Cassettes 37 & 45: Robin Thorne, George Cukor’s Nurse
I must confess to a certain confusion regarding Robin Thorne’s testimony, both its content and its purpose. What does the testimony actually reveal? Additionally, the testimony is not exactly accurate.
If George Cukor, who directed Let’s Make Love along with Marilyn’s final but incomplete movie, actually thought very highly of Marilyn, he chose an odd manner of exhibition. According to biographer, Gary Vitacco-Robles, Cukor engaged in an act of sabotage while filming Something’s Got to Give: the director told Fox executives, after watching prints of Marilyn’s scenes, he considered her acting inferior: she absentmindedly floated through her performance, Cukor asserted, on a drug or an alcohol induced cloud, possibly both. Cukor’s sabotage, combined with Marilyn’s frequent absence from the set due to illness, and her appearance at President Kennedy’s May 1962 birthday gala, prompted Fox to terminate her employment. Citing breach of contract, the studio sued both Marilyn and Marilyn Monroe Productions for financial redress in the amount of $750K.
What followed was a scorched Earth attack by 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation against the movie star that had earned the movie makers many piles of money; and based on evidence that was hidden by Fox in a vault for practically four decades, nine hours of exposed film and production documents, the studio’s campaign to ruin Marilyn’s career, using any and all means available, including false accusations and labeling her completely insane, was unnecessary and unsupported by all the evidence available at that time; but following two weeks of defending their decision to fire Marilyn, Fox withdrew their law suit and quietly reinstated her, partly due to intervention by former studio head Darryl Zanuck, but primarily because Dean Martin, the male lead and Marilyn’s friend, refused to proceed without her. Martin would not make the movie with any other actress. Marilyn finally agreed to return to the movie sets starting in October, for which the studio agreed to more than double her salary. She wanted George Cukor replaced with Jean Negulesco, who had directed How to Marry a Millionaire. The studio agreed; but unfortunately, due to Marilyn’s untimely death, she never returned to the sets of Something’s Got to Give.
Cassette 18B: Angie Novello
According to the accepted mythology involving Marilyn and her telephones, the attorney general, once he suc-cumbed to romance, provided the actress with an exclusive telephone number, a private line directly into his office at the DOJ. They talked constantly, walked around with sixties vintage telephone receivers hooked to their mouths and their ears. As usual, not one tiny fragment of evidence ever existed that confirmed such silliness; but that fact did not matter to the many authors that promoted the private telephone line mythology. The well-known fact that Marilyn and Robert Kennedy conversed via the national telephone wires became proof that the celebrities were lovers and gave the conspiracist writers another way for a heartless Robert Kennedy to reject and humiliate his movie star paramour―he extinguished her private line―gave an angry Marilyn another reason to retaliate, to dramatically pursue the attorney general, to threaten her former lover’s exposure in the press. Angie Novello’s twenty seconds worth of testimony established for Summers that actress and attorney general communicated by telephone; but it must be noted that Angie intercepted the telephone calls routed to the attorney general through the DOJ’s switchboard, RE7-8200. If Marilyn knew Robert Kennedy’s private number, why didn’t she use it?―an obvious question never posed by Summers or any other conspiracist.
With the release of Marilyn’s 1962 telephone records for the months of April through July, the ones allegedly confiscated and then destroyed by the LAPD, the FBI and the SS, Marilyn placed a grand total of six telephone calls to Washington, DC, to the above noted Justice Department number. She called RE7-8200 initially on June the 25th, twice on July the 2nd, once on July the 16th and twice on July the 17th. Three of her conversations lasted one minute, two lasted two minutes and one of her July the 2nd conversations lasted five minutes. According to Donald Spoto, Marilyn used the call of June the 25th to confirm that Robert Kennedy would be at the Lawfords’ on Wednesday evening [June 27th] and to invite him and the Lawfords to visit her home for a drink before dinner. During that call, Marilyn spoke with Angie Novello. Not one person alive today knows the identity of the person to whom Marilyn spoke during the other calls to the Justice Department; but more than likely, that person was Angie Novello.
Many of Robert Kennedy’s friends and advisers over the years confirmed that the attorney general and Marilyn were telephone buddies. Edwin Guthman confirmed that Marilyn called the DOJ several times over the summer of 1962 and spoke with Robert Kennedy, who was interested in Marilyn’s life and her many problems. According to Guthman, the attorney general was not a man inclined to chit chat or idle talk with anybody; and so his telephone conversations with Marilyn were invariably short and concise. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. also confirmed that Marilyn called the attorney general, noting that Marilyn usually called Robert Kennedy when she was troubled and also noting that Angie Novello, who, I repeat, intercepted Marilyn’s telephone calls, talked to the actress more than the attorney general.
During a 1984 interview, Angie stated that the attorney general always accepted Marilyn’s telephone calls, if he was not occupied; and if he was occupied, he returned her calls as soon as he could, if time allowed. Marilyn was, after all, Marilyn Monroe! Angie also remarked during the interview that Robert Kennedy was a sympathetic person, aware of Marilyn’s many problems. He was also an excellent listener. In Angie’s opinion, that is exactly what Marilyn needed the most: a sympathetic ear. The content of those conversations between Marilyn and the attorney general remain unknown; but they are often characterized, by those with a vested interest, as impas-sioned conversations between impassioned lovers, as if those offering such a characterization actually know or knew, as if they, too, were involved in the dialogue flying with the speed of light from coast to coast.
Finally, Angie also remarked that actress and singer Judy Garland was a close friend with whom the attorney general spoke frequently, but not one person has ever suggested that they were involved in a love affair. Why is that so? The answer is obvious.
Cassette Unnumbered: Natalie Trundy
The evening of August the 4th in 1962 was slightly cooler than normal; so Arthur Jacobs, Marilyn’s publicist, along with his fiancé, the actress Natalie Trundy, attended a Ferrante and Teicher concert in the Hollywood Bowl. According to Natalie, just before the concert was scheduled to end at 11:00 PM, an usher arrived and informed Jacobs that Marilyn was either dead or close to death. Therefore, according to Natalie’s account, Marilyn died sometime prior to or slightly after 11:00 PM on August the 4th.
According to Natalie, Jacobs left almost immediately, drove to Fifth Helena Drive where he conferred with some persons who were already at the hacienda. Jacobs left the hacienda only after a few minutes of conversation. A few days later, Arthur told Natalie that the situation at Fifth Helena Drive was horrendous. Natalie admitted to Donald Spoto that Jacobs never provided any details, commenting only that it was too dreadful to discuss; and Natalie never asked for details: her knowledge of what transpired that morning was, therefore, limited, an inar-guable fact.
I would be remiss if I failed to note that Natalie Trundy’s testimony qualified as hearsay that could not be corrob-orated by interviewing Arthur Jacobs: he died from a sudden heart attack in 1973.
Cassette Unnumbered and 126A: Ken Hunter and Walt Schaefer (respectively)
The tape recording of Ken Hunter was not the product of an interview conducted by Anthony Summers. The district attorney’s lead investigator, Al Tomich, conducted the Hunter interview; but Summers did not make that fact perfectly clear before he played the tape. The Hunter interview, and then Walt Schaefer’s interview generally began an unfolding of what has come to be designated The Ambulance Theory. During the years following Mari-lyn’s death, this theory has been continually retold and has been reshaped with each retelling. It has appeared in many complex iterations, involving many persons: Peter Lawford, Pat Newcomb, Dr. Ralph Greenson, and in one imaginative scenario, the attorney general, who, along with Peter Lawford, rode in the ambulance with the dying movie star, only to be returned, along with the movie star’s corpse, to Fifth Helena Drive.
However, Summers’ presentation of The Ambulance Theory clearly indicated that Ken Hunter, former ambulance man, contacted the Los Angeles County District Attorney. Ken Hunter, along with Walt Schaefer, became parts of the theory’s evolution, but Hunter was not the first former ambulance man to contact the district attorney; and in fact, Ken Hunter did not contact the district attorney’s office. Even though Summers did not provide any context relative to calendar dates, the initial contact with the LADA’s office arrived in 1982 at the start of the threshold re-investigation into Marilyn’s death. The former ambulance man asserted that his name was Rick Stone. Eventually, Stone revealed that his actual name was James Hall, a desperate man on a pecuniary mission. Hall needed to rescue his family from financial troubles by selling a Marilyn Monroe story that involved him and an ambulance. The former ambulance man asserted that he would share his astonishing ambulance story with the district attorney’s investigators only if appropriately compensated for any incurred expenses. More about Ken Hunter and James Hall will appear later.
Cassette HH: John Sherlock
Evidently, John Sherlock was a reporter. In Goddess, Anthony Summers identified his source as such: Significant corroboration that an ambulance was called came following the publication of this book’s first edition from reporter named John Sherlock. Sherlock also appeared in the book that closed Marilyn’s case, written by Jay Margolis and Richard Buskin. They identified Sherlock as an American writer and noted that a documentary featuring Anthony Summers surprisingly endorsed Walt Schaefer’s and Murray Leib’s original testimony via a key player the night [Marilyn] died. American writer John Sherlock relayed what his friend Dr. Greenson had told him. The television tabloid program, Hard Copy, known for its use of dubious material, produced the referenced documentary in 1992.
Amazon lists four books written by a John Sherlock, published during a seven year interval between 1981 and 1988. However, Amazon does not have any information about the writer; and I have not been able to learn any-thing at all about John Sherlock, which means I have not been able to confirm, as alleged by Margolis and Buskin, that Sherlock was, in fact, Dr. Greenson’s friend. Despite the concussive quality of Sherlock’s testimony, it is gross hearsay; and Sherlock is not mentioned in any of books about Marilyn in my possession other than the two mentioned above. Not even Donald Wolfe, who often repeated hearsay testimony, mentioned Sherlock. Perhaps Sherlock’s hearsay was even too gross for Wolfe.
I admit that I am a skeptical person; and regarding stories about Marilyn Monroe’s death, I am a complete, almost a querulous cynic, primarily because I have uncovered more fabrications, prevarications, contradictions, and downright lies about that sad event than Carter’s got little liver pills. So, I am more than incredulous when I read or hear secondhand, uncorroborated statements, particularly one purporting that Dr. Ralph Greenson, while seated at a table during a luncheon in 1964, or thereabouts, simply volunteered, admitted that he was in an am-bulance transporting Marilyn to a hospital when she died and that the ambulance merely reversed course and returned Marilyn’s corpse to her bed at 12305 Fifth Helena Drive, unquestionably a story that should have generated several hundred questions never asked by either Sherlock or Summers. I’ll pose but one: did Dr. Greenson whisper his story to Sherlock so any person seated nearby would not hear it?
Cassette 18A: Bill Woodfield
Photo-journalist Bill Woodfield was an acquaintance of Marilyn’s. She invited him to photograph the swimming pool scene on the set of Something’s Got to Give, Marilyn’s final but unfinished movie. Woodfield and another photo-journalist, Joe Hyams, also an acquaintance of Marilyn’s, doubted that she had committed suicide, or Woodfield so alleged; and as a result of their doubt, the photo-journalists claimed that they investigated the circumstances surrounding the movie star’s death, an investigation that included a retired police officer. A rumor that a helicopter had been dispatched to and landed on Santa Monica beach early Sunday morning, August the 5th, prompted the investigation. Certainly an abbreviated one, the investigation endured for slightly more than three days.
Woodfield claimed that he saw a helicopter log when, on August the 8th, the day of Marilyn’s funeral, he visited Hal Conners Helicopter Service, a service frequently employed by Peter Lawford and other celebrities. The random act of journalism, for which Summers expressed his respect during Woodfield’s interview, was the purported discovery of that log. There is only one problem: Woodfield did not obtain a copy of the mysterious log. It has never been published. It has never been seen by anyone other than Bill Woodfield. There is no tangible evidence or verifiable proof of any kind that this helicopter log ever existed.
Additionally, in Goddess, Summers noted that the rented helicopter landed to collect a passenger and then to deliver that passenger to the main Los Angeles airport. According to Woodfield, the log clearly confirmed Robert Kennedy’s presence in Los Angeles on August the 4th and his departure from Santa Monica Beach by helicopter during the early morning hours of August the 5th. Clearly confirmed? How precisely? Not at any time did Summers or Woodfield, or anybody else for that matter, assert unequivocally that Robert Kennedy’s name was written on that helicopter log. It appears as if Woodfield or Summers made a quantum leap from passenger to Robert Kennedy. Either the photo-journalist or Summers simply wanted Robert Kennedy to be the passenger.
Additionally, the testimony attributed to Woodfield in the 1985 version of Goddess is appreciably and suspiciously different than the testimony attributed to Woodfield in the 2012 version. Also, none of Woodfield’s taped testi-mony, as presented in the Netflix movie, appeared in the 1985 version of Goddess; and according to Summers’ source notes, he interviewed Woodfield in 1983 and 1984. Furthermore, Based on Summers’ 2012 source notes, the investigative journalist did not re-interview his photo-journalist source following the original interviews; and Woodfield died twenty-one years ago.
In the 1985 version of Goddess, Summers quoted Woodfield as follows: The time in the log was sometime after midnight―I think between midnight and two in the morning. The booking is a blur in my memory now, but it was definitely in the name of either Lawford or Kennedy (emphasis mine). Odd use of the word definitely, at least in my opinion, considering that Woodfield’s recollection was definitely not definite; but then, according to Goddess 2012, Woodfield reported this: The time in the log was sometime after midnight―I think between midnight and two in the morning. It showed clearly that a helicopter had picked up Robert Kennedy at the Santa Monica Beach. Odd. Why the difference. No attempt to explain or account for the contradictory statements Summers attributed to Bill Woodfield; and I repeat: Woodfield died twenty-one years ago. Furthermore, why did Summers exclude the testimony of Woodfield’s partner, Joe Hyams? The author’s source notes indicated that he interviewed Hyams in 1983, 1984 and 1985. Did Summers fail to tape record Woodfield’s partner? Likewise, Summers asserted in God-dess that he interviewed the retired policeman who assisted Woodfield and Hyams with their investigation; but Summers did not reveal anything at all about the policeman’s testimony, neither in Goddess nor the Netflix movie. We are left to speculate regarding why Summers excluded the policeman’s pertinent testimony.
The story appertaining to Conners’ helicopter log is complex, convoluted and lengthy and involves two other chopper pilots who flew for Connors in 1962, James Zonlick and Ed Connelly. Zonlick was Conners’ chief pilot. During Summers’ interviews with both pilots, they repeated for Summers what they recalled Conners had told them in 1962. According to Zonlick, Conners stated that he had picked-up Robert Kennedy at Santa Monica Beach and delivered him to the Los Angeles International Airport. Ed Connelly testified only that Conners talked about landing on the beach without the aid of landing lights. Summers then reported that Zonlick could not re-member the exact date of the Robert Kennedy flight Conners had mentioned; and likewise, Connelly could not pin point the date of the flight that Conners had mentioned to him. So the exact dates of those flights have never been confirmed; and by the time Summers interviewed Zonlick and Connelly, Hal Conners was already dead. Zon-lick believed, however, that the trip to collect and deliver Robert Kennedy occurred during the right time frame, probably during the latter half of 1962, meaning what, exactly, that Conners might have flown Robert Kennedy during the months of June, July, August, September, October, November or December of the correct year? Not exactly compelling evidence or proof that the Conners’ flight with Robert Kennedy actually occurred on August the 5th in 1962.
At any rate, the pull quote from Woodfield’s taped testimony is this: Find out where Bobby Kennedy was that weekend. Well, in fact, Summers did find out where the attorney general was that weekend; but those niggling facts do not appear in the Netflix movie. Those facts will appear in this commentary later; but now, suffer a brief biography of Bill Woodfield.
Woodfield’s first true love was magic along with hypnosis. In 1946, at the age of eighteen, the fledgling magician and hypnotist founded a newsletter that he described as a trade paper for magicians, Woodfield’s Magicana. He only published two issues. In September of 1947, The Conjuror’s Magazine featured a condensed version of Woodfield’s first two issues; and then from January of 1948 until April of 1949, Genii Magazine featured a total of sixteen articles written by Woodfield. It became painfully clear that he could not support himself with magic or hypnosis, so he turned to photography as the mid-fifties approached, a profession he left in the mid-sixties when he began to write for several television series, the most important of which was Mission: Impossible. Along with his writing partner, Allan Balter, Woodfield has been credited with changing the story lines of Mission: Im-possible while also incorporating scams and complex cons into the methods used by agents of the Impossible Missions Force to defeat their adversaries. The Big Con, written by David Maurer, became a guide for Woodfield and Balter as they prepared plot lines and scripts. A con devotee, Woodfield often referred to himself as an ap-prentice cheat, meaning a con artist in training. It is entirely possible, I suggest, that Bill Woodfield’s helicopter log story was a scam, his version of the big con, keeping in mind, once again, that the helicopter log has never been published, has never been seen.
Cassette 77: Harry Hall
Summers identified Harry Hall as a Law Enforcement Informant, as if that title suggested a category of profes-sional endeavor that a fellow might declare on a job application. Former Employer: Law Enforcement. Position: Informant. While at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January the 24th in 1984, Summers interviewed law enforcement’s informant. Summers wanted to learn if Hall had learned anything about Bobby Kennedy’s movements the week-end Marilyn died? Hall replied that he had heard, on good authority, that the Saturday that this happened—the day Marilyn died—Bobby had come into town. Bobby was in town and supposedly left. And when I say I heard it, I heard it from a federal agent, an FBI agent that neither Hall nor Summers deigned to identify (emphasis mine).
Summers questioned Hall regarding a possible FBI investigation into Marilyn’s death. Did the FBI investigate what actually happened? What the FBI performed, according to Hall, was not an investigation as much as it was a hush-hush, a cover-up orchestrated by Robert Kennedy: He was the Attorney General of the United States, Hall reported, so he could have the FBI do anything. Besides, the attorney general had to protect the president, and as a result, they had done everything to hush this up. One question: if Robert Kennedy could have FBI agents jump at his beck and call, do anything for him, why, then, did he and Pete Lawford need to rely on Fred Otash, as is often reported, to sweep clean, to sanitize Marilyn’s hacienda?
Summers used the preceding tactic throughout Goddess, repeating hearsay testimony from Los Angeles Police Department informants while also relying on persons of authority, former mayors, for instance, police chiefs or others identified as agents of various authorities, to repeat hearsay testimony; and just like the testimony of-fered by Harry Hall, none of Summers’ other testifiers could offer a firsthand sighting of Robert Kennedy in Los Angeles on August the 4th in 1962. There is an invariably ignored but nonetheless overwhelming reason why, which I will discuss later. Also, not only was the testimony offered by Harry Hall hearsay, it represents an illogic, one that appeared in the testimony of both Reed Wilson and Jim Doyle, whose testimony will appear in sections following hereafter.
Cassette 28: Reed Wilson
The taped testimony of Reed Wilson was presented by Summers, and his Netflix producers, primarily to confirm two aspects pertaining to Marilyn’s purportedly mysterious case: 1) Fred Otash procured dozens of salacious tape recordings on which Marilyn and the middle Kennedy brothers could be heard engaging in sexual activity; and 2) Robert Kennedy traveled to Los Angeles on August the 4th in 1962.
According to Summers’ exposition, he was advised on more than one occasion that he needed to have a confab-ulation with Reed Wilson, renowned in government and business circles as one terrific snoop; and yet, Reed Wilson’s name does not appear anywhere in the Marilyn canon, not in her legitimate biographies and not in the many publications that promoted a murder orthodoxy, at least, perhaps I should clarify and qualify, not that I have been able to discover. For an example, though, Matthew Smith, who wrote two books about Marilyn, and her secret tapes, did not mention Reed Wilson. Additionally and remarkably, in the 2012 Kindle edition of Goddess, Reed Wilson does not even receive a friendly doxing. Anthony Summers did not mention Wilson, either. We are left to ponder why? To maintain secrecy? Reed Wilson was still among the living in 2012, living in Solvang, California, at the age of eighty-three years. By that time, Marilyn had been dead for fifty years, John Kennedy for forty-nine and Robert Kennedy for forty-four. Virtually all of the principle characters in the Marilyn death saga had been dead for many years. Reed Wilson lived until 2015.
Of course, the main problem with Wilson’s testimony is his assertion regarding Robert Kennedy’s location on that Saturday in 1962. While Wilson did not assert that the attorney general visited Marilyn, he asserted that Robert Kennedy telephoned Marilyn from Peter Lawford’s beach house; but then, the following question seems more than pertinent: why would Marilyn’s former lover travel to Los Angeles only to telephone her from Peter Lawford’s beach house? He could have telephoned her from Washington or Hyannisport or Nome, Alaska. At any rate, Robert Kennedy’s location on that Saturday is more than just a niggling issue for Anthony Summers and one he chose to ignore. That ignored issue will appear again later.
Cassette 93B: Eunice Murray
The taped testimony offered by Eunice Murray, at least the testimony included by Summers, appeared to confirm that Robert Kennedy visited Marilyn on August the 4th; but did Marilyn’s housekeeper actually say that? Well, no she did not. Summers did not ask Eunice if Robert Kennedy visited on August the 4th: the term the author used was that day, along with that afternoon. We know that Robert Kennedy visited Marilyn, accompanied by Pat and Peter Lawford, on the 27th of June in 1962. Eunice Murray recounted the attorney general’s brief visit on that Wednesday for biographer Donald Spoto: the Lawfords arrived at Fifth Helena that afternoon to collect Marilyn, and Robert Kennedy was with them: Marilyn wanted them to see her new home. After a brief tour of Marilyn’s humble hacienda, the group proceeded to the Lawford’s beachside mansion for a dinner party. That June visit, residential tour and dinner party was the fourth and final meeting of Bobby and Marilyn. The rumor of a fifth meeting at Fifth Helena Drive, based on an unsubstantiated story by the photographer Lawrence Schiller, has never been confirmed.
Even though Mrs. Murray asserted that the Kennedys were a very important part of Marilyn’s life, an assessment that can be interpreted many ways, Mrs. Murray also admitted that she wasn’t included in this information. To what information was she referring? If she lacked information, how could she know just how important the middle Kennedy brothers were to Marilyn, despite being a witness to what was happening. And what exactly was happening? Evidently, Anthony Summers did not ask Mrs. Murray for any specifics and she did not volunteer any. Likewise, her comment pertaining to the activation of Robert Kennedy’s protectors was equally vague and lacked specificity; but apparently, though, vagueness was what Summers wanted. Vagueness allowed ample space for his viewer’s imaginations to plug any holes with their own speculations. Additionally, the taped testimony offered by Summers did not represent the totality of Mrs. Murray’s statements about Marilyn and Robert Kennedy. Those specific declarations will appear later in this commentary.
Cassette 106: Jim Doyle
James Edward Doyle began his career with the FBI following WWII. He received special training at Quantico, Virginia, which prepared him to function as an Organized Crime Specialist. According to his obituary in the Cap-ital Journal, Pierre, South Dakota, where Doyle was born and raised, he spent most of his FBI career in Indiana and Illinois, and then later, in Nevada and New Mexico. In 1979, While serving in the FBI’s Albuquerque Office, he retired from the FBI and founded his own investigative company, James Edward Doyle Investigation (JEDI). After operating JEDI for twenty-nine years, Doyle retired and relocated to Henderson, Nevada. He died in 2019 at the age of ninety-four. His obituary noted: Jim’s FBI stories with the likes of Frank Sinatra, JFK, William Randolph Hearst, and Marilyn Monroe, to name a few, could be made into movies! His friends considered Jim to be the best storyteller ever. Sadly, the forty seconds of Doyle’s taped testimony that Summers selectively included in his Marilyn movie did not include any of Doyle’s movie-worthy stories, the ones involving JFK and Marilyn. We are left to wonder about those stories: with what could the best storyteller ever have regaled us?
Summers posed the following question to Doyle: As far as the actual records being removed, you were aware of that from your colleagues (emphasis mine)? Doyle answered: O yeah. Yes. This happened. Doyle did not offer any exposition, and Summers did not ask about the nature of the removed records. Also, based on Summers’ question and Doyle’s response, it is clear that the FBI agent learned about the alleged record removal from his colleagues. Summers, therefore, passively accepted hearsay testimony, possibly even second or third hand hear-say; but Doyle’s closing statements raise many pertinent questions: I was there at the time when she died, an assertion that can only be interpreted one way. Jim Doyle was inside Marilyn’s hacienda at the moment of the movie star’s death, certainly an incredibly explosive assertion that Summers evidently did not even pursue. Why? But then Doyle reported an equally explosive occurrence: There were some people there that normally wouldn’t have been there. Agents, bureau people. Doyle did not mention any names, and Summers did not pose any pro-bing questions. Was J. Edgar Hoover there? Clyde Tolson? Who was there? Doyle then informed Summers that these bureau people, who normally would not have been there, due to their elevated position in Hoover’s fiefdom, one assumes, arrived immediately, before anybody even realized what had happened, one of the more remarkable assertions I’ve ever heard about the night of Marilyn’s death; and I’ve heard some real doozies. Summers’ lack of curiosity regarding what Doyle actually asserted was and is remarkable, to say the least.
Summers included Doyle’s testimony as confirmation that people, agents, bureau people materialized at Fifth Helena Drive in order to confiscate information that compromised the middle Kennedy brothers, proved that they were romantically and sexually involved with the World’s Sex Symbol; but a major illogic is lurking in the testimony of both James Doyle and Harry Hall.
Certainly, during the last nine months of her life, Marilyn associated with the middle Kennedy brothers and they with her. She initially met Robert Kennedy at a well-attended Lawford’s dinner party. As was well-known, Marilyn and the attorney general talked on the telephone several times during the summer of 1962. The actress initially met the president at a thousand dollar a plate fund raiser in Manhattan. Then, observed by Bing Crosby’s other guests and the Secret Service, for one night in late March of 1962, Marilyn and John Kennedy shared a bungalow on the crooner’s desert estate. Marilyn and the president met one last time in May at Madison Square Garden where Marilyn delivered her sultry rendition of “Happy Birthday to You.” Several members of the Kennedy clan attended the president’s birthday gala, including Robert and Ethel Kennedy, accompanied by a large live audience of fifteen-thousand. Other celebrities also performed that Saturday night; members of the press were there; and more than a few television stations reported on the Manhattan event in real time. In short, Marilyn’s association with John Kennedy and his younger brother was a well-known fact; and no amount of documentation could have been removed from Marilyn’s hacienda after she died to alter that fact, alter that reality: rumors of romantic entanglements had already began to circulate even before Marilyn’s death.
As far as I know, the middle Kennedy brothers never commented publicly on Marilyn’s tragic end. Their silence has been used as evidence that each brother was guilty of having an affair with the world’s symbol of easy sex; but then, in 1962, the president’s job did not include acting as a bureaucratic ointment available to soothe the anxieties caused by every tragedy that occurred. Certainly the president and the attorney general knew that anything they said about Marilyn’s death would have been promptly misconstrued, would only have served as a potent fertilizer fomenting more suspicion, speculation and rumor. Besides, they and their advisors also must have known this old idiom: you cannot unring a bell.
Furthermore, the fact that Tony Summers included the statements of Harry Hall and James Doyle about the FBI allegedly covering up Robert Kennedy’s part in the death of Marilyn Monroe showed a lack of balance plus an eagerness to accept the most illogical and ahistorical kind of testimony. For instance, that somehow there were FBI agents on the scene of her home in the early morning hours of August the 5th, which no credible author has ever noted. But the idea that J. Edgar Hoover would go to such lengths in order to protect the middle Kennedy brothers over something like a conspiracy to conceal a ruinous affair runs contra to just about all we know about Hoover. FBI Counter-intelligence chief William Sullivan, for one, said his boss, J. Edgar Hoover, tried to inflame rumors about an affair between Bobby Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. The problem was, neither the boss nor his minions could find any evidence of an affair.
Why did Hoover want to do this? Because Bobby Kennedy was the only attorney general who actually acted like he was Hoover’s boss. He could do this since his brother was the president, and Hoover knew they did not want him there anyway. For instance, Hoover wanted to do next to nothing on civil rights, but Bobby Kennedy ordered him to. But even at that, Hoover would not reveal undercover information that could have prevented bloody violence during the Freedom Rides. (See Irving Bernstein, Promises Kept, p. 64)
When President Kennedy went up against steel executives in 1962, FBI agents served the subpoenas in the wee hours of the morning. Not because Bobby wanted them to, but because that was when he called Hoover. But Hoover would have done neither activity on his own. He was a racist, and also beholden to wealthy patrons. Hoover got back at the Kennedys by doing things like spreading rumors about the president and Ellen Rometsch, a reputed East German spy working out of Washington. When ace researcher Peter Vea discovered the raw FBI reports on Rometsch, there was nothing in there about an affair between her and the president; and what is the denouement to this tale: as everyone knows, once John Kennedy was assassinated, Hoover pulled the private telephone line out of Bobby’s office. The testimony of Hall and Doyle is rather at odds with this record.
On an unlucky Friday in 1982, August the 13th, just as the LADA started its threshold re-investigation into Marilyn’s death, Deputy District Attorney, Ronald H. Carroll, received a telephone call from a man who had a story to tell, and ultimately a story the caller hoped to sell. Rick Stone, as the caller then identified himself, inquired if the LADA might be interested in purchasing some information about the death of Marilyn Monroe. The re-investigation’s summary report, published in December of 1982, clarified that Stone initially contacted the district attorney’s office on Wednesday, August the 11th; and thereafter, using the Rick Stone code name, he telephonically contacted this office several times. Ultimately, he attempted to sell information to the District Attor-ney’s Office relating to his observations at the death scene on the morning of August 5, 1962, at Marilyn Monroe’s home. Eventually, Rick Stone disclosed his actual name, James Hall, a former ambulance attendant who had driven for the Schaefer Ambulance Service in 1962.
According to Hall’s narrative, he and his partner, Murray Liebowitz had been dispatched to Marilyn’s hacienda during the early morning on August the 5th, twenty years earlier, sometime between the hours of 4:00 and 6:00 AM. When he and Liebowitz arrived, Hall informed Ronald Carroll, Marilyn was still alive but very near eternity. Once Hall and Liebowitz began their resuscitation efforts, she started to respond. Then a doctor appeared and ordered Hall and his partner to stop. From his black bag, the doctor produced a long hypodermic and injected Marilyn directly into her heart with an unknown liquid, which immediately killed her. Such was the explosive story James Hall relayed to the deputy district attorney; but as explosive as it was, Carroll declined to pay Hall for his testimony. So Hall sold his story to The Globe, then a supermarket tabloid, for $40K. In fact, obtaining payment for his ambulance yarn was Hall’s primary goal, a fact confirmed by recorded telephone conversations between Hall, Ronald Carroll and Alan Tomich, Carroll’s lead investigator. As an aside, $40K is approximately equal to $123K in today’s currency.
Walt Schaefer initially contradicted Hall’s story and denied that the attendant even worked for Schaefer Ambu-lance Service; but Walt eventually recanted his refusal and acknowledged Hall’s employment. He told the fib, he explained, because he feared the all-powerful Kennedy clan would retaliate and ruin his thriving ambulance business. The ambulance service owner also initially testified that the attendants dispatched that night in Au-gust were, in fact, Ken Hunter and Murray Liebowitz. Obviously hoping to unravel what was becoming a com-plicated tale, the LADA located Ken Hunter and obtained his testimony. According to the Summary Report: Since Mr. Hall’s statements have surfaced, another person, a Mr. Ken Hunter, has been located who claims to have been an ambulance driver who responded to the Monroe residence in the early morning hours of August 5, 1962.
In the Netflix movie, Summers asserted that he had learned about Ken Hunter, former ambulance man, who had contacted the district attorney’s office, and he said that he’d been aboard an ambulance that had gone to Marilyn Monroe’s house that night. Hunter’s story appeared to corroborate Walt Schaefer’s story: one of Schaefer’s ambu-lances had transported a comatose Marilyn Monroe to Santa Monica Hospital during the early morning hours of August the 5th. But, as I stated earlier, Ken Hunter was not the first former ambulance man to contact the district attorney; and in fact, Ken Hunter did not actually contact the district attorney’s office, as asserted by Summers, not ever. As I stated above, James Hall contacted Ronald Carroll, who was in charge of the 1982 threshold re-investigation into Marilyn’s death. Also, Summers and Netflix presented an incomplete, only a small fraction of the Hunter/LADA interview and conversation. What follows is a transcription of the interview as presented in the Netflix movie:
LADA: What happened?
Hunter: What do you mean?
LADA: Did you go into the house?
LADA: Did you see Monroe’s body?
Hunter: Yeah. She was on the bed.
LADA: Do you recall if she was on her back or her stomach?
LADA: She was on her side.
What follows is a transcription of the actual Hunter/Tomich interview:
Tomich: What happened?
Hunter: What do you mean?
Tomich: I mean what occurred?
Hunter: Well, I don’t know. Nothing really occurred. She was dead and they wouldn’t let us take her.
The morgue came and took her.
Tomich: Did you go into the house?
Hunter: Yeah. I believe so.
Tomich: Did you see Monroe’s body?
Tomich: Where was it at the time?
Hunter: Umm. She was on the bed. Hanging off the bed … something … I don’t recall.
Tomich: Do you recall if she was on her back or her stomach?
Tomich: She was on her side.
Hunter: Yeah. I believe she was on her side. Umm. Yeah, it seems to me she was on her side.
Tomich: Did either one of you touch her body?
Hunter: No, I didn’t.
Tomich: Do you know if your partner did?
Hunter: Seems to me he did.
Tomich: Do you know what he did?
Hunter: He checked her just to see if she was dead or what and I think she was … I think she was pretty
cold at that time … Well, she was blue and then … the throat you know like she … like I said that
she’d been laying there a while, you know what I mean?
Tomich: She was blue. Any particular portion of her body?
Hunter: Umm I think … I don’t … I don’t really remember if it was her neck or her side, you know. that she
was laying on or what it … but it seemed to me like—well, let’s put it this way: I could stand across
the room and tell that she was dead.
Tomich: OK. Umm. Let me relate a story to you that we’ve received information from a person that … an
ambulance attendant was summoned to the residence … when the ambulance attendant and his
partner arrived the only person there was a female standing outside screaming and that the
attendant went in and found Marilyn Monroe on the bed, removed her from the bed and began CPR
or closed chest message and that in the process of doing this that she started to come around
and, you know, regain consciousness and a doctor came in and plunged a needle into the area of
her heart and thereafter pronounced her dead. Does that sound familiar at all?
Hunter: Well, that’s bullshit.
Obviously, the tape as presented by Summers and Netflix was an edited version; and also obviously, according to Hunter, the story related by James Hall and, by extension, also Walt Schaefer, was bullshit; and during his inter-view with Vernon Scott, published by the Associated Press on October the 5th in 1985, Milt Ebbins asserted that the story of an ambulance arriving which transported Marilyn to the hospital was a complete fiction. Even though Ken Hunter could not remember the exact time that he and Liebowitz arrived at Fifth Helena, when they did, the COPs had already arrived and Marilyn had already expired. The police would not let them take Marilyn’s body. It is important to note here that California statute prohibits an ambulance from transporting a corpse; and Hunter clearly stated that the morgue came and took her. Hunter’s reference to the morgue’s arrival suggests, that while he and his partner were there, morticians Don and Guy Hockett arrived to collect Marilyn’s body. Therefore, Hunter and his partner arrived at Fifth Helena either slightly before or slightly after 5:45 AM. Eventually, however, Ken Hunter and his partner departed in an empty ambulance.
In the Netflix movie, Summers asserted: And what’s more I found no less than seven members of Schaefer Ambu-lance who corroborated the notion that she had been carried that night (emphasis mine). Once again, the word notion suggests an imprecise recollection. And yet, Summers did not present the testimony of even one of the seven and did not reveal who those seven members of Schaefer Ambulance might have been, meaning, of course, their alleged corroborative statements about a notion could not be investigated.
Finally, the real ambulance yarn was the product of James Hall’s imagination, not the imagination of Ken Hunter; but, since Summers did not delve into Hall’s fabrication, neither will I. One significant fact should be clear, though, The Ambulance Theory as presented by Anthony Summers and Netflix was neither complete nor exactly accurate. In fact, Summers use the of Ken Hunter’s testimony to confirm Walt Schaefer’s assertion, that Marilyn’s body was removed from her house and transported to a local hospital by an ambulance that night, put an ellipti-cal twist on the actual fact that Ken Hunter’s testimony directly contradicted James Hall’s testimony; but, if I might be allowed to employ a form of paralipsis, I will not mention that Hunter’s testimony directly contradicted Walt Schaefer’s testimony as well
On Friday afternoon in Chicago, August the 3rd, Robert Kennedy boarded an American Airlines flight in Chicago connecting from Washington, DC. The attorney general joined his wife, Ethel, and his four eldest children, Kathleen, eleven years old, Joseph II, ten years old, Robert Jr., eight years old, and David, seven years old. The American flight proceeded to San Francisco where the Bates family awaited their weekend guests. John Bates, Sr. then drove the group southeast from San Francisco to Gilroy, a pleasant two hour and fifteen minute drive into the picturesque Santa Cruz Mountains. From Gilroy they drove an additional twenty minutes west to the Bates Ranch located just north of Mount Madonna. The Kennedy family spent the entire weekend with the Bates family on their bucolic ranch. The preceding account is an irrefutable fact.
Also on the flight was the FBI’s liaison to the attorney general, Courtney A. Evans. An FBI file no. 77-51387-300, written by Evans, memorialized the Kennedy’s weekend excursion: The Attorney General and his family spent the weekend at the Bates ranch located about sixty miles south of San Francisco. This was strictly a personal affair. Evans noted as well that he continued into San Francisco once the attorney general and his family were on their way to Gilroy. How the Bates family and the Kennedy family occupied themselves during the remainder of Friday has never been revealed. Also, there are no indications that other FBI agents were on the American flight from Chicago to San Francisco.
In the 1985 print version of Goddess, Summers mentioned the Kennedy family’s visit to the Gilroy ranch; but exactly how the families occupied themselves on Saturday, August the 4th, would not be revealed for eight years, appearing finally in Donald Spoto’s 1993 publication. Individuals at the Bates ranch on Saturday testified that the families rose early; and after a hearty breakfast, a group that included Robert Kennedy occupied themselves by riding horses to Mt. Madonna. That equine jaunt, according the John Bates, Sr., consumed most of the morning. They returned to the ranch where the afternoon included a BBQ, swimming and a game of touch football. Due to the ranch’s rolling, hilly terrain, the participants had to locate a spot with a relatively level topography. That search required a group hike up to the top of the ranch which consumed two hours round trip. After the football contest, the group enjoyed more swimming; and then, after the children had been cleaned and dressed for dinner, as they appeared outside, the attorney general tossed each of them into the swimming pool, which, of course, required a drying and re-dressing. Once the children had been fed and put to bed, the adults enjoyed a peaceful dinner. The conversation during dinner focused predominantly on a speech the attorney general would deliver to the American Bar Association in San Francisco on Monday, August the 6th. According to John and Nancy Bates, dinner ended at approximately 10:30 PM, after which the fatigued adults retired.
John Bates, Sr. and Nancy along with John Bates, Jr. and Roland Snyder, the ranch foreman, testified on more than one occasion that Robert Kennedy never left the ranch during that fun-filled Saturday. More importantly, though, a group of ten photographs taken that day clearly depicted each activity as described by the Bates family and clearly confirmed that Robert Kennedy was at the ranch all day; and he was an active participant in all the day’s activities; therefore, how could Eunice Murray―how could anybody for that matter contend that Robert Kennedy was in Brentwood on August the 4th and visited Marilyn not once, but twice, in the afternoon and then later that night. It is mystifying indeed since any absence by Robert Kennedy during that day would have been immediately noticed by any and all present, particularly Robert Kennedy’s children.
During the years following Marilyn’s tragic death, Eunice Murray sat for several interviews appertaining to Marilyn’s life, her relationships and the events of August the 4th. Her interview with Anthony Summers was only one of several; and she often contradicted what she told Summers. She also published a memoir.
In 1973, to the Ladies Home Journal and The Chicago Tribune, Eunice reported that Robert Kennedy did not appear at Fifth Helena on August the 4th, a position that she also maintained in her 1975 memoir. During an interview with Maurice Zolotow, published by the Chicago Tribune on September the 11th in 1973, Mrs. Murray asserted that the stories about Marilyn and Robert Kennedy were the most evil gossip of all before declaring: It is not true that Marilyn had a secret love affair with Mr. Kennedy […] and I would tell you if it were so. She recalled the Wednesday visit in June of 1962 when the attorney general, accompanied by the Lawfords, came to see the house, finally adding that Marilyn certainly didn’t go sneaking around with Mr. Kennedy and have a love affair with him. When asked directly by Zolotow if Bobby Kennedy was in the house that Saturday night, Eunice answered: No. After Zolotow posed the same question about Peter Lawford and Pat Newcomb, Eunice answered: No. Absolutely not. There was nobody in the house that night except me and Marilyn. The doors were locked. The gate was shut. The windows locked. The French window in her room locked. Ten years later, however, with the arrival of Anthony Summers, Mrs. Murray changed her story: the attorney general, she said, had been there that Saturday afternoon. Then, in 1986, Marilyn’s former housekeeper made a similar declaration to a Marilyn researcher by the name of Roy Turner.
And yet, in the previously referenced 1985 article written by Vernon Scott, Lawford’s manager and friend, Milt Ebbins, shared the following: I talked to Peter on the telephone several times that night. He never left his beach house in Santa Monica […]. Bobby definitely was not in Southern California that night and neither man went to Marilyn’s house. […] How could Bobby be in town that night? He was in Northern California with his wife and children.
And, yet again, on October the 6th in 1985, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel published a UPI article that generally discussed Eunice Murray’s testimony to Anthony Summers during the original 1985 documentary based on God-dess. According to the article, however, during an interview with the magazine Picture Week, then a new weekly publication by TIME, Mrs. Murray, eighty-two years old at the time, refused to repeat her account of Kennedy’s al-leged presence in the house […]. According to the Sun-Sentinel article, Mrs. Murray admitted: Once in a while, everything becomes confused. I am confused. Is it not entirely possible that a confused Eunice Murray errone-ously translated Robert Kennedy’s 1962 June visit into August?
However, the contingent at the Bates ranch that August weekend never expressed any type of confusion or changed their testimony. In fact, Roland Snyder stated emphatically: They were here all weekend, that’s certain. By God, he wasn’t anywhere near LA—he was here with us; and John Bates, Jr. recalled: I was fourteen at the time and was about to go off to boarding school. I remember Bob [Kennedy] teasing me about it, saying, “Oh, John, you’ll hate it!” The senior Bates told Spoto: I remember Bobby sitting with the children as they ate and telling them stories. He truly loved his children.
Since Summers did not include the firsthand, consistent testimony of the Bates family and Roland Snyder in his Netflix movie, should we therefore assume that the investigative journalist never interviewed them? It is clear, however, that he did. In Goddess, Summers announced: Questioning of the Bateses aside, further checks on Ken-nedy’s time at the ranch are difficult. The weekend arrangements were private. Summers’ rather curious out-of-hand dismissal of the testimony from persons who were actually with Robert Kennedy that August weekend, simply because he could not, he insinuated, otherwise confirm Robert Kennedy’s real-time locations, is difficult to comprehend, even considering the author’s self-evident agenda; and without any hesitation, in an effort to prove Robert Kennedy traveled to Los Angeles on August the 4th, Summers repeated more than a boatload of uncorroborated, hearsay testimony from more than a boatload of witnesses, many of them the shady sort.
Additionally, in Goddess, the author dampened the testimony offered by the senior John Bates, the scant testimony that Summers offered only in paraphrase. Bates thought everyone went horseback riding together sometime on Saturday, Marilyn’s last day alive. Summers wrote and then offered some additional rephrasing: He [Bates] believed he would have known if Kennedy had left for long enough to reach Los Angeles and returned by the early hours of Sunday (emphasis mine). Of course John Bates, Sr. would have known if Robert Kennedy left the ranch for several hours just like everyone there would have known; and having Robert Kennedy return to the Bates Ranch by early Sunday morning, August the 5th, was a significant requirement: the group attended an early morning Mass in Gilroy, an event on which the Gilroy Dispatch reported. On August the 6th, the local newspaper printed a brief article entitled “Robert Kennedys Visit Local Ranch.” After commenting on the attorney general’s Monday speech, the article noted: Kennedy, his wife and four oldest children have been the guests of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Bates of Piedmont at their Gilroy ranch on Sanders Rd. They are expected to leave tonight when they fly on to the Seattle World’s Fair. Sunday morning the Kennedys attended 9 o’clock mass at St. Mary’s Church in Gilroy.
In a letter that John Bates, Sr. wrote to Bruno Bernard in 1985 regarding the ten family photographs taken that Saturday, mentioned previously and published by Susan Bernard in 2011, the senior Bates was very emphatic about what happened during that entire day; and regarding the horseback jaunt that Summers insinuated the senior Bates was unsure had even happened, a photograph of the group mounted on horses and his statement about the event clearly suggests that Summers was being—well, disingenuous. And that disingenuousness is also difficult to comprehend.
The more significant issue is this: why did Anthony Summers exclude the firsthand testimony of John Bates, Sr., Nancy Bates, John Bates, Jr. and Roland Snyder. And considering that the four Kennedy children who were with their parents that August weekend were still alive when the 1980s began, since they did not appear in the Netflix movie, we can only conclude that Summers did not bother to interview them. In late 1982, Kathleen would have been 31 years old, Joseph II would have been 30, the junior Robert 28 and David 27. The importance of what the Kennedy children could have clarified, before the passing of many more years like a cudgel blunted their memories, cannot be overstated. However, giving Summers the benefit of a doubt, should we conclude that the investigative journalist requested an interview but all four of Robert Kennedy’s children refused?―but then Summers has never even mentioned the Kennedy children.
To put an end to the discussion of where Robert Kennedy was on August the 4th in 1962, if not to a moral certainty then certainly beyond a reasonable doubt, Robert Kennedy did not visit Marilyn on August the 4th in 1962, did not visit her even once, much less twice. But for a moment, let’s accept, as has been suggested by various conspiracist authors, that Robert Kennedy left Gilroy sometime after 10:30 PM, after he and his wife, Ethel, retired for the night. If Natalie Trundy’s account of that Saturday evening is factual, then Marilyn was either dying or already dead at 11:00 PM, most certainly by 12:00 AM. Ignoring all the various problems associated with Robert Kennedy’s departure from Gilroy, his travel time to 12305 Fifth Helena Drive would have required at least three and one-half hours. He could not have appeared in Marilyn’s hacienda before 2:00 AM on August the 5th; that is, if he left immediately after dinner, which must be considered doubtful since his wife would have known about his departure. At any rate, Natalie Trundy’s testimony notwithstanding, forensic factors, like Marilyn’s liver temperature at autopsy, indicated that Marilyn died before Robert Kennedy could have arrived at Fifth Helena; and if she was not dead, then she was certainly comatose, a nonresponsive body. Therefore, the assertions by many individuals regarding Robert Kennedy’s appearance at 12305 Fifth Helena Drive on the night of Marilyn’s death, regardless of the time asserted that the attorney general appeared, must be summarily dismissed. Robert Kennedy could not have telephoned Marilyn from Peter Lawford’s beachside mansion; he could not have visited her and engaged her in some type of argument leading to a physical scuffle. The preceding facts are as clear as the water in an Irish mountain brook. Nothing could be more clear.
On March the 21st of this year, Megyn Kelly interviewed Robert Kennedy, Jr. a mere six decades after the events of 1962; and to her everlasting credit, she broached the topic of Marilyn Monroe. Robert Jr. admit-ted: There’s not much I can tell you about Marilyn Monroe. But Megyn Kelly pressed the issue: The rumors are that she had an affair with your dad, that she had an affair with your uncle and even possibly that your dad was somehow there the night that she died out in California. Robert Jr. responded as follows:
Those are rumors that have been time and again proven completely untrue. There’s two days … my father’s schedule, every minute of his day is known. So people know where he was every moment of the day and it happens that the day that they say that my father, you know, that these people who are selling books and these things … the day that they say my father was with her he was with us at a camping trip up in Oregon and northern California and it would have been impossible for him to be there, though that was the day she died. O, and all the days that people, that these authors, who are just bogus authors, who have suggested, who are making money by, you know, saying these things, all the days that they claim my father could have been with Marilyn Monroe are days when we know exactly where he was and he was on opposite sides of the country from Marilyn Monroe.
Unfortunately, Megyn Kelly then lapsed into the same fallacious argument employed by many persons who suffer from faulty reasoning and engage in hasty generalizations based on weak analogies: since John Kennedy was an inveterate philanderer, then his brother must have been as well. But then, many of Robert Kennedy’s friends and associates have asserted over the years that he was disinclined to engage in extramarital activities, a fact about his character that I have already noted and will expand in the section following hereafter.
In 1973, Norman Mailer published his novel biographical novel starring Marilyn Monroe. Concealed within Mailer’s lavender prose and his frequent flights of whirligig rhetoric, he offered the following proclamation: If the thousand days of Jack Kennedy might yet be equally famous for its nights, the same cannot be said of Bobby. He was devout, well married, and prudent. An interesting but baffling defense of Robert Kennedy, considering that Mailer would then proceed to accuse the attorney general of spending time between Marilyn’s smooth satin sheets, imbibing in a heady, clandestine romance that would end in her death. Mailer insinuated that Robert Kennedy either sanctioned Marilyn’s murder or was involved in it. Still, and despite Mailer’s failure to explore it, an adjective in the quoted defense cannot be ignored: devout.
While John Kennedy would, in today’s enlightened society, undeniably be diagnosed a sex addict, his younger brother might be diagnosed a religion addict. Evidently, he and his wife, Ethel, displayed religious figurines throughout their McLean Virginia home, the Virgin Mary, for instance, and St. Francis, the saint from which Robert’s parents took his middle name. Also, Robert and Ethel not only prominently displayed the Catholic Bible at Hickory Hill, they actually read it, frequently aloud to their children, in whose bedrooms Ethel displayed crucifixes and holy water. The family prayed in the morning, before and after each meal and before bedtime, sometimes as a group and sometimes individually. Catholic custom and religious ritual was a significant part of family life within the home of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, even more significant than religious fealty and piety had been in the home of Rose and Joe senior. But then, sixty years ago, religion, particularly Catholicism, was not the pariah it has become.
Robert Kennedy’s faith and his religious beliefs often found its way into his speeches; and according to Paul Kengor, Robert Kennedy was the most devout among the Kennedy boys. Those closest to him considered him a prayerful Catholic […]. Biographer Ronald Steel speculated that if Robert Kennedy had been born into a poor family without a power-hungry patriarch driving the boys into politics, he might have been a priest. Steel described Robert Kennedy’s religious ideology as a fierce brand of Irish Catholicism and that the attorney general was in his heart―and always was―a Catholic conservative deeply suspicious of the moral license of the radical left. Robert Kennedy did not embrace the drug culture and sexual permissiveness of the ’60s. Even Jacqueline Kennedy once commented that Bobby never misses Mass and prays all the time.
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. offered the following: [Robert Kennedy] lived through a time of unusual turbulence in American history; and he responded to that turbulence more directly and sensitively than any other political leader of that era. He was equipped with the certitudes of family and faith―certitudes that sustained him till his death. But they were the premises, not the conclusions, of his life. Finally, regarding the attorney general’s deportment, Ken O’Donnell and David Powers noted the following hallmark: Always he was the kindest man we ever knew.
Certainly, I am not naïve enough to believe that being devoutly religious would preclude an occasional misstep, would preclude succumbing to a flirtation leading to a romantic temptation leading to a violation of a man’s marital vows; but certainly, also, devotion to one’s religion, devotion to one’s faith would engender a serious and effective internal argument against committing such transgressions, would diminish the inclination, perhaps even the desire to engage in forbidden liaisons. According to several of Robert Kennedy’s friends and Richard Goodwin, advisor to both John and Robert Kennedy, the attorney general, unlike the president, was tempera-mentally disinclined to philander or engage in extramarital activities, even with the beautiful and sexy Marilyn Monroe. A fellow could advance the argument, then, that having an affair with a man disinclined to do so would have been virtually impossible, even for the one and only Miss Monroe. Robert Kennedy’s devotion to his religion, to his faith is an inherent quality of his life-style, his personality and character that cannot be ignored, even though the Marilyn Monroe conspiracists have, as they transmogrify the kindest man we ever knew into a phil-andering heartless man capable of suborning murder.
The boast often proclaimed by Anthony Summers to extol his Marilyn pathography is this: his research for Goddess included one-thousand interviews, six-hundred and fifty of which Summers tape recorded. However, in his Netflix movie, Summers included a mere twenty-seven of the recorded interviews. Of the interviews Summers tape recorded, six-hundred and twenty-three, the vast majority, remain unheard. An inquiring mind would immediately ask several questions. What, for instance, is the testimony on the vast majority of the still unheard tapes? According to Marilyn biographer Gary Vitacco-Robles: In Netflix, Summers omits interviews which contradict the interviews he chose to include. […] He uses interviews to support Kennedy was at Peter Lawford’s house in August 4; however, he interviewed all of Lawford’s guests that night and all reported Kennedy was not there. A case in point is the tape recording of Summers’ interview with Milt Ebbins. That tape exists. Several persons have heard it. Along with all of Summers’ tapes, the Ebbins tape is housed at the Margaret Herrick Library, Beverly Hills, California. Why was that interview excluded from the Netflix flicker show? Also, it is painfully clear that at least one tape presented by Summers had been edited, and that tape was not the product of a Summers conducted interview: it was the product of an interview conducted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. So, this imperative question follows: had any of the other tapes been edited especially for inclusion in the Netflix movie?
Moreover, it should be obvious, and also troubling, that Summers withheld, excluded testimony from witnesses who actually knew Marilyn and, unlike Arthur James, could prove they knew her: Pat Newcomb would be a case in point. Others would be Ralph Roberts, Norman Rosten and Whitey Snyder, Marilyn’s personal make-up artist. According to Summers’ source notes, he interviewed all of the preceding persons. Did he fail to tape record those interviews?
But even more egregious than excluding the testimony of the preceding persons, and more than a few others, is the exclusion of the incredibly relevant, first-hand, eye-witness testimony of the Bates family and Roland Snyder, all of whom spent that early August weekend with the Kennedys; and dare I even mention the exclusion of the Bates family photographs, ten of them, that memorialized and created a historical record of what happened at the Bates Ranch on Saturday, August the 4th, created a documentary record that Summers did not even deign to mention, much less pursue. Those photographs have been available since 1962; and Susan Bernard published them in 2011. Anthony Summers, investigative journalist, has had at least eleven years to locate those photographs and then disclose their existence to the public. In truth, he’s had a full four decades. If the purpose of the movie was to present the facts, then why was essential and pertinent information withheld?
A fellow could accuse Summers of engaging in tactics that resemble a Big Con, an enormous suppressed evidence fallacy regarding Robert Kennedy’s appearance at Fifth Helena Drive that tragic Saturday; and regarding that guileful legerdemain, he has been more than successful: every journalist and movie critic who reviewed the movie reported categorically that Robert Kennedy visited Marilyn on the day she died―when categorically he did not. But then, the media in general appears to have been completely confused by the Netflix movie: one journalist even asserted that the Los Angeles County District Attorney asked Summers to perform the threshold re-investigation into Marilyn’s death, a completely incorrect assertion.
During the past few weeks, I have read a considerable amount of opinion about what a documentary should be, should encompass and for what it should strive. Needless to say, I encountered several differing opinions. One commentator even rejected the precept that a documentary had to necessarily present the truth; but another noted: Within the context of wondering about the responsibility of filmmakers in delineating fact from fiction, the topic of documentary filmmaking itself ends up under fire. Documentaries by definition must be non-fiction. Com-mentary and opinions are allowed, but misrepresentation is not. Despite what some persons might think, the preceding definition is a self-evident requirement of a documentary film; but then the commentator added: […] some documentary filmmakers now aim for commercial success when they create a film and their films are in fact fictionalized to some extent through misrepresentation and omission. In that case, any film or movie featuring misrepresentation and omission cannot be labeled a documentary; and the preceding assessment leads to this assessment: The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes is not a documentary. It is a sensationalized melodrama featuring dramatized pantomime by unidentified actors, a cheesy and distracting tactic one reviewer noted; and viewers are treated to maudlin music and grimy film-noir-like cinematography. The sensationalized melodrama is the result of Summers’ repeated suggestions that perhaps Marilyn’s death was the result of activities much more diabolical than suicide—Question marks. Dig, dig, dig. Over two years. Hollywood, Los Angeles, the bugging, the eavesdropping. Had she been murdered? John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Jimmy Hoffa. Rumor. White House files, FBI files. Honesty. Minute after minute, Summers appeared to be building a prima facie case in preparation for the dramatic reveal: the dastardly and nefarious middle Kennedy brothers, but primarily Robert Kennedy, who visited Marilyn on the day she died, had her murdered to silence her: she simply knew too much.
Then at the seventy-eight minute mark, Summers announced: So, I’m not at all of the mind of the loony people who write books saying she was murdered. I must confess, when I heard Summers’ reference to loony people who write books, my chin promptly thudded against my hardwood floor; and then Summers announced There have been several conspiracy stories. There are people, on very thin evidence, I think largely made-up evidence, who suggest that people wanted to hide the precise circumstances of her death because Marilyn was murdered. […] I did not find out anything that convinced me that she had been deliberately killed. Summers certainly rivals Norman Mailer’s use of paralipsis on a narrative scale, in which the novelist indulged himself with insinuation and innuendo, theories of conspiracy to the point of tedium before finally admitting that Marilyn more than likely killed herself; and Mailer’s Kennedy narrative, like Summers’ Kennedy narrative, ends up fundamentally incidental, most certainly speculative with a foundation of largely made-up evidence―but made-up by whom? Anthony Summers has contributed a large volume of literary smog to the mythological legend of Marilyn Monroe, particularly to the mythology of her purported affairs with the middle Kennedy brothers, the mysterious tapes, helicopter logs and ambulances; and the dreary, dismal Netflix movie was yet another eruption of that smog.
Even though one reviewer noted that the Netflix movie was just too touch-and-go, too speculative about Marilyn Monroe’s life and mysterious death, to be of any genuine purpose, I suggest the production had multiple purposes. Providing Anthony Summers’ with a stage to present his most recent version of the truth was a purpose; keeping the legend and the purported mystery of Marilyn Monroe extant, readily available, was also a purpose. But another purpose was allowing Summers to transform the narrative from one of murder into one of a hush-hush cover-up orchestrated by a reprehensible and morally bankrupt political royalty, the Kennedys. The key to the events surrounding her end, Summers wrote in Goddess, lies in the word “scandal”―and scandal is a gaping excavation from which the sparkly twinkly jewels of insinuation and speculation can be mined almost without end, the actual truth notwithstanding. But then, ironically, as Marilyn said at the beginning of the movie: true things rarely get into circulation. It’s usually the false things.