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The legend that is Marilyn Monroe

I do not like the word iconic but I cannot think of a better one to describe Marilyn Monroe.

She was recently the subject of a podcast on Rest is History by historians Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook.

Better was the Discovering series in Sky Arts profiling her.

In  her time – the 1950s – Ava Gardner was the bigger star and her close friend Jane Russell the better paid.

Yet 60 years after her death Marilyn Monroe is the more enduring.


Mainly the death itself.

She was only 36, born in the same year as our late Queen.

Conspiracy surrounds her death with both John and Bobby Kennedy implicated.

One theory goes that the Mafia, concerned by Bobby Kennedy’s investigation into them, engineered her death in the hope that Bobby Kennedy would rush to her bedside and could be framed.

The fact is we will never know.

Virtually every record – including the death report – has been destroyed and no one of relevance is still alive. My own theory is that she was damaged by her upbringing, she never knew her fatherl and her mother was admitted to an asylum and Marilyn put in foster care; she had 3 broken marriages, several abortions all creating an addictive personality.  She did not commit suicide but the Kennedys did   authorise a coverup and the coroner Thomas Noguchi was subsequently discredited

Derek Malcolm – in Discovering – thought she was addicted to sleeping tablets and just took too many.

He also praised her as a fine comic actress – she was particularly good in Some Like it Hot – but most of her films have not stood the test of time.

The other explanation for her enduring memory is the picture of her by Andy Warhol.

Difficult to direct as she had a tendency to forget her lines, she was habitually late on set and required many takes – and yet she was box office.

She still is.

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About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts