An Attorney and His Tapes

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney, John Miner, was the chief of that office’s Medical Legal Section in 1962; and in that capacity, he observed and even assisted with Marilyn’s autopsy. He also asserted that he actually interviewed Dr. Ralph Greenson several days after Marilyn’s funeral.

Admittedly, I am somewhat fuzzy on who actually asked or sent John Miner to interview Dr. Greenson, primarily due to conflicting reports in several conspiracist’s publications. Some have contended that Dr. Theodore Curphey, the Los Angeles County Coroner and Miner’s superior, sent the deputy district attorney to interview Marilyn’s psychiatrist. Other conspiracists have contended that other members of Dr. Curphey’s Suicide Prevention Team, Dr. Robert Litman, for instance, actually requested the interview. Likewise, my fuzzy confusion extends also to the when and where of the interview, due also to various conflicting biographical accounts.

During KTLA’s 1992 docudrama, Jane Wallace, one of the program’s co-host, asserted directly to Miner that he interviewed Dr. Greenson, one of the psychiatrist’s jobs, she noted, on the day of Marilyn’s funeral, August the 8th. Miner did not refute Ms. Wallace’s contention. Conspiracist authors, Jay Margolis and Richard Buskin, would later agree with that date. In their 2014 case closing publication, they asserted that during the late afternoon of August 8, the day of [Marilyn’s] funeral, Coroner Curphey dispatched John Miner to interview the psychiatrist in his Beverly Hills office […] (Margolis/Buskin KE:21); and author Keith Badman also stipulated that Miner’s interview with Dr. Greenson transpired on August the 8th, but in the psychiatrist’s Beverly Hills’ home, not his office (Badman KE:12). However, with a differing account, conspiracist author, Donald Wolfe, asserted, in the 2012 eBook version of his murder orthodoxy, that Miner interviewed Dr. Greenson on the fourth day following Marilyn’s funeral. According to Wolfe, the interview took place on Monday, August 12, 1962, at Greenson’s office (Wolfe 46); but regardless of the when and the where, Miner was the obvious choice to interview Marilyn’s psychiatrist, it seems, depending on a fellow’s perspective, since Miner was also Dr. Greenson’s good buddy.

During the interview, according to Miner, the psychiatrist revealed the existence of two tapes recorded by Marilyn as she engaged in a stream-of-consciousness soliloquy during the weeks leading up to her death. Marilyn allegedly recorded her soliloquy for Dr. Greenson as a part of her therapy; and so he could learn even more about his most famous patient, her disappointments and her aspirations. She only meant, Dr. Greenson informed Miner, for her psychiatrist to hear the recordings. Even so, Miner implored the psychiatrist to play the tapes during the interview; but before Greenson would do so, he extracted a promise from his attorney pal never to reveal the tapes’ contents.

Miner agreed to comply with Dr. Greenson’s request; but in later years, allegations advanced by various Marilyn biographers, Donald Spoto for instance, whose 1993 publication included criminations involving the doctor and Eunice Murray, caused Miner to re-evaluate his promise. Other biographers, journalists and Marilyn historians also asserted that Greenson was either complicit in his patient’s death or should at least be considered a suspect in her murder; therefore, Miner asked Dr. Greenson’s widow, Hildi, to release him from his promise so that he could properly defend his deceased friend. Hildi complied with Miner’s request; and he subsequently created a transcription of those mysterious audio tapes using his memory and what he alleged were the almost verbatim notes, taken while he listened to the recordings in 1962. Oddly enough, those essentially unheard tape recordings are now known as the John Miner Tapes even though he had absolutely nothing to do with their alleged recording and they did not contain his recorded voice.

During the 1982 threshold re-investigation into Marilyn’s death, conducted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney, investigators interviewed John Miner. According to Ronald Carroll, the former assistant district attorney who managed the investigation, Miner mentioned that Dr. Green­son, who had died in 1979, possessed tapes of Marilyn that had probably been destroyed by then; but Miner did not reveal to Carroll’s investigators that he possessed a transcription of those important tapes. Also, in 1992, during Miner’s testimony on KTLA’s The Marilyn Files, Jane Wallace did not ask Miner about a transcription of any tape recordings played by Dr. Greenson; and Miner did not mention that he possessed a transcription of tape recordings during that testimony.

Thirteen years after the LADA’s threshold re-investigation and only three years after he appeared on The Marilyn Files, John Miner attempted, in 1995, to sell his mysterious transcription; but eight years would pass before Miner released, for payment, a portion of his transcription to Matthew Smith. In Smith’s book, Victim: The Secret Tapes of Marilyn Monroe, published in 2003, the author provided the reading public with a Smith-edited-italicized-glimpse of what John Miner transcribed from his memory. Keep in mind, while he allegedly interviewed Dr. Greenson, Miner listened to the tapes only once; and the doctor allegedly stated that Marilyn recorded the tapes as a part of her therapy during a time when she was visiting with the psychiatrist twice a day virtually every day.

Smith claimed that he found Miner credible. In Smith’s opinion, Miner could not have invented his transcription. For Miner to have done so would have been an absolute impossibility, according to Smith, which was, without question, a totally preposterous statement: with those words, Matthew Smith condemned any and all fiction writers to the unemployment line. On his website, Precious Cargo, Peter Winkler, Dennis Hopper’s biographer, took issue with Matthew Smith’s preposterous contention and noted: Anyone with a little bit of imagination could wade through some of the books, articles and documentaries on Monroe and cobble together Miner’s transcripts. Winkler also noted that during the preceding decades, many individuals claiming to be Marilyn’s friend or acquaintance also claimed to have uncovered new revelations about the blonde movie star, most of which were proven to be totally fabricated and false. Those claimants, research finally revealed, had but a tenuous or even an imaginary connection to Marilyn and merely wanted to become at least a footnote to her legend or they wanted to cash in on her late in their lives. In Winkler’s opinion, John Miner was no different.1

Certainly, and of course, Miner could have invented the entire story and possibly he did. But two years would elapse before Miner released a complete transcription of the secret tapes to the Los Angeles Times. Almost instantly what he released created controversy and commentary, not all of which was laudatory. Several websites published the transcription; and soon, other websites began to analyze and refute what Miner asserted were thoughts and sentences from the mind of Marilyn Monroe.2

Of course, some media members, journalists and reporters dutifully accepted what Miner asserted; and many articles appeared that reported what Miner released to The Los Angeles Times as the irrefutable facts. Marilyn Monroe adored fellow screen legend Clark Gable, Steve Gorman wrote for a Reuters’ article which appeared in The Washington Post. The journalist then noted that Marilyn worried about her relationship with the attorney general while she also engaged in an unfulfilling lesbian one-nighter with fellow actress, Joan Crawford. Gorman continued: The Los Angeles Times revealed these and other glimpses into Monroe’s mind Friday in excerpts of tape recordings the sex symbol and actress is said to have secretly made for her psychiatrist in the days before she died at the age of 36 in 1962.3

For ShadowProof, Pam Spaulding seemed slightly bemused by what she considered to be a weird pairing of Marilyn and Joan Crawford, despite persistent rumors that both women were known for lesbianism. Spaulding asserted: […] this news is still interesting nonetheless. Newly released documents from Marilyn Monroe’s psychiatrist detail a sexual encounter between the movie legend and actress Joan Crawford.4

Once again, the preceding quotations are just two examples which indicate how newspapers, magazines and websites publish dubious information about Marilyn Monroe, information that is then incorrectly repeated and incorrectly characterized by other media outlets. Factually, Dr. Greenson released neither taped excerpts nor documents. It is obvious that none of the quoted journalists attempted to determine what the actual story involving the John Miner Tapes happened to be.

How can a fellow prove or disprove the existence of tapes, allegedly seen by only one person, and audio recordings, allegedly heard by only one person, and quite possibly never seen nor heard by any person. Attempting to do so is tantamount to advancing an argument in hopes of proving or disproving the existence of God; and in that regard, eventually, religious faith enters the discussion. Such is the case with John Miner’s transcription. Therefore, I am not going to offer an opinion on the probability that Marilyn did or did not speak the words attributed to her by John Miner. Besides, doing that would qualify as an absolutely futile exercise. The fundamental issue, the crux of the John Miner Tapes is not whether the words attributed to her by Miner could have come from the mind of Marilyn Monroe, but whether or not a reasonable person should believe the attorney’s story; and there are a couple of points worth mentioning because they speak to that fundamental issue.

For instance, if Dr. Greenson made Miner promise never to reveal the tapes’ contents, why would the psychiatrist allow Miner to take almost verbatim notes? By taking notes, Miner certainly signaled an intention to reveal what he heard: otherwise notes would not have been needed. Certainly Dr. Greenson would have recognized that implication; and claiming that he contemporaneously took notes was an obvious error by Miner; but he later corrected his blunder when he stated, or admitted, that his transcription was created strictly from what he remembered, created later on the same day that he heard the tapes. However, Miner recanted that story as well during the years following as a result of some piercing questions posed by real journalists; and Miner admitted thereafter that he actually created his transcription many years after the fact. That admission created yet another problem for the aging attorney: was it possible for him to remember verbatim the contents of tape recordings that he only heard once many years in his past? Certainly, it is possible that hearing a sexualized soliloquy during which Marilyn Monroe discussed lesbian encounters, her orgasms and enemas could have created a certain indelible impression in Miner’s memory, the reason for which will become clear later. Still and all, I doubt that he would have completely and totally recalled each and every word on those tapes.

By the summer of 1962, Marilyn was submitting herself to therapy sessions virtually each and every day of the week and often twice a day. After virtually two years of constant therapy sessions, certainly the topics on which Marilyn allegedly expounded or commented during her alleged recording sessions would have been broached at some point during her many face-to-face sessions with Dr. Greenson. If not, then I assert that Dr. Greenson was not much of a therapist. Why, then, would Marilyn have recorded those tapes? That is a fundamental question left unanswered by John Miner or any other person.

John Miner was Dr. Greenson’s friend and one committed to defending the psychiatrist’s reputation; so the glowing compliments that Marilyn allegedly uttered about Dr. Greenson on tape sound more than contrived, designed to rehabilitate the doctor’s image and indicate that his relationship with Marilyn was founded on her admiration, respect and love for him. The compliments also seem ill-timed. Several of Marilyn’s confidants asserted that Marilyn had lost all confidence in Dr. Greenson by the summer of 1962, so much so that she intended to end her association with him. By that time, she was involved once more with Joe DiMaggio, who disliked the psychiatrist who likewise disliked DiMaggio; and the psychiatrist was attempting to isolate Marilyn from the baseball icon along with several of her other dear friends, like Ralph Roberts, Whitey Snyder and Patricia Newcomb. That issue was central to the biography written by Donald Spoto, who alleged that Marilyn had, in fact, terminated Dr. Greenson.

On August the 9th in 2005, John Miner, then eighty-seven years old, appeared on The Abrams Report with Dan Abrams. Johnny Grant, who was the Honorary Mayor of Hollywood at that time, also appeared along with Marilyn’s ardent Irish pathographer, Anthony Summers.

Abrams began the interview by asking Miner why he waited so long to come forward and then to release his transcript? On the first instance, I didn’t just come forward, Miner answered. I have been interviewed on this matter for years. The elderly attorney then recounted how he promised Dr. Greenson never to reveal the contents of the tapes. He kept his promise for decades until ill-informed writers attacked Dr. Greenson and implicated him in Marilyn’s death. Miner felt obligated, even compelled, to combat the scurrilous and false accusations. Abrams then followed with the question I posed above regarding Dr. Greenson’s willingness to allow Miner’s note taking while he listened to the tapes, to which Miner answered: Well how do you know I took verbatim notes? Odd. Miner invariably asserted during more favorable interviews and circumstances that his transcription was verbatim, a fact quickly noted by Abrams. Then Miner attempted to clarify what he actually meant. There were notes that I made immediately afterwards, Miner asserted then added: And there’s a trial lawyer’s memory. And I put together a transcript, which in my best judgment, is an accurate account of what Miss Monroe said on those tapes. Okeedoke; but still not a very convincing explanation.

When questioned by Abrams, the Honorary Mayor of Hollywood stated that he believed Miner’s story whereas Summers announced:

No. I don’t buy it. John Miner is a nice man and he said generous things about my own work. And he tells a good story. But how well a man tells a story doesn’t make the story true. […] What happened in 1995 was that Miner got in touch to say he was going to let go what he claimed to have heard Monroe say on the purported tapes. He said he had seventy to eighty handwritten pages of what he called manuscript type notes of what he supposedly heard back in 1962.

I must admit, at that point the interview suddenly transformed into an ironic farce featuring a comic disagreement between John Miner and Anthony Summers, so comic, in fact, that I began to laugh aloud. Considering the extent of Summers’ effort to prove that secret tapes allegedly made by Fred Otash and Bernard Spindel actually existed, invoking, as he did, the well-told stories of criminals and other dubious men while also trotting out some anonymous testifiers, his statement concerning Miner’s well-told, but still dubious story, sounded both laughably ludicrous and abundantly absurd.

Obviously Miner had approached Summers and Vanity Fair ten years before he released his transcription to The Los Angeles Times. Summers stated that Miner was looking for a publisher and a buyer. Summers asserted:

He obviously wanted money. I mean it was evident he wanted money were everything to be published. Some of it, perhaps, he said, to found a scholarship in memory of Monroe’s psychiatrist, that’s Greenson, but also for himself and he spoke of having been offered six-figure sums for his story.5

Summers obviously found Miner’s crass payment expectation to be objectionable; and considering that reaction, you just might assume that Summers was not in the profession of journalism to be compensated or make money or that all the money he had earned by selling his Marilyn pathography had been donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and various other charities, which I certainly doubt. In defense of Miner, I must note that Matthew Smith had compensated Miner for the use of the transcription in Smith’s 2003 publication; but the author never divulged an amount.

Then Summers questioned Miner’s memory. I asked him, Summers stated, how he could possibly recall eighty pages worth of what Monroe had said more than thirty years earlier. Once again, I found myself laughing aloud. One of Summers’ primary sources for Goddess was Robert Slatzer, Marilyn’s discredited weekend husband, who quoted page after page of dialogue he had transcribed from memory, conversations that spanned sixteen years which had transpired thirty years in the past. Slatzer asserted that his transcriptions were also verbatim because he was very familiar with Marilyn’s speech patterns and her thought processes. Summers accepted, absolutely and completely, Slatzer’s absurd and often contradictory testaments. In fact, not even one degree of offset separated what Slatzer asserted and what Miner asserted. While I do not want to turn this section into a repudiation of Anthony Summers, although in my opinion, he certainly deserves a repudiation, in truth and reality, Miner was actually involved in Marilyn’s case whereas Slatzer was involved only in his fertile and hyperactive imagination.

Gary Vitacco-Robles reported in volume two of his Marilyn biography that Professor Lois Banner, who also wrote about Marilyn, offered several revealing insights into the character of John Miner. Miner is no longer alive and cannot defend himself; but it is essential to reveal here what Professor Banner asserted.

In mid July of 2012, she published Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox, the erudite professor’s contribution to the academic study of Marilyn Monroe and Marilyn’s place in the development and advance of feminism, not to mention the development and advance of female sexuality as that topic relates to Marilyn’s allegedly profligate and kinky, often inappropriately analyzed and scrutinized sex life.

Professor Banner reported that she and John Miner met initially at a 2005 meeting of Marilyn Remembered, a respected fan club founded in 1982 by Greg Schreiner. At that initial meeting, Miner presented the professor with a copy of his now infamous transcription. Apparently Miner was so proud of his work that he toted around copies that he could give to any interested party; and I assume Professor Banner was an interested party. One nugget contained in the Miner transcription, however, shocked the good professor: Marilyn was fixated on enemas (Banner 419).

John Miner and the professor both taught at the University of Southern California. They became friends; and, according to her, she interviewed him many times during their friendship. Apparently, Miner mentioned that he once interviewed actresses and questioned them about their sex lives for the Kinsey Institute; but when Professor Banner checked with that institute, it had no record of his employment. In fact, the institute’s director informed the professor that they had never even heard of John Miner. The doubts and suspicions about Miner that she already held began to increase. She began to distrust the validity of the Miner transcript; and she correctly noted: No record exists that Greenson played a tape for Miner, aside from Miner’s claim (Banner 385). Eventually, the professor turned her attention to Miner’s claim that he interviewed Dr. Greenson; and she revealed a startling admission by Miner: he never questioned his psychiatrist friend: Miner simply listened to the secret tapes and then departed. Therefore, he never actually performed an actual interview with Marilyn’s psychiatrist, considering that any actual interview would involve questions and corresponding answers, certainly a startling and significant revelation.

Due to accusations of professional misconduct by two of Miner’s clients, and Miner’s refusal to cooperate with the Bar Association’s investigation of his client’s complaints, the California State Bar Association suspended Miner from practicing law for sixty days and placed him on probation for one year. Donna Morel, an attorney licensed in both the states of California and New York, along with being an incredible researcher and investigator, generously provided me with the documentation pertaining to Miner’s legal difficulties. Briefly stated, Miner accepted payment or payments from two clients and then failed to properly prosecute their cases. For that professional misconduct and that misconduct alone, the California State Bar Association disciplined Miner. There were other terms and conditions imposed on Miner, the imposition of a disciplinary fine and passing a Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination, in order for him to recover his right to practice law. Still, that income interruption, and other expenses associated with his case, led to financial difficulties, bankruptcy court, Vanity Fair and Anthony Summers. Accusations and assertions of sexual misconduct, and formally filed charges for which a court convicted Miner, leading to his disbarment, are wholly incorrect.

Finally, Sarah Churchwell offered an interesting and relevant observation about The Miner Tapes: […] it was thoughtful of Marilyn to dispose of so many of our questions about her life just before she died, Sarah commented, and to offer summary versions of all her most famous relationships to the psychiatrist she’d been seeing daily for two years […] (Churchwell 323). Additionally, Hildi Greenson told the Los Angeles Times that she didn’t know if the tapes existed and never heard her husband discuss them.6So, at the end of the day, it is simply a matter of faith, faith that God does in fact exist and faith that Miner told the truth, keeping in mind that Miner was the only source for his incredible story, an incredible story that cannot be proven and cannot be disproven. As an outsider looking in, as an observer, I either accept Miner’s story or I do not; I have faith in his verity along with the verity of his story or I do not; and honestly, I do not. In my humble opinion, no reasonably analytical person would, either.

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