Thursday, June 30, 2022

Notable Californians: A Series (Part 4.1d)

 The Final Months

Monroe next filmed a scene for Something's Got to Give in which she swam naked in a swimming pool.  To generate advance publicity, the press was invited to take photographs; these were later published in Life. This was the first time that a major star had posed nude at the height of their career.  When she was again on sick leave for several days, Fox decided that it could not afford to have another film running behind schedule when it was already struggling with the rising costs of  Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra (1963). On June 7, Fox fired Monroe and sued her for $750,000 in damages. She was replaced by Lee Remick, but after Martin refused to make the film with anyone other than Monroe, Fox sued him as well and shut down the production. The studio blamed Monroe for the film's demise and began spreading negative publicity about her, even alleging that she was mentally disturbed.

"Something's Gotta Give", 1962

Fox soon regretted its decision and re-opened negotiations with Monroe later in June; a settlement about a new contract, including re-commencing Something's Got to Give and a starring role in the black comedy What a Way to Go! (1964), was reached later that summer.  She was also planning on starring in a biopic of Jean Harlow. To repair her public image, Monroe engaged in several publicity ventures, including interviews for Life and Cosmopolitan and her first photo shoot for Vogue. For Vogue, she and photographer Bert Stern collaborated for two series of photographs, one a standard fashion editorial and another of her posing nude, which were published posthumously with the title The Last Sitting.

The Last Sitting by Ben Stern, Vogue

During her final months, Monroe lived at 12305 Fifth Helena Drive in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. Her housekeeper Eunice Murray was staying overnight at the home on the evening of August 4, 1962.  Murray awoke at 3:00 a.m. on August 5 and sensed that something was wrong. She saw light from under Monroe's bedroom door but was unable to get a response and found the door locked. Murray then called Monroe's psychiatrist, Ralph Greenson, who arrived at the house shortly after and broke into the bedroom through a window to find Monroe dead in her bed. Monroe's physician, Hyman Engelberg, arrived at around 3:50 a.m. and pronounced her dead at the scene. At 4:25 a.m., the LAPD was notified.  At 36, she was only a year past her divorce from her third husband, the playwright Arthur Miller.

Monroe died between 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on August 4, and the toxicology report showed that the cause of death was acute barbiturate poisoning. She had 8 mg% (milligrams per 100 milliliters of solution) chloral hydrate and 4.5 mg% of pentobarbital (Nembutal) in her blood, and 13 mg% of pentobarbital in her liver. Empty medicine bottles were found next to her bed. The possibility that Monroe had accidentally overdosed was ruled out because the dosages found in her body were several times over the lethal limit.

The Los Angeles County Coroners Office was assisted in their investigation by the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Team, who had expert knowledge on suicide.  Monroe's doctors stated that she had been "prone to severe fears and frequent depressions" with "abrupt and unpredictable mood changes", and had overdosed several times in the past, possibly intentionally.  Due to these facts and the lack of any indication of foul play, deputy coroner Thomas Noguchi classified her death as a probable suicide.

Monroe's sudden death was front-page news in the United States and Europe.  According to Lois Banner, "it's said that the suicide rate in Los Angeles doubled the month after she died; the circulation rate of most newspapers expanded that month",  and the Chicago Tribune reported that they had received hundreds of phone calls from members of the public requesting information about her death.  French artist Jean Cocteau commented that her death "should serve as a terrible lesson to all those, whose chief occupation consists of spying on and tormenting film stars", her former co-star Laurence Olivier deemed her "the complete victim of ballyhoo and sensation", and Bus Stop director Joshua Logan stated that she was "one of the most unappreciated people in the world".

Her funeral, held at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery on August 8, was private and attended by only her closest associates. The service was arranged by Joe DiMaggio, Monroe's half-sister Berniece Baker Miracle, and Monroe's business manager Inez Melson. Hundreds of spectators crowded the streets around the cemetery. Monroe was later entombed at Crypt No. 24 at the Corridor of Memories.

In the following decades, several conspiracy theories, including murder and accidental overdose, have been introduced to contradict suicide as the cause of Monroe's death. The speculation that Monroe had been murdered first gained mainstream attention with the publication of Norman Mailer's Marilyn: A Biography in 1973, and in the following years became widespread enough for the Los Angeles County District Attorney John Van de Kamp to conduct a "threshold investigation" in 1982 to see whether a criminal investigation should be opened. No evidence of foul play was found.

George Barris is probably best known for the pictures he took of Marilyn Monroe. They had a photo session the summer of 1962, just a few weeks before she died and planned to collaborate on a book.   She wanted to write a book, she said, and Mr. Barris would be her collaborator.

Monroe and Mr. Barris had been friends for almost a decade, having met in New York in 1954 on the set of “The Seven Year Itch,” in which she starred with Tom Ewell. The story he always told was that he was discreetly photographing her derrière while she was leaning out a window. When she caught him, she cheerfully said, “I’ll take a dozen of those.”

Monroe telephoned him two days before her death, he told The Los Angeles Daily News in 2012.  “She called me on Friday, and I was in New York, and she wanted to know if I could come to see her that weekend and that it was urgent,” he recalled. But he had plans to see his family that weekend, so he begged off and promised to visit her on Monday instead. Her body was found by her housekeeper early Sunday morning.  

Mr. Barris told numerous interviewers over the years that he did not believe that Monroe’s death was a suicide. Barris' daughter said after his death that he never shared whatever he knew about the death, not even with his family. “A lot of things he kept secret,” she added.

When Mr. Barris shot those last pictures, on the beach in Santa Monica, Calif., on July 13, Monroe had reason to be troubled. She had been fired the month before from the film “Something’s Got to Give,” reportedly because of her chronic lateness and absenteeism.

“Mr. Barris was obviously a sympathetic coadjutant,” Diana Trilling observed in The New York Times in her 1986 review of “Marilyn,” written by Gloria Steinem, with photographs by Mr. Barris. “Through June and July, Marilyn talked and posed — and drank Champagne. Mr. Barris took many soft, gentle pictures of her, in bathing suit, towels, beach robe, sweater. But this project, too, was not completed.”

Mr. Barris left the United States after Monroe’s death, partly to escape the controversy and any suspicion that he knew more than he was telling, and lived in Paris for two decades.

Even in his old age, Mr. Barris was being asked about Monroe. “She projected such joy when the camera was on,” he told The Chicago Sun-Times in 2004. “And all these years later, the world still can’t forget her face.”

To be Continued . . . 

No comments:

Total Pageviews

My Blog List

Some of My Favorite Quotes

"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." -- Dr. Seuss

"Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful." -- Sophia Loren

"There must be quite a few things a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them." -- Sylvia Plath

“Life is too important to be taken seriously.” – Oscar Wilde

If people are truly, madly, deeply in love with each other, they will find a way.~Gilda Radner

“Never judge a day by its weather. Sunshine is uplifting; rain, nourishing; wind, exhilarating; snow, cleansing; hail, stimulating. Any weather is better than none.” -- Author Unknown

"Everything you see I owe to spaghetti." -- Sophia Loren

"I know I'm vulgar, but would you have me any other way?" -- Elizabeth Taylor

"After thirty, a body has a mind of its own." -- Bette Midler

"Cherish forever what makes you unique, 'cuz you're really a yawn if it goes." -- Bette Midler

“I know I can be diva-ish sometimes, but I have to be in control. The nature of my life, the nature of what I do, is divadom, it really is." -- Mariah Carey

"I want minimum information given with maximum politeness." -- Jackie Kennedy Onassis

"I've been called a diva, queen diva, diva supreme, and I love it. However, that's really for others to decide, not me." -- Aretha Franklin

"No one loves a party more than I. I am a people person." -- Aretha Franklin

"There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all." -- Jackie Kennedy Onassis
Blogging Resources for Women
Designed by Munchkin Land Designs • Copyright 2011 • All Rights Reserved