Friday, December 31, 2010

31 December 1956 “Marilyn Monroe: The Embodiment of the 1950’s? Auld Lang Syne”

Marilyn moved back to CA this year, having lived in NYC since 1954, when her marriage to Jo DiMaggio failed. She moved to the city to enroll in Lee Strasburg’s acting studio. Though close in age, he and his wife and family almost took her up like a daughter. Something which greatly affected their daughter and actress Susan Strasburg who played the younger sister in Picnic in 1955. She would  later reprise the role of Anne Frank on Broadway at the age of 18. Of Marilyn she said, she was like an older sister she loved but of whom she was also greatly jealous.
Marilyn’s time in NYC resulted in her marrying playwright Arthur Miller this year on June 29th 1956. They then moved to England to work on The Prince and the Showgirl. Not one of Monroe’s more well received films.
bustopposter Her reason for returning to Hollywood was her upcoming work on the film Bus Stop. The film was released in August 31st of this year. It was a more dramatic piece for Monroe and better received by film critics.
She does, however, sing one song in the film, “That ole Black Magic” Here it is: (I could only find the version that the talking was dubbed in French, but the song is left in it’s original version of Marilyn’s odd ‘Southern’ accent. I wonder what actual Southerners thought of her ‘accent’)
During the filming of Bus Stop was when Monroe really began abusing sleeping pills and prescription drugs in general. We shall never know if her ultimate end was her own on purpose or by accident. I personally feel it was simply a mixture of Depression and a mistake. One could easily, when popping pills with such abandon and mixing them with alcohol, make themselves unknowingly a deadly cocktail.
In 1961 when she had been released from a psychiatric hospital by then divorced husband Miller, she almost overdosed after singing “Happy Birthday Mr. President” To President Kennedy at Madison Square Garden. She and Miller were then set to remarry on the 8th of August 1962, but Marilyn Died on the 4th of that year.
There is almost something of the 1950’s distilled in Marilyn. Her rise from a simple girl in the late post war 1940’s to a big star. She was basically physically remade with plastic surgery and various lessons during the 1950’s. The curvaceous gold digging  femme fatale ambition of her characters was almost a representation of the 1950’s in America. The sudden rush of wealth and endless new drugs and fun. One didn’t know what to do with it, so we enjoyed it, played and made the world bigger and better in one short 10 year period. But, in many ways, maybe it was too much too fast and too soon. As Marilyn ebbed, so to does the life of plenty we were just beginning to get right. Even her own demise at her hand really is rather a metaphor for us. The power, the nuclear power, the money, the increasing need and greed for oil and all it entails, all of it a very deadly cocktail easily ill-mixed could become a death potion rather than a lovely cocktail.
The 1960’s harbor many changes for us that we still feel today. But, as I have discovered over these past two years, there was a sleeping dragon in the 1950’s which we built upon it’s back our economy and lifestyle. As I understand more and more where we came from those short decades ago, I want to fix what was wrong and restore what was right. But, can we find a base to build a dream on? Can we walk on clouds? I am not sure.
As I approach 1957 and see 1960 in the headlights, I wonder. I do know with our modern technology of the computer we are able, we vintage minded, to seek one another out. Though we may all have different reasons for harkening back to a past many of us were never originally involved in, I know there is a common thread there. And that, that thread, could be the beginning of a great garment in which we are all seamstresses. I hope it is a wonderful quilt of accomplishment and success that we all work on together. I think if we are mindful of our stitches we can succeed. That is enough of that metaphor.
I hope all of you have had a wonderful year, I know 1956 has taught me a lot and I look forward to 1957. Tomorrow, hopefully, I can be more specific about how and what I feel 1957 will be for me and this blog/site.
50snewyearseve2 50snewyearseve1 Happy New Year and as always:
Happy Homemaking!


  1. No, the turbulence of the 60's did not come from nowhere. I've done a little research, too. There was, as you say, a sleeping dragon. My husband says the 60's was America's PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) following two world wars, the great depression, the Korean war, etc. We finally snapped. Troubles probably started farther back than all that, with the industrial revolution and more and more people moving off of the farms into the cities, women starting to work outside the home, etc. Ah, well, all we can do is remember the good from the past and try to take it with us, and as you have shown, there was much good. I enjoy your blog so much. Best wishes for the new year (of 1957?). Hugs.

  2. Hope you have a very Happy New Year.
    Interesting post. I've always loved Marilyn.
    I don't think it was Miller that released her from the hospital or who she may have remarried. I am pretty sure it was DiMaggio.
    He was also the one who arranged her funeral and for many years had roses sent to her crypt.

  3. I never liked her acting or her singing, but *hot damn*, I would love to pull off a simple shift like she did.

  4. anon-I am pretty sure she and miller were engaged to marry again, but she didn't make it to the remarriage as it was set for the 8th and she died on the 4th, at least according to my research, which is scant.
    mei-don't you love how, though she is thin, her 'pot belly' is so lovely yet today that would be magnfied and shown on the tabloids under, "Which star went for seconds" or some such.
    Mary-So true. Really the Industrial Revolution has virtually changed the world in population, pollution, and point of view. I would love to do a year 1835, but that would be very hard. My research might just end up in a fun simplified 'modern history' from industrial revolution to 1959, it might be fun.
    Hugs back to you and see you next year, it might just be 1957!

  5. Happy new year to you!! In 2010 your blog has become one of my favorites by far. :) Happy 1957! :)

  6. Happy New Year! You have done so much amazing research and you've pulled off so many lifestyle changes-- best wishes for another successfully vintage year!

  7. Happy New Year! Love your blog... a little correction she was going to remarry J DiMaggio. She spoke to his Joe's son and Peter Lawford on her last day. Joe planned her funeral. ;)

  8. I look forward to 1957 with you. I love reading your blog. It keeps me grounded in this modern world.

    Happy New Year.

  9. OH, I didn't know that, I probably mixed up names because I was to focused on New Years eve, sorry about that. Hope all had a great New Years EVE!

  10. I watched Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for the first time a couple weeks ago and absolutely fell in love with several of Marilyn's hairstyles. I've decided to grow my hair out a little bit so I can curl it better and try to recreate those styles.

    Her "Southern" accent in Bus Stop is rather insulting to this Southerner. One of the worst I've ever heard. Bears no resemblance to how we really talk.

    The only movie southern accent that's actually almost good is Vivien Leigh's in Gone With the Wind and Streetcar Named Desire. I know older ladies who really sound like that.

  11. I have to disagree with your comment about Marilyn being basically physically remade with plastic surgery. She was a natural beauty as was most of the stars back in the 50's. What plastic surgery are you thinking she had done? She may have had a bit of dead cartlidge removed from the tip of her nose as it was a breathing hazard, but this was probably while she was still Norma Jean. That isn't considered plastic surgery.
    BTW, I really like what you've done here on your site.

  12. I really like what you have done to your website.
    Happy New Year.
    It's funny I had watched some Marilyn Monroe movies along time ago but didn't really know alot about her. After reading your post I went and read her biography and it seems very sad to me. I don't know alot about it but what I read is as a child she was moved from foster home to foster home, along with other traumatic experiences which can be very hurtful for a child and then as an adult as the saying goes, she "looked for love in all the wrong places," which would lead to more rejection and sadness. I think though maybe you could be right and it was just a coctail mistake made during a period of sadness. If anything I think her life and end could be a lesson for all, especially young girls.

  13. Very true, again if we cannot learn from our past why do we bother to remember at all? She was indeed a foster child which had many bad results. Many say she was always looking for the 'Daddy to love her'. When she sings "My heart belongs to daddy" it actually makes me a bit sad.

  14. A little late - Happy New Year to both of you! :)

    Since I consider myself kind of an MM expert, I don’t agree with you in everything in this blog post. Especially not the plastic surgery and re-marrying Miller part. But I also think that MM embodied the fifties completely. I will not completely take over her style, since I know she was a movie star and famous pinup, and I live in another world. But I love her style. I’m reading two new books on MM, perhaps you will find time to visit my blog where I’ve written about them (and her).


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