Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Marilyn Monroe and Radical Politics

Whilst acres of print have been devoted to Marilyn Monroe as a screen Goddess and films such as "Some Like it Hot", "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes", and "The Seven Year Itch" are classics of the genre very little is known about her political views. Anthony Summers' biography "The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe " is revealing in this respect.

In 1956 the House Un-American Activities Committee summoned Arthur Miller the left-wing playwright who Marilyn had married. Miller admitted to having "signed some form or another" at a Marxist study course in 1939. He had no knowledge of applying for membership of the Communist Party. Miller refused to name names. The House of Representatives voted him in contempt of Congress. He was convicted, appealed and acquitted 2 years later.

The fight was conducted with the support of Marilyn Monroe. She never doubted the outcome. "Because I have been studying Thomas Jefferson for years and according to him this case had to turn out this way". In 1960 she told the British writer W. J. Weatherby "Some of these bastards in Hollywood wanted me to drop Arthur, they said it would ruin my career. One reason I wanted Kennedy to win is that Nixon is associated with that whole scene."

Danny Greenson the student son of Marilyn's psychiatrist Ralph Greenson commented that she would say to Miller "Youve got to stand up to those bastards" . He went on to say she was unsophisticated politically, but her instincts were always with the underdog and that there was more to Marilyn than meets the eye. Marilyn's closest associates in the 50s context were of the far left. The House Un-American Activities Committee had records on Lee and Paula Strasberg, Marilyn's acting coaches.

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