Saturday, August 04, 2012
Rest in Peace, Funny Girl!
"If it wasn't for you, I'd be out in the middle of nowhere, sitting on my ukulele."
Those lines are comic gold not because they're inherently funny -- clearly they're not -- but because they were delivered by the incandescent Marilyn Monroe.
She died of a drug overdose 50 years ago today. She's often thought of as a victim of the star system, a puritanical/patriarchal society and the wrong men. I've read countless biographies of her over the decades -- I've been a fan since high school -- and I know the sad saga well. A truly horrific childhood worthy of a Dickens character, a loveless arranged teen marriage, exploitation by photographers, tawdry casting couch sexual harassment (and that's exactly what it was), men who wanted to possess her instead of know her, miscarriages and abortions, champagne, barbiturates ... Offscreen her life was almost unremittingly tragic.
And yet on screen, she's so much fun. Marilyn is still and eternally magic. For the woman who was thought of as a joke by producers (who used her as they could and only when they had to) really was gifted.
This is her triumph. No actress who came after her has her power over the world's imagination. Children not yet born will know her name and face. One of the nice things about believing in Heaven is that I get to believe she knows this.