Actress Writes of Her Fear of Peter Lawford, Pain of Arthur Miller’s Betrayal
New York, N.Y. — A vast, never-before-seen archive of Marilyn Monroe’s own writing—diaries, poems, and letters—has been recovered and it reveals the star’s pain of psychotherapy; the betrayal by her third husband, Arthur Miller; her distrust of Peter Lawford; and more. Vanity Fair contributing editor Sam Kashner, who has previously reported on Monroe for the magazine, analyzes the contents, and reports that the star was quite candid about her fragile mental state, and about her feelings toward those around her.
One note reveals that Monroe might have distrusted and even feared J.F.K.’s brother-in-law, Lawford, who was the last person to speak to her on the phone before she was found dead. In a handsome, green, engraved Italian diary, probably dating to around 1956, Monroe writes of the “feeling of violence I’ve had lately about being afraid of Peter he might harm me, poison me, etc. why—strange look in his eyes—strange behavior.” Monroe writes that she feels “uneasy at different times with him,” and that she believes him to be “homosexual.” She writes that she loves, respects, and admires “Jack”—most likely the dancer and choreographer Jack Cole—“who I feel feels I have talent and wouldn’t be jealous of me because I wouldn’t really want to be me.” Of Lawford, she concludes, “Peter wants to be a woman—and would like to be me—I think.”
Monroe’s writing also covers the harrowing three days she spent in Payne Whitney’s psychiatric ward, when what was supposed to have been a prescribed rest cure for the overwrought and insomniac actress landed her in a padded room on a locked ward. Monroe sobbed and begged to be let out, and the more she protested, the more the psychiatric staff believed she was indeed psychotic. On March 1 and 2, 1961, Monroe wrote an extraordinary, six-page letter to her analyst, Dr. Ralph Greenson, vividly describing her ordeal: “There was no empathy at Payne-Whitney—it had a very bad effect—they asked me after putting me in a ‘cell’ (I mean cement blocks and all) for very disturbed depressed patients (except I felt I was in some kind of prison for a crime I hadn’t committed. The inhumanity there I found archaic…everything was under lock and key…the doors have windows so patients can be visible all the time, also, the violence and markings still remain on the walls from former patients.).”
It was Joe DiMaggio who rescued her, the records reveal, swooping in against the objections of the doctors and nurses and removing her from the ward. (He and Marilyn had had something of a reconciliation that Christmas, when DiMaggio sent her “a forest-full of poinsettias.”) Monroe wrote to Greenson that she had threatened to harm herself with the glass if the doctors didn’t let her out, but cutting herself was “the furthest thing from my mind at that moment since you know Dr. Greenson I’m an actress and would never intentionally mark or mar myself, I’m just that vain.”
Monroe recorded her anguish in a poem when she learned—from his own diary entry—that her then husband Arthur Miller was not happy with her. When they were living in Parkside House, outside Surrey, England, Monroe stumbled upon a diary entry of Miller’s in which he complained that he was “disappointed” in her and sometimes embarrassed by her in front of his friends. The actress was so devastated that she found it difficult to work, and had trouble sleeping.
In the winter of 1957, when the couple was living in Roxbury, Connecticut, Monroe’s diary entries were even bleaker, as she assessed the end of her marriage to Miller. “Starting tomorrow I will take care of myself for that’s all I really have and as I see it now have ever had,” she wrote. “I think I hate it here because there is no love here anymore…. If I lean close I’ll see—what I don’t want to know—tension, sadness, disappointment…. When one wants to stay alone as my love (Arthur) indicates the other must stay apart.”
The November issue of Vanity Fair will be available on newsstands in New York and Los Angeles on Thursday, October 7, and nationally and on the iPad on Tuesday, October 12.
Read the article online here.