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Melancholy Baby—Marilyn Monroe

Her fame and fortune have cost a pretty price—and Marilyn Monroe is paying it. Strange, that this girl who is the greatest sex symbol of our time, should find it so difficult to find what thousands—even millions—of women leading unspectacular lives have—emotional security and happiness.

Until that momentous day in early October when the story of her separation from Joe DiMaggio hit the front pages, the mountainous fan mail received by this goddess of love indicated she was the most envied doll in the land. Women of all ages wrote they’d gladly change places with her and many younger ones imitated her. Didn’t she have everything? Thousands of men adoring her, a world-famed husband, world-wide popularity of her own, the most extravagant of mink coats and cars, a swimming pool, a whopping big salary?

But when the eager public read column after column which hashed and rehashed the story of her life, it made them, especially the women, think. As one astute young housewife summed it up:

“I think I have something in my favor which Marilyn didn’t have: a happy life, a wonderful childhood, a fine family and lots of friends. This has given me peace of mind and emotional security. Marilyn’s horribly unhappy early life apparently left her longing for affection and adulation, dreading poverty and insecurity. So she has over-compensated by making her career, her success, the most important thing in her life.”

Shortly before Joe made his typically terse statement of “I’ll never be back,” and left their Beverly Hills home, he had been in New York with Marilyn for her location work on “The Seven Year Itch.” It was during this time that Marilyn’s pictures with skirts blowing up hit the prints. The stunt was part of the script, but Joe didn’t like it. He made it obvious. There were quarrels.

Throughout his own career, in which he became a national hero, Joe avoided publicity. He’s quiet, shy, reticent—an introvert. He loathed Hollywood chi-chi in any form, especially big parties, premieres—the things which Marilyn found attractive and necessary to her career. A friend of Joe’s said recently, “Joe wanted a wife, not a star.”

Several months before their separation, one of Marilyn’s co-workers prophesied, “If it’s ever a question with her of marriage or career, the marriage may go. She’s fought and worked so hard to reach her goal. To offset her deeply-rooted feeling of inferiority she needs recognition, acceptance, and this she finds in her career.”

Marilyn apparently recognized her conflict long ago; she was treated by a psychiatrist for three years. And her off-beat life story, her fame, her short-lived marriages have prompted many local psychiatrists, both professional and amateur, to remote analyses of her situation. One said, “I doubt if Marilyn is capable of a lasting relationship with any man. When a woman becomes a big star, it’s almost a sure way of self-destruction. A child must have attention from without, but when you grow up you must have something inside to sustain you. A star gets so much from the outside—applause and adulation—that she loses whatever she had inside, particularly if she had an unhappy childhood. She loses a sense of values. She is a child again.”

Harsh words, those. But consider how few big feminine stars have had lasting marriages.

The most important question for Marilyn’s fans who feel a deep-rooted interest in her future is: Can she ever find happiness? Seemingly she has known it briefly, but only briefly, in two broken marriages. Or can her career give her what she wants? Let’s, as the politicians say, look at the record.

Marilyn’s early life provides an all-time high in Cinderella stories. She was born Norma Jean Mortenson on June 1, 1926 at Los Angeles General Hospital. Her father was already dead and her mother, a one-time film cutter, was mentally ill and unable to care for her. As an alumna of the Los Angeles Orphanage, she grew up in eleven different foster homes, never finding the security and love necessary to the development of a well-adjusted youngster. It was a bitter experience.

Then, before she was 16, Marilyn, anything but the beauty she is today, fell in love and married James Dougherty, a neighborhood boy. She had a home at last and happiness. She even packed love notes in his lunch box, told Jim that she cooked “carrots and peas together because the colors looked pretty on a plate.” They had a quiet life, usually staying home evenings.

But Dougherty, now a Los Angeles policeman happily remarried and the father of three daughters, recalls that “Norma Jean never wanted children.” He went off to war as a merchant seaman and she went to work in a parachute factory. Her picture in a company magazine brought her to the attention of a photographer who in turn suggested that she learn something about modeling and took her to the Blue Book Models School. Photographers liked her enthusiasm and diligence. She learned to pose, to “smile lower,” and soon she was appearing in ads and even on magazine covers. Later she had a screen test at 20th Century-Fox and was given a stock contract at $75 a week.

All during this period, with Jim overseas, she didn’t date anyone else, according to the other models. They also recall that if she had any acting ambitions, before she was invited to make her first screen test, she kept the fact a secret.

But somewhere along in there she hitched her wagon to the glamor star. When Jim returned home he found Marilyn changed; she felt she needed to be single to find film fame. She went to Las Vegas and got a divorce.

After that she went after a film career with singleness of purpose. While other girls were dating, she concentrated on learning to act, to walk, to beautify herself.

One day in 1951 Marilyn met Joe DiMaggio on a blind date. He was world famous and she at that time was just another struggling young actress; her nude calendar wasn’t out yet and her real publicity campaign had not even started.

“I liked his seriousness,” she said then. “I can spot a phony and this man was real.” They started dating.

Marilyn’s career went into high gear. She became a star. Column after column and photo after photo recorded her latest sayings—usually quite uninhibited—and doings. Hollywood and the world were at her feet when last January she and Joe were married.

Marilyn’s quotes to the press then took on the homey-folksy quality. She told newsmen she built her marriage around one rule: Keep your man happy with everything from a special television chair to breakfast in a big, double bed. She confided that she sometimes even ironed a shirt for Joe. But she was also working hard in “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and would come home exhausted. Joe watched TV or went out for long poker sessions. Marilyn would sleep or study.

In her divorce testimony she said that Joe went into moods and didn’t speak to her for days and that he never wanted her to have friends at the house.

Her health was not good. She had virus infections, allergies, headaches and frequent colds and she was anemic. All these, according to the psychosomatic theory of medicine, usually are related to emotional difficulties, nervous strain, deep-seated fears or insecurities. Although her marriage had brought her some emotional security, it also presented additional conflict for she was being pulled in two directions.

At the Santa Monica courtroom where she received her divorce, she was smartly dressed, but she appeared weary and somewhat drawn. She smiled only when asked to by photographers and then unconvincingly. Later when asked if she thought she’d marry again, she said, “Of course I’m not thinking of that yet. I’m not dating anybody and have no plans to. But I hope to marry again. I still want to have a baby.”

So the unanswered question stands—can Marilyn find happiness?

In her success she has found one answer to her need for recognition and acceptance, an answer to her fears. But she’s still a woman and wants another answer to her need for emotional security—home, husband and family. Will she be able to cope with both career and marriage in the future?

At any rate, thousands of Marilyn’s fans have come to a greater understanding of their blonde favorite, have realized that certainly in her case all the glitter was not gold. She’s been paying the price for her fame and glory. And those fans sincerely hope that someday she can find real, lasting happiness.





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