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The Secret Life Of Marilyn Monroe On Lifetime.....Fact Check Part 1

The Secret Life Of Marilyn Monroe on Lifetime.....was it accurate? Here's the list of the biggest 'artistic liberties' they took with the script. By Marijane Gray for Immortal Marilyn.

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Doctor DeShields

In the opening of the film, Marilyn (Kelli Garner) is interviewing a new therapist, Dr. DeShields (Jack Noseworthy). This is a completely made up character and never existed. At this time in her life, Marilyn was being treated by her psychoanalyst Dr. Ralph Greenson.

Gladys Trying to Take Norma Jeane From the Bolenders

The film portrays Norma Jeane being sent to the Bolender family for foster care when she was only two weeks old, with Gladys (Eve Amurri) visiting her there semi regularly. This did happen. However, there is no documented account of a distraught Gladys attempting to kidnap Norma Jeane by stuffing her into a bag and attempting to carry her away. The account of her calling Ida Bolender (Gloria Gruber)'mama' and being told "I'm not your mama', sadly, is also true.

There is also a scene of Gladys taking Norma Jeane to spend the night with her and having a highly inappropriate tryst with a man. This scene is entirely fictitious.

Marilyn's Drug and Alchol Use

Ben Mark Holzberg

As the scene with the fictitious Dr. DeShields progresses, Kelli Garner portrays Marilyn both as getting increasingly intoxicated as well as shaking and jittering until she receives another pill from Eunice Murray.

While Marilyn was overprescribed pills for her insomnia, endometriosis, and anxiety, there are no accounts of her suffering from such visible withdrawal symptoms, nor did she require her medications to get through the day unless she was in pain from her endometriosis. She would typically take her medications at night to help her sleep.

While Marilyn did enjoy champagne, the image of her getting inebriated and inappropriate with a potential therapist is also out of character. Friends and colleagues have gone on record as saying that they rarely if ever saw her appear drunk.

The film also portrays Marilyn at being overwrought that her publicist and masseuse are going home for the evening. While she did like company, the image of her crawling on the floor begging them to stay is way over the top.

Gladys, Norma Jeane, and Jimmy

There are several scenes in the film that involve Norma Jeane's marriage at age 16 to Jimmy Dougherty (Giacomo Gianotti). While it is true that Norma Jeane was given the choice of getting married or getting sent back to the orphanage, there is no documented account of Gladys objecting to the wedding as is portrayed by Lifetime. There are also no recorded events of Gladys not recognizing that Norma Jeane was her daughter. Gladys had paranoid schizophrenia, not Alzheimer's. Gladys did stay with Norma Jeane and Jimmy for a short time, but she never threatened him with a knife. (although there are accounts that it was Grace that she wielded a knife towards prior to being recommitted.)

There is also a disturbing scene where Norma Jeane claims a man was following her. While that did happen, Jimmy's reaction as portrayed in the movie did not. He did not accuse her of being insane, nor did he ever threatened to have her committed like her mother.

Jim also didn't mind Norma Jeane using the pet name 'Daddy' for was a very common endearment of the era, and she used it often.

Marilyn and Joe Schenck

Friendship is all fine and well, but lying about affairs is what gets ratings. The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe portrays Marilyn as having an affair with Joe Schenck in order to further her career. Nothing could be further from the truth! Marilyn did attend parties at Schenck's home, mostly to obtain a free meal while she was a starving starlet. She wrote in her autobiography that she enjoyed listening to Schenck tell stories, and she told interviewer Maurice Zolotow: "Get this straight. Mr. Schenck and I were good friends. He gave me encouragement when I needed it. He didn't do anything for me....I know the word around Hollywood was I was Joe Schencks' girlfriend, but that's a lie. The only favor I ever asked him, Mr. Schenck, was later, when I was back at Twentieth I wanted a decent dressing room, and I asked him about it, and he put in a good word for me and I got a good dressing room. I never asked him to help me get good parts at Twentieth, and he didn't. He knew how I felt about it , that I wanted to succeed on my talent, not any other way, and he respected my feelings."

Joe Schenck spoke of his friendship with Marilyn: "She used to come here quite often for dinner. I think she liked to eat. We have good food here. No, I never had any romantic thoughts about Marilyn and she never had any thoughts about me. "

Norma Jeane's Name Changes

Ben Mark Holzberg

Several times in the film, Norma Jeane introduces herself as Norma Jeane Mortenson. While Mortenson was, in fact, the name listed on birth certificate, she never used it. In fact, she didn't even know that was the name on her birth certificate until she needed it to get married in 1942. She was baptized, enrolled in school, and always went by the name Norma Jeane Baker.

Gladys was married to Martin Edward Mortenson, but documents from their divorce proceedings show that he left her on May 26, 1925-nearly a year before Norma Jeane was born. In an interview with Hedda Hopper for Photoplay in 1953, Marilyn said "I never called myself Mortenson at any time because Mr. Mortenson was not my father. He proved that satisfactorily the authorities, and for that reason, he had no financial responsibility for me "

Gladys had previously been married and had two other children by Jasper Baker, who she was married to from 1917-1923. As illegitimate children were socially ostracized in this era, Gladys had Norma Jeane use the name Baker. She had hoped that she would someday have all three of her children together, and wanted them to have the same last name. Unfortunately, this never happened.

While it is true that Ben Lyon gave her the name of Marilyn Monroe, after actress Marilyn Miller and her mother's maiden name, Grace was not present and it was not the first time they had met- Lyon had arranged Marilyn's first screen test for Fox.

Marilyn and The Casting Couch

Perhaps one of the most upsetting assertions in the film is the insinuation that Marilyn got ahead in her career by using the casting couch. She most certainly did not. As previously mentioned, there was no romantic or sexual relationship with Joe Schenck. Marilyn worked very hard to get the roles she did, and it took her six long years of bit parts and roles as an extra before she made it as a star. She diligently took classes in acting, dancing, singing, elocution, and even mime in order to be the best actress she could be. Had she been utilizing the casting couch, her road to stardom would have been much faster and much easier.

Marilyn quite famously was dropped from her contract at Columbia Studios after refusing a proposition from studio head Harry Cohn, and in her last interview she said that she was most proud of never having been a kept woman.

While she did have a relationship with agent Johnny Hyde, she was not introduced to him by Joe Schenck nor did he try to get her acting coach fired. The movie also portrays her as sleeping with him to immediately getting a role in the movie All About Eve. This is not the case, Marilyn dated Johnny for over a year and made five films between meeting him and appearing in All About Eve. Johnny was deeply in love with her, but she refused his marriage proposals because she was not in love with him and wanted to make it on her own merits. She said about him "I loved him dearly. But I wasn't in love with him. He was wonderful to me and he was a dear friend It was Johnny who inspired me to read good books and enjoy good music."

However, the movie did get one thing right--Johnny may have gotten Marilyn the auditions, but she got herself the role.

Marilyn's Mentality

This portrayal of Marilyn's mental state will be especially upsetting to her fans, as it is egregiously false. The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe insinuates that she was having delusions, paranoia, hearing voices and generally on the verge of a psychiatric breakdown early in her life and career. There is absolutely no evidence of this whatsoever. She never flew around the room in a panic demanding that lights be turned off, she didn't have imaginary men following her, and she most definitely did not hear voices, as Marilyn was not schizophrenic as her mother was. In all the accounts by her friends, colleagues, husbands, and psychiatrists, not one alleges that she was schizophrenic or exhibited any symptoms of it.

Marilyn did suffer from depression, and very likely had borderline personality disorder. However, borderline personality disorder is very different from physiological mental illness that results from genetics or imbalances in the brain, it is a later manifestation due to childhood traumas and does not exhibit any of the symptoms shown in Secret Life.

This allegation by the film is inaccurate and disingenuous both to Marilyn and to the many people who do battle with mental illness.

The 1953 Photoplay Awards

On February 9, 1953, there were two major events in Marilyn's life. She attended the Photoplay Awards, where she won the award for Fastest Rising Star of 1952; and her mother was committed to Rockhaven Sanitorium. However, these two events did not intercede. Gladys did not show up in frightful disarray to Marilyn's apartment as she was preparing for the ceremony. Gladys' institutionalization to Rockhaven had been planned, she was previously housed in the state run Norwalk State Hospital and when Marilyn could afford better care she arranged for her to be transferred.

Misquoting Marilyn

The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe uses three actual Marilyn quotes, however, they are out of chronology and context.

"If I'm going to be a symbol of something I'd rather have it sex than some other things we've got symbols of."

This is a genuine Marilyn quote, however, it was said to Richard Merymen in an interview for Life Magazine in 1962.

" I want to be an artist, not an erotic freak."

Another real quote, this one was written in Marilyn's autobiography My Story in 1954. She tells us that it was originally said in a conversation with her acting teacher Michael Chekhov.

"I don't care about money, I just want to be wonderful!"

This was recorded by journalist Pete Martin in his 1956 book 'Will Acting Spoil Marilyn Monroe?" It is relating the story of her answer to an agent during contract negotiations in 1951 that garnered her a slight pay increase. It was not, as the movie shows, said during her first contract signing.

"Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world."

The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe ends with this line. Unfortunately, it is something that Marilyn Monroe never said. In 1980 in Family Weekly, Bette Midler said "Give a girl the right footwear and she can conquer the world." For some reason people started falsely attributing it to Marilyn around the year 2000.

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