Monday, October 05, 2015

Mary, not Faye

Also a photo of Arthur Miller and Monroe on bikes
I stumbled on a treasure trove of primary sources for the life of Marilyn Monroe, a web site called Curium Perficio. It is written by someone whose native language is French and so the English version of the site (there's also a French version)  reads strangely in many places, but that doesn't matter much because every page includes photos and documentation, some of it that I've never seen before.

For instance, a letter to Monroe from  Ana Lower, described by Monroe as "the greatest influence in my life" makes it clear how devout a Christian Scientist she was. Interesting because although Lower was so important in Monroe's life, as far as I am aware Monroe was not at all religious and never mentioned "god" at all - she would ask people to "hold a good thought" for her, rather than ask them to pray for her.

Lower was so religious she suggests Monroe's motion sickness is somehow a negation of God. In the letter below it says:
Now stop this nonsense about car sickness. God does not cease to be because you board a train, nor do you cease to be His perfect child because you take a car ride or a ship ride. You just forgot to put your armor on. 
The next page includes quotes from the Bible. What an odd, and probably uniquely Christian Scientist, approach to someone complaining about car sickness.

What really mattered to Monroe was Lower's maternal care of her. As described in "Marilyn: Her Life in Her Own Words":
One of the many reasons I loved her so much was her philosophy, her understanding of what really mattered in life. You know, like the time when I was going to Emerson Junior High and one of the girls in my class made fun of a dress I was wearing. I don't know why kids do things like that. It really hurts so. Well, I ran home crying as though my heart would break.
My loving aunt Ana was so comforting. She just held me in her arms and rocked me to and fro like a baby and said, "It doesn't make any difference if other children make fun of you, dear - it's what you really are that counts. Just keep being yourself honey. That's all that really matters." She was quite a person. She didn't believe in sickness, disease, or death. She didn't believe in a person being a failure, either. She did believe the mind could achieve anything it wished to achieve.
But most exciting about this web site from my perspective is the hospital invoice from Monroe's stay at the Payne Whitney(!) I read that she called herself Faye Miller, but the hospital invoice indicates she was called Mary Miller. I can't imagine why it was believed she called herself Faye, but all her biographers so far said it was Faye. It's just a tiny thing, but a big deal to me for this play. Not that my play refrains from taking artistic liberties, but I like to get the details right whenever possible.

The base rate of her stay was $61 per day. And Dr. Rene Mastrovito is mentioned in the Payne Whitney annual report for 1961, which I found here.