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.
7 thoughts on “Marilyn’s Secret Diaries in Vanity Fair”
I want to know why any of this is anyone’s business. Plenty of people deal with these things every day and it's unknown. As a whole i think the nature of this country based solely on consumerism is disgusting. I utterly detest those at Vanity Fair who felt it was their duty to publish someone’s personal thoughts. People drool over the self-destructive tendencies of celebrities and observe their turmoil as entertainment. This is not right. Where is the celebration of her personality? There is no place in the world for disrespect of this level. It is unbelievable that she will be immortalized with these things. All that remains of a person after death is the physical documentation of their life. With the media giving her life a full autopsy and displaying the contents across the table, they are not only soiling the future of her memory but insulting her greatly. If anyone agrees please say so.
@Anonymous. Thanks for your comments. I must say that while I do feel these writings are very personal, in my opinion they do show Marilyn in a very positive light. In some aspects, Marilyn is celebrated in these writings. It's proven now that she was very "in touch" with herself as a person and as a woman. Unsure of herself, yes, but obviously deep and intellectual. These writings show that Marilyn was much smarter than nearly everyone realized. I agree that the writings are probably too personal for public view. However, they have been published. What we can learn from them is a bit more about who Marilyn was as a person. Was it always pretty and wonderful? No, but, we've seen a side of her not yet witnessed, and I personally feel that she now has a level of validation as a woman, a person and an artist that had never been encountered before.
Also, as a point of note, Vanity Fair merely reported on the book "Fragments." If you are upset about the publication, which you obviously are, direct your anger toward the Strasbergs, for they are responsible for releasing these writings, not Vanity Fair.
All of this is true. And as I agree that I was feeling somewhat frustrated by what I saw, to hear your (Scott’s) perspective was great. Let me raise this point though. I have only immersed myself in the culture surrounding Marilyn Monroe recently and although I have let myself feel a very personal connection with her work, I have had to stop and think… is it my right to know who she really was? As interesting as those presented facts are, I was not an acquaintance of hers nor would I ever be because she passed on many years before my own birth. It just strikes me as odd that a magazine could place a headline on their cover regarding an individual’s suicidal thoughts as if it were an average thing. The comment I left was not solely spat out to bash Vanity Fair but looking back…well yeah I could see that. Embarrassingly in my haste I didn’t get my point across tremendously well, but I believe advertising with someone’s confessions is just indecent. I imagine if it had been someone like me who had discovered those writings would this have been released? If it were up to me, absolutely not. I believe Marilyn Monroe, along with any celebrity or any person for that matter should be granted permission to exist on two levels; a personal level and a public level. As interesting or enlightening as her life may have been under the surface, she was an icon on the surface, and one of the most popular figures our country has ever seen. If we have had the privilege and the honor granted by her to sympathize and discuss her thoughts on life then in a way I think we’ve betrayed her trust. The fact is we do not have her permission. All those notes, and short poems and specs of thought that added a great value to the pages they were written on have been dispensed and reproduced for a profit. That is information on a personal level that should exist for a select few and that includes people she was close with or anyone she felt comfortable to share such things with. I have not read the article yet, or the book. The headline of the article set me off and I question myself every day when I look at the cover of the magazine lying on my desk and my eyes are scratching at the pages trying to open them. I too am interested, and would love to engage in the writings but I feel as though I’d be doing her a disservice. That is an unorthodox idea, I’m aware, but I simply feel ill knowing that information like that can be traded so enthusiastically.
@W.G.: Very well put. I too feel that some things are just too personal to publish. I agree that these writings were made public merely for sensationalism, and for profit. However, I have to admit that there is a little part of me that is glad the writings were published, primarily for the reasons listed in my comments above.
There are multiple ways to look at it I guess. I feel as though if I had read the article my take on this would be altered. I was shocked by the title and thus had doubts about reading it. My comments were forward and a bit misinformed, you could say, but again, they were in response to the title and captions alone. I intend to do more research on the publication itself. I am a big fan of hers and obviously not a supporter of the media. Thank you for your input, it's greatly appreciated.
Always had a crush for Marilyn Monroe, but I'm finding now that I just might fall in love with her. Mostly for her beauty and also because of her dark side, I am a lot like she was and her loneliness only increases her beauty. Looking forward to learning more.
She and I could have been old souls together! I feel and understand her every hurt! She and I both never knew our fathers! We both have misinformation on our birth certificate and both felt something missing in life, we were both made ward of the court, both had birth mothers in the mental institution with paranoid schizophrenia! We both had siblings taken away first who later we met! We both had different names at birth. Hers was norma jean. My name was Mona Lisa which ironically was also a nickname of hers! We both were childlike, shy, dreamy and naive who felt we had to be someone we were not for an image! We both loved children because we related better with them. We both were soft spoken and lacked in confidence or self esteem! We both loved acting and we were both told in childhood we would be movie star! My mom named me Mona Lisa so I would be famous like the painting, she told me! We both married men in the military for our first husband! We both have also been hospitalized, into psychiatric books, Multiple Sprituality and writing! We both have problems with suicide. We both needed sleep meds to go to sleep because of insomnia, both have fears of abandonmemt and being alone and are perfectionistic with some obsesive compulsive disorder! I am just beginning to know her, but I feel her thoughts and fears/feelings within my own soul! I fear fame for one reason, the cost of my own soul! As much as I love the feel of self expression with each character I bring to life, where would my own soul go? Would it die as hers did within the vastness of a unknown beauty, hidden by a smile! RIP Marilyn & Jean…the world was not yet ready for such a complexity as you, we are very much the same, you and I and your pain, though tucked away within the comfort of a pen and pad, reveal to all-the day dreamy girl with shy modesty, freckles and a fun hearted woman who begged for love just being her….RIP sweet soul!!!