Marilyn Monroe: In Her Own Words

"People had a habit of looking at me as if I were some kind of mirror instead of a person. They didn`t see me, they saw their own lewd thoughts, then they white-masked themselves by calling me the lewd one."

Had she not died at the tragic age of 36, Marilyn Monroe would be 90 years old today. The Retro Set pays tribute to the icon with a look back at Marilyn Monroe … in her own words.

Marilyn Monroe was and always will be the definitive Hollywood legend. That legend, marred and twisted beyond recognition, belied the human being beneath it all: an envelope-pushing businesswoman, a hell of a good actress, a socially progressive forward-thinker, and an emotionally troubled, tragic figure whose inner demons were often as vicious as those that occupied the world around her.

Endless volumes have been penned and countless movies have been made about Monroe. (This past weekend, Lifetime aired a two-part miniseries The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, which, to it’s credit, was actually pretty decent.) But for the most part, her troubled life has been picked at and analyzed, her death speculated on and sensationalized, her beauty idealized and romanticized—her dignity stripped, reducing her to a mere caricature.  This has led to a profound marginalization of the woman herself into a projected idea of her that our star-worshiping culture has created.

Even the more educated movie fans among us might shrug their shoulders at the notion of watching a Marilyn Monroe film having inadvertently bought into the ‘a woman that beautiful couldn’t possibly have talent’ idea, making assumptions that her worth as an actress doesn’t extend any further than her measurements. After all, those are the only assets she had going for her, right? Or, perhaps her ubiquitous image is reason in itself for many to shrug her off as an empty Hollywood creation.

Well, pardon me, but that’s not only bullshit it’s also shockingly ignorant and very sad. Even in death, the woman who tried so hard to be known as an actual actress, is remembered primarily for what was most profitable to mass consumerism: sex.

This being the case, The Retro Set has resolved not to rehash her history, not to throw around salacious gossip and rumors, not to fawn over her exceptional beauty, but rather do something that, even now, many just don’t seem to be interested in doing: let Marilyn speak for herself.

This birthday tribute may be humble, but it’s sincere in its admiration of a talented, deeply intelligent lady. Enjoy the following gallery and quotes … hopefully they’ll provide you with a glimpse inside her beautiful, troubled soul.

"I want to be an artist... not an erotic freak. I don`t want to be sold to the public as a celluloid aphrodisiacal.
“I want to be an artist… not an erotic freak. I don`t want to be sold to the public as a celluloid aphrodisiacal.
"Have you ever noticed how ‘What the hell’ is always the right decision to make?"
“Have you ever noticed how ‘What the hell’ is always the right decision to make?”
"A career is born in public -- talent in private."
“A career is born in public — talent in private.”
"Jane [Russell] tried to convert me [to religion]. I tried to introduce her to Freud."
“Jane [Russell] tried to convert me [to religion]. I tried to introduce her to Freud.”
"What the world really needs is a real feeling of kinship. Everybody: stars, laborers, Negroes, Jews, Arabs. We are all brothers."
“What the world really needs is a real feeling of kinship. Everybody: stars, laborers, Negroes, Jews, Arabs. We are all brothers.”
"If you can make a girl laugh, you can make her do anything."
“If you can make a girl laugh, you can make her do anything.”
"I love a natural look in pictures … it shows an inner life. I like to see that there`s something going on inside them."
“I love a natural look in pictures … it shows an inner life. I like to see that there`s something going on inside them.”
"Sometimes I think it would be easier to avoid old age, to die, young, but then you`d never complete your life, would you? You`d never wholly know yourself..."
“Sometimes I think it would be easier to avoid old age, to die, young, but then you`d never complete your life, would you? You`d never wholly know yourself…”
“A career is wonderful, but you can't curl up with it on a cold night.”
“A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.”
Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.
Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.
"People had a habit of looking at me as if I were some kind of mirror instead of a person. They didn`t see me, they saw their own lewd thoughts, then they white-masked themselves by calling me the lewd one."
“People had a habit of looking at me as if I were some kind of mirror instead of a person. They didn`t see me, they saw their own lewd thoughts, then they white-masked themselves by calling me the lewd one.”
"I`m a failure as a woman. My men expect so much of me, because of the image they`ve made of me and that I`ve made of myself, as a sex symbol. Men expect so much, and I can`t live up to it."
“I`m a failure as a woman. My men expect so much of me, because of the image they`ve made of me and that I`ve made of myself, as a sex symbol. Men expect so much, and I can`t live up to it.”
"Please don`t make me a joke ... I want to be an artist, an actress with integrity."
“Please don`t make me a joke … I want to be an artist, an actress with integrity.”
 “I knew I belonged to the public and to the world, not because I was talented or even beautiful, but because I had never belonged to anything or anyone else.”
“I knew I belonged to the public and to the world, not because I was talented or even beautiful, but because I had never belonged to anything or anyone else.”
"Hollywood is a place that pays a $1,000 for a kiss and 50 cents for your soul."
“Hollywood is a place that pays a $1,000 for a kiss and 50 cents for your soul.”
I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best.
I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.
"Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world."
“Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.”
"[Stardom] scares me. All those people I don`t know, sometimes they`re so emotional. I mean, if they love you that much without knowing you, they can also hate you the same way."
“[Stardom] scares me. All those people I don`t know, sometimes they`re so emotional. I mean, if they love you that much without knowing you, they can also hate you the same way.”

 

2 Comments

  1. Wow. Excellent piece on Marilyn Monroe, with whom I have have always been fascinated. Her story pains my heart, like she was caught in a whirlpool with no one to throw her a rope. She was born the same year as my Mom. We’ve talked of her a lot. Rest in Peace, Marilyn.

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