Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Marilyn Monroe Psych Tapes

Lately, one of my favorite places for a late drink and dinner has been showing old movies on the wall as part of their new "decor". Over the past few weeks, I've caught snippets of Gone with the Wind, Roman Holiday, and most recently, Some Like It Hot, with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Miss Marilyn Monroe.

I'm not a huge Marilyn Monroe fan, but I'm fascinated by those who are. 1959's Some Like it Hot was Marilyn at the height of her career. It's an amazing contrast to 1962s Something's Got to Give, her last film with the absences, the drug and alcohol abuse, the firings, (the rehirings since star Dean Martin's contract said he wouldn't do the movie without Monroe). The reports from the set were terrible -- she was late and when she did show up she was drunk, stoned, or couldn't even say her lines, and that was when she showed up at all. As much as everyone loved her, they hated her for what she was doing to herself. Of course, drug and alcohol addiction were treated differently in the 60s. Interventions were unheard of; treatment clinics were likened to asylums. No one discussed it. And no one helped -- it was a stigma. A dirty secret. Ignored. Monroe, after years of drug abuse, was in the end stages. Divorced, again, her movie career looking dicey, it's no wonder years of speculation have centered around her untimely death. Was she killed? Did she kill herself?

A new round of speculation has begun fueled by the release of John Minor's transcripts of Monroe's tapes intended for her psychologist, Dr. Ralph Greenson. Monroe had asked these tapes be kept confidential, although Greenson shared them with the Los Angeles prosecutor's office in hopes of discrediting the idea that she committed suicide. John Minor, then an assistant DA, made a transcript of the tapes, and has kept it confidential up to now. Greenson died many years ago. The LA Times has been reporting on them all week and today runs them in their entirety.

For those who believe Monroe was the victim of a vast conspiracy, the transcripts are exciting. Minor's contention was always that they proved without a doubt that Monroe did not commit suicide. He believes she was not suicidal and was, in fact, excited about life, her career, and focused on her future. However, they're still certainly unclear that she didn't just accidentally overdose -- and much more viable and believable assertion. I think the tapes paint a picture of a woman, sometimes very naive, sometimes very savvy about her power, but with a desire to maintain control -- while spiraling out of it. What they don't prove is that the official listing of "drug overdose" for her cause of death is probably the right one. Accidental is my guess and these tapes lead me in that direction. Sure, with small bits of evidence taken individually, one could spin a tale of Kennedy family cover-up. But as a whole, the evidence speaks for itself. Monroe was one more out-of-control, bigger-than-life persona trying desperately hard to keep up. So hard, that an accidental overdose got the better of her.

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