Behind Marilyn's Closed Bedroom Door
Once Marilyn entered her sparsely furnished and cluttered bedroom on the evening of August the 4th, did she shut the bedroom door and then lock it? Even regarding what should have been, or should be, an indisputable fact has been, and still is, disputed―even hotly debated. Eunice Murray testified to Sgt Jack Clemmons that Marilyn’s bedroom door was locked on the morning of August the 5th, testimony corroborated by Dr. Greenson; but then, three decades later, Donald Spoto asserted that Marilyn could not have locked her bed-room door because the door’s locking mechanism was not functioning. According to Spoto, none of the locks fitted on the interiors doors in Marilyn’s hacienda functioned properly, a fact confirmed for Spoto by Marilyn’s secretary, Cherie Redmond. Spoto also asserted that Marilyn invariably left her doors unlocked: doing so was actually a habit with her, a habit further ingrained by Marilyn’s miserable experience inside the walls of Payne Whitney Clinic. Pat Newcomb corroborated what Spoto asserted as did Ralph Roberts and Rupert Allen: Marilyn did not lock doors.
With dissenting testimony, though, Marilyn’s sister, Berniece Baker Miracle, asserted that her sister invariably locked her bedroom door: Marilyn had lived by herself a lot, Berniece wrote in her memoir, and it was natural for her to lock her door at night (Miracle 161). In fact, according to Berniece, locking her door was a habit of Marilyn’s. If we duly consider and tentatively accept Berniece’s testimony, then would Marilyn have allowed the lock on her bedroom door to remain non-functional?
Yet again, we are faced with conflicting testimony.
As far as I know, the police never verified Mrs. Murray’s story, never verified if the lock on Marilyn’s bedroom door was functioning properly or if it was not; but then, why would they necessarily have done so? They did not ob-serve any indication that a crime had been committed when they inspected Marilyn’s hacienda during the day of August the 5th;1and, besides, Mrs. Murray had testified emphatically to the police that Marilyn’s bedroom door was locked.
And yet, in 1986, Roy Turner, a genealogist who performed some background research into Norma Jeane’s child-hood for biographer Donald Spoto, wrote to Eunice Murray, who was then eighty-four years old. Turner ques-tioned Eunice about the locked bedroom door. Eunice replied to Turner’s letter and his question by contradicting what she had asserted twenty-four years earlier, a practice common with her: she admitted to Turner, according to Spoto, that Marilyn’s bedroom door was not locked that Sunday morning in August. I would like to offer Eunice’s age as the reason for her contradiction: perhaps her ability to remember diminished proportionally as her age advanced, as the elapsing years accumulated following that tragic but eventful morning. Such an excuse, I freely admit, sounds odd and superficial. Eunice’s startling admission to Roy Turner regarding the unlocked bedroom door, if true, confirmed that she lied on the morning of August the 5th along with Dr. Greenson. Were the events as described by those present that morning a complete fabrication? Certainly that is not an unrea-sonable question to ask; but it is a question that can never, and will never, be fully nor satisfactorily answered; that is, unless time travel becomes possible.
The next logical questions become: if the three present that terrible morning lied, what was their motive for doing so; why would they lie; to conceal nefarious and criminal activities? Certainly, again, not unreasonable questions to ask; but, once again, questions that can never, and will never, be fully nor satisfactorily answered; and if Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine is ever invented … ?
Some conspiracists have alleged that Eunice feared the reprisals that would befall her if she revealed what she actually knew, if she revealed what actually happened that night of nights and the following morning. I personally discount that allegation as having no basis in fact. Still, we can embroidery a scarlet L on the bodice of Eunice’s nightgown just like Hawthorne’s scarlet A, despite which version of Eunice’s story might be factual.
Marilyn’s hacienda was equipped with heavy wooden doors, fitted with nineteen-twenty’s vintage mortised locks; they had deadbolts. Eunice claimed she did not have a key and therefore could not unlock Marilyn’s bedroom door. Some conspiracists have questioned Eunice’s statement, if you can imagine that. Some conspira-cists have even asserted that Eunice actually carried a key hanging on a chain around her neck, despite the lack of any confirming evidence. However, opening such a lock without the correct key was not impossible. Those now antiquated locks were not technologically advanced and could be picked with the right tools by a person who had the necessary knowledge, knew the necessary techniques and knew how single or dual lever locks operated. Eunice did not have the correct tools, apparently, nor the necessary knowledge; but perhaps the MOB murderers or the murderers dispatched by the CIA or the LAPD or the KGB, since they were fundamentally criminals, had the correct tools and the necessary knowledge to pick the old lever lock on Marilyn’s bedroom door.
Locked or unlocked, picked or not picked, that does not eliminate the issue of Eunice Murray’s presence in prox-imity to Marilyn’s bedroom door and the sounds that would have been generated, more than likely, by picking the door’s lock,2and the sounds that would have been generated, more than likely, in Marilyn’s bedroom while she struggled with her murderers. Still, I freely admit that I do not know what happened within the confines of Marilyn’s bedroom after she closed her door that night; and I have already admitted that I do not know if she wheeled around, after entering her bedroom, and thumb latched that door. In my opinion, though, the issue with that door, locked or unlocked, is of no particular consequence, unless Mrs. Murray murdered Marilyn. Eunice was certainly an odd person, Romi Greenson’s willing spy, an unreliable witness and even a liar apparently; but I have a difficult time fashioning her into the shape of a murderer.
So, what are the facts? What is the truth about Marilyn’s death? What actually happened between 7:30 PM on August the 4th and 4:35 AM on August the 5th in 1962, nine short hours plus five minutes? The only honest response to the preceding questions is a rather unsatisfying one: the only person who could end all the debates for true has been dead, as of the date on which I am writing this, beyond five decades.
Mystery novelist, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, once asserted, through the countenance and voice of his famous char-acter, Sherlock Holmes, the following tenet of deductive reasoning: Once the impossible has been eliminated, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. But how improbable is it, in reality, that Marilyn actually killed herself? In My Story, her incomplete memoir, she referenced suicide in an almost facetious and certainly a fearless manner; and in Fragments, the haunting poems clearly indicate that Marilyn was a woman drawn to the noise and turmoil of life while simultaneously she was also a woman drawn to the quiet and the peace of death. Facts so confirming, I have already herein mentioned.
Also, Marilyn was apparently fascinated with suicide and mentioned it frequently. While suicide, or a fascination with death more precisely, might be difficult for a majority of humans to understand or accept, when a person who is predisposed to suicidal thoughts experiences a depressive episode or psychological pain due to anxiety or experiences an inexplicable anger, contemplations of escaping pain through death make perfect, rational sense. Additionally, suicidal thoughts and thoughts of using death as a means of escaping a life that is generally painful, frequently flood into the mind of the predisposed at unexpected moments; and those unexpected thoughts can be almost overwhelming. Apparently, it has been explained to me, the circumstances surrounding the person’s life at the time those thoughts flood in, good or bad, happy or sad, those conditional circumstances are not necessarily a mitigating factor. To maintain that Marilyn would not have committed suicide during a depressive episode or thoughts of death merely because she had lucrative professional offers, a new movie script lying on the floor at her bedside or merely because she appeared to be happy at that moment, simply conflicts with the reality of suicidal tendencies and ideations. Those statements, or similar statements asserting that Marilyn had everything for which to live, are simply untenable. Marilyn’s previous suicide attempts, already noted herein, suggest that her life was also populated with perceived reasons to die. Such was an element of her dichotomy; such was an element of the inexplicable contradiction we all know as Marilyn.
In Oliver Stone’s JFK, the revisionist’s movie about president Kennedy’s assassination, Jim Garrison invites his jury, during Clay Shaw’s trial, to join him for a moment of speculation: Let’s for a moment speculate, shall we? The district attorney then proceeds to speculate about the events of November the 22nd. The problem? Most of his speculations, like Stone’s movie, were not based on reality or on historical facts. Similar speculations have been made about Marilyn’s death during the past one-half century; and like Garrison’s speculations, most have not been based on reality or based on historical facts.
Certainly, offering theories regarding the tragic death of Marilyn Monroe is tempting, as attested by the many biographers, conspiracists and fiction writers who have done so with zeal and dreams of possible wealth; but I am going to resist the temptation. I was going to speculate, for instance, that Marilyn did not swallow any pills at all that night, speculate that she imitated the scene from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in which Lorelei created a knock out drink for Ernie Malone. Perhaps Marilyn emptied the contents of the capsules, not into a glass of alcohol, but into a glass of water which she then drank, perhaps in two gulps or even in one large gulp, while standing in her nearby bathroom, before she returned and fell face down across her bed, set the glass on the floor near the legs of her bedside table and then fell silently to sleep. But, alas, that scenario has its own set of problems and generates its own set of unanswerable questions. So, I can only declare what I believe happened, or more precisely, perhaps, what I believe reality and history clearly demonstrate did not happen.
Neither John Fitzgerald nor Robert Francis Kennedy were involved in Marilyn’s death. Robert Francis did not visit Marilyn along with Peter Lawford on August the 4th; and Robert Francis did not murder her, as James Haspiel has contended, by smothering her with a pillow. Death by asphyxiation would have been immediately apparent to the coroner. Additionally, it is more than ludicrous to think that Robert Francis, the sitting Attorney General of the United States, would have allowed himself to be observed entering Marilyn’s hacienda where he then proceeded to murder her; and then after doing so, he escaped, only to allegedly leave a trail of evidence that a deaf dumb and blind kid could have followed before he finally admitted to an affair with Marilyn and an August the 4th visit to talk with her. More than ridiculous.
Furthermore, Pat Newcomb, Peter Lawford, Norman Jefferies, Eunice Murray and LAPD Sgt Marvin Iannone, and in some orthodoxies even the Attorney General of the United States, Robert Kennedy, did not gather around Marilyn as she lay on the floor of her detached guest cottage and watched silently as Ralph Greenson ritual-istically stabbed her in the heart with an enormous hypodermic needle, which, of course, killed her. No evidence nor proof of any type supporting such a macabre and grotesque orthodoxy has ever existed and never will exist. Besides, most certainly the persons who witnessed that scene would not have remained alive much past the following day. Additionally, Pat Newcomb, Peter Lawford, Eunice Murray and Dr. Greenson did not induce Marilyn to commit suicide. Doing that would not have been possible, frankly, once we consider Marilyn’s willfulness.
A few conspiracists have alleged that Ralph Greenson and his associates wanted to gain control of Marilyn’s estate and the millions of dollars it would generate after her death; and so they murdered her. Such an ortho-doxy, however, has a central flaw: how could those persons have known prior to Marilyn’s death that her estate would generate any income for any entity other than 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation or the photographer, Milton H. Greene? In fact, they could not have known that Marilyn would become, in death, the icon and symbol that she has become; and they could not have known that her image and virtually everything she touched would be worth hundreds of thousands even millions of dollars, not unless they were clairvoyant and precognitive and could gaze into the future.
The Strasbergs were not involved in Marilyn’s murder. She had plans to alter her will apparently; but she never did. Plans to alter one’s will neither suggests nor proves anything, certainly not murder. It is highly unlikely that Marilyn would have completely severed ties with the Strasbergs, as asserted by various conspiracists, or would have completely withdrawn from their assistance with her acting. A letter Marilyn wrote to Lee Strasberg mid-December of 1961, suggesting that he relocate to California and begin a new production company with her and Marlon Brando, provides conclusive evidence and proves that she had no plans to drop the Strasbergs. While they might have used Marilyn, just like virtually everyone around her did, they also loved her and needed her.
20th Century-Fox did not have Marilyn murdered in order to collect a life insurance death benefit. Over the last ten years of Marilyn’s movie career, the movies in which she appeared, when adjusted for inflation, earned $2.75B at the box office according to the website Ultimate Movie Rankings. While most of us life-insured normal human beings might be worth more dead than we are alive, that obviously was not the case with Marilyn Monroe. Certainly she was worth much more to Fox alive than dead; and she was also worth more to Lee Strasberg alive. Why murder the blonde movie star along with her potential to produce those golden eggs? Besides, the coroner’s pronouncement of probable suicide as Marilyn’s mode of death would have complicated collecting any death benefit from any life insurance policy that might have been in effect, a fact that points to the fallacious and illogical nature of asserting that Fox was involved in Marilyn’s murder which they then attempted to conceal as a suicide. Besides, why would Fox negotiate a new contract with Marilyn involving two movies, one of which was completing Something’s Got to Give and for which she would be paid $1M, approximately $8.75M in current currency, why negotiate with her, essentially reinstate her, instigate bonus incentives and then have her killed? That orthodoxy flies in the face of reason and logic.
A long parade of neckless knuckle dragging hirsute goons dispatched by the middle Kennedy brothers or a chief of police or Sam Giancana or Fidel Castro or any of the accused big letter acronyms did not enter Marilyn’s hacienda, pick her locks, enter her bedroom, wrestle with her, overpower her and then murder her with various instruments of death, neither needle enema nor suppository. An injection followed by the insertion of a sup-pository, as has been often asserted, is a ridiculous orthodoxy because the injection would have killed Marilyn long before the suppository could have dissolved, leaving evidence. A hotshot followed by colonic irrigation is equally ridiculous. No evidence existed, nor exists, to support any murder orthodoxy involving those murder methods. In fact, Marilyn’s autopsy proves, beyond dispute actually, that she ingested an overdose of barbitur-ates. For anyone to assert otherwise is simply engaging in crass sensationalism.
Finally, neither the CIA nor the FBI nor the KGB nor the MOB had anything whatsoever to do with Marilyn’s death and neither did the rascally Alieata, not even indirectly as alleged by a few conspiracists. Not one of the accused men or women or big letter acronyms had a motive to whack America’s biggest movie star or had any motive to commit, as expressed by Andrew O’Hagan, that great pointless homicide; and why would those rascally aliens, those intergalactic travelers, need to conceal a murder perpetrated by them by arranging the scene to resemble one of suicide? Certainly the Alieata, with all their incredible technology, I repeat, would have been able to dispose of Marilyn’s body by merely having Skinny Bob beam it up.
Murder? No evidence. No proof.
Is it not time to accept that the legends of Marilyn’s affairs with John and Robert Kennedy along with the legends of Marilyn’s affairs with nefarious mobsters are simply that, legends. A mythology. Likewise, Marilyn’s Red Book of Secrets, her Little Red Diary, is also a legend, a mythology, as is Marilyn’s impending tattle tale press confer-ence, which would have been the press conference of the twentieth century. Without all the innuendo, the rumor and the crass sensationalizing, without all the legends and the mythology, the wild murder orthodoxies simply disintegrate. Without the alleged long term affair with John Kennedy or any affair at all with Robert Kennedy, what reason did Marilyn have to call her damning and damaging press conference and what reason did the Brothers, or any of the accused acronyms for that matter, have to murder Marilyn Monroe? On all accounts, none whatsoever. With the lynchpins removed, the murder orthodoxies, resembling Ezekiel’s giant and flaming wheel, go flying off into space just like a big UFO.