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!
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