Friday, 7 July 2017
729 Marilyn Monroe, Say Goodbye To The President
First viewed : 25 October 1985
This absorbing documentary about the death of Marilyn Monroe in 1962 was broadcast on a Friday night. I was back home to get on the coach to Tranmere the following day. The programme was largely based on a recent book by British journalist Anthony Summers although it wasn't plugged, nor did Summers appear, on the programme.
Although some of the wilder "witnesses" talked about murder, the main accusation seemed to be that Monroe was discovered still alive by actor Peter Lawford - her late phone call to him is a matter of public record - who sent her to hospital but she died on the way. He then - somehow - reclaimed the body and placed it back in her room while at the same time arranging an early morning flight to get his brother-in-law Robert Kennedy who'd been having an affair with her , out of town.
It is, of course, completely preposterous and though the programme did not endorse the theory, it gave it a rather fairer hearing than it deserved. It failed to mention that Lawford had conveniently passed away just months earlier nor that his marriage to Debra Gould, the young actress to whom he supposedly confessed all many years after the event, had only lasted a couple of months. While noting that Sgt Clemmons - undoubtedly on the scene - had got his medical facts wrong, it failed to tell you that he was an extreme right winger who'd been forced to resign from the force after a blackmail scam against a liberal politician he disliked.
On a wider scale, the supposed relationship between Kennedy and Monroe largely owes its currency to a book by Norman Mailer in 1973. Mailer admitted -once the book had passed peak sales - that he had no real evidence of the affair and accepted the official verdict on Monroe's death.
Marilyn Monroe died of an overdose that was probably intentional. Minor departures from established protocol do not prove otherwise.