“Marilyn Dead,” the headline New York Daily News subscribers awoke to August 6, 1962.
It was 54 years ago today that Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her apartment of an apparent overdose. Suicide? Murder? Accident? Joe Kennedy? The debate rages to this day as the legendary sex symbol continues to find as much fame in death as she did in life.
Marilyn died on Friday, August 5, 1962 sometime between the hours of 9:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. The news was all over Chicago radio stations the following Saturday morning when six-year-old Scotty, along with Babe and Larry and Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Harry (affectionately nicknamed “Lu” and “Esh”), were about to make a left turn from Ridge Avenue onto Hollywood. We were en route to Mt. Sinai hospital where Esh was scheduled to undergo some routine tests.
Esh worked in advertising, so it wasn’t unusual to find my bedroom crammed with life-size cutouts of Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound, prototypical toy cars that sat two, and even a cardboard replica of the Project Mercury nose cone.
He didn’t last the week. Somewhere in my susceptible little noggin I blamed MM for the death of my beloved uncle.
The following newspapers from the weeks following her death have been lounging on my hard drive for longer than I care to remember. Each year, August 5 comes and goes without notice. Early in 2016 a calendar notation was made, and last week’s desktop pop-up reminded me not to forget.
The collection once belonged to a friend who had been sitting on them for years, waiting for the right payday. (Let’s just say that no children were put through college with the funds accrued off the sale of this bundle.) Enshrined in acid-free plastic bags, the papers were newsstand fresh. Before putting them up for auction, I ran them through a scanner for an occasion such as this.
I’m not going to sit and pretend to wax poetic over the cult of Monroe. I can’t. If given the choice of dead Hollywood icons, I’m with Team Hepburn. (Audrey, not Katherine). And the older I get the more pleasure I derive from Jayne Mansfield’s superb dumb-blonde turns in Frank Tashlin’s The Girl Can’t Help It! and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?.
Tashlin never had the opportunity to work with MM. Pity, because one can only imagine how potent the bowdlerized adaptation of Seven Year Itch might have turned out with Tash, not Billy Wilder at the helm. Then again, Howard Hawks’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is the brightest non-Metro musical from Hollywood’s golden period, and much of its sparkle can be traced to Monroe’s diamond-sharp performance.