Friday, 5 October 2012

My Marilyn Monroe talk

Thank you to everyone who came to my Marilyn Monroe talk yesterday at the NPG.  I will be writing a full blog about the awesome day very soon, but for now, here is a copy of the talk for those who were unable to attend.  If there are spelling mistakes, I apologise - this is copied straight from my transcript!

I hope you enjoy it!


Thursday 4th October 1956.  Marilyn Monroe was on the set, shooting one of the scenes for ‘The Sleeping Prince’, which of course would later become The Prince and The Showgirl.  She was not happy.  She had been in England since 14th July and the shoot had been long, painful and difficult for just about everyone.  Still, Marilyn was encouraged by the fact that she had just been offered the part of Grushenka in the ABC production of The Brothers Karamazov.  She had no intention of taking it, however, though being asked to do it, certainly raised her confidence that someone believed she could in fact act.

Thursday 4th October 2012.  56 years since Marilyn Monroe lived and worked in England and here we are, talking about her in the National Portrait Gallery no less.  For the girl who always dreamed of being taken seriously, I think that if she had known this would happen, she would have been very proud indeed.

I think it is interesting that the exhibition taking place here at the gallery is entitled a British Love Affair, because in a way you could say that that is exactly what I've had with Marilyn over the course of the last 27 years; ever since I discovered her at the age of fifteen.  That is when I really started to take an interest in the woman we are talking about today.

In the spring of 1985 I watched 'River of No Return' on television.  It was a film of never-ending disasters and I remember my parents asking if we could turn it off; as the leaping from one perilous encounter to another was not their cup of tea.  Then in July of that same year, I travelled with my parents and brother to Devon; listening to 'Live Aid' on the way.  It was hot; we were happy and I was hoping for the best holiday of my life.  And when I look back, it really was.

We stayed in a run-down house that we nicknamed 'The Shack,' and my brother Paul and I spent our time playing silly games and crab hunting on the beach.  That was until one day when we were in a gift shop and I noticed a photograph of Marilyn in a gold dress, pouting towards the camera. Something intrigued me about it, and that evening I decided that I was going to buy a book about her to read on the beach.  There was no deep thinking behind my decision; I just purely wanted to read something about this woman who kept popping up everywhere I went.

The next day I bought a book which quite strangely had a picture of Marilyn on the cover, standing in exactly the same pose I had seen on the photograph the day before.  After that there was no more crab hunting on the beach for me, and instead I read the book throughout the holiday; completely transfixed by this amazing woman.  Despite her difficult childhood, she had achieved her dreams and I was so inspired by her fight; her strength, and her determination to succeed.  She suddenly went from someone I wanted to read about on holiday, to a person who was going to inspire me for ever more.  I can't fully put my finger on exactly why; but she just spoke to me like no other star had ever done before.

I remember over the course of our trip, that we visited many souvenir shops and I bought every one of their Marilyn postcards.  I remember my mum telling me she was concerned I was wasting my holiday money and would have none left to buy other things.  Little did she know; little did any of us know that 27 years later, I’d be standing here, talking about that same lady I discovered during an innocent childhood holiday.

At that time I didn’t know anyone who was a Marilyn fan, so in 1991 I decided to create a fan club, called The Marilyn Lives Society.  For the next 16 years, I wrote a newsletter every month, and made many friends; some of which are here today.  It was because of my Marilyn club that I decided to start researching Marilyn’s trip to England.

In 1993 I wrote a small booklet for the members of my club, which was dedicated to the places Marilyn lived, worked and played throughout her life.  This book was picked up by a publisher in 1995 and was published as ‘Marilyn’s Addresses.’  This book had a section dedicated to the England trip, and when I had finished writing, I was inspired to find out more about what exactly had gone on and how Marilyn had spent her four months whilst living here.  My idea was to turn my research into a full-length book dedicated purely to the England trip, full of photographs, memories and stories from those who had met Marilyn whilst she was here.

It was quite a task knowing where to start, but in the end I decided to begin by going through the cast list of The Prince and the Showgirl, and contacting as many actors and crew members as I could.  Unfortunately, by the time I’d started, many had already passed away, but others were still very much alive, and I tried very hard to get them to talk to me.

My endeavours sometimes did not go quite to plan, however.  I telephoned the agent of one actor, asking if I could interview him for a forthcoming book.  I didn’t even get to say what the book was about, before the woman on the other end of the phone, said in a very rude way: “If this book has anything whatsoever to do with Marilyn Monroe, my client will not be interested in talking.”  She then hung up the phone before I had any chance to lie and pretend that it was about someone else entirely.

Several other people said they couldn’t talk to me as they were working on their own books, while another told me that he would be willing to speak; though gave me strict instructions to never call him on the telephone.  If I wanted to talk, he said, I needed to write to him.  Unfortunately, by the time I wrote back, he had decided that even corresponding via mail was not a possibility and backed out of the project. 

By this time I realised that I was not getting very far, so I decided to put letters in several newspapers, asking for people to come forward.  I had quite a few replies but not the kind I was actually after.  For instance, one person demanded to know why I would want to write about Marilyn Monroe when there were so many other more interesting people out there; another told me that he could not help, had never met Marilyn, knew nothing about her life, but could assure me that she came to England not in 1956 as had been reported, but in 1954 instead.  This change of date, he told me, was made by the FBI for ‘security reasons.’

As you can imagine, these letters did not help me one little bit, but there were more arriving on a daily basis which were even more frustrating…

One lady told me that she was a farmer’s wife, living near Englefield Green, close to the house where Marilyn had stayed.  According to the woman, Marilyn had visited the farm many occasions and she was happy to share her stories with me.  Things were finally looking up, until I spoke to the woman on the telephone and she told me dozens of stories involving Marilyn doing everything from ploughing the fields with a tractor, to cleaning out pig sties, making Sunday roast in the farm house and everything in-between.  How Marilyn ever had time to make a movie as well as playing the role of farm hand was beyond me. 

Sadly I had to discredit this story, as well as the one told to me by a gentleman who said that he had visited the set of The Prince and the Showgirl one day, and had witnessed Marilyn in an extremely tormented state; shouting for John F Kennedy, and demanding that someone get him on the telephone immediately.  The fact that Marilyn was newly married to Arthur Miller at this point and didn’t even know Kennedy, was obviously lost on this poor fellow.  Unfortunately I had to file this story in the make-believe file and start again.

Happily for me, however - away from the fame-seekers and fibbers, I was able to speak to a great many people who did in fact meet Marilyn, such as photographer Horace Ward who photographed Marilyn at Heathrow Airport, and Vera Day and Daphne Anderson who both met her on the set of ‘The Prince and the Showgirl and were only too happy to share their memories and stories with me.  It was while speaking to Vera and Daphne that I was able to get a first hand account of life on the set of The Prince and The Showgirl, and the difficulties that everyone encountered there.

Vera Day told me that when she walked into the office of Laurence Olivier Productions she was 20 years old, and had been in show business for about a year.  Olivier, who was not only Marilyn’s co-star but her director too, looked at the blonde-haired actress and exclaimed, "Oh dear, she's so like Marilyn".  Vera was naturally flattered by such a comparison, but Olivier feared the worst, knowing that Marilyn would not take kindly to another blonde on set.  With that in mind, by the time Vera was allowed anywhere near the film, she was sporting a brunette wig, in an attempt to look as different to Marilyn as she possibly could.

Daphne Anderson shared her memories with me, but said that unfortunately, due to the amount of entourage on set, nobody was able to spend any time socialising with Marilyn at all.  This seems to have been a real problem during the making of ‘The Prince and The Showgirl’ and the fact that Marilyn often seemed so aloof, did not go down well with the other actors.  Vera Day recalled a particularly eye-opening experience, when Olivier was setting up camera angles and politely told Marilyn that he couldn’t see her in the position she was standing in.  “Oh well, if you can’t see me I will go home,” she retorted, and swept dramatically from the set.

However, in spite of the difficulties, Marilyn actually had some allies on set.  Vera Day told me that she cared deeply about her co-star.  “Marilyn was difficult yes,” she said.  “But there was only one Marilyn and she jolly well deserved to be difficult.  She was sensationally beautiful and I know she irritated nearly everyone but she was surrounded by a lot of po-faced actors who gave her a hard time.”

Another such supporter was Dame Sybil Thorndyke, who was cast as Laurence Olivier’s mother-in-law.  Although I never got to speak to the actress myself, I did discover in my research that she never gave up praising Marilyn; often telling Olivier off if she thought he’d been too hard on her.  She once told him that Marilyn was the only one of them who really knew how to act in front of a camera, and later when interviewed, she denied that Marilyn was ever hard to work with, saying that she was the most charming person, who just didn’t take direction very well.  “But then I don’t see why she should,” Dame Sybil said.  In the vintage interview she also spoke about the relationship Marilyn had with Laurence Olivier: “He wanted her to do certain things,” said Dame Sybil, “and I said why don’t you leave her alone?  She is married to the camera; she is a darling girl and I never found any difficulties with her.”

Someone else who loved Marilyn was Norman Wisdom, and I was delighted one Saturday morning to receive a lovely letter from him, sharing his memories with me.  In the note, he said:

“I was delighted to meet Marilyn Monroe at Pinewood Studios when she was making ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’ with Laurence Olivier.  At that time I was making my film ‘A Stitch in Time’, and on several occasions she came in to watch my work.  In fact, she quite unintentionally ruined a couple of takes.  Obviously, of course, once the Director has said ‘action’, everyone must remain silent, no matter how funny the situation might be, but Marilyn just could not help laughing and on two occasions she was politely escorted off the set.  The nicest thing that happened was that we passed each other in the long hallway one lunchtime.  It was crowded but she still caught hold of me, kissed and hugged me, and walked away laughing.  Everybody in the hall could not believe it, and I remember my Director, Bob Asher, shouting out ‘you lucky little swine’ – I agreed with him.”

While talking to and interviewing people who met Marilyn during her stay in England, I was happy to discover that while things on the set were at times fraught, she did take a great deal of happiness from the local people who lived close to her house at Englefield Green. 

I received a letter from the local paperboy who remembered delivering the newspaper and receiving a wave from Marilyn while he did so, while another local lad recalled how he frequently hung around the gates of the house, only to be asked by a newspaper reporter if he would mind delivering a letter to Marilyn.  The young boy was only too happy to do so, and after scaling the fence, he managed to deliver the note to Marilyn’s husband, Arthur Miller, who quickly told him to leave the property.  Whatever was in the note is a mystery, but the young boy didn’t mind being thrown from the property too much as he had come within inches of Marilyn Monroe and even got his photograph in the local newspaper.

There were also several ladies who remembered seeing the star.  One lived in a house that Marilyn passed every evening on her way home from work.  The two built up a little friendship whereby they would wave at each other whenever the lady happened to be in her garden.  She ended up receiving a signed photograph of Marilyn which she still has to this day.

Another lady, Mrs Jackson, didn’t have such a great memory unfortunately, when she encountered Marilyn and Arthur Miller in Windsor Great Park.  The lady was walking with her husband, their three-year-old toddler and twelve-year-old nephew, when Marilyn and Arthur cycled up behind them.  According to Mrs Jackson, her nephew was trailing a long stick behind him, and this made Arthur Miller angry that his wife could somehow be knocked off her bicycle.  Unconvinced, Mrs Jackson aired her concerns that the couple shouldn’t be riding in the park, to which Miller allegedly said, “But this is Marilyn Monroe, and I am her husband.”  The couple then went on their way, leaving Mrs Jackson very unimpressed with her ‘Marilyn encounter’.

One gentleman wrote to tell me that while he didn’t meet Marilyn himself, his dad, Tommy had the pleasure of doing so, one evening when Marilyn’s car had broken down in one of the country lanes.  As the chauffeur stood gazing vaguely under the bonnet, Tommy, a long distance lorry driver, got out of his cab to help.  The driver was happy to let him have a go and after some work he was able to get the car going again.  As he was about to walk away, Tommy was told by the chauffer that the lady passenger wanted to thank him for his time.  With that, the back window of the car rolled down and a blond head popped out. 

Tommy’s son told me: “My dad was no movie fan and rarely went to the cinema unless there was a James Cagney or John Wayne movie showing but he thought the woman was familiar.  He asked if she was an actress and she said yes and he asked her if she was Diana Dors.  The lady laughed at this but didn’t say yes or no so he thought she must be Diana Dors and she was laughing at him for not being sure.  Dad told her that my mum was a really big film fan and she would never believe that he had met her, so the lady offered to give him an autograph to prove it.  She asked if he had any paper but he said no, he only had a pencil, so she reached around and came up with a copy of a theatre magazine that someone at the studio had given her.  The magazine showed Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh together as they appeared in the play ‘The Sleeping Prince’ and the lady said she thought it was meant as a mean joke but dad had no idea what she was talking about and just nodded.  She signed the magazine and gave it to him and he said goodbye and thanked her.”

Tommy returned home that evening, still thinking he had met Diana Dors, until some weeks later when his wife spotted the magazine and put him straight.  It was not Diana he had met that evening, but Marilyn Monroe.  Tommy was stunned to say the least.

Hearing all these stories from the public was absolutely amazing to me, as no other book had ever gone into any detail about what impression Marilyn had made on the man and woman on the street.  She had always said that it was the people who made her a star, so to hear stories from the likes of paperboys, residents and good Samaritans made Marilyn all the more real in my mind.  Some of my favourite such memories involved a group of students who decided they were going to meet Marilyn in a very unusual way.

At around 8 pm, on the night of 16th July 1956, a group of eighty students met in front of Shoreditch Training College in order to make the two-mile hike to Marilyn's house.  The plan was to sing under her bedroom window, and some of the students even took along trumpets and other musical instruments to add further excitement to the proceedings. 

However, everything did not go to plan, when the College Principal, Ted Marshall, turned up to try to persuade the revellers to go home.  Unfortunately for him, most of them had just finished their exams, so feeling that there was nothing the college could do to stop them, Mr Marshall's attempts at discipline went unheard.  The trip to Marilyn's house further exasperated Mr Marshall when he discovered that one of the young men had borrowed his car to catch up with friends.  The vehicle was even stopped by police during the short journey, and the driver cheekily gave his name as that of the Principal, Ted Marshall before abandoning it near Parkside House.

Once the group reached the vicinity of Marilyn's home, they immediately started chanting, "We want Marilyn, We want Marilyn", before lifting the gates clean out of their hinges, marching up the driveway and singing the 23rd Psalm outside Marilyn's bedroom window.  However, it soon became clear to most of them that she had no intention of coming out to meet them. 

Nevertheless, although they didn't get Marilyn's attention, they did receive a great deal of notice from the police, who had been tipped off and were making their way to Parkside House.  As they approached, most of the fans scattered, and one former student, Allan R Pemberton shared his memories with me:

"It was dark and I had fled into long, wet grass,” he said.  “I got soaking wet and I recall clearly seeing the searching lights being scanned over the area where I was hiding.  I'm not sure how long I remained in hiding, but when I thought it safe, I returned to the college, where quite a few of the group had already returned.  Quite a few hadn't, I remember [and] there were many stories of 'escapes', but no-one saw Marilyn and we never knew whether she was aware of our escapade." 

 Marilyn was, indeed, very aware of what went on outside her bedroom window that night.  In his autobiography, 'Timebends: A life', Arthur Miller described waking up to the sound of singing outside.  Once awake, he and Marilyn both watched out of the window in amazement at the spectacle below, but because of security concerns, neither of them talked to or met any of the students.

The next morning, Principal Ted Marshall was still furious and quick to bring the subject up.   One former student, Donald W J Foot remembered:
“He gave a sharp word the next day at College assembly, but those who participated were quite unabashed."  Although the Principal threatened all sorts of sanctions, none were ever carried out, and Marilyn’s housekeeper, Dolly Stiles later told me that students’ obsession continued throughout her stay, and although they never serenaded her again, they were often seen at Parkside, shouting for Marilyn to come out and see them.

One of the most exciting things that happened during my research was when I had the privilege of speaking with a man called Alan, who as a young teenager, was offered a position as Marilyn’s piano player at Parkside House.  The idea was that he would help her with her singing practice, but in the end she became so fond of him that their association became so much more.

Alan was privy to at least one amusing incident on the set of The Prince and The Showgirl, when Marilyn discovered that someone in the crew – she suspected it was Olivier himself – was running a book to bet on how many takes she would need for a fairly tricky scene.  When Marilyn got wind of this she was furious and not at all amused by what she considered to be an overt insult to her capabilities.

She went home to Parkside House and studied so hard that on the day of shooting she was more than prepared for the scene.  She delivered the lines perfectly and then left the room, closing the door behind her as directed.  However, within seconds the door flew open again and Marilyn stuck her head through the gap.  “Pretty good huh?” she exclaimed, before shutting the door for a final time.  This line was not in the script and was an obvious dig at those who doubted her ability to do the scene.  However, it fitted in so well that it wasn’t re-shot and can now be seen in the final cut of the movie. 

One of my aims in writing a book about Marilyn’s trip to England, was to find out what kind of things she did away from the set, and Alan was a huge help in this regard, as he had been with her on quite a lot of her adventures.  The two would get out of Parkside House through the service route, go under trees and through the property next door, just to escape the over-the-top security.  Marilyn would wear various disguises – an overcoat and floppy hat – and would carry a shoulder bag which would always have a novel or a book of poetry inside. 

Together they would sneak off to Salisbury to visit the Cathedral and eat fish n chips out of newspaper.  They’d also head to London, where Marilyn would behave just like any other tourist, squealing when she heard Big Ben chime, visiting the National Portrait Gallery, as well as Piccadilly Circus and Charing Cross Road.  She visited perfume shop Floris where she loved their Rose Geranium perfume so much that she ordered several bottles on her return to the USA.  As well as that, Marilyn also spent such a huge amount of time in Foyles book shop, that Alan would always have a hard time getting her out again and would almost have to drag her out when it was time to leave.  This was something that particularly interested me as I frequently give my husband and parents the slip whilst in this shop, so I can spend hours staring at the books, lost in my own little paperback world.

One day Marilyn took a ‘sicky’ from work and escaped into the city with Alan.  Once there they did some sight-seeing in Trafalgar Square, and it wasn’t long before the pigeons had left a rather unwelcome present on the brim of her hat.  Of course she didn’t want to take it off because it was part of her disguise, so the two had to use a hanky and nail brush to scrub most of the mess off using water from the fountain.  An amusing conclusion to this story came many years later when the same hat came up at auction and it still boasted the pigeon stains on the brim.

Another amusing incident also happened in Trafalgar Square when an old lady came up to her.  According to Alan, this lady was about 5 foot tall, dressed all in black, wearing a hat decorated with fruit and carrying a shopping bag.  She stood right in front of Marilyn, poked her between her ribs and said ‘Ere, you’re that Marilyn Monroe tart ain’t ya?’ 

The poke was so extreme that Marilyn was temporarily winded, but nevertheless she still managed to look down at the woman and in her best posh, English voice said ‘Oh thank you, you’re so kind.  I’m often being compared to her.’  ‘Snotty cow’ said the old woman and stormed off, leaving Marilyn laughing hysterically.

It was fantastic talking to all the people who remembered Marilyn in her every day life and because she always made such a huge impact – good and bad – the memories were always vivid and really helped make her into a real-life, three dimensional person for me.

But I knew that in addition to interviews, I also had to get to the nitty gritty of what had gone on during the actual making of the film.  Yes I knew that there had been lots of problems, but it was important to me to find the production records to see for myself what kind of problems they really had, and what had inevitably been exaggerated.

I spent many years trying to find the Laurence Olivier papers where I believed the production records would be.  I wrote to every library and museum I could think of; contacted his widow, Lady Olivier; wrote to his former London club, but had no luck at all.  Then one day in 2004 I read that his papers had just been donated to the British Library and I couldn’t believe my luck when they told me that yes, they now had them, and while they hadn’t been catalogued yet, I would definitely be allowed access to them.

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was on that first day, sitting in the library, looking through one huge folder after another.  To my excitement, I discovered that Olivier had kept everything related to his life, from notes, to receipts, to scraps of paper and everything in between.  It really was a wonder to behold.

The first folder I looked through included Olivier’s script for The Prince and the Showgirl.  This was interesting enough but not quite what I was looking for.  The next was full of legal matters related to the distribution of the movie, which again were intriguing, but didn’t include what I’d come to see.  However, after a bit of digging I discovered exactly what I was looking for and much, much more.  Not only a document which included a full list of dates and times of Marilyn’s coming and goings on set, but also dozens of letters and telegrams about every aspect of the making of the film.

I was happily turning them over one by one when suddenly my eye caught a glimpse of handwriting I recognised.  It was Marilyn’s.  A letter from her to Lord and Lady Olivier, thanking them for a gift they had sent to her at the beginning of production.  To say I was excited would be an understatement.  I held the letter in my hand for several minutes, just staring at it.  This was the first item I had ever held that had actually been written by Marilyn herself, and after researching her life since 1985, it was quite an experience.

I kept looking around at the people near me, all doing their studies into things that obviously were not half as exciting as my discoveries, and I just wanted to lean over and whisper – Guess what I’m holding?!  I bet you’re jealous??  But in the end I didn’t tell anyone; I just held it for a moment before tucking it carefully back inside the folder.  It was a delicious secret that I was extremely lucky to have found.

The document which really helped me a lot was a list of dates and times, related to Marilyn’s comings and goings on the set, and how it had affected the production.  Every single date was noted, with when she was on set, when she wasn’t required, and when she was off sick.  All latenesses were included – ten minutes here, an hour there, but while the paper was obviously intended to show just how much time had been lost; for me it actually proved just how many lies have been said about exactly how late she was on the set.  Yes there were many latenesses and she very rarely made it to the set on time, but it wasn’t half as bad as people have previously said.  This was a huge eye-opener for me and a really important find.

Another wonderful discovery was the Terence Rattigan archive.  He had written the play, The Sleeping Prince which the film was based on, and he also presented Marilyn with a party shortly after she arrived in England.  His files were full of party-related documents, such as guest lists, and shopping lists for the huge amount of drink and food required for such an occasion.

The guest list included many actors and actresses, including Sir John Gielguid who had been kind enough to share his memories of the party with me, after I had written to him in the 1990s.  In his letter to me, he wrote:

“Marilyn wore an Edwardian dress - she had, I think, worn it in the tests for the film - and she held court in a tent in the garden, where everyone queued up to shake her hand.  As I was speaking to her, a rather formidable-looking lady in black suddenly appeared at Marilyn’s side and introduced herself as Louella Parsons.  Arthur Miller kept at a discreet distance.  I had no opportunity of talking further with Marilyn, but remember how graceful she looked, dancing with Terry Rattigan as I took my departure.”

One document in the Terence Rattigan file was very intriguing.  It was a letter from Rattigan to the local police sergeant, donating a sum of money to his local charity, for his handling of a ‘difficult situation.’  This situation was explained to me when I found a newspaper report telling the story of a local policeman being threatened by one of the guests with a broken wine glass.  The report also claimed that the policeman – P C Packham – had no idea who Marilyn Monroe was, and had demanded to see her invitation before she entered the party.

Being the nosey person that I am, stories like this really interest me, so I set about finding P C Packham, and as luck would have it, I was able to track him down and persuade him to share his memories with me.  In a wonderful letter, which often read exactly like a police report, he gave me a full – blow-by-blow account – of what really happened that night:  This is what he told me:

“The peace was shattered when what was clearly a VIP limo travelling from the Sunningdale direction, swung into the drive to stop abruptly at my feet.  Some lunatic immediately leapt from the nearside front passenger seat and, actually brandishing an empty wine glass in my face, told me aggressively to get out of the way.  It was, to say the least, an unusual greeting; neither did his arrival inspire confidence regarding the other occupants of the car.  I relieved him of the wine glass and was desirous of knowing what precisely he was up to.

“‘It’s Marilyn, you fool’, he hissed, ‘get out of the way.’

“Of course!  In a blinding flash of the absolute obvious the penny dropped.  Everyone in England must surely have known that Marilyn was in town.  The tabloids were full of it. 
“I looked in at the open door of the limo.  It was, of course, Marilyn and, had any further proof been necessary, she was accompanied by her then husband, Arthur Miller.  I told the driver to carry on, closed the door, and they sped away without the little dogsbody, or whatever he was.  He was last seen hoofing it up the long drive to the house, muttering as he went dire imprecations on all coppers.

“Press cars which had tailed the limo down the A30 had by then been bumped up on to the grass verges at the side of the main road, their occupants coming hot-foot to join the fray.  They were a trifle late, for their real quarry had by then sped off, but they were not too late to weave their usual fairy tales.  The Tabloids’ following day’s accounts were founded principally on the story of one of ‘yer ole tyme rural bobbies’ who spoke with a rich west country accent, called men ‘Zur’, and didn’t know Marilyn.  Any semblance of accuracy in their reports was purely coincidental.”

The research into Marilyn’s trip had been eye-opening and extremely interesting, and after a decade of digging, I was ready to put the entire story into a book.  I was happy to do a book purely about the England trip, but then my agent suggested I should instead write a full-scale biography of Marilyn’s life.  The idea terrified me to say the least and I had absolutely no idea if I could possibly do such a thing.  Besides, it had taken me a full ten years just to research the four months she had lived in England.  If I worked at that pace for Marilyn’s entire 36 years, I’d probably never see it published in my lifetime.

However, I took a few steps into the fog; approaching it in the same way that I had done with the England trip, and soon discovered that in my view, Marilyn’s real story – the story of a human being not a movie star – had not yet been written.  I took on the challenge and I’m now happy to say that the resulting book – Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed - has been very well-received around the world.  However, my England research did not go to waste and in the revised, paperback edition, it takes the form of two chapters and a full forty pages, which has never been done in any other Marilyn book.

It's now fifty years since the world lost Marilyn Monroe.  Fifty years; half a century, and in the immortal words of Marilyn’s character from Some Like It Hot, "It makes a girl think."  

Marilyn’s life was one of fire and magic; of great triumphs and terrible lows.  But to me she will always be my inspiration and I will never stop admiring, respecting and defending her, for as long as I live.

Marilyn Monroe always worried that she wasn’t being taken seriously enough, and often doubted her abilities as an actress and a person.  I truly believe that she really shouldn’t have worried.  All of us here today – some of us who weren’t even born during her lifetime – have all come here because we remember who she was and what she gave us in the shape of her movies, her life and her aspirations.  Personally I think she would be astounded that fifty years after her death she is still spoken about, loved and admired around the world.

On a personal note, I would just like to end by saying thank you so much Marilyn, for everything you have brought into my life.  I am truly, truly grateful and I will forever hold a good thought for you.  

Thank you.


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