Many biographies have been written about the life of Marilyn Monroe. They all end virtually the same tragic way: with a lethal overdose of barbiturates and Marilyn’s death. With conspiracist writers, however, Marilyn’s death, and therefore the ending of their books, arrive as a result of murder. After mentioning Marilyn’s small and private funeral, those authors offer declarations that they reject the pronouncement of the Los Angeles County Coroner regarding Marilyn’s mode of death: probable suicide. Firm in their belief, one assumes, that evil men precipitated Marilyn’s death on August the 4th, which they concealed with a sinister cover-up, the conspiracist writers begin their oft repeated criminations. Their literary line-up includes the usual suspects behind the glass wall: John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Dr. Ralph Greenson, Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., the FBI or the CIA, neckless goons dispatched by the Los Angeles Police Department, the Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti,1the MOB or mobsters, particularly Sam Giancana. The prepossessed authors describe and evaluate Marilyn’s relationship with each suspect and various witnesses offer testimony that substantiates the authors’ final and foregone conclusion: Marilyn Monroe did not commit suicide.
Why would she? She was rich; she was worshiped; she was the world’s biggest celebrity; she was beautiful; she was happy. Her recent difficulties with 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation, her employer, had been solved in her favor and to her benefit. The best part of her career was ahead of her. What possible reason did she have to kill herself? No reason at all and she absolutely did not: Marilyn Monroe was murdered. Right on cue each author mentions the mysterious and missing tape recordings, the missing and mysterious government files, the mysterious and missing Little Red Diary, the mysterious and missing organs that the coroner never tested. Those missing items, associated rumors and innuendo, have expanded into a legend, or mythology more precisely, of epic proportions, one that has grown continually and has persisted even into the 21st century, a mythology involving two governments, several intelligence organizations, a local police force, a local district attorney, a criminal cabal and even intergalactic beings, which makes Marilyn Monroe the first victim of an astronomical, interstellar conspiracy. The mythology has flourished in the unusually fertile firmament of distrust and paranoia; and it has been continuously fertilized by a voyeuristic media and opportunistic individuals adept at manipulating the confusion caused by misinterpretation and misunderstanding, manipulated by those who can invariably grind confusion into a dollar, literary or otherwise.
Notably, the lives of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, along with John’s younger brother, Robert Francis, were entwined during the early sixties, are entwined now and will probably be entwined forevermore. Legends in life, they remain legends in death, in absentia. But this question must be asked: how many of the accounts of their alleged romantic and sexual relationships are founded on reality? Likewise, how many of the murder conspiracies and the odd theories that involve JFK, RFK, and the other large letter acronyms, the FBI, the CIA, the KGB, the MOB or UFOs, just how many are based on reality? Do any of the numerous stories involving arguably the most iconic persons of at least the twentieth century bear any resemblance at all to the facts?
The murder theories and the associated conspiracies are essentially a collection of foregone conclusions, dogmatic presumptions which have become arguments from repetition; the murder theories have also become memes while they have also assumed the significance of religious orthodoxies; and even though these theories, these orthodoxies remain unproven, they have ossified, due to their repetitive pronouncement, and have evolved into unquestioned facts. However, fundamentally, each of the fantastical murder theories, along with the wild associated conspiracies, are simply sensationalist’s opinions, nothing more and nothing less and opinions abound.
A tabulation of the many books written about the death of the world’s most luminous actress and most luminous celebrity include volumes with dark, ominous titles. The Life and Curious Death of Marilyn Monroe by Robert F. Slatzer, who appears prominently in a later section. Slatzer also wrote a second book entitled The Marilyn Files. Alleged Marilyn Monroe expert, Jay Margolis, wrote Marilyn Monroe: A Case for Murder; he felt two books were required on the topic; so following Slatzer’s lead Margolis also wrote a second one, The Murder of Marilyn Monroe: Case Closed. Richard Buskin, who also wrote a book about Marilyn’s sizzling screen career, joined Margolis in closing Marilyn’s case. Writer Don O’Melveny was so intrigued by Marilyn’s death that he wrote three volumes memorializing the tragic event: The Last Year In the Life of Marilyn Monroe, A Hidden History in two volumes and No City for Dreaming: A Memoir on the Murder of Marilyn Monroe. Other titles include The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe, written by Donald H. Wolfe; Coroner’s Cold Case No. 81128: Marilyn Monroe, written by Peter Wright; Marilyn’s Red Diary, written by EZ Friedel; and my personal favorite, UFOs and the Murder of Marilyn Monroe, a comparatively brief narrative written by Donald H. Burleson, PhD. My point is this: even though the conspiracists claim that the known facts regarding Marilyn’s mysterious death represent a paucity, one that should never have been allowed to occur, there are an abundance of conspiratorial theories and written tarradiddles thereof; and the volumes cited above represent but a small sampling of the accounts and opinions available: they stand as a testament to humanity’s continuing fascination with the life, and the death, of Marilyn Monroe, along with the ability of her name to generate sales and a monetary benefit.
During the half century, plus eight years, that have elapsed since Marilyn’s untimely death, the debate concerning the why and how of that tragic event has continued loudly and unabated, almost attaining the ear piercing level of a cacophony. The theories that have attempted to answer all the lingering questions and thereby solve the lingering mystery have become even more bizarre and more sensational while becoming less substantiated. In short, the passing of time has not given rise to a clearer understanding of the facts, just foggier and goofier opinions; and many persons have offered opinions and testaments, both volunteered and coaxed, both spoken and written. In fact, the number of testifiers who had stories to relate was, and is, staggering. If we accept the allegations and testimonies of the conspiracist’s testifiers, Marilyn was acquainted during her lifetime, in one way or another, not only with each and every human being in the United States, but virtually each and every human being alive on Planet Earth. Who can we believe? And once again, just how much of the testimony was based on facts or reality, based on known and verified factual history?
In an attempt to at least partially answer a few of the lingering questions, I offer the text which follows hereafter, neither as a biography nor an accounting of Marilyn’s intricate life, but as a remonstrance, a considered presentation of various facts, selected opinions and thoughts about the sundry murder and conspiracy theories, the conspiracists and their associated testifiers. Certainly, judging the validity or judiciously considering the testaments offered by each and every conspiracist and associated testifier who has appeared over the past half century is, of course, beyond the reach of this text, and indeed, beyond the reach of any text that is not encyclopedic in scope. Therefore, I have confined myself to the conspiracists and testifiers who began the legends and the mythology: they are the conspiracists most often referenced and quoted by the conspiracists who followed thereafter. The later conspiracists perpetuated the mythology while they also enlarged the legend.
Additionally, the men usually accused of murdering Marilyn, or of being peripherally involved in her untimely death, receive due consideration. Marilyn’s death is not a complex polynomial nor a mysterious mathematical expression: it only appears to be one due to the overabundance of conflicting and contradictory testimony contained in the numerous pathographies written about her life and what has become her perversely sexualized death. Behind the appearance of complexity, the appearance of being a statically indeterminate problem, is a simple function whose roots can be easily determined, the points at which the legend’s graph intersects with reality.