The undulating Marilyn Monroe may or may not have been a daffy comic actress of offbeat genius — what C.David Heymann calls her ‘soft simplicity’ could equally have been the consequence of drugs, rather than talent.‘I can’t remember the names of three-quarters of the men I slept with,’ Marilyn once said — though she never forgot Albert Einstein, because he managed to give her the slip.Voice coaches, wig makers, casting agents, Sinatra, Brando, and numerous Kennedys: it was a catholic list.‘Hollywood,’ Marilyn quickly learned, ‘wasn’t a place where an ambitious starlet could afford to be a prude.’ Maybe not, but a dip into the actress’s past suggests that what she hopelessly sought was a father figure — ‘paternalistic guidance’.
Her mother was in the State Asylum, where she remained until 1967, five years after her daughter’s death.
Marilyn herself was sent to the Los Angeles Orphans Home. Nobody.’ Not with genuine warmth and affection, anyway. He had been star centre-fielder for the New York Yankees, baseball’s greatest living legend, who’d won nine World Series championships and was the holder of a 56-consecutive-game hitting streak.
‘Nobody ever treated Marilyn like a real daughter,’ says Heymann. He seemed a solid sort, who’d ‘combat Marilyn’s shortcomings and frailties’.
But he was also a colossal bore, as sports heroes tend to be.
He once went to the Metropolitan Museum and came out saying, ‘art bores me to tears’.
He now did nothing but drink, watch TV and chain-smoke.‘If his remoteness somehow annoyed her, it also served to pique her interest,’ says Heymann, who is as unconvinced as I am about Di Maggio’s psychological enigma. Di Maggio was the son of a crab fisherman from San Francisco.
After a fashion, the couple did have something in common — Marilyn was mobbed by fans and reasoned that ‘movie stars aren’t born, they’re created. He dropped out of school in 1930 to play baseball, and was known as ‘the Walloping Wop’.
He’d been married before, to a singer called Dorothy Olson.
If only Marilyn had found out more about this episode.
A woman, to his Neanderthal way of thinking, had to cook, clean, run errands, ‘be his sex partner when he wasn’t in bed with someone else.
It didn’t seem to occur to him that Dorothy might have her own needs’.