Marilyn Monroe

They found her dead in her apartment. Apparently she had taken too many sleeping pills.

Within hours after her death a flood of eulogies, judgments, diagnoses, and appraisements began to Bow from the nation’s printing presses. Radio and television gave broad coverage to “the tragic death.” Drew Pearson, writing from Brioni, Yugoslavia, said that the chief subject of discussion among the men around Tito was “the death of Hollywood’s No. 1 glamor girl.” Said one writer, ‘“The most beautiful woman in the world has died as a poor butterfly, broken on the wheel.” An admirer in Salt Lake City quoted the lines of Thomas Hood,

One more Unfortunate Weary of breath Rashly importunate, Gone to her death! Take her up tenderly,  Lift her with care; Fashioned so slenderly, Young, and so fair!

Marilyn’s own sad soliloquy, which appeared in a Detroit newspaper last year, was quoted by more than one commentator. She had said, “Nobody’s really there when I talk to them. I mean, their bodies are standing there. But they’ve gone away somewhere else, and I feel like I’m all alone…”

What is the history of this glamorous theatrical performer who felt so “alone” and who with all her admirers, lovers, and worldly fortune had so many heartaches? Did she get that way all by herself? Or arc there figurations in the fabric of her life which at the Last Judgment may reveal a much wider responsibility for her death than that which was her own? “No man is an island,” wrote John Donne. Every life impinges on other lives. There is a law which speaks of the iniquity of the fathers visited upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation, where God is not loved.

Let us begin with Marilyn’s parents. They were not married. When her mother told her father that she was going to have this child, he simply climbed on his motorcycle and rode away. Hc was killed in an accident four years later. Marilyn’s mother, Gladys Baker, suffered spells of moodiness and depression after Marilyn was born. She finally was removed to a hospital for mentally-disturbed patients after she had stabbed a friend whom she had accused of attempted murder.

With her mother gone, Marilyn went to live with several sets of foster parents. At one time she fell in with a troupe of circus performers who taught her to throw knives and juggle Indian clubs. For a while she stayed at a Los Angeles orphanage, and then made her home with the woman her mother had stabbed. Marilyn later said this woman was the only person she ever felt she could trust. But this woman died, and again Marilyn was without a home. To escape going back to the orphanage, she married Jim Dougherty, an aircraft worker, who was as ill-prepared for this adolescent marriage as was she. They were divorced. Then came her marriage to baseball hero Joe DiMaggio. That marriage collapsed and so did the one that followed it.

She spent her last day alive sunbathing and playing with two cloth dolls. Perhaps those dolls are a clue to the understanding of the strange doubts and fears that at times seemed to smother her. For Marilyn Monroe had one constant companion even when she felt so alone. That companion was Guilt. She could not evade it, no, not even when she tried to project herself back to her childhood with her dolls in her hands. Years before the spotlight began to burn upon her she had felt another burning. It happened in one of the foster families with whom she briefly lived. It was a Christian family! There young Marilyn was taught the Bible and was faithfully warned about a life of sin. This is the overlooked chapter in her life. Little is made of it by those who have written much about her life and still more about her death. Significantly enough. Time magaZIne, in the August 10 issue, momentarily pauses at this over-looked chapter and says that it was this family that “first convinced her of her guilt” (p. 45). God did not leave himself without a witness in her life. But she would not give heed. She chose to be a symbol of sex. 1 want the world to see my body.” And it did!

The almost forgotten chapter in the life of Marilyn Monroe will be well-remembered in the Day of Final Judgment. Another spotlight will burn in that Day when all things will be revealed. Marilyn Monroe will be there. You and I will be there. And so will the man who climbed on his motorcycle and rode away from Marilyn’s unwed mother. And the Judge of all the earth will do what is right!

Three men went out one summer night, No care had they or aim, And dined and drank. ‘Ere we go home we’ll have’, they said, ‘a gamer Three girls began that summer night A life of endless shame, And went through drink, disease, and death As swift as racing flame. Lawless and homeless, foul, they died; Rich, loved, and praised, the men: But when they all shall meet with God, And Justice speaks, What then? What then?