The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
I recently bought two biographies of Marilyn Monroe, and am reading them "together" to compare and contrast the facts about this actress who has achieved a kind of immortality, more than forty five years after her death. One is by Fred Guiles and the other was written by Gloria Steinem. They are a study in similarities and contrasts (in fact, Ms Steinem's book often borrows from Guiles' writing to extrapolate further.)

What's interesting to me is that both books attribute Marilyn's persona to her deprived youth and childhood. Marilyn had few islands of stability as a child growing up and was driven to invent herself as an adult. She learned early on that she could use sex to open doors and seemed to have no qualms in doing so. She was smarter than she let on to those around her, and was determined to be taken seriously as an actress. She worked at honing her craft, and died of a barbiturate overdose just at the height of her fame.

Today, I was in House, a discount housewares store to purchase some Murano glass beads for some necklaces that I'm making. There, in one of the aisles, were ready to hang posters of Marilyn for sale - Marilyn from The Seven Year Itch and Marilyn from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Over the months, I've seen them disappear, only to reappear with more stock. Marilyn is still saleable, and it's not just men that love Marilyn. We women love her, too. She defined sexy, yet vulnerable, worldly, yet innocent - every contradiction rolled into one peroxide package. Over the years, other actresses have tried to emulate Marilyn, but have come off being a bit overdone and tacky.

I have to wonder, had she lived to old age, would she have faded into obscurity, with just the power of her name to remind us that she was once "someone?" I think of Marilyn with a tinge of sadness, and think about all of the serious acting roles that she wanted to pursue. Her passing meant the end of an era, but I've come to realize that she still has influence on me. She's shown me that women can be smart and funny and sexy, but that we can also burn ourselves out by trying to be everything to everyone.

Dan calls me his "little Marilyn," but most of us are just a pale shadow of the original, and to be honest, and I wouldn't even want to try to be another Marilyn. That's asking the impossible.
posted by Melanie O. at 4:55 PM -
  • At 10:24 PM, Blogger gardenbug said…

    We all need role models to point the direction. If We try to immitate them, however, We can only come up as second best. First place is "taken".
    In the long run, We need to be ourselves...a unique individual contributing our talents to our society.
    The Marilyn Monroe model is not a good one. It doesn't age well. Time to give up glamour and let the inner light show through.

  • At 11:19 PM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    I often wonder if we, the audience, ever get to see the "real Marilyn" in any of her films. If you go by her biographers - the answer is no. Apparently, she had a temper and could easily cut people out of her life, she was habitually late, and she had very little self-confidence. I think she was only happy when she was performing. Her story reminds me very much of Peter Sellers'. He admitted he didn't know who he really was, and needed a character to play. Marilyn seems very much the same.

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About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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