A Hairdresser and His Tapes

Marilyn Monroe was one of the least naturally sexy and beautiful female movie stars in Hollywood, much less so than Ann-Margret, Jennifer Jones, Cyd Charisse, Audrey Hepburn or Rita Hayworth, at least without makeup. Hollywood was home to many dozens of women far sexier and far more beautiful than Marilyn Monroe―that is, according to George Masters, one of Marilyn’s many hairdressers and make-up artists. He was the only beautifier with whom she apparently had a poor and often contemptuous relationship, one that could certainly be called love–hate.

Masters often made unkind remarks about his famous client and announced on one occasion that Marilyn was the coldest, most unfriendly woman he had ever met, not to mention that she smelled at times and would not comb or brush her hair for weeks. Such are the reasons why artists like Masters needed several hours to get Norma Jeane ready to become Marilyn Monroe. Masters also revealed that Marilyn’s chest was afflicted with one long blonde hair that she would not allow anyone to cut because she liked to use it like a child uses the satin edge of a security blanket. I do not know if Masters made the preceding pronouncements while Marilyn was alive; but if he did and she was apprised of them, there should be little wonder why she was cold and unfriendly. Just as an aside, Masters is the only man who ever commented that Marilyn had a long-blonde-security-blanket-hair growing from her chest, which I find odd. Besides, Marilyn was not a natural blonde: I would have expected that wild hair to be brunette.

Apparently, though, Marilyn appreciated Masters’ professional and artistic skills. She took him to Mexico with her in 1962; and later that year, he prepared her to receive the Henrietta Award for being voted the World Film Favorite. George Masters was also with her during the Vogue sittings photographed by Bert Stern in June and July of 1962.

What was once a staid profession of men wearing suits and ties became a profession of easy casual attire, thanks to George Masters. At a time when beauticians were always affiliated with a specific salon, Masters became a beautification troubadour who traveled from salon to salon and often arrived dressed in jeans and a t-shirt; but apparently behind his façade of ease and bonhomie, Masters was an arrogant and insolent man who considered most of his clients to be pretentious. He frequently scorned their obscene wealth, on which they based their attitudes of feigned importance.

From a distance, he would often assess a potential client while she waited; he might refuse to work with her if he considered her unworthy because of some pretense that he perceived. She would be given to a lesser beautifier. He did not scorn their unphony money when used to pay his $350 beautification fee, the equivalent of $3K in today’s currency. Similarly, he scorned his peers in the beautification profession. In his humble opinion, they simply did not have his flair or his talent. Needless to say, George Masters was afflicted with an enormous ego; but rightfully so, perhaps. The character of George in Warren Beatty’s Shampoo, some contend, was based on George Masters; in 1977, Masters published a book entitled The Masters Way to Beauty. I understand that he dedicated a few pages therein to the mess known as Marilyn Monroe. In the early nineteen-eighties, he transformed Dustin Hoffman into Tootsie. Hollywood became the recipient of Master’s first self-owned and operated high priced beauty salon; but it failed within a year of opening.

Despite his fame and his obvious talent, Master’s arrogance and ego apparently led to his dissolution. He died a poor, forgotten and ignored drug addict in 1998 at the age of 62; but before his death, his nephew, Jeff Platts, re-corded a few of their telephone conversations for the benefit of posterity. During those conversations, Masters apparently presented a confusing Cal-Neva episode involving Sam Giancana, an account that subsequently morphed into its own odd murder orthodoxy.

I am not sure when Platts released the cassette tapes of Masters speaking about Marilyn’s death; but the media reports on what Masters alleged began appearing in the spring of 2011, coincident with media reports on the soon to be released movie, My Week With Marilyn. The reports and articles describing what Masters alleged can only be described as chaotic, confusing and historically inaccurate.

Masters’ confusing account and his lack of pertinent details possibly contributed to the media’s inaccurate reporting. For example, on the 27th of April, The Toronto Star reported that a fragment of a memoir tape recorded by George Masters had been found by his nephew, Jeff Platts, on which the hair dresser talked about an unreported second trip aboard Frank Sinatra’s private jet to meet Mafia boss, Sam Giancana. According to the newspaper, that trip transpired the day before Marilyn’s body was found in her Brentwood apartment. Also on the 27th of April, Daily News and Analysis reported that newly released tapes made by a close confidant of Marilyn Monroe might unlock the mystery surrounding her death. Then on the 29th of April, DailyMail reported that Marilyn spent the night of August the 4th with Sam Giancana; and then after their tryst, she and George Masters returned to Los Angeles by airplane. George then delivered his client to Fifth Helena Drive at approximately 9:00 AM on August the 5th.

Since Marilyn’s rendezvous with Sam Giancana allegedly transpired at Lake Tahoe in Northern California, why would she fly to Las Vegas on Sinatra’s private jet as reported by The Toronto Star. Also, Frank’s private airplane was not jet-powered. It was a dual-engine, propeller-powered Martin 404: bullets with wings would not become commercially available until 1964. Additionally, Marilyn was not found dead in her apartment. At the time of her death, she was living in her hacienda on Fifth Helena Drive. Daily News and Analysis incorrectly called Masters Marilyn’s close confidant: he was anything but close to Marilyn and he most certainly was not her confidant. But the most egregious reporting error can be found in the report of DailyMail. Masters could not have delivered Marilyn to Fifth Helena at approximately 9:00 AM on August the 5th in 1962: by that time on that date, Marilyn’s body was being prepped for autopsy.

According to Masters, Marilyn flew to Lake Tahoe with him on August the 3rd for the rendezvous with Sam Giancana. Apparently Giancana was not present during the weekend of July the 28th when Marilyn allegedly experienced sexual debasement at the hands of various mobsters; so the gangster did not have an opportunity to dissuade Marilyn from holding her revelatory press conference and exposing her affairs with the middle Kennedy brothers. Most conspiracists, however, place Giancana at Cal-Neva during that 28th of July weekend and accuse him of being one of Marilyn’s primary sexual tormentors; but despite Giancana’s alleged grotesque treatment of her, to the double Ferris wheel of men with whom Marilyn was allegedly in love, add Sam Giancana. The Telegraph reported that dubious bit of information on the 29th of April in 2011.1

Marilyn spent the night of August the 3rd with Giancana, according to Masters; but even so, the object of her love could not convince Marilyn to keep quiet about her assignations with John Kennedy. Considering that Sam Giancana hated John Kennedy, as I have previously stated, why would the gangster act to protect the president from Marilyn’s revelations, a preposterous assertion on its face. Masters then alleged that he and Marilyn flew back to Los Angeles; and he drove her home from the airport, delivered her to Fifth Helena at 9:00 AM, August the 4th, just about the time Lawrence Schiller arrived at Fifth Helena to visit Marilyn and discuss her second appearance in Playboy .

Then mysteriously and inexplicably, Marilyn returned to Lake Tahoe where Giancana continued his entreaties throughout the 4th; but later that night, an angered and frustrated Giancana administered a powerful and lethal dose of drugs to Marilyn because he could not convince her to remain quiet. After Giancana murdered Marilyn at Cal-Neva Lodge, his minions moved her body from Lake Tahoe back to Fifth Helena Drive where they arranged the bedroom scene to appear as if her death was the result of suicide.

There are many and sundry problems with Masters’ story; but the fundamental issues are these: is there any historical evidence that Marilyn traveled to Lake Tahoe with George Masters on the date indicated and is there any historical evidence that proves where Marilyn actually was on the dates of August the 3rd and the 4th in 1962.

Firstly, exactly how Marilyn and Masters traveled to Lake Tahoe is not clear, but after her tête–à–tête with Giancana, the actress and her hairdresser flew back to Los Angeles International Airport; and then he drove her to Fifth Helena. Traveling unnoticed was always difficult for Marilyn, not impossible but certainly difficult; however, without question, the appearance of Marilyn Monroe at the airport with George Masters would have caused a ruckus; but stories about the trip, a star actress and a star hairdresser induced ruckus did not appear in the Los Angeles newspapers or the fan magazines of the day. Maybe the stars were cleverly disguised; or maybe the stars flew to Lake Tahoe aboard Sinatra’s personal airplane. The haziness about their trips to and from Cal-Neva lead to many questions that are left unanswered, not the least of which is why would Marilyn return within a week to the site where she was allegedly brutalized by none other than Sam Giancana and his gangster pals? Also, George Masters did not reveal exactly how Marilyn returned to Lake Tahoe on the 4th of August.

Secondly, there are no indications that other guests or staff observed Marilyn, George Masters or Sam Giancana at Cal-Neva during the weekend of August the 4th. But then, perhaps they maneuvered unseen through the secret tunnels crisscrossing between the small cabins at Cal-Neva; perhaps they did not eat during those two days; or perhaps the kitchen staff delivered meals to Marilyn, Masters and Giancana while the three hid in their toilets or under their beds. In short, there is no historical evidence or any indication whatsoever which proves that Marilyn and George Masters visited Cal-Neva on either August the 3rd or the 4th in 1962.

Thirdly, there is a historical record which documents where Marilyn was on August the 3rd and she was not at Cal-Neva Lodge. According to biographers Donald Spoto and Gary Vitacco-Robles, she had a ninety minute session with Dr. Greenson at his home on Franklin Street. She met Dr. Engelberg at Fifth Helena for one of his vitamin injections. Telephone records indicate that she talked to her Manhattan friend, the poet Norman Rosten on the 3rd. She also spoke to Elizabeth Courtney and Jean Louis about her new dress, the one she intended to wear, some contend, when she remarried Joe DiMaggio. Jule Styne telephoned to discuss some songs he was writing for her new musical; and Arthur Jacobs telephoned to discuss their new project, the musical about which Styne had called, I Love Louisa. According to Donald Spoto, she went to Frank’s Nursery and ordered some plants for her garden where her planned wedding would occur on August the 8th: receipts of her purchase stand as evidence. On the afternoon of the 3rd, Marilyn engaged in another therapy session with Dr. Greenson and then invited Pat Newcomb, who was suffering from bronchitis, to spend the night. She accepted and the two women dined together, according to some historians and witnesses, at a local restaurant after which, according to Pat Newcomb, they retired relatively early.

Fourthly, I recounted the events of the following day, August the 4th, in Section 1. Marilyn was home all that day, except for a brief trip to Santa Monica Beach, which a few historians and investigators debate. She retired to her bedroom at 7:30 PM. The actual time that Eunice Murray  discovered Marilyn’s body also remains a topic of debate; but LAPD Sgt Jack Clemmons arrived on the scene at 4:35 AM and those present in the house led him to Marilyn’s body. Let us assume that none of the facts presented in the preceding paragraphs are true and Marilyn was at Cal-Neva Lodge on August the 4th. Would it have been possible to murder her there and transport her body to Brentwood in time to create a fake suicide scene prior to Jack Clemmons’ arrival? The answer is yes, if the body was transported the 442 miles from Tahoe to Los Angeles by air, not as easy a feat as some might want us to believe, a fact which I discussed in a previous section; but we know that Marilyn was not at Lake Tahoe or Cal-Neva Lodge on August the 4th. She was in Los Angeles at home.

Silly, is it not, how wild and far-fetched and how flimsy these murder orthodoxies actually become and how easily they are dismantled once they are scrutinized. But then, it is easy to dismantle a house of cards. Both the claim that Marilyn was at Cal-Neva Lodge the day before she died and the orthodoxy that Giancana murdered her on the 4th at Cal-Neva are just that: houses of cards. The sad part of this tall tale is this: news and Internet outlets presented the story as if it was the truth, as if it was fact. They presented George Masters as a long-time, trusted confidant of Marilyn’s and that, itself, was just another part of the fabrication created by George Masters in hopes of obtaining a piece of immortality.

An Attorney and His Tapes