Marilyn Preferred to Remain Childless

According to Slatzer, Marilyn did not want children of her own, despite her continual proclamations that she wanted a large family. Marilyn made those statements to deceive and placate the press and because, as a woman of the fifties, if she admitted that she did not want a child, her fans might have considered her strange and abnormal. Slatzer announced that Marilyn did not like the constant sound of pattering little feet. She told him numerous times the only type of children she loved were those of friends and colleagues. Besides, she feared that children would interrupt and otherwise impair her Hollywood career and her march to stardom.

If Marilyn did not want children, why did she try to get pregnant all of her adult life? Donald Spoto reported that Johnny Hyde, Marilyn’s former agent and lover who died in December of 1950, wanted her to submit to a tubal ligation sometime during the late spring or early summer of 1949. Marilyn initially agreed but then decided against submitting to a procedure that would have rendered her infertile; and according to Marilyn’s biographer, she actually feared infertility, a touching truth revealed by the following anecdote.

In 1952, Marilyn had her appendix removed; and she was so concerned about the surgery that she taped a note to her abdomen imploring the surgeon, Dr. Marcus Rabwin, to save her ovaries. According to both Spoto and Vitacco-Robles, the note read, in part, as follows:

Dr. Rabwin―most important to read before operation! Dear Dr. Rabwin, Cut as little as possible. I know it seems vain but that doesn’t really enter into it. The fact that I’m a woman is important and means much to me. Save please (I can’t ask you enough) what you can―I’m in your hands. You have children and you must know what it means―please Dr. Rabwin―I know somehow you will! Thank you―Thank you―Thank you. For God’s sake Dear Doctor No ovaries removed―please again do whatever you can to prevent large scars. Thanking you with all my heart. Marilyn Monroe (Spoto: 218-219 and Vitacco-Robles: v1:251).

After Dr. Rabwin lifted the surgical linens covering an anesthetized Marilyn Monroe and discovered the note, he became so concerned about the operation himself that he asked Dr. Leon Krohn, who eventually became Marilyn’s regular gynecologist, to observe and possibly assist (Spoto 218-219). According to Gary Vitacco-Robles, Dr. Krohn performed a gynecological procedure during Marilyn’s appendectomy in hopes of moderating her incredibly painful periods and chronic endometriosis (Vitacco-Robles v1:251). So, if Marilyn did not want children and never intended to produce any of her own, why did she avoid a tubal ligation and then three years later, dramatically implore Dr. Rabwin not to remove her ovaries when he performed her appendectomy? Why would she submit to several gynecological procedures during her adult life in an attempt to moderate or possibly cure her endometriosis? Why did she get pregnant three times during her brief marriage to playwright Arthur Miller?

Even though Slatzer mentioned Marilyn’s appendectomy in his narrative, he did not mention Dr. Marcus Rabwin, otherwise known as the Surgeon to the Stars. Along with being the surgeon who removed Marilyn Monroe’s appendix, Dr. Rabwin’s fame also included his delivery of Judy Garland on June the 19th in 1922. Rabwin apparently convinced Garland’s mother not to abort her pregnancy, which saved Judy’s life, along with the life of Liza Minnelli. Additionally, the good doctor’s wife, Marcella Rabwin (née Bannett), was a well-known Hollywood personality, most famous for being David O. Selznick’s executive assistant during the production of Gone With the Wind. According to several sources, Mrs. Rabwin enjoyed friendships with many of Hollywood’s most famous stars, including Marilyn Monroe. In a lengthy article that appeared in The San Diego Reader on November the 25th in 1998, written by Ernie Grimm, Mrs. Rabwin recounted many personal anecdotes about Hollywood’s rich and famous. She did not mention Marilyn Monroe.1

According to Slatzer, as Marilyn waited for the anesthesia to be administered, she looked up at the surgeon and asked plaintively, “Do you have to give me one of those awful-looking scars on my stomach?” (Slatzer 130), which suggested that Marilyn’s surgical concern was driven only by vanity and also suggested that Slatzer was actually in the operating room on April the 28th just standing about. Perhaps, although he failed to so assert, Slatzer helped administer the anesthesia; and, perhaps, he assisted Dr. Rabwin with the actual surgery. Odd that Slatzer did not mention anything about the Surgeon to the Stars; but how could Slatzer have missed that imploring note taped to Marilyn’s abdomen? That note confirmed that Marilyn wanted and intended to produce children and confirms this: Slatzer’s assertion that Marilyn did not want children was mendaciously deceitful.

Robert Slatzer's Book, Will Fowler and Frank Capell