The Helicopter Log

Photo-journalists William Woodfield and Joe Hyams did not believe that Marilyn killed herself despite the indicatory evidence found in her bedroom at Fifth Helena. And too, they heard rumors that a helicopter had landed on Santa Monica Beach the night before. So, prompted by those rumors and their mutual disbelief, and acting on their own volition, they decided on August the 5th to begin an investigation to uncover the real facts and the real truth about Marilyn Monroe’s mysterious death.

Their decision might seem slightly odd considering the coroner would not pronounce an official edict about Marilyn’s death for a few weeks; but both men shared some history with the famous movie star. Woodfield, along with Lawrence Schiller, received an invitation from the actress to photograph her during the pool scene filming on the set of Something’s Got to Give; and Hyams was one reporter in a crowd of many reporters on the scene when Marilyn appeared before the press in 1954 to announce her separation and divorce from the Yankee Clipper. According to an 2017 article written by Susan Doll for How Stuff Works, Hyams was appalled by his colleagues deplorable behavior at that press conference.1

During their 1962 investigation, the photo-journalists discovered a helicopter log which proved conclusively that a whirlybird landed on Santa Monica Beach and that Robert Kennedy was in Los Angeles during the weekend of August the 4th. The original recounter of this amazing story, and what can only be called an Earth shattering revelation relative to Marilyn’s death, was Anthony Summers. The investigative journalist apparently interviewed both Woodfield and Hyams in 1983 and 1984; Summers conducted additional interviews with Hyams in 1985 according to the writer’s source notes.

When Summers interviewed Woodfield and Hyams, they informed the writer that they hired a retired policeman to assist with their 1962 investigation into Marilyn’s death. The officer, who remained anonymous, was also allegedly interviewed by Summers; but the writer’s source notes did not indicate when or where that interview transpired. Perhaps Summers questioned the officer when he interviewed either Woodfield or Hyams in 1983 or 1984, over two decades after Marilyn’s death. At that time, William Woodfield was fifty-five years old and Joe Hyams was sixty-one. I do not know how old the retired police officer might have been.

The books written by Donald H. Wolfe and the joint effort written by Jay Margolis and Richard Buskin each contained accounts describing how Woodfield and Hyams discovered the helicopter log. According to Wolfe’s source notes, he interviewed Hyams in 1994 and Woodfield in 1995. By then, Hyams was seventy-one years old, Woodfield was sixty-seven and an additional twelve years had elapsed since Summers had interviewed the photo-journalists. Since Marilyn’s death, a total of thirty-three years had come and gone.

In their 2014 account of the helicopter log discovery, Margolis and Buskin relied on Summers as their source. If they interviewed either photo-journalist, Margolis and Buskin did not so indicate. William Woodfield died in 2001 at the age of seventy-three while Joe Hyams lived until 2008: he died in Denver at the age of eighty-five.

Peter Pan and Pixie Dust