Marilyn Monroe inspires infinite curiosity. Each time new pictures of her private life, unpublished images from a photoshoot or one of her poems emerge, millions of people feel compelled to delve once again into the life of the legendary icon.
Marilyn ‘Norma Jean’s’ innate intrigue comes down to the fact that we fail to see the actress as human. Even at her most natural, she is still a divine, superior being.
Milton Greene, friend to the now deceased actress, captured Marilyn in the rare moments when she shed her celebrity status. When visiting her parents in Weston, Connecticut, for example. Or recovering, in the darkness of a humble bedroom, from her divorce with Jo DiMaggio.
“as much as we rummage and sift through the past, we will never know the real Marilyn Monroe”
A selection of unedited photographs by Greene were on display last month in the Mana Contemporary Arts Center, New Jersey. The exhibition, titled, Marilyn: Character Not Image, was commissioned by the actress Woopi Goldberg and also showed personal drawings and writings.
“This is the Marilyn that no one knows. That’s what we’re trying to offer. Not what’s known, but what can’t be known”, said Goldberg on the day of the presentation.
Behind all the glamour there was, clearly, a woman. They say that she was extremely vulnerable and ambitious, and that she wrote poems and diaries to try and make sense of her life, just like so many others do. Monroe wrote about disappointment and friendship, indifference and love, about the absurdity of fame and how to improve as an artist. “Her personal life continues to be a mystery”, said Goldberg.
This might go without saying, but as much as we rummage and sift through the past, we will never know the real Marilyn Monroe. Greene’s unedited photos won’t bring us any closer to the truth. They’re just fresh material that allow us to continue imagining Marilyn, exactly the way we want her to be.