Last year in the Fact Food section of Qwizzeria, I mentioned the most famous ‘Happy Birthday’ song the history has ever witnessed. It was Marilyn’s rendition to President JFK.
That fact, accompanied by the video (available on YT) on the FB page of Qwizzeria, remains popular today, shared and commented by people from all over the world.
It tells me about the impact Marilyn Monroe continues to have even to this day, and there is something magical about the Happy Birthday song, which happened to be her last public appearance.
The night of 19 May 1962 remains memorable even after fifty-five years. Among the large crowd gathered, with several artists, top brass politicians, and influential business people, Marilyn stood out when she entered the stage.
If JFK brought in flair, youth, and a fresh swagger into politics, Marilyn generated awe and had an aura that could not be fathomed.
Their union could have been the tale of the century; instead, it remained a fantasy that soon enveloped into tears as it was rumored the president overlooked Marilyn and passed her on to his younger brother Bobby.
The TV series MAD MEN, which chronicles the life of advertising and its personnel from the 1960s, has quite a few episodes that showcased JFK and Marilyn Monroe’s impact.
Leaving the drama aside, it is a well-known fact that Marilyn never forgave the Kennedy brothers for the way they treated her.
In the end, Marilyn remained a plaything for the rich Kennedy boys. There is nothing wrong with having dreams, and Marilyn’s heartbreak ensured the Cinderella dream is just for the storybooks. As quoted in the series Mad Men, the research showed, people preferred Jackie Kennedy as the ‘wife’ and not Marilyn.
I am not sure how the world has changed; however, women have greater rights, and their voices are heard much better than in the ’60s. Nevertheless, when cornered to an emotional cage, you choose to fight or fade away from the limelight. The latter chose Marilyn or the other way?
Months before her untimely death, Marilyn Monroe gave one of her best interviews to George Barris, a photographer and a good friend of hers. She talked about her life, the time when she was smitten by the movie ‘The Wizard of Oz’ –
“I remember seeing Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz. I sat there in a trance until my worried mother came to take me home. I asked her if there was another world out there or if it was just my imagination. Could dreams come true? I wondered, Are the movies a make-believe land, just an illusion?”
And, if there were any truth to what happened to Owen Wilson in the movie ‘Midnight in Paris’, I would have loved to visit the Hollywood of the ’50s.
A conversation with Marilyn would be a bargain I settle for.
Though the glamour made her iconic, Marilyn knew it was demanding and believed she was in the wrong era – “I believe I am in the wrong era,” Marilyn was frank about the Hollywood she knew. “For example, many would pay me watch and for what? My body? Is that all I have got? I believe I have an excellent sense of humor, and I am underutilised.”
So, what era would she have belonged to?
“I love the 30’s. The glamour, the attention, it was less complex, demanding,” she would go on talking about the leading ladies of that era. “Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard, Joan Crawford, Bette Davies, Greta Garbo, Mae West, Irene Dunne, Myrna Loy, Ginger Rogers, Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth, Gloria Swanson, Marlene Dietrich, Rosalind Russell, Loretta Young…. and they are just the handful of them; all were glamorous in their own way.”
I agree with what she quoted. I have watched hundreds of movies belonging to the ’30s and 40’s – there was a mystic to the way actors and actresses went about their skills. The fuss over glamour was less, and the natural beauty came to the fore.
Should I blame the gruesome war and the after-effects of the way people began defining ‘glamour’? After all, a natural brunette had to be a blonde to become famous, and Marilyn was an example when she started in the film industry –
“During my modelling days, I was a brunette. Miss Emmeline Snively, who then ran the most extensive model agency in Los Angeles, kept insisting I become a blonde. But I refused; I didn’t want to bleach my hair. But she kept telling me, “Norma Jeane, if you expect to go places, you’ve got to be a blonde. ”
And the name…… Norma Jeane didn’t appeal, and Marilyn Monroe was born after a screen test with the Fox studios.
“I became Marilyn Monroe only after getting a contract from Fox Studios. Ben Lyon, who was the talent scout, suggested the name ‘Marilyn’ and my legal guardian, Aunt Grace inspired me to choose my mother’s maiden’s name ‘Monroe.'”
The name has remained fresh and alive with memories, stories, quotes, and rumors about who ‘Marilyn Monroe’ really was.
George Barris’s interview gives a sneak peek into her mind and her thought process devoid of glamour.
And then within days after sharing parts of her life, she was gone…. this time forever. And I am not sure she completed the two books (Captain Newman and To Kill a Mockingbird) she was reading at the time of the interview.
In her own words, she said, “I’m thirty-six years old. I’m just getting started. I want to work. Acting is my life…. I’m not the girl next door, I’m not a goody-goody, and I am not a victim of emotional conflicts. I am human.”
She would have been 91, had seen been alive! Happy Birthday, Marilyn!
(Quotes sourced from Marilyn’s interview with George Barris, Her Life In Her Own Words)