A Character From Gunsmoke
During my career as a kid, when I lived in an area of Memphis known as Signal Heights because my parents did, television was considerably different than it is now. With only four networks available, one of which was PBS, viewing choices were limited; and after midnight the only program a fellow could watch was the test pattern. Television was not a twenty-four hour source of noise and confusion, politics and syndicated reruns. For that reason, I seldom missed watching certain programs: Perry Mason and The Twilight Zone for example, but more importantly, Gunsmoke. CBS changed the program from black and white to color in 1966; so the network created a new opening sequence that generally resembled the original: Marshal Matt Dillon engaged in a gunfight with a black hat that stood opposite him in the middle of the town’s central dirt road. Dillon prevailed, of course. The actor who portrayed that black hat was none other than Ted Jordan.
Ted Jordan was born Edward H. Friedman in 1924 on May the 23rd in Circleville, Ohio, where he received the nickname “Eddie”, of course. At some point during Freidman’s childhood, his family moved South to Lancaster; and then in 1940, when he was sixteen years old, his family relocated from there to Los Angeles, California, much to Friedman’s dismay: he did not want to leave his friends behind in Lancaster. But once he acclimated himself to and settled into the Dream City, quite naturally, his new environs increased his existing love for the movies and he planned to become an actor. However, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor wrinkled and distorted those plans.
After December the 7th in 1941, Freidman enlisted in the Navy, according to his memoir; but an injury sent him to the hospital for treatment and recuperation. He did not reveal the seriousness of his injury nor how long he recuperated, noting only that he had plenty of time to consider his future life and his future in Hollywood. Apparently after his recuperation, his release from the hospital and discharge from the military, he decided to spend the rest of his life smoothing his plan to be an actor, a decision that created a chasm between son and father. Upon announcing that he intended to pursue acting lessons, his father became enraged and demanded to know how his son intended to support himself while he waited for stardom and fame to arrive. Friedman admitted that he could not provide an adequate answer to his father’s questions or explain how he would support himself; but in 1943, at the age of nineteen years, and without the benefit of even one acting lesson, Friedman left home with dreams of Hollywood stardom and fame.
In his memoir, Friedman asserted that he had saved a small amount of money; but he knew, as did his father, that such a paltry amount of cash would not support him for long, and certainly not in Hollywood. However, if Jordan was unemployed prior to leaving home, from whence did his paltry nest egg come? Was he employed earlier, after being discharged from the hospital and then the Navy? Maybe he was able to save some of his military pay during his hospital confinement. Jordan did not say and he did not reveal his military class or rating; however, as an enlisted man, nonrated, first class, he would have earned around $65 per month while in the Navy or $15 per week. Perhaps he received a small monthly stipend due to the wounds he received while defending his country on the high seas; but Jordan’s memoir did not so specify. Obviously, then, we will never know from where his paltry nest egg came.
Luckily, Friedman found a boardinghouse whose proprietor was a kindly, motherly and elderly woman named Mrs. Fenton who, according to Friedman, was fond of young and struggling actors, several of which already called Mrs. Fenton’s boardinghouse home. Since the room and board provided by Mrs. Fenton was a bargain, even in 1943, costing the struggling actors only eight dollars per week , Friedman took a room. During his stay at Mrs. Fenton’s architecturally-styled Victorian residence, he met and became friends with the man who would even-tually become Marshal Dillon, James Aurness. Following the marshal’s recommendation, Friedman enrolled in the Ben Bard Acting School where his classmates were Tony Curtis, Harry Guardino, Stuart Whitman, Gil Stratton and, of course, Marshal Matt Dillon.
To support himself, Friedman found work as a lifeguard, swimming instructor and occasional masseur at the Ambassador Hotel’s swimming pool; the swimming pool owner paid Friedman $80 per week. An added perk to his aquatic job was an abundance of beautiful models who worked at the Blue Book Modeling Agency which, he noted, was located near the swimming pool. According to Friedman, he became friends with Emmeline Snively, the owner of Blue Book. She trusted him; she did not seem to object to his hot pursuit of her young models. Perhaps Emmeline knew, as he stated in his memoir, he really was not that interested in them beyond what usually interests a nineteen-year-old male. After all, the models were simply brainless beauties whose only goal was landing a contract with a movie studio; but during a warm summer afternoon in 1943 he spotted, from a distance, a stunning young woman who would change his life and, according to him, not necessarily for the better.
Eddie Friedman relocated into his eternal residence from Palm Desert, California, on March the 30th in 2005. When he went to his eternal reward, he was eighty years old. During nineteen of the eighty years he spent ca-rousing Planet Mearth, he enjoyed a close, passionate relationship with the young woman who, even from a dis-tance, enraptured him in 1943, or so Eddie asserted in his 1989 publication on the pages of which he revealed, twenty-seven years after her death, their secret life together. Because Eddie knew the facts due to his close association with her and because of all the spurious books that had been written about the young woman who changed his life, most of which he had read, he felt compelled, even obligated he alleged, to write the real story of the real Norma Jean Baker entitled Norma Jean: My Secret Life with Marilyn Monroe.
You have probably already noticed the first problem with Friedman’s revelation of the real: its title, his incorrect spelling of Norma’s given middle name. From where did that incorrect spelling derive? Marilyn’s incomplete memoir, My Story, written with the help of screenwriter Ben Hecht and published originally by Milton Greene, uses the identical incorrect spelling. I excuse that misspelling as merely an editing error. My Story was published twenty years after Marilyn was compelled, in 1954 by Fox and Joe DiMaggio, to abandon writing her memoir; it was finally published in May of 1974, twelve years after her death. I’m positive she would have correct-ed the obvious mistake had she been given the opportunity. J·e·a·n is not the way her middle name appears on her birth certificate and J·e·a·n is not the way she invariably signed her middle name on letters and contracts. She invariably used her middle name’s proper and accepted feminine spelling, J·e·a·n·e.
A few biographers have asserted over the years, Anthony Summers for example, that Norma spelled her middle name capriciously, intermittently using Jean or Jeane. I have not found that to be the case; therefore, and coupled with the fact that Marilyn Monroe’s birth name was exceedingly well known by 1989, due to her incredible fame, Friedman’s improper spelling alone causes me to question the validity of his memoir. I believe a man involved in a close relationship with a woman would at least know how to spell her name; but then maybe I am being an unfair perfectionist. As an aside, the surname listed on Norma Jeane’s birth certificate is not Baker. The surname listed is Mortenson. Norma Jeane was merely baptized a Baker by Gladys Pearl Monroe Baker Morten-sen, the name of Norma’s mother at the time of Norma’s birth. 1
Misspelling Norma’s middle name, and attributing to her an incorrect surname, are but two of many issues with Friedman’s memoir that I will tactfully call falsities. For example, Friedman stated that Gladys followed her estranged husband, John Baker, to Kentucky after he abandoned her in California. According to Friedman, Gladys intended to reclaim her children, Norma’s half-sisters, who had been kidnapped by their father. Friedman is basically correct; but Norma only had one half-sister, Berniece Baker, and one half-brother, Jackie Baker, who died when Norma was only seven years old. Friedman’s falsity regarding Norma’s siblings might appear to be minor; but I consider it to be indicative of the basic credibility issues with Friedman’s narrative and many of his assertions, like the ones involving James Aurness, who Friedman claimed he met in Los Angeles prior to the summer of 1943.
According to his autobiography, James King Aurness was born and lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He changed his name to “Arness” after he became an actor. The Army drafted him in March of 1943; and shortly thereafter, he reported for duty at Fort Snelling in Minnesota. After basic training, he served as a rifleman with the US 3rd Infantry Division. He received severe leg wounds on the 1st of February in 1944 during Operation Shingle, an amphibious landing on Anzio Beach during the US Army’s Italian Campaign. He spent a year recovering in the 91st General Hospital in Clinton, Iowa. Although several surgeries repaired his wounds, his leg pain endured, a chronic condition that would afflict him for the remainder of his life.
The US Army honorably discharged James Aurness on the 29th of January in 1945. After working as a radio announcer and disc jockey for WLOL in Minneapolis during the remainder of 1945, Aurness decided to become an actor and hitchhiked to Los Angeles. His first appearance on film was in 1947 opposite Loretta Young in The Farmer’s Daughter. Therefore, and obviously, Friedman’s assertions that he met and went to acting school with James Aurness in the summer of 1943 represent major falsities. Jordan and Aurness eventually met, though; but not until 1950 when they appeared together in the film Sierra. By then, James Aurness had become James Arness. Eddie Freidman joined the cast of Gunsmoke before the 1966 season; and until 1975, he portrayed the recurring character Nathan Burke.
During the remainder of this section, where I quote Friedman directly and he uses the name Norma Jean, I am going to substitute, in brackets, either “Marilyn” or “Marilyn Monroe”. Hopefully, doing that will eliminate some confusion, primarily mine. Similarly, instead of using the name Eddie Friedman, I am going to use the pseudonym, “Ted Jordan” or simply “Jordan”. Again, hopefully, doing that will also eliminate confusion.
None will debate that the human memory is faulty and imperfect. Jordan admitted as much himself; and if a written memoir is nothing more than a recounting of a person’s memories, perhaps an error here or there should be expected and generously accepted. For example, when his family relocated to California from Ohio, Jordan claimed they traveled by car and they drove all the way to Los Angeles via Route 66. I interpret his statement to mean they drove Route 66 all the way from Lancaster to Los Angeles; but then, Route 66 did not extend eastward past Chicago. A vague and minor misstatement, perhaps; but Jordan’s written memoir is filled with glaring chronological errors and falsities relative to Marilyn Monroe, like those involving Emmeline Snively, her modeling agency and his alleged initial meeting with the future movie star: what he alleged does not match documented history.
According to authors Astrid Franse, Michelle Morgan and their 2015 publication, Before Marilyn: The Blue Book Modeling Years, Emmeline Snively did not open her Blue Book offices at the Ambassador Hotel until January of 1944; so she could not have befriended and trusted Ted Jordan with her young models in the summer of 1943. Additionally, his assertion that he met Marilyn during that 1943 summer, when she was a fledgling model working for the Blue Book Agency, is certainly false: she did not become involved with Blue Book until August of 1945, a major event in Marilyn’s life.
Jordan also claimed that Marilyn was living with Grace McKee Goddard in 1943. After securing his first date with her, Jordan asserted that he told her he would pick her up that night at her Aunt Grace’s house in my Model A Ford (Jordan 12). But that would not have been possible. Grace was not living in Los Angeles in 1943: she and her husband, Doc Goddard, were living in West Virginia. Besides, in the summer of 1943, Marilyn, or Norma Jeane Mortenson more precisely, was a newlywed seventeen-year-old housewife, married just a year earlier to Jimmie Dougherty. At the time, Jimmie’s parents lived north of Los Angeles, so he and his new bride moved temporarily into the family house located at 14747 Archwood Street in Van Nuys. Later that year, when Dougherty’s parents returned to Van Nuys, Jimmie and Marilyn moved into a house on Bessemer Street; then, as 1943 ended, the newlyweds moved to Catalina Island, twenty-seven miles off the coast of California, onto a Maritime Marine Training Base where Jimmie, by then a Merchant Marine, had been stationed as an instructor. In 1943, Jordan would not have found Marilyn at her Aunt Grace’s house.
In yet another questionable anecdote, Jordan asserted, that he and Marilyn traveled from Los Angeles to Dayton, Ohio, in his Model A Ford to visit his parents, a jaunt of 4,500 miles round trip. The road warriors slept in parks under the stars during the 1944 jaunt, alleged Jordan, since they did not have the funds for motel rooms; and yet, at that time, he was earning $80 per week, or so he alleged, approximately the equivalent of $1,200 in 2020 currency, just over $62K yearly. That amount of money certainly seems sufficiently large enough to comfortably purchase a few nights residence in a roadside motel.
Ford Motor Company built the Model A between the years of 1927 and 1931. Jordan did not reveal the model year of his old Ford, only that he paid $60 for it or $900 today. However, it was a convertible, he stated, and it had a rumble seat. According to Ford, that Model A was a two-seater and possessed a very cramped passenger cab, not very conducive sleeping accommodations. Maybe they had sleeping bags; but even so, Jordan’s passenger must have been uncomfortable. Several other circumstances alleged by Jordan, along with various details of the trip he omitted, render the validity of his anecdote dubious; but the time of year and the year asserted by Jordan, the fall of 1944, conflicts diametrically with the history and the chronology of Marilyn’s authentic life.
In 1944, Jimmie Dougherty was on active sea duty with the Merchant Marines; so Marilyn moved in with his parents. Jimmie’s mother worked as a nurse at Radioplane Munitions where she easily secured her daughter-in-law a job. In late September of 1944, Marilyn traveled by rail to Detroit for an extended visit with Berniece, Marilyn’s half-sister, and Berniece’s family, a first meeting memorialized in Berniece’s memoir, My Sister Marilyn: A Memoir of Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn learned in late October, while visiting Berniece, that Jimmie had received an unexpected leave from the Merchant Marines and was sailing home. Before she returned to Los Angeles to meet him, she visited Grace Goddard in Chicago, then Doc Goddard and his daughter, Bebe, in West Virginia. Doc and Grace were separated at the time. On October the 28th, Marilyn mailed a post card to her sister. It was post marked and time stamped in Chicago on October the 28th at 9PM and mailed with a 1¢ postage stamp. On it Marilyn had written:
I just can’t tell you both how I enjoyed meeting you.
I want to thank you for everything, for I had a wonderful time.
Love, Norma Jeane
Not long after Berniece received the brief post card, she received an equally brief note from Norma Jeane: she was on her way to visit the Goddards in Huntington, West Virginia. Remarkably, the brief post card mentioned in Berniece’s memoir still exists.
After she returned to California, Marilyn resumed her routine at Radioplane and her life as the wife of a Merchant Marine. She was photographed professionally for the first time in early 1945 by Army photographer, David Cono-ver, while she was working at Radioplane. Conover then introduced her to the photographer Potter Hueth who then introduced her to Emmeline Snively and Marilyn’s association with The Blue Book Modeling Agency began, in August of 1945, not in August 1943 as alleged by Jordan.
Additionally, during the road trip to Dayton, Ohio, in October of 1944, Jordan alleged that he and Marilyn drove an additional one-hundred miles to Lancaster where they attended the Fairfield County Fair, a fair still held in Lancaster annually, and traditionally, during the 2nd week in October. In 1944, the fair dates would have been Oc-tober the 8th thru the 14th. It seems reasonable to contend, then, that Jordan and his Marilyn must have traveled to Dayton during the first week in October of 1944 when the actual Marilyn Monroe was in Detroit visiting her married half-sister, Berniece Miracle. It is also reasonable to assert that the road trip with Marilyn as described by Jordan was imaginary and certainly never happened.
There are many other falsities and factual errors within the text of Jordan’s memoir of his memories, eighteen year’s worth of falsities. To cover them all in detail would fill a thick and heavy volume, virtually an encyclopedia; however, I want to mention several that need refutation and need to be exposed as fabrications.
According to Jordan, Marilyn announced that she was pregnant in 1945 (Jordan 47). Jordan admitted he hoped for a pregnancy, believing a pregnancy would result in their marriage; but such would not be the case. Marilyn was adamant: she wanted an abortion. In spite of his protestations and entreaties, and a nearly violent argument during which Marilyn stated that she did not want and would not give birth to an insane child (Jordan 59), he took her across the border into Mexico where a man called Gomez aborted the pregnancy in a filthy and dimly lit backroom somewhere in Tijuana. Due to the mental illness of her mother, Jordan asserted, Marilyn did not want to have their baby or any baby for that matter, certainly a false assertion based on her later pregnancies and her frequent attempts to get pregnant.
Jordan also asserted that Marilyn submitted to many abortions during her youth and then even more later during her adult life. A few individuals have testified that Marilyn admitted that she submitted to several abortions during her life: Amy Greene and Paula Strasberg just to mention two. However, Dr. Leon Krohn, Marilyn’s gyneco-logist, according to Donald Spoto, asserted that Marilyn never had even one abortion. Marilyn experienced two miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy which Dr. Krohn had to terminate but never an abortion (Spoto 146). Spoto included an editorial comment via footnote that Dr. Krohn’s notes on his treatments of Marilyn, which Spoto apparently reviewed, left no doubt that the stories of multiple abortions were fictional.
Marilyn underwent several gynecological procedures in an attempt to alleviate the reproductive problems caused by her chronic endometriosis in hopes of becoming pregnant and carrying a baby to term. Later biographers assumed and reported that she received abortions when she entered hospitals for surgery, a false meme carried forth by Jordan. Unfortunately, Marilyn’s gynecological procedures did not provide positive results and she finally accepted that she would never deliver a baby. Marilyn desperately wanted a child and even considered adopting an orphan during her 1962 trip to Mexico.
Another apocryphal allegation asserted by Jordan involved one of Marilyn’s foster mothers. A practicing lesbian, the woman seduced Marilyn, then the tender and innocent age of six. This lesbian foster mother then taught Marilyn the delicacies of lesbianism until her fourteenth birthday (Jordan 69), meaning that Marilyn, or Norma Jeane, engaged in lesbianism as a child for at least eight years; however, nothing in Marilyn’s childhood and no verifiable evidence exists to even suggest, much less prove, that any of Marilyn’s foster mothers practiced lesbianism or that Marilyn was seduced at the age of six by a woman, foster mother or otherwise. Marilyn revealed in her unfinished autobiography that she was sexually molested when she was a child by a man she identified as Mr. Kimmel, an event that Jordan allegedly discussed with Marilyn.
In a long soliloquy which Jordan placed in quotation marks, Marilyn described the molestation. It occurred when she was nine years old and her foster mother did not even believe her story. That’s a terrible thing to happen, Jordan commented and then added: it’s even worse when nobody believes you. Jordan then quoted what he alleged was Marilyn’s response and reaction: Yeah but you see, that’s not really the strange part. You know what it was? The really strange part was that I liked it in some ways […]. Stand there without anything on, and they’ll do just about anything. That’s what I like, that feeling of power I had. It was a thrill, I’m telling you (Jordan 36). This molestation obviously would have occurred while Marilyn’s foster mother, according to Jordan’s chronology, the lesbian one, was demonstrating the pleasures of lesbian lovemaking. I can only assume that Marilyn, even though she apparently never said so, received the same feeling of sexual power when she was seduced by and stood naked before her lesbian foster mother. Admittedly, I am not a psychiatrist nor a psychologist but I find it very difficult to fathom that a girl of nine, at the moment she is being molested or seduced by an older man, or an older woman for that matter, persons who she had previously trusted, would be feeling powerful, sexually powerful, or thrilled.
And finally, diving headfirst into the muck, Jordan claimed that Marilyn admitted to prostituting herself, although she never used that word, admitting only to promiscuous behavior. Jordan claimed that she continued to be a prostitute, scavenging bars for men and women and their money, until she achieved fame and fortune, after which she just became an indiscriminate whore. And yet, when Jordan’s mother called Marilyn a whore, he oddly contradicted that assessment and chastised his mother for using that lurid word. Still, all things considered, why would any man knowingly want to marry a chronically promiscuous woman like Marilyn, at least the Marilyn that Jordan delineated, a woman of incredibly low moral character who, also according to Jordan, was addicted to drugs and alcohol, was bitchy and stubborn? I maintain that a relatively sane man would never knowingly marry such a woman. And too, considering that Marilyn was allegedly engaging in her special brand of multifarious and indiscriminate sex with many men during her relationship with Jordan, why did he automatically believe or assume that her alleged pregnancy was caused by him? How could he be sure? He never asked for a paternity test? But then, apparently Jordan was drawn to women that most men in our society would view as morally bankrupt and engaging in debauchery.
Jordan and the famous stripper, Willis Marie Van Schaack, better known by her stage name, Lili St. Cyr, married in Las Vegas on the 22nd of February in 1955. Since Marilyn would not marry him, he married Lili; and the reason why Marilyn would not marry Jordan, you might be wondering: she simply preferred to have an affair with Lili, Jordan alleged. Even so, Jordan and Marilyn enjoyed a three-way romp with his stripper wife which means that Marilyn could have married Jordan and still could have engaged in an affair with Lili St. Cyr, who Marilyn found irresistible. None of that makes any sense, you are thinking and, of course, you are correct; but then Jordan frequently contradicted himself; and despite his declaration of a deep and abiding love for Marilyn, many of his written declarations revealed a harsh and incredible cruelty.
Jordan could not seem to decide if Marilyn Monroe was exceptionally beautiful or exceptionally commonplace; he could not decide if she was a slob, who avoided any sort of work, was innately lazy or if she was an incredibly driven young woman, consumed by ambition and determination to accomplish her goals. He was positive regarding a couple of points, though: Marilyn had no talent as a model or an actress. He never expected her to make it in Hollywood and he was certain she would never become an actress. On the other hand, she had talent to spare as a voracious lover; and she was an accomplished omnisexual nymphomaniac. Marilyn would engage in and enjoyed sex with whomever whenever and wherever. Also, Marilyn was an accomplished user; she used whomever whenever; she breathtakingly used people to get what she wanted, which was stardom and fame. Marilyn was determined to succeed; and if she had to do so on her back, even if she had to fornicate with Bela Lugosi, that was fine with her: she was going to make it in the goddamn movies. She was, in Jordan’s estimation, an incredible sexual athlete, the most famous in Hollywood; and a considerable amount of his memoir is dedicated to proving her athleticism. Additionally, Jordan believed that Marilyn and Lili St. Cyr shared identical sexual mores; and Jordan also claimed that the stripper was actually Marilyn’s inspiration and recipe for her sex-pot creation.
Jordan’s reaction to his alleged love’s ascent to the tiptop of fame worldwide revealed his true feelings. Much to Jordan’s chagrin, by 1951, Marilyn was on the verge of stardom while he had remained virtually an overlooked unknown. That injustice bothered him more than anything else; and the more he considered his relative position in life, the more of a failure he considered himself to be, compounding his resentment for what he described as Marilyn’s unexpected and sudden ascent to fame. According to Jordan, Marilyn could not sing, could not dance and she could not act. She was recalcitrant, broke all the rules and behaved terribly on movie sets; and yet, Marilyn was virtually a star while he was nowhere, merely a nobody schmuck. The contract Marilyn obtained from 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation at the end of 1955 after her mutiny against the studio and Darryl Zanuck, according to Jordan, caused a considerable amount of consternation and jealousy among those, including him-self, still bound to a studio like a slave. No one in Hollywood could understand how a talentless waif like Marilyn could have become so famous and so powerful that omnipotent studio heads, Zanuck for instance, actually feared her. According to Jordan, she simply did not deserve her lofty position: she simply had not earned it.
To assert that Marilyn could not sing, dance or act was, and is, downright ludicrous. Any person gifted with hearing knows she can sing; and even though she was not a trained dancer, she could dance: she was a favorite of the legendary choreographer and dancer, Jack Cole. Her rendition of “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” has become iconic and recognized as the best performance of that now legendary show tune. Joshua Logan, who directed Marilyn in the movie, Bus Stop, considered her not only to be a great actress but one of the greatest that ever appeared on screen. In his autobiography, Movie Stars, Real People and Me, Logan asserted that he almost missed a high spot in his directorial career because he had been duped by a mistaken Hollywood chauvinism. Prior to directing Marilyn in Bus Stop, Logan did not believe she could or would deliver an appropriate dramatic performance: he believed that Marilyn could not act. I could gargle with salt and vinegar even now as I say that, Logan wrote in his autobiography, because I found Marilyn to be one of the great talents of all time (Logan 42-43).
Jordan begrudgingly admitted that Marilyn virtually dismantled Hollywood’s oppressive studio system. In fact, the freedom actors and movie stars enjoy today is rooted in Marilyn’s battle for some control over her career after she appeared in The Seven Year Itch. Jordan should have been grateful; but such was not the case: all Jordan apparently felt was jealousy and resentment that little Marilyn had become the biggest star, not only in Hollywood, but the world. Arguably, his feelings about Marilyn’s fame, for a moment putting aside whether he actually knew her or not, may just be the only truthful words printed on the pages of Jordan’s memoir, the final few chapters of which are dedicated to Marilyn’s fall from her lofty Hollywood perch and as such reveals even more of his true feelings.
He alleged that Hollywood et al. grew to hate Marilyn Monroe, her costars, her producers and directors, every person on the production crews, including the caterers. She was churlish and impatient, spoke miserably to everyone around her, was always late and never knew her lines. She flubbed take after take after take. According to Jordan, filming “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” required ninety takes to complete. She cost the studios countless thousands of dollars because of her rapid descent into madness. A pronouncement describing Marilyn as schizoid, attributed to Sir Laurence Oliver, is one with which Jordan wholeheartedly agreed. Obviously schizophrenic, as her mind deteriorated, she became more and more paranoid, more and more distrustful of everyone, but particularly those Jews who, she alleged, pilfered money from her and her production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions. Marilyn suddenly became anti-Semitic, according to Jordan. All those fucking Jews are alike, she allegedly railed. They’re just out to grab the money! Jesus Christ, why did I ever get mixed up with those Jews? (Jordan 228-229). The end of Marilyn Monroe, the sad young woman Jordan’s mother had condemned as a doomed whore, was on the horizon.
I could offer the quoted testaments of many persons who actually knew Marilyn, who actually worked with her, that contradicts every aspersion leveled by Jordan. Certainly she was often late, forgot her lines occasionally but most actors do. It is well known that she drove Billy Wilder to distraction, primarily because Wilder was somewhat of a tyrant; but he also commented that suffering with Marilyn, no matter how painful, was worth the suffering because of the results. No matter how you suffered through those … the days and weeks and pulling those lines out like a … like a dentist, Wilder stated during an interview, they looked so absolutely and totally natural once she said them and you loved her on the screen and that’s the one … the thing that survived. When asked if he would have worked with Marilyn Monroe again had she survived, Wilder replied: All I can tell you is if Marilyn was around today I’d be on my knees saying “please let’s do it again!” Joshua Logan invariably referred to her as a true artist, even a genius, as did Dame Sybil Thorndike; and even Sir Laurence Olivier, later in his life, admitted that Marilyn outperformed him in The Prince and the Showgirl, which also co-starred Dame Sybil. Some of Marilyn’s costars complained about her, for true, but virtually all of those who did, were men; but Jack Lemmon, despite their problems on the sets of Some Like It Hot, realized and granted that Marilyn was magic on the big screen; and her magic rendered all else irrelevant. Besides, if the circumstances were as dire as stated by Jordan, why did producers and directors continue to cast such a rotten diva in their movies? Why was she receiving offers to appear in movies and on stage from directors screenwriters and producers even until the day she died?
Additionally, to assert that Marilyn was anti-Semitic is as ludicrous as asserting she could not sing, dance or act. Before she married Arthur Miller, a Jew, she converted to Judaism, a conversion she never renounced. She maintained her friendship with Isadore Miller, Arthur’s father, even after she divorced the Jewish playwright. Isadore escorted her to the Kennedy birthday gala in May of 1962 when she sang “Happy Birthday to You” to John Kennedy. O, but then, Marilyn could not sing.
As the end approached, Marilyn visited Jordan occasionally at his apartment just off Doheny Drive where he lived after his divorce from Lili St. Cyr in 1959; but Marilyn’s appearance broke his heart, Jordan asserted. The once gorgeous and svelte, statuesque Marilyn Monroe was frazzled, rotund and portly: she was rapidly falling apart, falling into a human wreck by the summer of 1962: she was no longer the stunning and sublime beauty that enraptured him from a distance in 1943. Her face bore the impacts of her thirty-six years, most of them spent abusing her body carousing the Hollywood bar and party scene while abusing drugs and alcohol, while engaging in indiscriminate sex with both men and women.
Without question, there is evidence on film that contradicts Jordan’s assertions. In fact, Marilyn looked incredibly wonderful and fine in 1962, just before her death. She had lost weight due to gall bladder surgery; and the costume tests for Something’s Got to Give, her nude swimming pool scene and the photographs of that scene taken by Lawrence Schiller, all conclusively disprove Jordan’s ludicrous assertions. One is led to question Jor-dan’s sanity. Maybe he never saw the costume tests for Something’s Got to Give or Schiller’s photographs; but I am one-hundred percent certain that he never saw Marilyn, not in 1962. Still and all, it is more than revealing, in my opinion, that Jordan was more focused on Marilyn’s allegedly spreading derriere than anything else.
Jordan briefly mentioned Marilyn’s associations with the rich and powerful, her association with Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra and the middle Kennedy brothers. Both of the Kennedys, Jordan asserted, promised Marilyn that they would divorce their wives and marry her; but the deranged, aging, bleach-blonde movie star, pathetically approaching the end of her career, was living in a fantasy world, according to Ted Jordan.
According to Jordan’s memoir, he and his former lover were virtually neighbors in August of 1962; but that could not have been the case if he actually lived off Doheny Drive as he asserted. According to Google Maps, the distance from Fifth Helena Drive to Doheny Drive is 7½ miles, certainly not a neighborly distance. Even so, ac-cording to another dubious Jordan anecdote, a kimono-clad Marilyn, lugging a jug of chilled bubbly, walked to his Doheny Drive apartment on Wednesday, August the 1st in 1962, an unusually warm Los Angeles evening. During this unannounced visit to his apartment, Marilyn gave him their treasure chest and their reservoir of memories. She also gave him her Little Red Diary, his assertions regarding which will appear later.
Speaking only for me, of course, I find it hard to believe that Marilyn Monroe, dressed in a kimono and carrying a jug of chilled champagne, from which she apparently took a swig occasionally, actually walked 7½ miles and did not attract any attention, none whatsoever; but then, we must ask ourselves this question: why would she walk that distance? Since humans walk at an average speed of 2½ mph, walking the 7½ miles to Jordan’s apartment would have consumed approximately 3 hours, not to mention another almost 3 hours consumed by her return to Fifth Helena. She had a chauffeured limousine at her disposal, meaning a comfortable ride to Doheny Drive in just a few minutes.
Marilyn’s Wednesday visit ended with an tense argument between the former lovers, prompting her to run home, weeping, champagne jug in hand, with Jordan in hot pursuit. I ran after her, he recalled, but she refused to stop. She went into her place and slammed the door in my face (Jordan 247). Really? Once again, am I to believe that a weeping Marilyn Monroe, running through the streets of Los Angeles for 7½ miles, dressed in a kimono, lugging a bottle of champagne, swigging there from as she ran, would not have attracted at least some interest?
Also, could a severely out-of-shape, frazzled, rotund and portly, rapidly falling apart wreck of a human being, the Marilyn Monroe that Jordan described, could that Marilyn have sprinted 7½ miles without stopping for a rest? Was that physically degraded Marilyn still fleet enough to outrun Jordan? Even if we disregard the obviously silly and apparent contradictions, I doubt that her long distance sprint through the neighborhoods of Los Angeles would have gone unnoticed. And yet, that is exactly what Ted Jordan expected his readers to believe.
Marilyn telephoned Jordan on the evening of August the 4th, or so he claimed. She was already shrouded within the mist of a drug and alcohol induced haze. She telephoned just to say good-bye, she said; and just before hanging up, she advised Jordan to take care of himself. Even though he loved Marilyn with all of his heart and mind and soul, or so he alleged, it never occurred to him that anything might be wrong with her.
The following morning, he learned of Marilyn’s death. He was devastated; he attended her funeral; he wept just like everyone else, or so he claimed. I cannot assert that Jordan did not attend Marilyn’s funeral on the 8th of August. I can state, however, that he was not invited by Joe DiMaggio or Berniece Miracle and no photographs exist that confirm his presence. But then, Ted Jordan, just like Jeanne Carmen, who appears in the following subsection, never produced a photograph or any form of physical evidence to confirm that he even knew Marilyn Monroe or engaged her in the type of relationship he described in his ridiculous and dubious memoir. In fact, just like Robert Slatzer and also Jeanne Carmen, not one of Marilyn’s real friends or confidants ever mentioned Ted Jordan.
One extremely odd feature of Jordan’s memoir, like the memoirs written by Slatzer and Carmen, is the large amount of dialogue that he presents enclosed by quotation marks, all nicely punctuated according to Hoyle with perfect syntax. I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to recall verbatim my conversations from yesterday, much less conversations that happened over forty years in the past; but Jordan could recall even the most intimate details of his conversations with Marilyn and others, some of which are pages in length. Also, all the persons who appear in Jordan’s memoir sound the same and speak with the same cadence, one without hesi-tation or any evidence of uncertainty or situational equivocation. The dialogue in Jordan’s recounting of his memories, obviously, has been completely fabricated, just like all of his anecdotes involving Norma Jeane; and the overall prurience of his outlandish yarn is its most telling feature. It is, after all, a lowbrow coarse scurrilous vulgar boorish and churlish narrative filled to its brim with lurid tales and graphic descriptions of his sexual gymnastics with Marilyn, including her screams of delight. I do not accept a single word of it, not the quoted dialogue and not even one of the anecdotes.
I have read other scurrilous, salacious tales, and parts of a few more, written about the world’s most famous woman, those written by Norman Mailer, Robert Slatzer, Jeanne Carmen, James Bacon, Hans Lembourn, David Conover, Andre de Dienes, June DiMaggio, Lena Pepitone, and to a large extent, Anthony Summers, just to mention a few of the more famous ones. There are others, more recent ones, that rely on sexual sensationalism using dime store journalism, Marilyn at Rainbow’s End: Sex, Lies, Murder and the Great Cover-up, by Darwin Porter, for instance, and Joe and Marilyn: Legends in Love, by C. David Heymann, not to mention Heymann’s Kennedy exposes. Marilyn seems to attract the greedy, the dishonorable and the pathologically dishonest because of her fame and because of the public’s never ending fascination with her. Yankee folding money, greenback dollars can be made by creating a fantasy involving Marilyn. If you are an author, simply consider adding yourself into a sexually alcoholic mixture, add an ample amount of bizarre allegations and fantastic sex with Marilyn, erotically and graphically described, shaken or stirred, it matters not; and perhaps the result will be a dirty martini for literary fame, possibly even wealth. Still and all, Jordan’s preoccupation with Marilyn’s sexuality, her alleged sexual escapades, gives his memories the timber of a teenage boy’s fantasy wet dream and translates his memoir into the realm of pornographic phantasmagoria.
Frankly, I doubt that Ted Jordan actually knew Norma Jeane Dougherty or Marilyn Monroe; but if I could afford him the benefit of a doubt, I would hasten to add this: if he knew them, he did not know them very well and he did not know much at all about their lives. Of course, a majority of the persons who have read or will read Norma Jean: My Secret Life with Marilyn Monroe probably have not and will not perceive as much. Thus, many have believed in the past, believe now, and in the future will believe that Jordan was Marilyn’s close friend, confidant and lover, all three of which are demonstrably false and patently absurd. Arguably, the only reality regarding Jordan’s book is this: the innocently uninformed can be, and are often, unfortunately, easily deceived.