BOOK REVIEW: ‘MARILYN’S RED DIARY’ – Marilyn Monroe’s final 2 years
Posted November 15, 2012on:
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The life of screen icon Marilyn Monroe is awash with rumour and allegation. Most surround her untimely death, a tragic puzzle which still intrigues 50 years on, but there is also the issue of did she keep a diary, a diary packed with sensitive, inflammatory material? I’ve read some biographers who have rubbished the whole idea, but this seems to be based on some lofty, patronising assumption that Marilyn didn’t have the mental discipline to keep a diary. Well, Marilyn was a highly intelligent woman who read some pretty heavy-going books for pleasure so, when you look at it that way, the idea of her keeping a private journal isn’t all that far-fetched.
I found this book quite by chance when browsing on my Kindle store. I was a bit sceptical (couldn’t help thinking of the notorious Hitler Diaries fraud), but as it was only 77p I downloaded it out of curiosity. It covers the last two years of Marilyn’s life, beginning in July 1960 and running right up to the day of her death in 1962. She was apparently advised to begin it by her psychiatrist, Dr Greenson, who took custody of the diary after her death, and kept it hidden from people who were desperate to get their hands on it. Although in his book ‘Marilyn Monroe: A Case For Murder’, Jay Margolis writes that it was Joe DiMaggio’s idea that Marilyn should keep a diary, to record all the conversations she was having with the Kennedy brothers, and that it was he in fact who gave her the red notebook. Whoever came up with the idea, it is obvious that the diary would have been dynamite if it had been revealed at the time, containing as it does insider gossip on the Kennedy administration, and detailing both political and showbusiness links with the Mafia.
On a political level we get all the US plots to assassinate Fidel Castro for instance, but it’s on a personal level that the Kennedy brothers come across as particularly ruthless and seedy. Marilyn had affairs with both brothers, Jack and then Bobby. Both of whom regarded her as nothing more than a sexual plaything. To be honest, I couldn’t help feeling that Marilyn (who was a woman in her mid-30s by this time) should have been a bit more astute about them and their true motives. (Did she honestly believe JFK was going to dump Jackie, adn wreck his entire political career to make her his wife?). But Marilyn was a highly emotional woman, who let her heart rule her head.
Not that Marilyn comes out as completely innocent in all this. I’m certainly not going to take the line that she was a completely innocent woman abused by men. Marilyn had double-standards when it came to sex. She freely admits in the diary to cheating on both Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, but reacts with fury when she fears Arthur is showing too much interest in another woman. Yes, this is hypocritical, and I’m not going to attempt to excuse it. Like her famous lover, Jack Kennedy, her weakness was sex. All her natural intelligence seemed to fly out of the window when it came to that.
The diary covers in detail the difficult filming of ‘The Misfits’, the break-up of her marriage to Miller, her traumatic brief incarceration in a mental hospital, her affairs with the Kennedy brothers, her volatile relationship with Frank Sinatra, and the ill-fated final picture ‘Something’s Got To Give’ in the last few months of her life.
So, does it solve the riddle of Marilyn’s death? If this book is to be believed, then yes, and it does claim that Marilyn was murdered. It’s very easy to say “oh yeah?” at this point. Skeptics will point out that Marilyn was on drugs, had had suicidal thoughts before, and was notoriously flaky. But, in the final weeks of her life, Marilyn’s world was looking up. Twentieth Century Fox had come begging forgiveness for firing her, wanting her back on set, offering her a big pay increase and script approval to boot. She was looking ahead enthusiastically to other acting projects, plus also trying her hand at directing. The July 1962 diary entries show her in good spirits.
It all falls apart at the end of the month, when she accepts an invitation to spend the weekend at Peter Lawford’s ranch. What happens there is truly shocking, and you’ll have to read it for yourself. It’s heartbreaking. Suffice it to say, Marilyn was abused big-time. In the final days of her life she was also plagued by someone she called “a crazy woman”, who kept ringing her up to scream insults at her. (Frankly, this could have been just about anybody!).
Have read since that she was said to have been upset on the last morning of her life, when she received a cuddly toy tiger from Bobby Kennedy in the post, accompanied by a kind of ‘Dear John’ letter breaking off their relationship. Many now believe that Bobby appeared at Marilyn’s house when he heard of her death, and that this may have been to try and find the elusive red diary.
We are going through a time now where dark, dirty secrets are tumbling out of closets all over the place. Suddenly, the sort of thing that used to be dismissed as “nutty conspiracy theory stuff” doesn’t look so far-out anymore. Marilyn was mixing in some very dubious circles. She was privy to information which made her dangerous to some very shady people. She was being watched. (Marilyn believed her house was bugged and her phone tapped, and after her death wires were found around the property). That Marilyn’s death was NOT self-inflicted is very probable. It has even been said that her naked body was arranged on the bed, with one hand dramatically placed on the telephone receiver, to make it look more obviously like a suicide.
Extra: In his book ‘Marilyn At Rainbow’s End’ Darwin Porter also refers to the red diary, and counts close friends of Marilyn who claimed to have seen it, and even read extracts of it. In his book though he claims that Peter Lawford took the diary from Marilyn’s house during those confused, mysterious hours immediately following her death, (just why was her housekeeper, the strange and enigmatic Eunice Murray, washing Marilyn’s bedsheets in the early hours of the morning?) and that the book now resides in the hands of the US authorities.