Saturday, 4 August 2012

Goodbye, Norma Jean ... Fifty Years On

"And I would have liked to have known you
But I was just a kid
Your candle burned out long before
Your legend ever did."
                                                                    - Elton John, "Candle in the Wind"

Fifty years ago exactly, right about now as I write this actually, between 9 pm and 1 am August 4-5, a much loved icon, a luminous stage presence, a gifted and still young actress, a wise beyond her years lonely, wounded woman, died of a drug overdose in her Spanish style home in the Los Angeles suburb of Brentwood.

I have long been a fan of Marilyn Monroe's films, since I was about twelve, actually. It was not just her image, but something about her poise: brave, dignified underneath all of the roles she was forced to play in front of the camera and despite severe childhood trauma and a series of damaged relationships throughout her adult life. It was her dignity that always fascinated and held me, even before I was old enough to understand why. But, it may have been like that for many young women, whether or not they appeared to be young women to the outside world, Marilyn seemed to reflect both the sorrow and joy back to us.

I was always drawn to her later years, specifically her last year (her work on the film "Something's Got To Give", her birthday wish to President Kennedy, her acting classes with Lee Strassberg, her last photo sessions), for her struggles with herself and her determination to start anew in life. And she seemed so close, so close to overcoming her demons.

Life is so delicate.

We miss you, Marilyn ... even after all of these years. Where would our popular culture have gone if you had lived?

May we illuminate each other the way you illuminated us, before our candles burn out, too.

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