Marilyn was always doing something to support others. She had an uncanny way of inviting a person in and making them feel special. If she found herself in the company of an underdog, say a good-looking kid with a complicated past, unraveling in public and on the ugly verge of becoming a joke, well then Marilyn would have attached her greatest sympathy and encouragement towards this person. It didn’t matter to her at all what background this particular person came from: wealth and privilege or poor and nameless. Either end of the spectrum, if the person was floundering then this was Marilyn’s kind of person, all the way.
K.R. and I can imagine her sitting attentively on the edge of any old theater’s seat and fixing him/her with her beautiful gaze, mouth slightly parted, transfixed, as though listening to him/her deliver a canned and un-enlightening reading were on par with hearing Cicero delivering his speech against Catiline. We can imagine her getting him/her through it by her sheer will. And we know that this person would have felt the power that seemed to just ooze from this woman.
No matter what you may think you know about Marilyn Monroe, none of us will ever really ‘know’ her. Even her most devoted fans struggle with the present day persona that is known as Marilyn Monroe. For us though, with all the great research that has been done before us, learning who the real woman was has been paramount for our writing of the What She Knew Trilogy. We wanted to not only keep her memory alive, but to tell the story of her un-lived life. We wanted her to live through our words. K.R. and I both feel we have done just that.
Let us show you what we mean. What follows is a ‘nut shell’ of Marilyn’s life:
Marilyn Monroe was baptized by Aimée Semple McPherson, analyzed by Anna Freud, befriended by Carl Sandburg and Edith Sitwell, romanced by Jack Kennedy, painted by Willem de Kooning, taught acting by Michael Chekhov and Lee Strasberg, photographed by such greats as Milton Greene, Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton, and Henri Cartier-Bresson. She managed—on the strength of her talent and within a studio system that paid no attention to individual ambition—to work with some of the greatest directors in movie history: twice with John Huston, Billy Wilder, and Howard Hawks, and once each with George Cukor, Joseph Mankiewicz, and Laurence Olivier. She was the first Playboy centerfold and one of the first women to own her own production company; she was a nudist and a champion of free love long before these concepts emerged into the national consciousness.
She maintained a deep association with the American military that, all on its own, lent her a mythic stature. When the Second World War broke out, she became both a teenage war bride and an actual Rosie the Riveter (long days spent working in the fuselage-varnishing room of the Radioplane plant in Burbank); her first photographs, now dubbed the ‘red sweater photos’ were taken in the spirit of “morale boosters” for the boys overseas; her famous appearance in Korea—wriggling onstage in her purple sequined dress, popping her glorious platinum head out of the hatch of the camouflaged touring tank rolling her to the next appearance—remains the standard against which any American sex symbol sent to entertain the troops is measured. She was the first celebrity to talk openly about her childhood sexual abuse, a kind of admission that has become commonplace today. But to tell reporters in the 1950s that you had been raped as an 8-year-old—and to do so without shame, but rather with a justifiable sense of fury and vengeance—was a breathtaking act of self-assurance. Married and divorced three times to very different men, but all ended essentially because none of them could handle her fame. Fame, something that she both loved and hated. Fame is almost impossible to live with – one is never alone, yet you feel all alone most of the time.
All of these things added together, give us a picture of so much more than a sex-symbol. A picture of a very independent and strong woman. A woman who speaks her mind, who reaches for more, who is not ashamed of others sins, and is not afraid to face an uncertain future. This Marilyn Monroe is the woman who graces the pages of our books.
Mock-up of cover for ‘Fateful Night’
Books one and two of the trilogy, Fateful Night and Darkest Day, are out now! Book three, Brightest Dawn, will be out soon. We encourage you to let your imagination soar, and find the Marilyn Monroe that could have been if her life had not been so tragically cut short.
K.R. Hughes and T.L. Burns
Fateful Night: http://www.smarturl.it/FatefulNight
Darkest Day: http://www.smarturl.it/DarkestDay