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Who Was Marilyn Monroe?

Updated on May 29, 2013

Who Was Marilyn?

It should be noted from the time Monroe was born in 1926 until the time of her death, that she had 54 places she would refer to as "home." She was always moving. This, in part, could bring one to a possible conclusion that she was searching for "home," or that her emotional state of mind was unstable.

In Adam Victor's The Marilyn Encyclopedia, he writes of the mental illness that was in Monroe's family going back to her mother and grandmother. This is only offered to depict yet another set of circumstances, which would ultimately feed into the mystery of who Monroe was that, in turn, can offer another possible ingredient as to why she is viewed as an icon. Also, it furthers what might have been Monroe's reality as to why she kept reaching for the sky, why she simply had to. It was as if there still existed the little girl who was pleading, "please look at me, please hear me, please love me."

Marilyn's Mother and Personality Disorder

Monroe's mother, Gladys Baker, was forced into being hospitalized when "Norma Jeane" was only eight years old. Baker spent most of her adult life in an institution. Monroe's grandparents' form of mental illness was as a result of syphilis with her grandfather and heart disease with her grandmother. For the remaining seven years of Monroe's life, she underwent psychotherapy and she took drugs to help her get through the day as well as to help her rest at night. When she was in the public eye, she successfully cast a facade to shield what fears she had inside. Her childhood could have produced the fear of abandonment and it has been opined that she had two different personalities, which could easily be explained in light of the circumstances she grew up with. Accordingly, Victor writes in his book: "Marilyn's last psychotherapist, Dr. Ralph Greenson is said to have told colleagues that Marilyn was, in his view, a schizophrenic."

Gloria Steinem opined that women could relate to Monroe concerning the experience of being victimized as a child, the habitual use of drugs to compensate for emotional tides and any suggestion that "her underlying problems were 'all in the mind.'"

In today's opinions, however, Victor points out that psychiatrists are of the opinion that Monroe really was suffering from borderline personality disorder, and that this state of being can be the result of a neglected childhood which is often found in adults who experienced abuse in their childhood. If Monroe did not have a high self-esteem, which runs parallel with loving who she was, this could lead to a state of depression. It could also induce impulsiveness, which might explain, in part, why she moved so much of the time. Certainly, if this diagnosis holds any truth, Monroe had a majority of its symptoms. When she was institutionalized, her psychotherapist at at that time advised her it would be the best thing for her to help deal with her issues. Sadly enough, however, he neglected to tell her that she was going to be locked up. She was outraged and stated that if she was going to be treated like a "nut," that she would most certainly behave like one. It was DiMaggio who came to her rescue upon her request.

Kennedy birthday celebration (1962).
Kennedy birthday celebration (1962).
Allegedly, this photo depicts a mural which is down the street from St. Mathews Cathedral where burial services and mass for President Kennedy took place.
Allegedly, this photo depicts a mural which is down the street from St. Mathews Cathedral where burial services and mass for President Kennedy took place.

Kennedy Scandal

The Kennedy scandal, rumors and speculation could also be incorporated into the reasons why Monroe is an Icon. Donald H. Wolfe presents us with a good source of information in his The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe. He writes about ABC producer, Stanhope Gould, who wanted to make a 20/20 segment on the Kennedy-Monroe relationship in 1985. It took a lot of time and money to finally arrive at a half-hour piece. A senator had told one of the show's researchers, Sylvia Chase, that President Kennedy had told him about Bobby Kennedy's relationship with Monroe. Allegedly, too, the younger Kennedy was at Monroe's home the same day she died.

A week before the program was to air, however, ABC News President said the segment had to be cut in half. The story was then shortened to 13 minutes. What the program wanted to report was that there was a relationship between both Kennedys and Monroe with a fair amount of witnesses to back it up. On the day it was supposed to air, it was canceled. Roone Arledge, President of ABC News, stated the decision was due to the fact that it was "a sleazy piece of journalism--gossip column stuff." Shortly after the ourrage of the decision, Sylvia Chase resigned. Hugh Downs disagreed with the decision because he did not agree with the way the whole thing was handled, and he felt that it was good accurate reporting. Downs left to go to the cable networks. Geraldo Rivera was terminated because of his bitter objections. Interestingly, Wolfe goes on to write that Arledge was friends with Ethel Kennethy though he denied the decision was based on his friendship with her. When a Kennedy family member later appeared on Geraldo in 1995, she said:

"Quite honestly, Geraldo, you were a victim of the family .... The family had become used to hearing the truth about Jack--but when it was Bobby? You see, Ethel had a very close relationship with Roone Arledge...."

Marilyn's Death

Monroe's death will remain a mystery, in part, because no one knows with exact certainty of what really transpired in her home on the day of her death. Also, everyone loves a good mystery and that those mysteries people beg to be solved usually involve someone they love.

The public's love for Monroe would be yet another cause to fuel a reason for her beintg an icon. With all the publications that exist now after 30 years since her death, she is still alive in the topic of many conversations. No one can argue with success that she was not a legend in her own time. With the truth that is set out before the public about her whole life, her struggles and accomplishments, and her ability (whether natural or well acted) to incite erotic desire, the rumors and scandals, these are the ingredients that make Monroe such an icon.

Finally, it only makes sense to close with some noteworthy interesting quotations concerning Monroe. If anything, they serve as a small effort to disclose more of who and what she was as a human being to aid and assist in understanding why and how he is so legendary.

"Nobody discovered her; she earned her own way to stardom." Darryl Zanuck

"Marilyn is a dreamy girl. She's the king who's liable to show up with one red shoe and one black shoe." Jane Russell

"Do you remember when Marilyn Monroe died? Everybody stopped work and you could see all the day the same expressions on their faces, the same thought: 'How can a girl with success, fame, youth, money, beauty ... how could she kill herself? Nobody could understand it because those are the things that everybody wants, and they can't believe that life wasn't important to Marilyn Monroe, or that her life was elsewhere." Marlon Brando


Submit a Comment

  • ytsenoh profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    Becky, thanks much for your comment!

  • Becky Bruce profile image

    Becky Bruce 

    6 years ago from San Diego, CA

    such a beautiful woman!! Ah, obsessed!! I want a copy of that $2,000 coffee table book one of her photographers recently put together for her birthday.


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