I always felt protective toward her. I liked her. While I had no reason to feel sorry for her—she was beautiful and rich and loved—I did: I just knew that she was a magnet for shit, and I saw a lot of people unload on her. She was a child—a sweet, needy child, and I’m very Irish and very Catholic and basically a decent person, and I think you take care of children and needy people. I think you reach out to the sad people and the sick people, and I always felt that Marilyn was an inch and a half from deep sadness. If I made her comfortable—and she told me I did—it was because I wasn’t after her for anything but friendship, and I had a house full of noise and kids and open doors. She could let it hang with me, and I wish—like a lot of other people—that I had kept the doors open more often. She was a good person. She was not treated well.
-Maureen Stapleton in an interview with James Grissom, 1991[x]
It was easy to be intimidated by Marilyn, and I was. She was so goddamned beautiful. Luscious. Sweet. But the intimidation disappeared fast because she was so committed and so ready to get better. She listened like no one else, and she worked to the point of a migraine, and I would tell her to lighten up, go easy on yourself, but she couldn’t: She wanted to be taken seriously; she wanted to get it right. I bitch about my upbringing, and my sad mother and sad aunts and no men around and nothing but dead ends all around, but I had love and food and the space and the silence to dream. Marilyn didn’t have that. She told me once that she just wanted her own bedroom, her own bed, and a door she could close. And grass. Grass to run in. Trees to hug and flowers to pick. This was a girl who had nothing but the great gem that she was, and everyone got to hold and fondle that gem, and then put it back when they were done with it. She was happiest—for a time—when she married Arthur [Miller], and there was a country house and trees and fruit and flowers—and silence and doors.
-Maureen Stapleton in an interview with James Grissom, 1991 [x]
Do you know about trouble dolls? I think they’re Guatemalan, and they’ve been given to me a lot over the years. The years in Peru, the years in Santa Fe—the floors and the ledges and the shelves were littered with trouble dolls, and my life was littered with trouble. Supposedly, you can pick up these little, handmade, beautiful dolls and tell them your worries, your troubles, then place them in their box and they will worry for you. So you can get some sleep. Well, I put all my troubles in cocaine and booze and heroine and pot and guns and pussy. Those were my trouble dolls. I should have confided in the dolls—the little, handmade ones—more often.
I have a point. I swear I do.
Marilyn was like a trouble doll for a lot of people: A lot of people needed her because she was beautiful and she was sweet and she was pretty much what a lot of people believed was a perfect woman—a sexual machine with a heart. And a lot of people needed her because they wanted her to fail or to cry or to die, because they wanted to believe that all of her gifts—physical and otherwise—wouldn’t save her or make her happy. So the ugly and the mean-spirited could feel better about their lives and their various lacks. And a lot of people looked at her and saw money and sex and power and an evil sort of joy that comes from getting off. She was a product, a commodity to them. And a lot of people needed her because she so clearly needed a friend, needed some love, and a lot of people really wanted to give this to her.
So Marilyn Monroe was this creamy, sweet, beautiful trouble doll for a lot of people, and we whispered to her image or her memory and told her what we needed, what we desired, and then we believed that things would happen or change.
And she got put in her box and was put on an eternal shelf, where we can continue to ask of her what we need.
-Dennis Hopper in an interview with James Grissom [x]
Lauren Bacall presenting Marilyn with Look Magazine Achievement Awards for being the ‘Most Promising Female Newcomer of 1952’, in 1953.
Marilyn and Tom Ewell shooting the subway/skirt scene of ‘The Seven Year Itch’ in NYC.