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.

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