

    Any person who remains so wildly beloved by millions all over the world FIFTY years after her death and who overcame childhood abuse, abandonment, and poverty is no “dumb blonde.” Thankfully, her millions of fans are able to see beyond the Tinseltown-manufactured sexpot “facade” that she was forced to maintain in order to pay her bills.

    The truth is, she ALWAYS strived to be taken seriously as an actress–from Day One (her earlier flicks, like Niagara, show this), and she never gave up trying to grow and improve herself, professionally and personally. (She attended night school classes at UCLA and was one of the first actresses in Hollywood to create her own production company). I was delighted to see the lovely tribute to her this year (”My Week With Marilyn” film). This is the first bio I have ever seen that strives to accurately portray the real human being behind the ridiculous Hollywood caricature–”dirty joke image” churned out my sleazy male studio bosses (”pimps”) who treated her like a whore in order to make millions. It shows her as she really was: highly intelligent, kind-hearted, funny, sad, scared, and complicated–just like most of us. RIP, lovely spirit. The world will never forget you.

  • Marilyn

    Please realize the immense amount of innate bravery here. Marilyn came into this world illegitimate. Her Mother was unable to care for her. She was raised in foster care. Her remarks of ‘Mother’ to a woman who initially raised her were blasted back as, “I’m not your Mother.”. Her father did not want to claim her either. She came into this life with a void of nothingness. But, there was this running stream from within her that was pure truth, kindness and forgiving, that didn’t quell her majestic sense that something good was right around the corner. Her imagination of what was good overpowered her existing bleakness. Here is who and what she is: Truth, bravery and strength in the rawest form. She was intelligent beyond; to create a persona outside of, and inside herself; to be able to construct the foundation of her very being and raise herself to the very heights of her own existence; this, is pure genius; nothing more, nothing less…
    Forever in our Hearts…Marilyn “Norma Jeane”

  • Kelley J

    Marilyn’s post (May 30, 2012) is profound. Couldn’t say it better my self.
    I also was very moved by the article written by Gloria Steinem. Marilyn… how many hearts you still touch with truth, beauty, and your vulnerable self. Our very own brave little genius. BRAVA!
    Thanks to PBS. Thanks to the photographers. Special thanks to Ms. Gloria Steinem.

  • Dave S

    Sorry to say, I never met the stunning beauty.Marilyn Still holds the imagination of.millions. None of us know her, many wished we did. People who never met her, love her. that says it all in a nutshell……

  • Jay Chandler

    Enjoyed it.

  • WendySue

    This series on Marilyn Monroe Still Life, was really so great. One of the best bio’s I’ve seen. It really gave a look inside something deeper than her screen persona. I hope this airs again. One hour wasn’t long enough.

  • http://myandmyselfydie.net Ricardo Cappas

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  • Jeannie

    This program has remained my very favorite viewing of my wonderful friend Marilyn Monroe. I loved very much the song at the end of the program which was done by a male using a sort of talking rather than singing style. I need to know his name or how I can hear, buy or find out more about it, as I would love to be able to hear it over and over again. It was Magnificent. Please give me some help to be able to enjoy it again.

Salinger

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