tv Reframed Marilyn Monroe CNN January 23, 2022 7:00pm-8:00pm PST
her best. >> in the middle of production marilyn takes off to new york. she had a date with the president. he was having a big birthday and she was to sing "happy birthday". >> i think she was playing with him but it was certainly brave. >> marilyn said, you know, splish splash, this would make interesting pictures. >> stripping down and being absolutely naked is really pushing the envelope. ♪ ♪ nbc monitor news on the hour. in california screen actress marilyn monroe is dead. the 36-year-old film star was found in her bed this morning. >> successful lonely actress that led a spectacular stormy life. >> the story of marilyn monroe is an authentic tragedy, it began in tragedy and ended in tragedy and in between -- >> because of the way marilyn
died, we tend to look at her entire life as a tragedy. and in particular, the last few years as being the inevitable fall of this great star. that simply wasn't true. >> can we start again? >> yes. ♪ ♪ >> she had an agency. she was hungry for more creative challenges. >> gee. >> she had a lot of strength along with her vulnerability. >> disciplined. >> she stood up to the old hollywood guard and said i'm mad as hell and i'm not going to take it anymore. >> we are not machines, we are not. >> up until the day she died, she was a fighter. >> of course her early death is a tragedy but that doesn't over write everything she achieved up until that point. she became the biggest movie
star in the world and remains one of the most famous and recognizable women in history. ♪ ♪ >> excited fans gather on a san diego beach to watch marilyn monroe shoot her first film in two years. >> billy wilder directs her in "some like it hot" which arguably her greatest role. it's incredible what she does in that. >> the role of sugarcane is very much the type of a dumb blonde. >> my mother is a piano teacher and my father was a conductor. >> where did he conduct? >> baltimore and ohio. >> this woman is so dumb she
doesn't realize her two best friends are men in drag. >> what's the matter with you anyway? >> but marilyn transforms this very two-dimensional dumb blonde character into three dimensional. >> spending it on other things and betting on horses. >> marilyn was able to make her character so relatable, even though they were apped, you could identify with them. >> by this time in her career, marilyn was always making suggestions and it said she suggested that there be a blast of steam as she came out on the train station. >> the fact she asks wilder to kind of shoot steam at her as he did in the "seven year itch" is interesting. it shows that marilyn has a real self-awareness of her image and how to play with it.
>> the last thing you will ever hear is the idea marilyn contributed to the comedy genius of billy wilder. she's never given credit for being deliberately funny. >> billy wilder wanted the actors to do what he wanted them to do but marilyn was a perfectionist and wanted many takes and she would ruin a take if she didn't like what had been done. >> her style of acting didn't go well with the highly efficient time driven money driven studio system and wilder said it was hell. >> this is not cheap even in those days. they are shooting like $20,000 but just blown to bits. so you just say my god my god, who is going to have a nervous breakdown? me or the money man?
>> i cannot help but think about the ways that men are allowed to have a lot of leeway onset in ways women aren't. >> it's the way in which we talk about well, this male actor is passionate, he's a method actor and this actress is just a crazy bitch who is difficult onset. and i've heard that time and time again. that's the language used and that is gendered. >> as ever, the story is more complicated than the versions that we get and when she was happy with the way the scene was being interpreted and felt she was being listened to, she was delivering scenes with perfect comic timing. >> look, if you're interested in whether i am married or not. >> oh, i'm not interested at all. >> well, i'm not. >> that's very interesting. >> when i knew i had the final shot, there was a moment of never again. all i can tell you is if marilyn
was around today, i would be on my knees please, let's do it ag again. >> despite the problems onset, "some like it hot" is a huge hit for the studio. >> people really responded to it and sole think it's the greatest comedy of all time and if ever she was full of life in a film and seemed completely at ease in her skin, it's this one. >> but for marilyn, the film's success comes at a time of personal tragedy. ♪ i want to be loved by you, just you ♪ ♪ nobody else but you ♪ >> it turned afterwards marilyn was pregnant during filming, which the people onset did not know. she miscarried after the film wrapped. ♪ i want to be kissed by you, just you ♪ >> a few years earlier she
suffered an eptopic pregnancy and once again, her dreams of motherhood were dashed. ♪ ♪ >> so when she saw herself on screen thinking back to finding out she was pregnant and all of those things, it must have been extremely hurtful for her. ♪ i want to be loved by you ♪ >> marilyn had to suffer that pain in the public eye. she had newspapers and journalists who are all gossiping about it. to be reading about her miscarriages and her difficulties, it must have been very, very, very trying for her. >> the mit's astounding, there sense she's a failure because she couldn't have children. this is a story all too familiar to women everywhere.
>> but marilyn forges ahead. she's set to star in a major hollywood film written by her husband arthur miller. >> "the misfits" were conceived as arthur miller's valentine to marilyn, a gift of love from her genius play write husband and finally, she thought, somebody would write her the role she'd been waiting for. we're a different kind of dentistry. one who believes in doing anything it takes to make dentistry work for your life. so we offer a complete exam and x-rays free to new patients without insurance - everyday. plus, patients get 20% off their treatment plan. we're on your corner and in your corner every step of the way. because your anything is our everything.
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marilyn and arthur arrive in reno to begin filming "the misfits." ♪ ♪ >> "the misfits" is written by marilyn's husband arthur miller. it's supposed to show off how far she's come. >> i came to work on "the misfits" and i was delighted to meet arthur miller. i was an admirer of his work. marilyn seemed very swreet, tim was friendly with the rest of the cast. >> i'd like you to meet a friend of mine. >> it was clark gable. he was one of her idles when she was a child. liked to imagine he was her father. she didn't know who her father
was so why not clark gable? >> what do you do with yourself? >> just live. >> the stories of roslyn played by monroe went to reno for a divorce. the film was inspired when arthur miller was in reno getting his divorce to marry marilyn. >> he even called the character roslyn to make this clear this is marilyn and he sees marilyn in this way. >> too rough for you? >> i don't mind, dad. >> the charts changed their relat relationship. >> he's doing rewrites on the set and she hugely resented the way he characterized the roslyn character. >> seemed to change to being a celebration everything he loved about marilyn to a parody that showed the contempt he formed
for his wife. >> we're all dying, aren't we sm. >> roslyn isn't very bright and this kind of body that runs around hugging trees and hugging men. >> it more than a professional disappointment for marilyn, it's also a personal one because she does not feel seen or understood by her husband, the person that's supposed to know her best. >> i want to show you the rest. i changed a few things. >> there is a scene where there's a locker room door open and it has pictures from early in her career and what the script makes marilyn do is shut the door on those pictures. >> and how do you like it? don't look at those. they were hung up for a joke. >> her husband has her saying she's a joke. let's have lots of drinks. >> when everything she had been fighting for was specifically to be taken seriously. >> marilyn becomes frustrated
with this role. her addiction to bpills and alcohol is a problem on the set. >> she was always on the sleeping pills at night. i don't know what the pills were to wake up and it was getting worse and worse. >> everyone making the movie falls into two camps, one around marilyn, one around arthur. eventually he moves out of her suite to another suite. >> the first time i think i knew the relationship with marilyn and arthur was difficult was when arthur said to me one day, oh, can i come in the car with you and john? and then going home can i come back in the car? i thought well, they come at different times, true, but it was every day then. >> miller seems to have been
mining their lives together for a lot of his material and some of the char abouacters are spea for him. >> they're crazy. you try not to believe it because you thneed them. >> he starts talking about men as men and women they. >> you turn yourself inside out for them but never enough. >> she said to think arthur did this to me and at that point the marriage became irretrievably over. ♪ ♪ >> she'd experienced these miscarriages during her marriage to arthur and now her third marriage had ended in divorce. and very blit was a very bleak period. >> after the divorce, she has a very bad nervous breakdown and
her spsychiatrist felt she needd to be put in a hospital to be revitalized and taken off drugs so marilyn voluntarily went to a hospital thinking basically she was getting therapy and care. >> imagine being in the early '60s, you're a woman, one of the most famous and recognizable people on the planet. i think her decision to ask for help shows a tremendous strength in self-awareness within her. the problem of course, is sometimes the help you get is not the help you need. >> she checks into pain whitney and she was basically locked into a violent psychiatric ward. and she was constrained against her will for three days, treated as a violent patient. >> she is locked into a room and she yells and screams.
>> it was such a harrowing experience for her. she was so isolated, so alone. >> all of that was compounded by her very real fear that her mother's mental illness was inheritable and she might have it, as well. >> and this made it seem like her worst nightmare was coming true and she would do anything to get out. [crying] >> early in her career, sheplay d played a psychotic babysitter of all things and when "the pain whitney" episode happened, it took her back to that performance. she said she actually put on a show for them. >> you don't want to do that. >> how do you know my name? >> she thought of this scene she filmed for "don't bother to knock." she got a piece of glass and threatened to harm herself.
>> give it to me. >> they expected her to be crazy and so she acted crazy so that she could actually get they are attention and get them to listen to her. >> you're going to a hospital now. >> not back there. >> here in new york. we're going to help you. >> eventually she gets into colombia presbyterian, which was a hospital that had a drug withdraw clinic. >> after three weeks there, marilyn leaves. >> marilyn was a fighter. she fell and got up again. and she kept, you know, dusting herself off and rtstarting over again.
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on the floor of the entrance that said my beginning's end. >> it was unreal for a woman to buy a home alone so marilyn is showing a great deal of independence by buying that home. ♪ ♪ >> it's been over a year since marilyn wrapped her last film. when fox calls her back to set. >> contractually marilyn monroe owed fox a movie so she signed up to be the lead in a comedy called "somethings got to give." >> this is her first mature role and marilyn is playing someone who has responsibility for someone else. she's a mother. >> jimmy. come here. >> why? >> i want to hug you. >> me, too. >> in "somethings got to give" you see a maternal aspect, which
is completely unexpected. >> 919. >> it naturally brings a certain softness. you can't help but to wonder what could have been. and i'm sure i'm not the only person to have thought that while watching those scenes. >> i start like -- >> 82. >> going into the movie, she wasn't in the best of health at all. >> really? >> she had colds and sinusitis and depending on cold medicine. she was at an intriguing turning point. she's still hungry for more creative fulfillment but also struggling with mental health issues that make it very difficult for her to show up on ti time. >> the studio doctor had wanted the film production to be
delayed a little bit but 20th century fox was going through big problems at the time with their own finances. so they just wanted it over and done with. >> you hear this special event of the year, a first in television history. >> during the 1960s, the film studios were competing with the rice in popularity with defense and one way to get people into the movie theater is produced these huge big budget epics with incredible costumes and so much luxury you had to see it on the biggest screen possible. >> and by the time that k "somethings got to give" was made they were working on one of the biggest productions ever " "c "clepopatria". >> elizabeth taylor was getting paid ten times what marilyn monroe was getting paid. >>disastrous shoot.
liz taylor was sick. they had to tear down sets and rebuild in rome. >> how do you feel, ms. tailer? >> they had to shut down all productions except for "cleopatria" and the well being of the studio was in effect on marilyn's shoulders. >> are you going to stay long? >> i don't know yet. do you need me to. >> in the middle of production on "somethings got to give," marilyn takes off to new york. she had a date with the president. he was having a big birthday party at madison square garden. >> the president is winding up his new york day here at madison square garden in a prebirthday celebration. >> a lot of very famous performers were singing and dancing. she'd asked permission from the
studio to go off but because of the production delays, the studio said she could not go. >> and she was furious because in her view, a star of her statute had the right to say she was going to go do this for a couple days and they were going to have to deal with it. >> marilyn spent weeks rehearsing for the event. >> it was a really big deal and she prepared so much for that brief performance. >> marilyn had an association with president kennedy. and it links together politics and hollywood. and john f. kennedy's presidency was very much a hollywood presidency. >> mr. president, on this occasion of your birthday, this lovely lady is not only on time.
>> i think everyone knew there was a relationship between marilyn monroe and the president of the united states. it was show biz and secretive. >> mr. president, marilyn monroe. >> and that night the whole madison square garden sat there in awe waiting for this princess of the motion picture industry and our president. ♪i look real good today,♪ ♪i look real good today,♪ ♪i look real good today,♪ ♪i look real good today♪ ♪jumpin' out the bentley,♪ ♪rolley in the casa, new balencis,♪ ♪walkin' with a pocket full of benjis,♪ ♪and my ten piece♪ ♪i look real good today,♪ ♪i look real good today♪ knowing where you came from, it gives you a sense of “this is who i am”. oh my goodness... wow, look at all those! you get hungry for more and then you're just like, “wow, i'm learning about my family.” yeah, yep.
. here she is. >> i was late that night. marilyn was just coming on to the stage. it was always a great concern as to whether she was going to make it on the stage. >> there has been no one female that meant so much. >> but she was well worth waiting for. >> i remember her hair was very exaggerated. she's almost like a cartoon of herself. >> mr. president, the late marilyn monroe. >> and then there's this body inside this sheathe and it's just like oh my god. oh my god.
>> i was honored when they asked me to appear at madison square garden, you know, i was a little worried about my voice but it came out. but still, i do know i can't forget the words happy birthday has always been happy birthday. ♪ happy birthday to you ♪ ♪ happy birthday to you ♪ ♪ happy birthday, mr. president ♪ ♪ happy birthday to you ♪ >> it's very erotic and the incredibly powerful over sexuality in the early 196 0s would be seen by many, many people as just being utterly inappropriate, just truly inappropriate. ♪ mr. president, for all the
things you've done ♪ >> that song is very deliberately a performance. marilyn performing marilyn. ♪ ♪ >> i definitely think marilyn was trying to send a message to the powers that be at 20th century fox. her performance was a way of highlighting her own power in a way that says i don't need you, you guys need me. >> ladies and gentlemen, the president of the united states. >> when she sang "happy birthday" i do remember watching that and being very amused. i think she was playing with him, but it was certainly brave. >> i can now retire from
politics after having had happy birthday sung to me in such a sweet -- [ applause ] >> the standard take on the aftermath is that jfk was publicly embarrassed and that he dumped her. the story continues. she was heart broken, calling him every five seconds and falling apart. but her friends at the time said that she absolutely wasn't. that she wasn't in love with him and that she wasn't forewarned but we insist on seeing marilyn as a passive victim of the men around her. nobody can seem to imagine a different version of this story, that she was a 36-year-old woman who clearly had a pragmatic attitude towards sex and she could be getting a kick out of sleeping with the most powerful man in the world. >> but marilyn's trip spells disaster for her relationship with fox. the studio files a breach of
contract against her. >> i think there is a sense that going to madison square garden was her resting too much control from the studios instead of sitting back and doing what she was told. >> what happens after is just a sign of the industry's inability to handle a good thing when they have it. >> back in l.a., marilyn devised a plan to remind the studio of who they are dealing with. she enlists the help of photographer lawrence shiller. >> i went to her home in brentwood and we started to go through the script and there is this scene where she's in a swimming pool and dean martin is looking at her from a balcony. and marilyn said, you know, splish splash this would make interesting pictures. i said oh, yeah, there is no question about it.
and she says but larry, what would happen if i jumped in the swimming pool with my bathing suit on nude color, but i came out with nothing on? >> 504. >> she wanted those pictures as publicity to show 20th century fox that she was as popular as liz taylor in the cover of every magazine in the world. [ laughter ] >> it's cold here. >> i have two cameras around my neck or maybe three and marilyn said look, in between each of the takes, i'll do the posing because marilyn would look at where my camera was, look at the light and turn her body. she knew exactly what to do. >> as a super star, being on a film set and just stripping down and being absolutely naked at that stature, at that level highly unusual. it's beyond titillation.
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about photography than most photographers that photographed her and as i'm about to drive in, she's about to drive out in a t bird convertible and hands me a bottle. i popped the cork and she takes it full bottle like that. let me see the pictures. she takes the pictures and she's holding them up to the streetlights. and then she takes out a pair of pinking sheers and goes zip and my heart drops. she looks more, zip. cuts right through the image. all the pieces that she's cutting are going on the floor of the car. and i'm grabbing them, putting them back. and then i'm looking over and i'm saying, you know, she's pretty good editing. but that's how marilyn monroe edited my color pictures so you might see 30 transparencies that survived moore larilyn monroe a
t bird looking at a streetlight. >> i was afraid you'd misunderstand about that. >> what is the misunderstanding? >> on the set of "somethings got to give" marilyn's relationship with the studio goes from bad to worse. >> can we start again? >> they say that she's uncorporative and caused costly delays and tried to dismiss her as a temper mental star who over played her hand. >> all you can think about is the way i behave with this poor little -- okay. >> this poor little fly. >> the studio was looking at what is happening on the set. >> sorry, george, but we can do it -- >> they're saying you know what? we're not going to make it here. >> one more. that was good. >> and we are going to lose money and they pull the plug. they just pull the plug. >> the studio fired her.
they made marilyn take the fall. instead of saying we can't afford to keep this going because "cleopatria" is costing a fortune, they said she's a mess and the footage is unusable and nobody can work with her again and that's it. >> it's shocking that they would let her go because marilyn was the biggest star at the time. even if they didn't want to admit that. ♪ ♪ >> two weeks after she's fired, shiller's sensational photos of marilyn hit the news stands. >> i called her on the phone and said perry match is running a cover in six pages. they're going to run a cover in three pages and every time i get on the phone, she's achieving what she wanted to achieve and that was worldwide notoriety.
her weapon was her body. her weapon was this incredible face. her weapon was to knock liz taylor everybody else off the cover. >> it's absolutely stunning that she pulled off what she did really being smarter than the managers she had. she really knew what she needed to do better than other people did. >> would you like a drink? come on, have a little -- >> that summer, marilyn invites "life magazine" journalist richard marryman and photographer allen grant to her home for an exclusive interview. >> i think richard marryman interview is her chance to control the narrative and appeal to her fans who had been loyal to her. >> the way the industry treats
their stars. i mean, the things they send out about me, i never lost sight or disciplined or to be disciplined. >> she talks about herself being really undermined by hollywood and badly treated by hollywood. >> if you have a code, you have a code. the executives can get called. how dare you get a cold. >> there is an extraordinary moment where marryman says somewhat thoughtlessly, how do you crank yourself up for a performance and it clearly strikes a nerve. >> i don't crank anything. i don't crank. i don't know. but -- i think that's kind of disrespectful to refer to it that way. we're not machines no matter how much they want to say we are, we are not. >> she was so bold. she was so honest.
i mean, that was really an act of bravery to say i'm a human being with integrity and artistry and i must insist that to you. >> as the interview draws to a close, marilyn makes a final request of mar marryman. >> i hope we got something here but please don't make me look like a joke. >> it's just so sad that after all those years of being this leading lady, you know, this major force in american cinema that she has to beg a journalist not to make her look like a joke. ♪ ♪ >> a few days later, marilyn is called to a meeting at 20th century fox. >> films always cost more than i expected. >> after a six-year absence, darryl zanuck is returning as the studio's president. >> zanuck takes one look and says you guys are crazy. marilyn is going to make you
money so he reinstates marilyn. >> it's ironic that someone so opposed to her career at the very beginning now really saw what kind of a gold mine he had in marilyn monroe. >> when fox rehired marilyn, she showed them who was in charge. she had finally forced them to accept her value, they rehired her at a million dollars contract and that contract has to have meant more to her professionally than any other victory she achieved. she'd been vindicated and made them eat their words. >> she was at the top of her game. she was at the height of her success and all of a sudden, the curtain came down. it's like wait a minute, the movie is not over. the movie is not over. or could i have a different game plan? i wanted to help protect myself. my doctor recommended eliquis. eliquis is proven to treat and help prevent
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always my whole life. she needs you. she doesn't have anybody. he said, okay, i'll call. he called, he said to her, amy had a dream. she laughed, ha ha, and they spoke to the phone for three hours. she was going to fly to beverly hills. fine. and she died. >> about 5:30 in the morning i get a phone call, marilyn monroe died last night. i said don't give me that and i hung up the phone. i had seen marilyn just hours earlier. >> she was found dead earlier this morning, an empty bottle on the side of the bed. >> i turned on the tv and there it was on the news and i went to the house. there were a couple police
officers there and a few reporters, and only one or two photographers, and the word had not gotten out yet. i had a camera with me and didn't know what to photograph. you photo somebody alive, but their dead. >> i can remember the headlines, this was massive, marilyn is dead. i remember they showed the bed they found her in. >> after she died there was this kind of glamorizing of her dead body and the sexualization of her corpse to a really extreme degree. >> she was faced down and covered with a sheet and her hand on the phone. >> it's like this woman was never allowed to be a human
being. she had to be an object of desire for everybody and everything, even in death. >> a simple chapel saw 23 of marilyn monroe's closest friends and inside. >> everybody is so sad, how could it have happened? yet nobody in our culture is able to look inward and say, oh, i was part of the problem. >> the official cause of death is bar pitch but overdose. >> everybody thought she was murdered. this is the '60s, and we don't believe it because we don't believe what they tell us. >> it was a mistake. nobody -- i mean, don't go
there. nobody -- the cubans weren't there. the kennedys weren't there. everybody that was supposed to have killed her, never happened. it was a mistake. she took the sleeping pills and she forgot she took them so she took more, and that's how it happens. >> a month before her death, marilyn met her friend, photographer, george, for a photo shoot. ♪ ♪ >> they are very beautiful. i love these. these pictures reflect the old
marilyn, someone you could talk to, someone who is accessible. >> it's like you are seeing her soul in a way. she's just looking right at the camera, and you know, it's like she's looking at you. >> marilyn monroe, the person is gone. the image is not gone and it will never be gone. her legacy is defined more by the images we see of her by her career that anything else despite the tragedies of her life, she's up there as fresh and new and wonderful as she ever was. >> marilyn monroe is a mirror for peoples' ideas about women's sexuality and women's power. >> whether beautiful women could
be intelligent. how are they supposed to be treated as equals? how are they supposed to be respected? those are questions that most women, if not all women, are still struggling with and marilyn monroe is the symbol of all of that. >> if she were alive today, i think she would have been on the front lines with a lot of activists and organizers and she would have been a very big voice in the me too movement. >> she was so limited by the public stays of who she was and what she was capable of, but she broke all of these barriers and became the biggest actress in the world and the biggest cultural icon of the 20th century. >> i mean, she was truly extraordinary. >> with the sun setting and one
shot of film left in the camera, marilyn turns to george. this is for you. >> you do miss sometimes just being able to be completely yourself and someplace and people just know you as another human being. what are we doing? why did we start this business. >> >> any tool for human expression will bring out both the best and worst in us. and television has been that. >> they don't pay me enough to deal with animals like this. >> people are no longer embarrassed to admit they watch television. >> hello