Marilyn and Me

If you don’t happen to be a Netflix subscriber, you’re likely unaware that the streaming platform is airing a historical documentary called, The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes. The film explores the mystery surrounding the death of the legendary blonde bombshell through previously unheard interviews with her inner circle.

That inner circle, of course, included her three husbands — the local schlemiel, Jim Dougherty; baseball legend, Joe DiMaggio, and the celebrated playwright, Arthur Miller. And then there were her many lovers, among whom were JFK and his brother Bobby; the notorious mobster, Sam Giancana; comedian and filmmaker, Jerry Lewis; Charlie Chaplin, Jr., and his brother Sydney; comedian, Milton Berle; film director, Elia Kazan; mercurial actor, Marlon Brando; and crooner, Frank Sinatra.

If rumors of Marilyn’s sexual peccadilloes have any basis in fact, she may also have had affairs with the Brothers Karamazov, the Seven Dwarves (but not Snow White), Jay Gatsby, and numerous other fictional characters from literature, Goofy (but not Mickey Mouse), Popeye (but not Olive Oyl), Papa Smurf, and Barney Rubble (but not Fred Flintstone). She was frequently seen in the company of Tiny Tim, but nothing ever happened.

Let’s Get Serious

On the day Marilyn’s death was announced — August 5th, 1962 (she died during the evening of the 4th) — I was eight years old. I was standing on my father’s green G.I. blanket from the Marine Corps, on the beach at Watch Hill, Rhode Island. I’d just come out of the water. I was wrapped in a towel and eating a peach. We’d brought the blue Sony transistor radio that sat atop our refrigerator at home to the beach with us. That’s when, where, and how I heard the news.

It doesn’t appear as a distant memory to me now. I still hear the ocean. I still taste the juicy sweetness of the peach. I still feel the breeze. I still feel the watchful eyes of my parents. And I still feel as haunted now as I did then.

How could it be?

How could one so young, so beautiful, so full of promise, so full of life as yet unlived be just gone? POOF! I knew with crystal clarity, even then, how wrong it was. It still is. It’s a wrong that can never be made right, in part because we’ll likely never know the truth about how she died and by whose hand. Suicide? Maybe. But she’d seen much and knew much. Perhaps too much.

In any event, Marilyn, thanks for the memories:


Mark O'Brien
Mark O'Brien
I’m a business owner. My company — O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) — is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as: Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do our work so well that seven of the companies (brands) we’ve represented have been acquired by other companies. OCG is different because our business model is different. We don’t bill by the hour or the project. We don’t bill by time or materials. We don’t mark anything up. We don’t take media commissions. We pass through every expense incurred on behalf of our clients at net. We scope the work, price the work, put beginning and end dates on our engagements, and charge flat, consistent fees every month for the terms of the engagements. I’m also a writer by calling and an Irish storyteller by nature. In addition to writing posts for my company’s blog, I’m a frequent publisher on LinkedIn and Medium. And I’ve published three books for children, numerous short stories, and other works, all of which are available on Amazon under my full name, Mark Nelson O’Brien.

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  1. Marilyn was a simply beautiful, if naive, young woman with a gentle soul who was gobbled up and spat out by the Hollywood star making machine in my humble opinion.

    For me Elton John’s masterful 1973 ballad “Candle in the Wind” which immortalised her beautiful spirit encapsulates it best:

    “Goodbye Norma Jean, though I never knew you at all you had the grace to hold yourself while those around you crawled out of the woodwork and they made you change your name….”

    Elton’s protagonist saw her as “something more than sexual, more than just our Marilyn Monroe…”

    We need to see her life story in full context and get past the likely over exaggerated and one dimensional sexualised side

    • Goodbye Norma Jean” was exactly what came up for me as well, Chris.

      I can’t help thinking about the Disney movie Coco where the tradition described is that you don’t cease to exist as long as somebody honors your memory. Her exit didn’t diminish her fame. Even people born long after she died, know of her. May she rest in peace as in life she had little.

    • I hope that’s true for all of us, Charlotte. In my own life, Grandpa O’Brien exists for me as he always has, regardless of the fact that he passed in 1975.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • She was, indeed, Chris. We can only wonder what she’d have been like if she’d had a more secure, loving upbringing. For someone of her insecurities to have landed on the path she did is one of the many tragic elements of her story. And I thought of “Candle in the Wind” many times as I wrote this post.

      Thank you for joining the conversation.