Jack Lemmon discusses working with Marilyn Monroe in 1993
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Today Blonde, starring Ana de Armas as the star Marilyn Monroe, airs on Netflix. The film, which was written and directed by Andrew Dominik, is based on Joyce Carol Oates’ novel of the same name, released in 2000. It follows the story of Monroe, then named Norma Jeane Mortenson, and her quest to become a Hollywood actress in the early Fifties and Sixties. It sees her change her name and become a star of the era, but despite her on-screen charm, away from the camera her life is anything but. Blonde details Monroe’s deep personal battles, including her relationship tribulations, exploitation, power struggles, and drug addiction, including her sad demise in 1962.
The film currently holds a 51 percent approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, though the performance of de Armas has been hailed by critics and fellow actors, and actresses, across Hollywood.
Among them included actress Jamie Lee Curtis, who starred opposite de Armas in 2019’s Knives Out, and whose father Tony Curtis performed alongside Monroe in the 1959 classic Some Like It Hot.
She said: “I dropped to the floor. I couldn’t believe it. Ana was completely gone. She was Marilyn.”
Co-producer of the film, Hollywood mega-star Brad Pitt, also hailed the lead’s starring role, adding: “She is phenomenal in it. That’s a tough dress to fill. It was 10 years in the making. It wasn’t until we found Ana that we could get it across the finish line”.
Though well documented, Monroe’s struggles with substance abuse is still discussed and mulled over despite her death coming decades ago, including the actual circumstances of her overdose.
Reports suggest that her final words “alarmed” those closest to her, like actor Peter Lawford, who called the actress in a bid to see if he could persuade her to attend a party he was hosting the night of her death.
Lawford, it was reported, became concerned with Monroe’s voice on that fateful day of August 4, ultimately the star’s last, as it sounded “like she was under the influence of drugs”.
Author Barbara Leaming wrote in her 1998 book Marilyn Monroe: “She told him to, ‘Say goodbye to Pat, say goodbye to the president (Lawford’s brother-in-law), and say goodbye to yourself, because you’re a nice guy’, before drifting off.
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“Unable to reach Monroe, Lawford called his agent Milton Ebbins, who unsuccessfully tried to reach Ralph Greenson [her psychiatrist), and later called Monroe’s lawyer, Milton A. “Mickey” Rudin. Rudin called Monroe’s house, and was assured by Eunice Murray that she was fine.”
Murray reportedly woke up at 3.30am the following morning, “sensing that something was wrong”, and “saw light from under Monroe’s bedroom door, but she was not able to get a response and found the door locked”.
She then contacted Greenson, who told her to try and look through Monroe’s window, and when she did she found the actress “lying face down on her bed, covered by a sheet and clutching a telephone receiver”.
Greenson arrived a short while after and broke into Monroe’s room, finding her dead. Hyman Engelberg, Monroe’s physician, was at the property some 20 minutes after Murray woke, officially confirming her death, reporting it to the Los Angeles Police Department at 4.25am.
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Hours after her death was confirmed, Monroe’s autopsy was conducted by Dr Thomas T. Noguchi. His findings were released some 12 days later, but it revealed that her death was considered “acute barbiturate poisonings” due to “ingestion of overdose”.
In a press conference, Dr Theodore Curphey, the medical examiner, said: “It is my conclusion that the death of Marilyn Monroe was caused by a self-administered overdose of sedative drugs and that the mode of death is probable suicide.”
A psychological autopsy was ordered by Dr Curphey, and was conducted by three mental health professionals, which found Monroe “had suffered from psychiatric disturbance for a long time”.
It added: “Miss Monroe had often expressed wishes to give up, to withdraw, and even to die.”
Monroe’s funeral was held at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, four days after she was found dead.
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