What’s True in Blonde, Netflix’s Marilyn Monroe Movie


During her lifetime, however maybe much more considerably within the sixty years since she died, Marilyn Monroe‘s presence has loomed massive in our collective imaginations, offering endless inspiration for film, television, books, music, and art. This fall, Monroe is as soon as once more on the heart of cultural dialog with the Sept. 28 launch of Blonde.

Written and directed by Andrew Dominik, based mostly on the 2000 Pulitzer Prize-shortlisted novel of the identical title by Joyce Carol Oates, the movie stars Ana de Armas as Marilyn and makes use of Monroe’s life as an inspiration to delve into the thriller and fantasy that surrounds one of the world’s most famous women. Whereas Blonde takes inspiration from actual occasions, figures, and long-held rumors from the actor’s life as a leaping level to think about what Monroe might have thought and felt, the movie is under no circumstances a biopic. Like Oates’ guide, it’s a particular work of fiction, dabbling within the experimental and together with fantastical components.

Right here’s what’s reality and what’s fiction in Blonde.

Her childhood and her mom’s psychological well being points

Within the movie, Marilyn, or Norma Jeane, as she was identified in her childhood, is rising up in Los Angeles. Her earliest reminiscences are of her mom telling her about her absentee father, whereas exhibiting her an image of Clark Gable. Her mom, a heavy drinker fixated on being deserted by Marilyn’s father, exhibits indicators of psychological instability, together with being bodily abusive to her daughter, trying to drive into the flames of the 1933 Griffith Park fireplace, and attempting to drown Marilyn in a scalding scorching tub. Following one in all her mom’s episodes, neighbors intervene and Norma Jeane is put into foster care, coming into an orphanage whereas her mom is dedicated to a psychological establishment.

Monroe’s precise childhood was as turbulent and tragic as what’s proven in Blonde. Her mom, Gladys Pearl Baker, a movie cutter at RKO Footage, grew to become pregnant along with her after having an affair along with her work superior, Charles Stanley Gifford. Born as Norma Jeane Baker in 1926, Monroe by no means met her father and lived along with her mom till Gladys had a psychological breakdown in 1934 and was recognized with paranoid schizophrenia. Gladys was dedicated to a psychological establishment and would stay in varied hospitals for the remainder of her life. Following her mom’s dedication, Monroe stayed with household associates and was later made a ward of the state and positioned in varied orphanages and foster properties, till she married James Dougherty in 1942 on the age of 16, to keep away from having to return to the orphanage.

Learn Extra: We Should Talk More About What a Brilliant Actor Marilyn Monroe Was

Her alleged affair with Charlie Chaplin, Jr.

Blonde. L to R: Xavier Samuel as Cass Chaplin, Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe and Evan Williams as Eddy G. Robinson Jr..

Matt Kennedy/NETFLIX—2022 © NETFLIX

Among the many extra unbelievable liberties Blonde takes with Marilyn’s life is the throuple relationship she embarks on with Charlie “Cass” Chaplin Jr. and Edward “Eddy” G. Robinson Jr. Their threesome, which they dub “the Geminis” turns into the scandalous speak of the city, with Marilyn’s expertise agent urging her to finish it to attempt to curb unhealthy press. A being pregnant that ends in an abortion brings the top of “the Geminis’” relationship. In actuality, there’s no no proof that Monroe was in a throuple or that the connection was ever a topic of Hollywood gossip, though a quick affair between Monroe and Chaplin was the topic of rumors on the time and was later confirmed by him in his 1960 autobiography.

Her marriage to Joe DiMaggio

Blonde. L to R: Bobby Cannavale as The Ex-Athlete & Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe. (2022 © Netflix—2022 © Netflix)

Blonde. L to R: Bobby Cannavale as The Ex-Athlete & Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe.

2022 © Netflix—2022 © Netflix

Blonde follows the rise and fall of lots of Monroe’s relationship and marriages. Within the movie, she meets and falls in love with “The Ex-Athlete,” a personality based mostly on the baseball star and Monroe’s ex-husband Joe DiMaggio. Their romance begins with a mutual want for marriage, youngsters, and a quiet life exterior of the highlight. After they marry, nonetheless, some disparities between their hopes for the long run come up: The Ex-Athlete doesn’t share her curiosity in poetry or effective artwork and on visits to his household’s residence, Marilyn is gently mocked for her lack of homemaking abilities. The true fissures of their marriage come up from his unstable jealousy and home violence, together with a traumatizing scene during which he beats Marilyn with a belt after watching her movie her well-known subway grate scene for The Seven Yr Itch.

In actual life, DiMaggio’s jealousy and violent habits led to the top of his marriage to Monroe. The couple wed in 1954 after two years of courting and commenced experiencing marital issues nearly instantly, with the wedding lasting solely 9 months. Battle started throughout their honeymoon, when the couple traveled to Japan for DiMaggio’s promotional baseball tour. On the journey, Monroe was requested to carry out for American troops in Korea, a lot to DiMaggio’s consternation. DiMaggio was additionally controlling when it got here to Monroe’s profession: he wished her to cease taking “dumb blonde” roles and keep away from the sexualized public persona that had made her well-known, and ultimately develop into a full-time stay-at-home spouse. It was clear that the newly retired baseball nice didn’t take pleasure in being eclipsed by his spouse, whose star was undeniably on the rise and there have been a number of allegations, together with ones made by his son, that DiMaggio was physically abusive to Monroe. Like within the movie, the ultimate straw for his or her marriage was the filming of The Seven Yr Itch; in response to photographer George S. Zimbel, who was on set photographing the scene, DiMaggio stormed off the New York Metropolis set in a fury after watching the gang go wild for Marilyn’s skirt billowing up above the subway grate. A violent combat was reported at their lodge that evening and Monroe filed for divorce when she returned to California after the shoot, citing “mental cruelty.”

Her marriage to Arthur Miller

Blonde. L to R: Adrien Brody as The Playwright & Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe. (2022 © Netflix—2022 © Netflix)

Blonde. L to R: Adrien Brody as The Playwright & Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe.

2022 © Netflix—2022 © Netflix

In Blonde, one of many happiest and most idyllic durations of Marilyn’s life is throughout her romance and eventual marriage to “The Playwright,” a personality based mostly on Arthur Miller. Within the movie, they meet in 1955 when she auditions to carry out in one in all his performs, whereas dwelling in New York and attending the Actors’ Studio; the duo bond over a shared love of Anton Chekov’s The Three Sisters, with Miller being shocked and impressed by Marilyn’s intelligence and perception. A whirlwind courtship, marriage, and a relocation to the suburbs carry each wedded bliss, particularly after Marilyn discovers she’s pregnant, however after a devastating miscarriage and the invention that he’s been utilizing her as inspiration for her materials, Marilyn turns to consuming and medicines to boring her ache, inflicting a pressure on the wedding.

This era in her life within the movie is pretty correct to Monroe’s precise time married to Miller. The pair met on the set of As Younger As You Really feel in 1951, whereas Monroe was casually courting Miller’s pal, Elia Kazan. They corresponded by way of letter for just a few years, then reconnected after Monroe moved to New York in 1955 to attend the Actors Studio, starting an affair that led to Miller establishing residency in Nevada so he may divorce his first spouse and marry Monroe. Although their partnership was thought of shocking to some, it was deeply devoted. When Miller utilized for a passport to go to London with Monroe for a shoot, it triggered an investigation about his alleged ties to communism, opening each him and Monroe to scrutiny and surveillance, with Monroe supporting him publicly, regardless of the doable ramifications for her profession. When the couple wed in 1956, Monroe transformed to Judaism. Their 5 years of marriage began out with immense happiness, with Monroe even declaring “that is the primary time I’ve been actually in love,” however she later felt betrayed after studying a few of Miller’s lower than flattering observations of her in one in all his notebooks. A number of miscarriages added a pressure and led to Monroe abusing alcohol and drugs, which contributed to the eventual finish of their marriage.

Learn extra: How Marilyn Monroe Became a ‘Real Actress’

Her alleged pregnancies and miscarriages

Blonde. Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe. (2022 © Netflix—2022 © Netflix)

Blonde. Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe.

2022 © Netflix—2022 © Netflix

Marilyn is haunted by the reminiscences of her unborn youngsters in Blonde, with the movie suggesting that she had an abortion out of concern that her mom’s psychological sickness was hereditary, whereas two different pregnancies resulted in miscarriages. There’s no proof that Monroe ever had an abortion; she had three miscarriages throughout her marriage to Arthur Miller, which was devastating to her as she wished to develop into a mom.

Her alleged affair with John F. Kennedy

Some of the horrific scenes in Blonde happens when Marilyn is flown out to go to “The President,” who’s recuperating from again surgical procedure. After being unceremoniously dragged by the halls of a lodge by Secret Service brokers, she’s proven to the politician in a way that she likens to “meat to be delivered.” She asks The President, who’s on a telephone name whereas watching a rocket launch, how she may also help, and he coerces her into giving him a hand job and oral intercourse, earlier than the scene ends with him raping her. Whereas this extremely stylized and fictional situation is supposed to focus on how Marilyn was exploited, it attracts on longtime actual hypothesis over Monroe’s relationship with President John F. Kennedy.

Rumors started after Monroe sang a sultry rendition of “Comfortable Birthday” to JFK at Madison Sq. Backyard in 1962, simply months earlier than her demise, whereas carrying the infamous glowing and skintight nude robe that Kim Kardashian would controversially sport on the Met Gala carpet fifty years later. However in response to biographer James Spada, who wrote Marilyn, it’s seemingly that the actor was concerned with each JFK and his brother Robert “Bobby” Kennedy. In an interview with People, Spada mentioned “it was fairly clear that Marilyn had had sexual relations with each Bobby and Jack.” Conspiracy theories abound suggesting that Monroe’s possible suicide was truly a cover-up for a extra nefarious explanation for demise to forestall the affairs with the Kennedys from coming to gentle. There’s, in fact, no solution to show them, however the thriller surrounding Monroe’s demise has lengthy been some extent of fascination, spawning books, and even a documentary.

Who’re Whitey and Mr. Shinn?

In Blonde, two of the extra constant characters in Marilyn’s life are her make-up artist Whitey and her expertise agent, Mr. Shinn. Whitey is current for a lot of of Marilyn’s most weak moments within the movie, consistently serving to her remodel from Norma Jeane to her glamorous Marilyn Monroe persona. Not like most of the different males depicted within the movie, he’s one of many few individuals in her life who’s not utilizing her or searching for to take one thing from her. In actuality, Allan “Whitey” Snyder was a constant presence in Marilyn’s life; he labored along with her from her first display take a look at at Twentieth Century Fox till her last days. Monroe had even requested him that if she died before him, to do her makeup for the funeral, which he agreed to, fulfilling his promise to her after her demise in 1962 and even serving as a pallbearer at her funeral.

Alternatively, the fictional Mr. Shinn within the movie, is a pivotal determine in Marilyn’s early profession, sending her on casting calls and punctiliously managing her public persona and press. Whereas Marilyn is grateful for his steering, him considerably as a father determine, he makes advances in the direction of her at a film premiere and seeks to manage her private life. The character is almost certainly based mostly on Monroe’s real-life expertise agent, William Morris Company vice chairman, Johnny Hyde. Hyde found Marilyn in 1949 on the Palm Springs Racquet Membership the place she was doing a photograph shoot; he shortly signed her on as a shopper and helped her to land her first roles in Hollywood, ultimately securing her a contract with Twentieth Century Fox, simply days earlier than his demise in 1950. Based on biographer Donald Spoto in Marilyn Monroe: The Biography, Hyde was deeply in love together with his shopper, going as far as to leave his wife at the time for her and proposing marriage multiple times.

Extra Should-Learn Tales From TIME

Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com.

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