Marilyn Monroe: A Celebrity with Depression
As explained in the previous chapter, Marilyn Monroe had sought many complex film roles without being cast for them. Eventually, this led to her falling out with her studio, 20th Century Fox. About the same time, she also had miscarriages, marriages ending in divorce and a deep void inside of her from never having belonged to a family. The many disappointments led the fragile film star to recurring depression, and drugs, a frequent companion in Hollywood, became Marilyn’s solution in trying to cope with the pain.
Marilyn Monroe’s drug use — as destructive as it may have been — didn’t really affect her reputation. Instead, she continued to be a witty blonde to her fans, and in the perception of her friends she continued to be considered a shy, fun-loving girl who liked to read. Still, Marilyn at times appeared jaded, and she not seldom arrived late or took entire days off from scheduled film production and movie shoots, for various reasons. This, quite naturally, frustrated both co-actors and film directors, since they all knew the value of including the famous blonde in the production but disliked sitting around and waiting for her.
Celebrating with the President
One of Marilyn’s many frustrating absences from a film set, where production was delayed, was when she flew to New York to sing at President John F Kennedy’s birthday party in 1962. The reason that she was invited to sing here — and why she willingly accepted the invitation — was most likely that the President or his brother had a secret extramarital affair with her, though one could also argue that Marilyn Monroe was a star performer worthy to sing for the political elite. Notably, even on this grand occasion, Marilyn arrived late, or so it seemed when the presenter appeared to be confused by the famous Monroe not coming out on stage at his first calling her up.
When Marilyn finally did come up on stage, after the presenter’s second call, seemingly nervous, she charmingly began singing Happy Birthday, Mr. President to the Madison Square Garden audience. The Hollywood icon almost immediately received appreciative cheers from a forthcoming audience, and could later travel back to California content, knowing that the President and his invited guests had enjoyed her performance.
Only a couple of months after her acclaimed New York appearance, Marilyn, quite shockingly, was found dead in her Los Angeles home. Beside her bed, where she was found, lay empty medicine bottles, and the coroner ruled the death a probable suicide from a drug overdose. It was believed that Marilyn, who self-medicated for insomnia, that night purposely had taken too many pills at once.
Despite the coroner’s verdict there were — and still are — those who think that suicide was not the cause of Marilyn Monroe’s death. These people, as part of their argument, often point to the fact that the famous film star had been seen happy shortly before her death and that she had made plans for the future. Critics of the coroner’s analysis also contend that key witnesses in the Monroe investigation gave conflicting statements, and that important investigative material disappeared in a suspicious way, implying some kind of foul play. In line with this, and given that revelations of an extramarital affair could be detrimental to President Kennedy’s public image, some speculate that shady figures backing JFK caused Marilyn Monroe’s death and later covered their tracks.