The Marilyn Myth & The Liz Legend Part 2
Later in her career, studio executives began to take her seriously, mainly because she asserted her own sense of seriousness, insisting to be treated as something other than a vaguely funny actress whose prime talent was that she could move like "jello on springs." Fortunately, before she died she captured several excellent performances on film, proving that she had enormous talent. Bus Stop, Seven Year Itch and especially The Misfits, her last completed film, amply testify to the subtlety and depth of her abilities. She may not have been the best American actress to have been up on the screen, not a Davis or a Streep or a MacLaine, but far better than the dumb blonde she was forced to play for so many years.
Her image has changed since her tragic death. In her day she was called the Blonde Bombshell, epitomizing the stacked bimbo, dripping with sensuality. It was said that she was the most desired by men and women hated her, or wanted to be like her. But over the years she has come to be known more as a tragic figure, epitomized by Elton John's eloquent tribute, "Candle in the Wind." Her abuse - filled childhood, bounced from one foster home to another, her marriage of convenience to her first husband, her desperate attempts to create a meaningful family life, all have been well documented.
In retrospect, some of her film roles reflected the deeper difficult truths of her life, particularly her later movies. Beneath the glamour and sparkling glitz of her expertly projected public persona, there was a profoundly lonely woman who had a hard time separating her friends from the phony hangers - on. Her dependence on drugs to fight insomnia spoke of her ever - present anxiety and depression, as well as her long struggle to be taken seriously as an actress.
A deceptive and underhanded publicity smear campaign generated by her last studio sought to discredit her by claiming that she was an unreliable and difficult prima donna who showed up half - stoned at the set. These lies, admitted as such since, hurt her deeply and were elements of the depression she was said to be suffering around the time of her death. When Gable says to her, in The Misfits, "What makes you so sad? You must be the saddest girl I've ever met," that was the voice of her ex - husband #3, playwright Arthur Miller, revealing some of the real face behind the cosmetic mask. A series of amazing close - ups in Bus Stop captures the searching, lonesome lady reciting her lines. When the smitten cowboy asks her, "You mean you've had other boyfriends?" watch the truth in her eyes as she replies, "Yes. Lots of them."
The vulnerable child in a woman's body, the slut desperately searching for true love, the artiste forced to prostitute her talent to sell movie tickets, and ultimately the screen goddess whose towering public success stood in contrast to the miserable failure of a private life she could never have. Her image still radiates ideal cosmetic beauty, enticing, almost pornographic, but we know it's a mirage, as she was a prisoner of the very beauty which catapulted her to fame. She fought all her life to escape the ugliness that life can deliver. Those exquisitely mascaraed eyes and perfectly lined lips can forever represent the mask that hides the horrible truth.
Continued In The Marilyn Myth & The Liz Legend Part 3
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