An Alleged Best Friend

For many of Marilyn Monroe’s most ardent fans, a person more controversial or more cringe worthy than Jeanne Laverne Carmen could not, and cannot, be found. She was, after all, the Female Robert F. Slatzer. Despite that unflattering title and association, Jeanne enjoyed various natural gifts and endowments: she was a naturally gifted golfer, a naturally endowed, arresting pin-up model. She also enjoyed a reasonably natural acting style. In 1998, E! True Hollywood Story christened Jeanne Carmen the “Queen of the B-Movies” in a biography about the actress broadcast by the E! network on October the 4th. Evidently, E! awarded her that title on the basis of only one movie: The Monster of Piedras Blancas. Released in April of 1959, the movie has obtained a cult stature and following primarily due to the depiction of decapitation and displays of overt sexuality by Jeanne. Her role as Lucy in the monster flick was Carmen’s only leading role; and she only appeared in a total of eleven movie productions. Other actresses who starred regularly in B-grade productions, like Mara Corday or Faith Domergue, appear to be more deserving of that title based on their Hollywood careers. Certainly, Jeanne’s purported involvement with Marilyn, the middle Kennedy brothers and other famous men, Frank Sinatra and Hugh Hefner, for instance, contributed to her fame.

Jeanne Laverne appeared alongside her male counterparts, meaning Robert Slatzer, Sgt Jack Clemmons and Samir Muqaddin, when those three Marilyn-Was-Murdered crusaders appeared before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in an effort to gain support for convening a grand jury to re-investigate Marilyn’s death. The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to temporarily reopen Marilyn’s case; and not long thereafter, the Los Angeles County District Attorney launched a threshold re-investigation. Not long after the three and one-half month long re-investigation ended, the LADA published a twenty-nine page summary report on that re-investigation’s findings; and not long after the LADA published its summary report, a former investigative journalist and British Broadcasting Company producer, Anthony Summers, discovered and evidently contacted Jeanne Laverne.

At the time, Summers had started to research his frequently quoted, often referenced and generally unflattering Marilyn pathography, Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe. Summers interviewed Jeanne during 1983. He believed that Jeanne was Marilyn’s best girlfriend, that she visited with Marilyn regularly, partied with her regularly and spoke to her via telephone the night the actress died. Summers accepted each and every scandalous sexual anecdote that Jeanne Carmen related to him; and so he presented her as an unassailable source and her testaments as undeniable evidence, undeniable proof that Marilyn Monroe was sexually and emotionally entangled with the middle Kennedy brothers, particularly Robert Kennedy. More than sixty times, Summers either referred to an anecdote related to him by Jeanne Laverne or quoted her directly in his pathography. By presenting her as an unimpeachable source, Summers reactivated and revived Jeanne’s public life and essentially furnished her with a lucrative career, that of being Marilyn’s female confidant and her best girlfriend.

Despite the status of authority that Anthony Summers conferred upon Jeanne Carmen, many persons who consider themselves, and are, Marilyn aficionados dispute or totally discount Jeanne’s assertions. Simply stated, Marilyn’s fans, but primarily those who reside firmly in the Realm of Marilyn, do not believe Jeanne Carmen. In the same way they consider her male counterpart, Robert Slatzer, to be a fraud, so too, Marilyn’s most ardent fans consider Jeanne Carmen also to be a fraud. But the reverse is also true: many persons believed, and still believe, Jeanne. Anthony Summers for instance. More often than not, the resultant debates between those opposing each other on the subject of Jeanne Laverne can become testy and scratchy. Perhaps some resolution of those debates can be discovered on the pages of Jeanne’s memoir.

Brandon James, Jeanne’s son, wrote the curious quasi autobiographical account of her untamed and kinky, some might even say, feral life. Brandon was born when Jeanne lived in Scottsdale, Arizona, married to a man she described simply as a stock broker. In his odd book, James assumed his mother’s perspective in the narrative and as the first person narrator, spoke with her voice; but despite that oddity, perhaps there are facts and a truth to be discovered within his revelations.

Even though Jeanne’s son wrote My Wild Wild Life, during the section which follows hereafter, I reference the memoir as if Jeanne Laverne dictated the narrative to her son: James was just the scribe. With that in mind, what follows are my observations and considered opinions, guided by some research, regarding Jeanne Laverne Carmen’s true life story, at least what she asserted in her memoir, and what she also asserted about a portion of Marilyn Monroe’s true life story, along with their alleged friendship and frequent interactions.

Marilyn’s self-anointed female confidant and best girlfriend provided two disparate and contradictory accounts regarding how she met the world’s most famous actress. In various interviews conducted during the eighties, Jeanne asserted that she and Marilyn initially met when they both resided during the fifties in apartments located on North Doheny Drive in Los Angeles; but in her memoir, Jeanne stated that she would never forget her initial encounter with Marilyn, an encounter which occurred in a Manhattan bar near the Actors Studio.

Even though she apparently could not remember the exact date of that coincidental but fortuitous meeting―an odd failure of her memory to say the least―Jeanne alleged that the encounter happened during the early 1950’s while Marilyn was in Manhattan to visit Joe DiMaggio just prior to filming the movie Niagara. The year, therefore, must have been 1952. The time of that year? Early summer; but Jeanne then asserted that she also distinctly remembered the afternoon that she encountered the blonde actress. The afternoon was windy and sunny, the air brisk and cool, exactly the conditions the B-movie Queen loved. Then Jeanne added: I was wearing my body hugging Lana Turner sweater, tight slacks and a light fur coat. I loved the way the fur was caressing my body. It made me feel all warm and cozy. Both a revealing fashion report and a revealing weather report to which I will later return.

Evidently, Jeanne was a resident of New York City at the time: It was a great time to be living in New York City, she proclaimed. Jeanne was en route to her acting class, strolling up 5th Avenue, glancing in the windows of the most expensive stores in the world, eyes darting back and forth at the exquisite jewelry, the fabulous dresses, furs, outrageous luggage and imported shoes, sparkly and beautiful merchandise on display in the stores’ windows. I vowed to myself, she declared in her memoir, that one day I would sashay into the exclusive store of Bonwit Teller and have a record breaking shopping spree. Apparently, while Marilyn’s soon to be new best girlfriend strolled up 5th Avenue, window shopping and day dreaming, the fastest rising cinema actress in America concealed herself in a small bar near the Actors Studio, Jeanne’s destination and the location of her acting class.

After glancing at her watch, Jeanne stated, she flagged a taxicab. She had to hurry. Lee Strasberg awaited to observe her performance before the Actors Studio group. Strasberg, the studio’s director, and the High Prophet of Method Acting, disliked tardiness; but her potential tardiness notwithstanding, once an incredibly rude and crude taxi driver delivered Jeanne to her destination, she had ample time to visit a little bar near the Actors Studio for a sip of the grape before she went in to do her scene.

Upon entering the bar, she noticed that the joint was loaded with men. Only one other woman, one with black shoulder length hair and black horn-rimmed glasses […] very pretty with striking good looks, had assumed a seated position at the bar. She was sipping on a glass of wine. That beautiful wine-sipping woman was Marilyn Monroe, of course, wearing what Jeanne termed Marilyn’s usual disguise. Jeanne perched herself on the open bar stool next to the strikingly beautiful woman; and the two strangers began to talk; quickly, the conversation focused on acting, the Actors Studio and its High Prophet, Lee Strasberg.

About twenty minutes passed, Jeanne recalled, then noted: I got up to use the ladies room and she followed me in. There, in the ladies room, to Jeanne’s shock and amazement, Marilyn removed her disguise and revealed herself. I had been talking to her for close to half an hour, Jeanne lamented, and hadn’t even realized it. They both laughed: we knew that we were going to be friends. We could sense that we had a lot in common. As the new, fast friends departed the bar, Jeanne invited Marilyn to participate in a Manhattan-red-painting endeavor, which would occur later that night; but Marilyn had to decline: Henry Hathaway, Niagara’s director, had scheduled shooting at the falls to begin with Marilyn early the following morning. Marilyn noted that she had to take the train back to Niagara Falls that afternoon, a ride on the rails that would consume  at least nine hours; and that train ride is just one of  several problems with the preceding account of Jeanne Carmen’s initial encounter with Marilyn Monroe. Let’s begin with geography.

Certainly it is reasonable to infer from the preceding anecdote that Jeanne’s acting class must have been located somewhere on or immediately off 5th Avenue and that the direction of her strolling was northeast along with the chronological rise of Manhattan’s street numbers, 56th 57th 58th street and so forth; and she must have been strolling through an exclusive shopping district, one populated by exorbitantly priced stores and au courant shops. Certainly it is reasonable also to infer, from Jeanne’s account, that she either did some window shopping at Bonwit Teller or she passed that stylish and expensive store as she strolled up 5th Avenue. That being the case, where, then, was Jeanne Laverne strolling?

During the fall of 1929, Stewart and Company opened their new art deco, modernist building, located on the northeast corner of 5th Avenue and 56th street within the new and fashionable shopping district of Manhattan; but by the spring of 1930, Stewart and Company had filed for bankruptcy and closed its art deco doors. Then, on September the 15th of 1930, Bonwit Teller opened their new grand, flagship store in a redesigned and remodeled Stewart and Company building, where Bonwit Teller would remain, owned by various retail conglomerates, for forty-nine years. If Jeanne strolled past Bonwit Teller as she strolled up 5th Avenue that eventful day in 1952, pausing momentarily to window shop, then she was strolling away from the Actors Studio, which, in the summer of 1952, occupied the upstairs rehearsal rooms of August Wilson Theatre. Built in 1925 under the auspices of the Theatre Guild of New York, the Greek Revival facade began its life as the Guild Theatre; but eighteen years later, in 1943, WOR-Mutual Radio leased the building and converted it to a broadcasting studio. In 1950, the American National Theater and Academy purchased and renamed the theatrical space, ANTA Theatre. Thirty-one years later, Jujamcyn Theaters purchased ANTA and renamed it the Virginia Theatre in honor of its new owner, and Jujamcyn Board member, Virginia Binger. Rocco Landesman purchased Jujamcyn Theaters in 2005. Following the death of Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Frederick August Kittel Jr., otherwise known as August Wilson, Landesman renamed the building in honor of the African-American playwright. Despite the theaters many alterations over the passing years, it remained located at 245 W 52nd Street in Manhattan, near the intersection of 8th Avenue and 52nd Street, a full 3 blocks northwest of 5th Avenue. It seems slightly odd that Jeanne would be strolling up 5th Avenue and not up or down 8th Avenue; but then, perhaps I am making a big mole hill out of a tiny mole hill.

Stewart and Company 1929
Bonwit Teller 1956
Location of Actors Studio in 1952
Location of Actors Studio Currently

Jeanne’s weather report for that day eventful in Manhattan, when she met a disguised Marilyn Monroe, also presents several problems. In an article written for Niagara This Week, Richard Hutton stated: The soon-to-be screen goddess was in Niagara Falls for the filming of Niagara, a film noir classic with co-star Joseph Cotten. In total, the star was in the city for about two weeks, from June 5 to 18, 1952. In a similar article written for Niagara Falls Tourism, Niagara Falls historian, George Bailey noted that Marilyn stayed in Niagara for two of the hottest weeks, June 2nd to June 18th, of the year and temperatures reached consistently in and around 100 degrees each day.1During an interview with Marilyn biographer, Gary Vitacco-Robles, Mr. Bailey confirmed that on-site filming in Niagara Falls occurred during those seventeen days in June; but as usual, depending on biographer, the date on which Marilyn arrived in Manhattan varied slightly. According to Vitacco-Robles: On June 1, Marilyn celebrated her twenty-sixth birthday at the Bel Air Hotel in Los Angeles […]. The biographer then indicated: Marilyn arrived amid a flurry of interest and excitement three days later on Wednesday, June the 4th (KE v1:17). Both Donald Spoto and April VeVea avouched that Marilyn flew from Los Angeles to New York on Sunday, June the 8th (Spoto 219 and VeVea KE:27, 1952); but, with yet another account, Carl Rollyson declared that Marilyn attended Joseph Cotton’s June the 2nd cocktail party in the co-star’s room at the General Brock Hotel in Niagara Falls (Rollyson KE:1952); but despite the calendar day variations pertaining to her arrival date, it is clear that Marilyn could have arrived in Manhattan as early as June the 2nd and possibly as late as June the 8th. Even so, nothing changes relative to what I present hereafter.

Marilyn visited Joe DiMaggio in New York City on her free weekends during Niagara’s on-site filming. So she could have visited and stayed with Joe on June the 7th and the 8th and also on June the 14th and the 15th. Obviously those are the two weekends during which the barroom meeting between Jeanne and Marilyn could have occurred unless, that is, Marilyn remained in Manhattan after Niagara’s on-site filming ended, which does not appear to have been the case. Jeanne’s anecdote about that coincidental but fortuitous Manhattan meeting sounded reasonable, along with her description of the Manhattan afternoon, one that was bright and sunny but also breezy and cool, one requiring Jeanne to wear a sweater and a light fur coat; however, considering the sweltering temperatures noted by Niagara historian George Bailey, and confirmed by Gary Vitacco-Robles, who indicated in his Marilyn tome that production for Niagara began on the hot and sweltering first Monday in June of 1952,2those facts cast reasonable doubt on Jeanne’s initial meeting anecdote.

Certainly the weather’s conditions and temperatures fluctuated even in 1952; but what originally sounded reasonable began to sound implausible considering this: during the month of June, the air temperature in New York City during the afternoon fluctuates between 75°F and 90°F; and apparently in Niagara Falls, some three-hundred and eight miles northwest of Manhattan, during that early June in 1952, the temperatures reached the high nineties. Still, according to the Farmer’s Almanac,3the temperatures and related dew points in degrees Fahrenheit for New York City on the dates when Jeanne could have accidentally encountered Marilyn are as follows: June 7, Saturday: 84 and 60; June 8, Sunday: 86 and 53; June 14, Saturday: 82 and 55; and June 15, Sunday: 93 and 61. Although the dew point temperatures were within the comfortable range, meaning there was not an oppressive amount of moisture in the air, I doubt Jeanne’s anecdote regarding that barroom meeting on a brisk and cool Manhattan afternoon in June of 1952. Whether early or late in that month, it matters not at all.

The probability that Jeanne’s unforgettable barroom meeting with Marilyn actually occurred is, at least in my estimation, absolute zero on the Kelvin scale. Maybe we should assume the meeting as described by Jeanne was what Norman Mailer might call factoidal, creating a literary hypothesis of a possible June afternoon meeting which occurred in 1952 inside a Slatzerian alternate universe.

Jeanne’s initial tenure as Marilyn’s next-door neighbor, which also began their friendship, according to Jeanne, happened when Marilyn lived in a small second floor unit in Frank Sinatra’s apartment building during the fifties. Marilyn resided in unit 3 while Jeanne asserted that she resided in unit 4; so they must have become friends and neighbors between January of 1953 and January of 1954, the dates of Marilyn’s initial residency in the North Doheny Drive building, just prior to her connubial stitching to Joe DiMaggio. According to Donald Spoto, Jeanne also claimed that she and Marilyn briefly shared an apartment, dates unrevealed, while they also shared a sexual romance with Old Blue Eyes. However, if Jeanne and Marilyn met in June of 1952, as Jeanne asserted in her memoir, they met six months prior to Marilyn’s residency on Doheny Drive. So, which initial meeting date is factually true, their unforgettable initial encounter in June of 1952 in a bar on the island of Manhattan, or some-time after January of 1953 in Los Angeles? Both cannot be the truth.

Donald Spoto recounted an event provided by Marilyn’s close friend, Ralph Roberts. It seems Ralph visited his friend on Doheny Drive one day, just to tell her good-bye: Ralph would be leaving that day for a stay in New York City. After ringing Marilyn’s door bell for a protracted period, he finally awakened her by using a water hose to spray her window. Marilyn eventually threw aside the window’s drapes and raised the sash. I know what you’re thinking, she groggily announced, but everything’s alright. Yes, she had taken too many sleeping pills; but she justified doing so and her resultant grogginess to Ralph. The occupants of a nearby house had thrown a wild party the night before and constantly shouted for their famous neighbor to join them. According to Spoto, a twenty-one year old Jeanne Carmen, who Spoto pegged a small time actress and one that Marilyn never met, led the effort to recruit the actress’s presence. Jeanne emerged from obscurity many years later, Spoto announced, and she began, in the 1980s, to invent an imaginative series of scurrilous tales for which there is simply no basis in fact. In Spoto’s estimation, Jeanne Carmen was just another Robert Slatzer (Spoto 471-472).

The demanding events of their lives, their marriages and their acting careers, separated the two women for protracted periods, according to Jeanne; but during those times of separation, they remained in close contact via the national telephone wires. As an aside, Marilyn must have invested a considerable amount of time, and money, in telephone chats and conversations with Jeanne Carmen and Robert Slatzer. Eventually, Jeanne and Marilyn became neighbors again in 1961. Remarkably, they lived in the same apartment complex after Marilyn divorced Arthur Miller and just before she moved into her hacienda in Brentwood. During the time they were neighbors between 1961 and 1962, and even after Marilyn relocated to 12305 Fifth Helena, Jeanne witnessed the torrid romances between Marilyn and the middle Kennedy brothers; and according to her, she also engaged in her own sexual liaison with President Kennedy, his attorney general brother, Robert, and the blue-eyed crooner, Francis Sinatra. However, Jeanne waited to reveal her political affairs for ten years after she materialized in the Realm of Marilyn and she did not encumber her assertions about those affairs with any troublesome calendar dates. In a lengthy article written for Crime Magazine in 2009, Mel Ayton noted:

By the late 1990s Carmen apparently decided she was running out of new revelations. She told C. David Heymann that she had had an intimate relationship with JFK. For the previous two decades she had apparently forgotten to tell this sensational aspect of her story. It was, after all, the president of the United States she claimed she had been sleeping with.4

Strangely, Marilyn’s coterie of close friends never met and therefore did not know Jeanne Carmen. Strangely also, but more importantly, not one of those close friends ever saw Jeanne with her best girlfriend, recalled Marilyn ever speaking Jeanne’s name or recalled that Marilyn lived with a roommate on Doheny Drive; and not one of Marilyn’s real Doheny Drive neighbors ever heard of a tenant named Jeanne Carmen, much less one that lived next door to or with Marilyn.

Significantly, Jeanne’s name, along with her contact information, did not appear in any of Marilyn’s address books or journals of important telephone numbers discovered over the years following her tragic death; and to further dilute and discredit Jeanne’s assertions, she never produced any form of documentation to prove that she had ever lived on North Doheny Drive, not a telephone bill nor a utility bill nor any other piece of US mail; and a review of telephone directories from that era did not list a Jeanne Carmen living on Doheny Drive. Similarly, she never produced a single note or letter sent to her by Marilyn. In fact, Jeanne Carmen never produced any form of correspondence from her best girlfriend at all. Not ever.

Within our theater of the absurd, the calendar date of Marilyn’s death was also the calendar date of Jeanne’s birth; but on August the 4th in 1962, when Jeanne reached her thirty-second year, she and her best girlfriend did not celebrate the anniversary. Why? Jeanne alleged, however, that she received happy birthday wishes from Marilyn in the form of a birthday card and a gift any golfer would love: a driver and two fairway woods. Jeanne did not reveal when or how she received the card and the clubs or if Marilyn telephoned that Saturday to wish her best girlfriend a happy birthday. In fact, each of the legitimate biographical accountings of Marilyn’s August the 4th telephone calls, none of the accountings included a telephone call to Jeanne Carmen. Odd, you must be thinking. Besides, considering the alleged intimacy of their friendship, you might think that Marilyn’s final birthday card and her final birthday gift would mean something special to the recipient and that she would have displayed them in memory of the giver. Oddly enough, though, as far as I know and have been able to determine, the recipient neither produced the birthday card from Marilyn nor displayed that special driver or that pair of special fairway woods.

Likewise, considering that Marilyn did not enjoy many close relationships with women, particularly young blondes, you might expect her to somehow memorialize the one with her best friend and particularly a friend who enjoyed the incredible intimacy alleged by Jeanne, sharing presidential, attorney general and blue-eyed crooning hounds like they did; but, Marilyn never evoked Jeanne Carmen’s name, not ever, and never acknowledged Jeanne’s existence. Nothing to substantiate that Marilyn ever knew Jeanne Carmen has ever surfaced, not in one half century. And that fact must be considered in any evaluation of Jeanne Carmen’s assertions and allegations pertaining to Marilyn Monroe, her life and her death.

In her memoir, Jeanne alleged that she was a member of the Actor’s Studio, and also, that she received private instruction from Lee Strasberg, not only in the Studio but also in Strasberg’s New York City residence. As she noted in her memoir, she encountered Marilyn that day in Manhattan while on her way to acting class and her on-stage performance for Lee Strasberg. Jeanne always feared, she alleged, that the demanding Strasberg would embarrass her; but he invariably relented. Despite his expectation of near perfection, Strasberg was gentler with Jeanne than he was with some of his other imperfect students: the teacher knew that Jeanne was painfully shy.

There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Jeanne was ever a member of the Actor’s Studio at any time, as she so alleged. Absolutely no evidence that she received private instruction from Lee Strasberg has ever surfaced, not ever; and as far as I have been able to determine, Lee Strasberg never evoked the name, Jeanne Carmen. No evidence that she performed a scene on the studio’s stage has ever surfaced, either. No person affiliated with that prestigious study group has ever invoked Jeanne’s name; and too, shy is not a descriptive that usually collides with the name of Jeanne Laverne Carmen. Additionally, a visit to the Actors Studio’s webpage and a review of its prestigious and famous members will produce a photograph of Marilyn, but will not likewise produce a photograph of Jeanne Carmen.

Apparently, Jeanne Laverne was an exceptionally gifted golfer, a plus handicapper and trick-shot artist who once hustled unsuspecting golfers as a way to make a living. In her memoir, Jeanne asserted that she and Handsome Johnny Roselli, after she abandoned her first husband, drove from Florida to Las Vegas, Nevada, a trip during which she became Roselli’s lover, and a trip during which she and her new lover used her golfing skills to grift money from many golfers. Jeanne also asserted that Marilyn expressed a desire to learn the game of golf; but according to Jeanne Laverne, her future student did not know anything whatsoever about the game, did not even know how to properly grip a golf club. So, Jeanne attempted on one occasion to teach Marilyn how to play, or so she alleged. A member of the prestigious Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Jeanne took Marilyn to that course’s driving range for her initial lesson. Marilyn chose to wear a restrictively tight skirt topped by an extremely tight sweater, inappropriate attire, which irritated Jeanne, the golfer, an irritation aggravated by Marilyn’s choice of shoes. Despite Jeanne’s specific instructions to wear golf shoes, Marilyn arrived wearing high heels; but to a mild rebuff from Jeanne, Marilyn allegedly asserted that she had played golf in high heels on more than a few occasions.

Certainly, many persons that have played golf many times remain unskilled; but I suggest that even an unskilled but frequent player would at least have a fundamental knowledge of the game’s basics, like how to grip a golf club. And if Marilyn had played golf many times, playing in high heels many times notwithstanding, why would Marilyn wish she could play golf when she obviously already could? Besides, no grounds keeper at a prestigious country club, or any country club for that matter, would allow a woman to play golf in high heels even if that woman was Marilyn Monroe. Later, Marilyn removed her inappropriate heels because she could not play with them on. She would have known as much if she had attempted to swing a golf club many times while wearing high heels. Despite Marilyn’s willingness to remove her heels, Jeanne realized, and also alleged, that her golf course pal, her student, was just too pampered and would never invest the time required to learn the game and achieve any golfing skill.

And yet, in reality, Marilyn was not unfamiliar with the game of golf. In 1949, she was introduced to Joe Kirkwood, Jr., an Australian born professional golfer who staged trick shot exhibitions to earn some extra money. He recruited a then twenty-three year old Marilyn Monroe to assist him. Photographs of her with Kirkwood at a trick shot demonstration attest to that fact. Additionally, Joe DiMaggio arranged for Marilyn’s instruction by a PGA professional and home videos taken during her lessons confirm that she had a relatively decent swing (refer to YouTube video below). She knew how to hold a golf club and she wasn’t wearing high heels; but then, Jeanne presented the entire golf scenario as an event during which Marilyn was only interested in the sexual aspects of golf, only interested in sexual innuendo and puns about stiff clubs and little white balls, the size of her bodacious behind and her large breasts, which were made even larger by the kinetics of golf club gripping. Perhaps Jeanne was in the grip of a sexual idée fixe involving Marilyn.

During Marilyn’s golf lesson, an unnamed, mysterious photographer suddenly appeared and snapped some impromptu photographs, which prompted Marilyn’s broad and beaming smile. About that mysterious photographer, Marilyn professed ignorance initially; but then she confessed: she had called the man, apprised him of where she could be found on that day and arranged for the photographs to be taken. So, I must ask the obvious questions: who was that photographer and where are those photographs?

Brandon James explained in his mother’s memoir why neither a photograph nor a letter existed that could verify his mother’s close relationship with Marilyn: the murderers burglarized his mother’s North Doheny Drive apartment after Marilyn’s murder. All of his mother’s prized mementos were stolen and certainly destroyed. But why would Marilyn’s murderer, or murderers, steal Jeanne’s mementos? For what reason and purpose? At any rate, certainly some photographic record, the negatives, for example, or the contact sheets, of Marilyn Monroe and Jeanne Carmen playing golf together would have been retained by that mysterious photographer; and considering the sizeable amount of money previously unseen photographs of Marilyn could generate, it is a curiosity and certainly revealing that those photographs have never surfaced. But then, perhaps, those photographs never existed because the alleged golf lesson never occurred.

Even more revealing is this: neither Jeanne, nor any other person for that matter, has ever produced a single photograph of the two young and blonde friends together. Not one. A very revealing fact. At least Robert Slatzer had a photograph allegedly inscribed by his putative best friend, lover and weekend wife. In an attempt to explain the absence of any photographic record of a friendship which spanned a long decade, Jeanne’s son asserted, during an interview, that an absence of photographs does not necessarily disprove his mother’s close friendship with Marilyn. He noted that often close friends are never photographed together. There is certainly some validity to James’ assertion; however, we are not discussing Bubba and Billy Bob swilling beers as they watch Roller Derby together: we are discussing Jeanne Carmen and Marilyn Monroe.

On the night of August the 4th in 1930, during a loud electrical thunderstorm, Jeanne Laverne Carmen, born Agnes Lavern Carmon, arrived in the Lafe community of Greene County near Paragould, a small town situated atop Crowley’s Ridge not far from the border of Missouri where a small piece of that state carves into Arkansas. A breech birth storm baby, she arrived feet first following the birth of her twin brother; and according to her memoir, she nearly died that stormy night. The attending doctor saved her, however, and reassured my mother and her family by saying, “Any baby who can withstand the shock to the system that I had just been through will make it through life just fine” (James KE:2), an oddly worded assurance and quotation. Now, I cannot explain how Jeanne knew what the attending doctor said immediately after her arrival on Planet Earth: she was just a few minutes old. And the doctor’s assurance as quoted by Jeanne is illogical: the attending doctor used the nominative pronoun I, which referred to himself, in a sentence which obviously referred to Jeanne. But then Jeanne frequently reported upon events, illogical and otherwise, that she obviously did not and could not have witnessed, not to mention conversations she did not and could not have overheard. For instance, Jeanne recounted the following incident involving her, Robert Kennedy and Marilyn, which also involved the infamous Little Red Diary.

Once upon a time, while Jeanne was in Marilyn’s Doheny Drive apartment, Robert Kennedy arrived, unannounced, for a visit. Jeanne was stunned to see the Attorney General, Bobby Kennedy standing there facing me. […] He seemed a bit flustered at my unexpected face. During this visit, Robert Kennedy spotted Marilyn’s red diary lying on the table in plain view […]. Out of curiosity, no doubt, he lifted the diary, opened it and began to read. What he read caused the attorney general’s veins to bulge and his face to redden. The diary’s contents angered him, and an argument with Marilyn ensued. Jeanne Laverne eventually left the apartment; but she lingered outside and placed her ear to the apartment’s entry door.

Even though Jeanne was no longer in the apartment, she continued to describe how Marilyn ripped the page out of her diary, wadded it into a ball and then tossed it at Bobby Kennedy. Jeanne reported how Marilyn shook her head, how Bobby put his arms around her and squeezed her tight, how he gently kissed the side of her neck after which Marilyn shrugged her shoulders and pushed him away before Bobby nuzzled his face into her neck again […]. All the preceding led to the bedroom, of course; so Jeanne decided it was time for me to cut out so I peeled my ear off the door and headed back to my apartment (James KE:21). Obviously and most certainly, Jeanne did not see the actions she described while listening outside with her ear glued against Marilyn’s entry door, not unless she had both eyes on one side of her head like a Flounder or an alien, not unless she enjoyed x-ray vision and also intensely augmented hearing just like Supergirl. According to Gary Vitacco-Robles, the entry door to Marilyn’s apartment was black, enameled and also solid.

Many times within the text of Jeanne’s memoir, she referred to Marilyn’s apartment as a residence consisting of several separate rooms, a living room and kitchen, a bedroom with an adjoining bathroom. And yet, Marilyn’s apartment was small and spartan, a studio apartment actually, or flat, consisting of one room with a kitchenette and bath; and the apartment’s only room contained Marilyn’s bed (Vitacco-Robles KE v2:349).

In her memoir, Jeanne  described several visits to that Doheny Drive apartment during which Marilyn prepared mixed drinks and cocktails in a “kitchen” that obviously did not exist. Marilyn’s alleged next door neighbor also described, in vibrant and prurient detail, several sexual episodes Marilyn shared with Robert Kennedy in her Doheny Drive “bedroom,” heady and intimate episodes that Jeanne could not have witnessed within a bedroom that, like the kitchen, did not even exist. Certainly, the apartment’s rooms along with the sexual escapades existed only in the fertile imagination of Hollywood’s B Movie Queen―or, quite possibly, the fertile imagination of her son.

Like many persons, Jeanne claimed that she talked to Marilyn via the telephone on the night of August the 4th, talked to her around ten o’clock. Marilyn could not fall asleep, she informed Jeanne, implored her best friend to come over with some pills; but Jeanne declined: she was fresh out of pills and had just finished a glass of wine before retiring. Before hanging up, Marilyn agreed to accompany Jeanne on her flight to Monterey the following day and she also agreed to play golf at Pebble Beach. That was the last time I ever talked to my friend Marilyn Monroe, Jeanne asserted and then added: The phone rang again about a half hour later but I didn’t answer it. I was really knocked out (James KE:22). Jeanne assumed that the 10:30 PM telephone call was from Marilyn as well. Marilyn’s allegedly desperate request for Jeanne to make a pill delivery leads to an obvious question: why would Marilyn do that? With the quantity of pills that Marilyn had available on her bedside table, to be clarified in a later section, what Jeanne asserted that Marilyn requested is preposterous; and, as is also clarified in a later section, the probability that Marilyn telephoned Jeanne at approximately 10:30 PM on August the 4th is virtually nil.

However, allowing Jeanne the benefit of a doubt on one point, are there any indications at all that she and Marilyn Monroe actually met, despite Donald Spoto’s assertion that they never did. Did they actually know each other and actually enjoy a friendship? A small amount of testimony regarding the issue of friendship has been offered by only a handful of testifiers who actually knew Marilyn.

Brad Dexter, the actor who portrayed Bob Brannom, the corrupt private detective murdered by Dix Handley in The Asphalt Jungle, knew both Jeanne and Marilyn along with Joe DiMaggio. According to Anthony Summers’ source notes, the pathographer interviewed Dexter several times during 1983 and 1984; but Summers did not question Dexter about Jeanne Carmen’s alleged friendship with Marilyn; and Dexter did not offer any information regarding the alleged friendship between the actresses. Several magazine and Internet articles regarding Jeanne Carmen’s purported relationship with Marilyn referenced testimony from Dexter; those articles reported what Dexter said he believed, that the two blondes met on at least one occasion and they were probably distant acquaintances, hardly a ringing endorsement or firm verification for the type of relationship alleged by Jeanne Laverne. Tony Curtis, also Jeanne’s friend, testified that the two blondes were, in fact, girlfriends; but considering the many disgusting and contradictory comments Tony Curtis pronounced about Marilyn during the years following her death, and considering their often mutually contemptuous relationship, anything Curtis ever said about Marilyn should be considered suspect at best. Additionally, Curtis did not offer any supportive, verifiable evidence or any supportive details that confirmed his statement about Marilyn and Jeanne’s girl friendship.

And yet, in the 2012 edition of Donald Wolfe’s orthodoxy regarding Marilyn’s last days, the conspiracist author recounted completely different testimony from Brad Dexter.

According to Wolfe’s source notes, he interviewed the then 81 year old actor in 1998, just four years before the actor’s death from chronic respiratory problems in December 2002 at the age of 85. Marilyn’s asphalt jungle co-star recalled seeing Marilyn and Jeanne Carmen together at the apartment on several occasions. Wolfe was not specific about the actual apartment in which Brad Dexter observed the two blondes together; and he did not offer any associated calendar dates. Wolfe then reported Dexter’s direct testimony: “They were friends,” Dexter recently stated. “I’d see them at Pucini’s with Frank and sometimes at Palm Springs. Frank stayed in Marilyn’s apartment for a while after she moved out, and Jeanne was still there in 1964” (Wolfe 419). Au contraire, according to Jeanne’s memoir, she left Hollywood on orders from Fred Otash after Marilyn’s murder; and according to the Central Arkansas Library System, Encyclopedia of Arkansas, Jeanne left Hollywood in 1962 and moved to Scottsdale, Arizona. There she married Ben Campo, a stock broker, who fathered at least one of her three children. Ben Campo did not make an appearance in Jeanne Carmen’s memoir. I have not been able to determine who actually fathered Brandon James or his sister Melinda Belli, which could be her married name. Ben obviously fathered Kellee “Jade/Jean” Campo. Jeanne did not return to Hollywood until 1978.

Like Donald Spoto, Donald Wolfe evoked the name of Gloria Lovell, Frank Sinatra’s secretary and Marilyn’s across the breezeway neighbor; but once again, we are faced with conflicting and contradictory testimony. According to Wolfe, Gloria and Jeanne were actually next door neighbors, contradicting Jeanne’s assertion that she resided next door to Marilyn; and according to Donald Spoto, Betsy Hammes, who was a friend of both Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope and was the daughter of a Los Angeles County sheriff, stated during an interview with the biographer, that she and Gloria Lovell never heard of Jeanne Carmen and never met her; and Betsy was certain that both she and Gloria would have met Marilyn’s best girlfriend if she had actually lived in the Doheny Drive apartments, and certainly if Jeanne had ever shared an apartment with Marilyn (Spoto 472).

And finally, George Jacobs, Frank Sinatra’s African-American valet for fifteen years published a scurrilous memoir in 2003 which asserted that Old Blue Eyes furnished him and the two allegedly friendly blondes with Doheny Drive apartments. Sinatra must have engaged in his generosity between August the 8th of 1961 and March the 9th of 1962, the dates of Marilyn’s second residency on North Doheny Drive; however, Jeanne did not acknowledge in her memoir that Frank Sinatra, with whom she alleged an affair, provided her with a rent-free apartment and she did not mention any association with George Jacobs. So far as I have been able to determine, no other tenant in those apartments ever noted or testified that an African-American male lived there when Marilyn was a resident or at any other time in the sixties, an era during which America remained virtually segregated, particularly relative to housing; and even though Sinatra was well-known for his anti-racist attitude, his stands against bigotry and the segregationist, exclusionary treatment of black actors and other entertainers in Las Vegas and Hollywood, Jacobs’ residency in a white, relatively affluent residential area in Los Angeles would have been uncommon and noteworthy. Jeanne did not mention that oddity. However, according to James Kaplan, who published Sinatra: The Chairman in October of 2015, during an interview with the author, Betsy Hammes testified firmly that George Jacobs never lived in the Doheny Drive apartments at any time during her nine year residency there, which began in 1959 and ended in 1967; and Kaplan considered Betsy to be a dependable source of information regarding the residents of those apartments.5

Jeanne claimed that she was compelled by circumstance to hide in the closet and observe Marilyn engage in sexual activity with Joltin Joe DiMaggio, otherwise known to Marilyn as Slugger. Jeanne asserted that Marilyn enjoyed her sexual conquests but having witnesses present added to those conquests an exciting and fun filled twist, a ridiculous allegation on its face, considering that Marilyn guarded her personal life scrupulously; and even though Marilyn might have accepted nudity without a societally induced corresponding shame, there are no credible indications, credible or verifiable evidence that she was ever a sexual exhibitionist or voyeur. Also, Jeanne alleged that she deployed Valium and alcohol to subdue DiMaggio on one occasion, a full decade before the Food and Drug Administration approved the tranquilizer and it became commercially available.

In her memoir, Jeanne included her version of Marilyn’s sexual escapades with John Kennedy during the 1960 Democratic National Convention, the mythology of which I evaluate in the following section. She included her version of what happened during John Kennedy’s birthday celebration on May the 19th in 1962 and also what happened afterwards. Her version conflicts with known historical facts; and she failed to mention the presence of Isadore Miller as Marilyn’s escort that evening. Jeanne also failed to mention that she was not present at the May birthday event; therefore she either reported hearsay or verbalized what she created within her hyperactive imagination.

Finally, I have come to a significant issue with both Jeanne Laverne Carmen and her counterpart, Robert F. Slatzer. Jeanne’s name does not appear in Robert Slatzer’s 1974 account of his sixteen year relationship with Marilyn; and Robert Slatzer’s name does not appear in Jeanne’s 2006 account of her feral life as a Manhattan pinup queen and her ten year friendship with the blonde movie star. We are left to wonder why. How could they miss each other? How could the two best friends of the world’s most famous woman never encounter each other while she was alive, especially since they both claimed to be her dearest friend and in her company at exactly the same historical moment? Why did Marilyn never arrange their introduction? Marilyn’s best girlfriend finally appeared in Slatzer’s second literary effort about Marilyn published in 1992, The Marilyn Files. Jeanne Laverne, along with Robert Slatzer, will appear later in sections involving: 1) Marilyn’s purported affairs with the middle Kennedy brothers; 2) Jeanne’s assertions that her best girlfriend was sexually entangled with various mobsters and criminals; 3) Marilyn’s Red Book of Secrets and; 4) a colossal Jeanne Carmen contradiction relative to the mythology and legends enmeshed with that red diary. However, allow me to end this section with the following observations and return briefly to the Manhattan bar meeting anecdote recounting Jeanne’s first meeting with Marilyn.

All of Marilyn’s legitimate biographers reported that she traveled by air between Buffalo, New York, and Manhattan during her brief stay in the General Brock Hotel and Niagara Falls. Limousine services furnished by the studio shuttled her from location to location, except when she and Joe DiMaggio traveled by taxicab through the streets of Manhattan. The nine hour train ride from Manhattan to Niagara Falls mentioned by Jeanne Laverne, in her memoir’s initial Meeting Marilyn anecdote, was not mentioned by any of Marilyn’s biographers, legitimate or otherwise; and neither Carl Rollyson nor April VeVea, in their day-by-day accounting of Marilyn’s activities and movements, mentioned such a lengthy and time consuming rail journey. Considering the demands that Marilyn’s busy schedule exerted on her time, and the fact that flying between Manhattan and Buffalo consumed slightly over one hour and thirty minutes, I doubt very seriously, all things considered, that she would have wasted seven hours and thirty minutes riding on a train through the northern New York countryside. Besides, where are the newspaper reports and articles describing Marilyn Monroe’s journey through rural New York? Those reports and articles do not exist.

While the precept that Marilyn and the middle Kennedy brothers engaged in long-term affairs appeared in the legend and mythology of Marilyn Monroe years before Jeanne Carmen appeared, she generated most, if not all of the lurid stories about Marilyn’s wild affair with Robert Kennedy and her sexual entanglements with gangsters and murderers. Jeanne asserted that she introduced Marilyn to the gangster Johnny Roselli, testimony she contradicted on several occasions during her tenure as Marilyn Monroe’s best girlfriend. Her fables of indiscreet assignations with not only the middle Kennedy brothers, but with members of the MOB as well, have been accepted for years as the gospel truth, sexual fables of heady, intoxicated trips to Malibu Beach for the application of slimy suntan oil to bare buttocks, hot steamy sex and cool skinny-dipping and prowling for men at night dressed only in full length mink coats, all designed to arouse prurience. Jeanne’s memoir contains many assertions and scenarios involving Marilyn that are demonstrably false; and the absence of certain persons very important in Marilyn’s personal and professional lives raise more than reasonable doubt regarding Jeanne Carmen’s claims of a decade spanning intimate friendship. Considering the lack of testimony from Marilyn’s inner circle of friends regarding Jeanne Carmen and the overwhelming number of contradictions contained in the scant amount of testimony offered, accepting that the A actress and the B actress were actually intimate friends becomes extremely difficult.

Obviously, I never met Jeanne Carmen and by all accounts she was a fun loving party girl who lived her life to experience pleasure. Who could possibly fault her for that attitude or that approach to living? According to her memoir, she endured a grim and often violent childhood. She left Paragould and home when she was a mere child, merely thirteen years old, and hitchhiked to St. Louis, or so she alleged in her memoir. I have read accounts of her life as reported by Jeanne in which she was sixteen years old when she left home. Even so, Jeanne reported that her teenage years were as grim and unhappy as her childhood. Apparently she compensated for her unhappy childhood and her unhappy adolescence by becoming a wild young adult. But therein lies a problem as well. Despite Marilyn’s persona, what she projected on screen and what the public generally believed about her, she was nothing like Jeanne Carmen; and she certainly was not a party girl. Some might assert that a close friendship between the two blondes only proves the idiom that opposites attract; but in Marilyn’s case, she would never have suffered Jeanne Carmen as a friend, and certainly not an intimate one. It is certainly a fact that Marilyn did not gravitate to wild persons. Marilyn was not prone to instigate female friendships, either; and the women that she recognized as her friends were not party girls, and they were not blondes. Marilyn was very cognizant of her image; and she would not allow any other woman in her company to compete therewith, at least not those she could control. That is certainly understandable from a professional point of view. Perhaps it also speaks to Marilyn’s fundamental insecurities. She even demanded that the shade of Hope Lange’s hair, who co-starred in Bus Stop, had to be darkened.

Marilyn Monroe rose to the height of her profession and by the end of 1955 she was a global phenomenon, arguably the most famous woman on Earth. She rejected her contract with 20th Century-Fox, rejected the glamour of Hollywood, moved to New York City and began theatrical study with Lee Strasberg at the Actor’s Studio. Marilyn was just the second woman in the history of Hollywood to found her own production company, an accomplishment never acknowledged by her alleged best friend; and meanwhile, TIME magazine christened Marilyn Monroe a shrewd businesswoman at the beginning of 1956.

When she met with Laurence Olivier and Terrence Rattigan in Manhattan on the 9th of January, she engineered perhaps the first wardrobe malfunction that was arguably a publicity and public relations coup. And yet Jeanne, in her memoir, and to some extent the same can be said about Robert Slatzer’s dubious account, presented a Marilyn Monroe who was a ditzy, airheaded, drug addled alcoholic blonde whose need for sexual gratification was exceeded only by her need for drugs and alcohol. According to Jeanne Carmen, their conversations revolved and rotated around men, sex, drugs and alcohol, the middle Kennedy brothers and brutal gangster killers. Marilyn’s true intelligence, her true depth and her deep, sincere love of acting—in short, the real woman behind the persona is missing from the pages of Jeanne’s memoir. As Marilyn’s faux friend, Jeanne has done more to defame Marilyn’s life and her memory than even her most misogynistic male biographers. Jeanne died in 2007 at the age of seventy-seven. Like Bob Slatzer, she outlived her alleged best friend forever by forty-one years; and also like Bob Slatzer, if Jeanne Laverne Carmen was not a fraud, she was certainly a reasonable facsimile thereof.

Marilyn receiving golf lessons from a PGA Professional in 1952, arranged by Joe DiMaggio.

A Serial Fabulist