Death and old magazines are supposed to dominate this blog, and while we’ve had plenty of the former, the latter has slacked. Here’s a 1972 Life Magazine, Remember Marilyn, which - for its title and cover - only has a meager four pages in the back devoted to old Norma Jean. (Who, incidentally, spelled her name Norma Jeane).
I don’t think I knew that Marilyn was briefly married to a guy named Jim Dougherty at 16, as page 73 points out. A look at Dougherty’s 2005 L.A. Times obit reveals that the marriage was one of convenience, or in Marilyn’s case, of not being wanted. She was living with friends of her mother - then in a psych ward - and the friends wanted to move back to West Virginia, but would have had to abandon the then 15-year-old Norma Jeane.
"She would have gone back to an orphanage or another foster home, so her foster mother suggested I marry her," Dougherty said in a 1990 interview. "We decided to get married to prevent her from going back to a foster home, but we were in love."
The magazine has several pictures I’ve never seen. One, taken just two years before her death at 36, shows a wet, ghastly looking Monroe in a nude bathing suit. The sun’s angle forces her to squint, casting her pupils into shadow above a Joker grin.
This ethereal black and white photo was taken after Marilyn told photographer Milton Greene that what she missed most out of life was not having a high school yearbook photo.
Th last page has her in a robe, looking out a window, with her left hand up against her cheek. The photo is one that Marilyn included in an album she assembled a friend’s birthday. Beside the photo, in four different colors of crayon, Marilyn writes: “this is my favorite.” As an afterthought, the dot over the red “i” in “this” has been changed to a white circle to match the “i” in “is.”
She liked the photo - Life says - because it reminded her of Norma Jean(e).