Marilyn Monroe – a gorgeous tramp?



Marilyn Monroe in the unfinished Something’s Got to Give ( 1962)

Marilyn Monroe’s first appearance in a movie was in the 1948 picture Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay!  She uttered just two words, ‘Hi, Rad’, as she walked down some church steps behind eight year-old Natalie Wood. Two years earlier she had been told to change her name from Norma Jean Dougherty (her first husband (1942-46) was Jim Dougherty). She never felt comfortable being called Marilyn and it took her until 1956 to get around to legalising the change.

In those early days she was ‘kept’ by her much older agent Johnny Hyde. Determined to get ahead in the industry, she serviced him and the even older Joseph Schenck and George Jessel. At first she refused to go to bed with Columbia mogul Harry Cohn, a decision that certainly restricted her career opportunities at that time, but in the end she came around. ‘Harry just told you to get into bed without saying hello’, she remembered. No matter. Business was business and it did result in a tiny role in Ladies of the Chorus released in 1949.

Her early Hollywood days sometimes meant trading her body for money or a meal. Quick sex for $15 a shot in cars parked off Santa Monica Boulevard or in nearby motel rooms did not trouble her. Nor did stripping for photographers, something she would often do even before being asked. From such sleazy beginnings it was a simple progression to men who could help her gain a toehold in the movie industry. ‘I met the right men and gave them what they wanted, she said.

Former silent star Ben Lyon was casting director at 20th Century Fox in his later years. He often sent her on the rounds of studio executives at Fox with a letter of introduction personally signed by him. Almost to a man they read the letter and unzipped their flies. Later, she found out that the letter read: ‘This girl really likes giving head’. Whether she did or not Marilyn adapted quickly to the studio system. ‘I spent a great deal of time on my knees’, she recalled without rancour. ‘If you didn’t go along, there were twenty-five girls who would’.

Seventy year-old Joe Schenck was a founder of Fox. He soon learned of her expertise and installed her in a bungalow at his home. ‘Sometimes it took hours’, she told a friend. ‘I was relieved when he fell asleep. At all night poker games she was one of several starlets who performed orally under the table as the executives played. According to legend it was a point of honour among these ‘gentlemen’ that they show as little emotion as possible while the girls worked on them.

Whichever way you look at it Marilyn had the morals of an alley cat. In fact, if alley cats could read, I imagine quite a few of them might very well be offended by the comparison. She used men to get what she wanted and they in turn used her; all in all a recipe for disaster sooner or later. On the set she was usually un-cooperative and always arrived late. She was also selfish and self-centred. Writer Nunnally Johnson pretty much gave up on her during the shooting of How to Marry a Millionaire. ‘My conviction is that she just bored the hell out of everybody. She just didn’t have the intelligence…When I tried to talk to her, I felt as if I was trying to talk to somebody underwater’.

When Marilyn made Some Like it Hot (1959) opposite Tony Curtis and under the direction of Billy Wilder, she became pregnant early in the production. She was married to writer Arthur Miller at the time, but Curtis was convinced the baby was his, the result of their one-night stand during the shoot. Marilyn thought so too and said as much to her husband! She liked to ‘kiss and tell’, just to watch his reaction. Miller was enraged, not only with Curtis, but also with Eddie Robinson Junior. Marilyn reminded him of her long ago intimacy with the bit player as well.

About a month after filming finished she miscarried her baby. Miller privately and publicly blamed Wilder for it, accusing him of working her too hard in century plus heat throughout the production. His accusations were completely unfounded. Everyone involved in the making of the picture, especially Wilder, had shown her extraordinary kindness and patience. It was Marilyn who behaved in a thoroughly selfish manner for most of the fourteen weeks.

Needless to say, Wilder was not the only director to have trouble with her. George Cukor handled the volatile star in Let’s Make Love and had this to say about her: ‘…I think she was quite mad. The mother was mad, and poor Marilyn was mad…She admired and trusted the wrong people…In certain ways she was very shrewd. I once heard her talk in her ordinary voice, which was quite unattractive. So she invented this appealing baby voice’.

Her death has been covered in some detail in Hollywood Warts ‘N’ All, but it is interesting to note the comments of Danny Kaye when he was asked for his assessment of her final hours. ‘If Peter Lawford had been nicer to Marilyn, she might still be alive today’, he said, echoing the sentiments of several of his peers. ‘He’s a creep’.

The same could be said of Frank Sinatra and other ‘Rat Packers’ present at the casino at Cal-Neva on the weekend Marilyn nearly died from a combination of drugs and booze. Photos, since destroyed, are said to have shown her naked and drugged out of her mind, on her hands and knees being serviced by mobster Sam Giancana in one of the rooms. He often bragged about his ‘conquest’ later.

There are so many unanswered questions regarding her last day. Did Bobby Kennedy’s limousine roll up outside her house that afternoon? Neighbours said it did. Was her death a suicide, an accident or murder? Was her corpse moved after death and before the police arrived? If so, who moved it and why? Was she pregnant to RFK and was she about to announce it publicly? What happened to her diary?

And so on…Most people are familiar with the iconic pictures of Marilyn, her head thrown back, her mouth open in that stupid, sex-kitten pose, but if you look at the above shot, her genuine, girlish good looks are plain enough to see. The truly sad thing about this shot is that it was taken shortly before she died, on the set of her unfinished film Something’s Got To Give. She really was at the peak of her unique beauty. The picture was never finished. A year later it was remade as Move Over Darling starring Doris Day. Were Marilyn alive today ( 2015 ) she would be expecting her 80th birthday next year.


  1. Shocked at the vile comments. Concluded quite a while ago one can always tell a person’s background, not from what they say; but the the manner in which they phrase it –

    Think Monroe’s life needs to be contextualized in the era in which she lived. Believe Porfirio Rubirosa (playboy icon of the era) was quoted as stating women in the 1950’s were primarily considered sex objects. Only visible nightly – for dinner, dancing, etc., but missing from a man’s daily world of work, clubs, bars, etc. The division of the sexes was much more prominate & pronounced then.

    Harsh judgement for sure, but concluded quite a while ago Hollywood is a scintilla away from prostitution. Think “civilians” are seriously deluded if they believe sex isn’t used as currency to “get ahead” in the industry. This rule is gender non specific – Read quite a few “hetro” male stars were “kept boys” starting out; both now & in the past. Also never subscribed to the notion that men are studs & women sluts the more partners they have. Promiscuous is promiscuous, irrespective of gender. Also think individuals sexually abused from childhood must, more often than not, have a warped view of sex in general. How could they not?

    Also need to keep in mind the ’50s was the era of “miracle” drugs. One didn’t need to confront psychological problems, one took pills to alleviate (read mask) the issues. Addiction? Side effects? Either unknown or unaddressed at the time. Couple that with being a world famous movie star & Doctor’s were falling all over themselves to have Monroe as a client.

    Was Monroe seriously “spiralling down” due to drugs, alcohol & physiological issues? Based on all accounts, more than likely. Did she accidentally OD on pills? Possibly.. Was she “assisted” in her demise? With all the post mortem cover ups, my vote is, most likely –

    • Hi, Matt. I hope the vile comments that shocked you were not made by me. I have always had a soft spot for MM and always will, but she certainly played the Hollywood game for all it was worth (her and a host of others, both male and female). I have never adhered to the belief that promiscuous women were sluts and promiscuous men were just ‘having fun’. Women have been debased by men for centuries and little (if anything) has changed.

      • My points exactly, nothing’s changed! As to vile comments, of course wasn’t referring to you – The arrogance of some people…. Their reading a complete strangers free opinions & feel they have the “right” to be abusive without offering counter balancing facts supporting their tirades? Deluded intellectual adolescents, or, people being people –

  2. This article is disgusting. It’s so judgemental of her life and you don’t quote your sources. Which often means your going off hearsay or very unreliable sources to make a ‘juicy’ story. But this was a woman’s life, a very depressed and lonely woman’s life. Your judgements are disgusting and inappropriate, you we’re not there and so can not present these ideas or theories as fact. Amateur journalistic skills, you clearly believe everything you read or heard about her. She was a struggling woman in a sexist period and your judgements and what you perceive as true are incredibly sexist too.

    • Well, Emma, you are right about one thing. I was not there. Presumably, neither were you. I wasn’t present at Auschwitz or Belsen either, but there are enough accounts for me to read and formulate an opinion that the Nazis were pigs. I make judgments on data I read from many, many sources. That is what historians do. My articles are not subject to the rules required when one writes an academic essay, however, so I have no interest in cluttering them with a myriad references. I notice that your insulting diatribe is not referenced either. Obviously, you only feel these rules should apply to me! I respect constructive criticism because I know I am not perfect. Clearly, you think your judgment is beyond question. Be tiresome somewhere else!

  3. It is stated elsewhere on this blog that you are presenting facts, not making judgements, but I find the the headline on this blog extremely judgemental. You are judging this poor woman for having sex with a lot of men, when you acknowledge that there was no escaping the casting couch. She had a terrible upbringing and probably the only thing she felt she had of value was her body. What about the men who demanded she serviced them? Do you really think she wanted to do that? Even if she did, is sharing her body so bad that this meant she had no morals? Did she abuse children? Torture animals? Steal from the elderly? Referring to her as a tramp is the age-old double standard from men. Women who won’t do what men want are frigid bitches, and those who do are sluts. Shame on you. And on top of that other comment about Joan Crawford being sexually abused as a child by her stepfather and yet at 11, it was her fault because she was “highly sexed”. I know men and women who were abused as children and they have never fully recovered.

    • First of all, the heading ‘Marilyn Monroe – a gorgeous tramp?’ is a QUESTION, not a fucking statement! I happen to be an ardent admirer of MM and I posed the question to enable the reader to draw his or her own conclusions. Learn to read English PROPERLY before you start accusing me. I have better things to do than waste my time responding to abuse. Secondly, as far as the ‘casting couch’ was concerned EVERY actress had the choice. ‘…no escaping the casting couch’ my arse! Of course they could escape it – just tell the scumbag to shove it and walk out! And I have no doubt that many thousands did just that. And some of them became stars too. Marilyn made it to the top because she was beautiful, talented and prepared to service whomever she felt would help her achieve that goal. Was she a tramp? It depends on what definition you give the word. Some people might argue that spreading her legs for dirty old studio executives and orally satisfying even older ones might constitute trampish behaviour. Obviously, you do not. Well, good for you. Finally, Crawford had a tough upbringing, abused sexually at a young age. If I inadvertently suggested she was in some way responsible for that, I apologise. That was not my intention. But she was ‘highly sexed’ all her adult life, as any one of a hundred men and women have testified. Not her fault? Maybe not, but there are countless cases of sexually abused children who DID NOT grow up to be sluts. Crawford did. And stop blaming EVERYTHING on men, lady. I presume you are a woman. Try taking the responsibility for at least SOME of the weaknesses of your gender. Women are no less imperfect than men.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.