Marilyn Monroe once said, “I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle.” This would have qualified her for an ADHD diagnosis in California nowadays. And if cannabis had been legal back in ’62, maybe the poor woman wouldn’t have been using all those prescription downers.
Why do men think of her as “sexy?” What do they mean by it? Why are big breasts so admired? That’s what I used to wonder at age 10 when I looked at the literally steamy “Marilyn Monroe calendar” on a wall of the barbershop situated between the locker room and the showers at the 92nd St. ‘Y.’ The calendar itself was on a small pad stapled beneath the famous photo, which was on view from January to December, 1952. It showed a wavy-haired blonde, naked but with her legs crossed, leaning back against a red velvet drape, stretching to achieve the photographer’s idea of a sexy pose. She did not look comfortable. That’s how Marilyn Monroe hit the scene and how she would always seem to me —straining slightly to achieve a pose that wasn’t quite natural.
Until a few weeks ago, when I saw footage from a home movie shot in the mid- or late 1950s, showing Marilyn, obviously at ease, smoking a joint with some girlfriends. The clip was forwarded by Ellen Komp, who produces a tabloidish-yet-scholarly website called Very Important Potheads. Check it out.
The home movie of Marilyn and her friends had been publicized in early December by a New York entrepreneur named Keya Morgan, who collects and sells Marilyn memorabilia and is making a documentary about her sudden death. Morgan’s thesis is that U.S. government agents did in the actress to prevent her revealing —or continuing— affairs with President Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
Keya Morgan told the media that he had learned about the existence of the home movie from an FBI agent he’d interviewed in connection with his documentary. The film had been shot in the mid- or late-1950s by a friend of Marilyn’s named Gretchen, who now lives in New Jersey. Morgan contacted Gretchen. She retrieved the reels of 8mm Kodachrome from her storage spot, and he paid her $275,000. Gretchen confirmed that she had rolled the joint Marilyn and friends were smoking, and that they had smoked marijuana on other occasions.
Some outlets reported that Morgan intended to immediately re-sell the film on eBay, but I saw no subsequent accounts of an auction being held. Wondering if the whole thing had been a scam, I contacted Morgan Dec. 21 for an update. He said that I was reaching him in Beverly Hills. (He owns an art gallery and other businesses in NYC.) I asked about the fate of the home movie. “The original was never going on eBay,” he explained. “Some reporters confused the original with the copyright [permission to publish the image]. The original I’m never selling. It’s sitting in my safe.”
What else did the media get wrong or miss? Morgan said he had arranged a three-way call with Gretchen in New Jersey and reporters from CNN, Reuters and Fox. He expressed surprise that no reporter had inquired about the two women with whom MM was sharing the joint. “All they cared about was the marijuana… Those are her two best friends. They were the only two friends allowed at the funeral… Joe Dimaggio did not allow Peter Lawford and Pat Kennedy into the funeral,” said Keya.
He identified the handsome woman sitting next to Marilyn on the couch as “Mary” and the other woman as “Ann.” He said that Marilyn had phoned Gretchen two days before she died, fearful that people were out to get her. Ann and Mary had slept over at Marilyn’s house for two nights. They had seen Bobby Kennedy on the premises and on one occasion had seen Bobby smoke marijuana with Marilyn, according to Keya.
Keya aims to release his documentary, “Murder on Fifth Helena Drive,” on August 4, 2012, the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death. He has been doing research for many years. He says his sources include “my very close friend Jim Dougherty” (who married Norma Jeane Baker when she was 16); Arthur Miller (“a client at my gallery who became a friend”); and numerous FBI, CIA, LAPD and Beverly Hills PD operatives. He says he has former LA mayor Sam Yorty and police chief Darryl Gates on tape asserting that Bobby was in LA and being tracked. (Spy vs. Spy!)
It was the former “chief of the FBI for Southern California” who told Keya Morgan about Gretchen’s home movie. Agents who had learned of the film’s existence in the 1960s “borrowed it” from Gretchen to show to J. Edgar Hoover, Keya recounted. “Hoover was obsessed with Marilyn,” he said. “So was James Jesus Angleton of the CIA.”
The government snoops first got interested in her, according to Keya, “because she had met many huge Communists through Arthur Miller.” [Miller, the author of “Death of a Salesman” and “The Crucible,” was a lifelong leftist who had been close to the CP in his younger days. He married Monroe in 1956. He wrote a movie called The Misfits that she starred in. They had split by January ’61.]
Marilyn’s FBI file contains thousands of pages, Keya said. “Go to FBI.gov. You’ll see hundreds of pages there about Marilyn’s affair with President Kennedy.” Keya also claims to have a source whose father observed JFK smoking marijuana “on numerous occasions” (not with MM).
The “huge Communists” that Marilyn encountered included Frederick Vanderbilt Field and Nikita Khrushchev. Field was heir to a ruling class fortune —most of it withheld when he became a socialist in the late 1920s. He was involved with numerous CP front groups and did some time in jail after refusing to name names for Congressional inquisitors. In 1953 Field himself moved to Mexico, where he later took up archeology. According to Keya Morgan, Marilyn made “secret trips” to visit him in Mexico in the early ‘60s. Keya says, “Marilyn got very close to him. And he had pictures of Lenin in his office!”
That Marilyn met Khrushchev during the Soviet leader’s visit to the U.S. in 1959 is no secret. Keya says that spymaster Angleton once noticed, in a photo of Marilyn and Khrushchev, that she was wearing a different outfit than the one she had on when she met Khrushchev in a public setting. The CIA honcho deduced that there had been another, private meeting, and assigned agents to find out when and where. (Our taxpayer dollars at work.)
Keya pointed out that Marilyn’s death occurred in the year of the Cuban missile crisis. “You are hearing stuff no one has ever heard before,” he confided. But the idea that Marilyn was offed and that the Kennedy brothers were involved, directly or indirectly, is not new. MM died of a drug overdose in August, 1962. In the spring of ’63 an instructor in the government department at Harvard paid for a four-word display ad in the Crimson —which was read in the JFK White House— asking, “Who Killed Marilyn Monroe?” The cryptic ad was meant to let the Kennedys know that people were on to them, the instructor said at the time. Asked about the Marilyn Monroe ad last week, he said he had no recollection of it. “I have Jewish Alzheimer’s,” he added. “All I remember are my grudges.”
Keya Morgan’s rap consists of two separate stories. Story one —Marilyn Monroe smoked pot— is small, finite, plausible and documented. Story two — Marilyn was murdered— is big, sprawling, implausible, and unsupported by any evidence. Will Keya’s “documentary” provide any? I doubt it in front. If one really had evidence to support such a big story, why wait two-and-a-half years to break it? The 50th-anniversary-of-her-death release date is redolent of schtick, not news. Show biz, not journalism.
“Conspiracy theory” is usually used as a put-down, but not all conspiracy theories are unfounded. Corporate strategists are meeting all the time, in secret (in beautiful venues), to plan predatory projects. A tragic example involved the owners of Standard Oil, General Motors, and Mellon Bank conspiring in the 1930s to secretly subsidize the Greyhound bus line to expand and offer cheaper rides until the light-rail lines were driven out of business. Some of the same villains conspired in the same period to make the production and distribution of marijuana illegal.
Jesse Ventura is about to host a cable TV show that will look into various conspiracy theories. Could be interesting.