“There was no such person as Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn Monroe was an invention of hers. A genius invention that she created, like an author creates a character…” — Richard Avedon
And that was the catch - 22. The brilliant character she created, the one that made her famous and envied and beloved and vilified, also became a trap from which she was unable to escape. The world refused to let her shed that smoke - and - mirrors illusion no matter how hard she tried.
Still, I refuse to see her life as a tragedy. To do so is to marginalize her, as history seems so anxious to do. Maybe it’s more comfortable to do so, because then we can write her off as a cautionary tale while ignoring our own culpability. I think many want Marilyn to be nothing more than a sex symbol because then we can feel okay about being a little ashamed of her.
Let’s face it, the United States still has a pretty Puritanical view of sex in general. A sex symbol is necessarily an object without a mind, a body or a soul. To grant her that - to allow that she actually had dimensions - would be threatening. We don’t want to accept that those things can coexist in a woman.
February 24, 1953: Marilyn behind the scenes of “The Martin and Lewis Show”, which she played in a sketch and received “The Red Book Award” (awarded by the Red Book Magazine) for the category of “Best Young Box Office Personality” of 1952.